After a fantastic five-game West Coast swing, Scottie Barnes and the Toronto Raptors saw their winning streak come to an end at the hands of Russell Westbrook and the Los Angeles Lakers. 31 points and 16 rebounds from Barnes wasn’t enough to seal the victory in this one.
Still, Toronto had to feel much better about where they are in the NBA world now. With the Cavaliers also slipping up lately, Toronto remains just one game behind Cleveland for the coveted No. 6 seed. They could escape a play-in matchup against the hated Nets if they manage to snag a few wins here and there.
Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet are playing their typically elite brand of basketball, as they appear to have shaken off the rust from a sluggish start to the second half. Several secondary stars have been on fire lately as Toronto tries everything in their power to escape the play-in.
Even though the Raptors picked up a tough loss right before some difficult road competitions, they should feel very satisfied with these 3 trends. If these developments continue in the coming weeks, Toronto might be able to set themselves up for a deep playoff run.
3 trends the Toronto Raptors should feel good about.
3. Gary Trent Jr. is overcoming his slump
Trent’s poor shooting right out of the gate in the second half looked even worse than a garden-variety slump because of the lack of quality shooters to pick up the slack. Trent looked more like his old self di lui on Toronto’s West Coast swing before putting in another solid day of work against the Lakers.
In his last five games, Trent has topped 23 points five times. The cherry on top of this recent run of form was a 42-point explosion that helped Toronto put away a dominant Phoenix team that might be the favorite to win it all. When he’s on, it just changes the scope of the offense.
Gary Trent Jr. shots the lights out for the Toronto Raptors.
Trent did score just 15 points combined against the Nuggets and Clippers, but he was struggling with a non-COVID illness in that stretch. Putting up a few 20-point games on this shooting-deficient team more than makes up for one to two substandard nights in games they won regardless.
Trent can be prone to fits of inconsistency, but you’ll put up with that if it means he can occasionally go off for 30 points while playing solid defense. No matter how rough he’s shooting, Toronto will keep going back to him as their primary or secondary source of 3-balls.