Clean Slate

Raptors at 9-1 Early

Raps 10-1 After Beating LeBron and Jazz, Off to Best Start in Team History

The Toronto Raptors are firing on all cylinders, with or without Kawhi Leonard, and on Sunday night, it didn’t even matter if LeBron James was staring them down from the other side of the court.

They are simply wasting no time.

With a 10-1 start, their best in franchise history and averaging 117.4-points per game to this point, the Raptors are making their case for the being the best team in the Eastern Conference. They even beat – well, more like obliterated – a James’ led team in the Los Angeles Lakers.

“It’s early, but we’re doing a lot of great things and I think we can only get better,” Leonard told reporters on Friday. Leonard sat out on back-to-back nights nursing a jammed foot injury, but may make his return to the lineup on Wednesday night against the Sacramento Kings.

The Raptors have done an exceptional job not only monitoring Leonard’s minutes, resting him on back-to-backs, but also utilizing their depth to keep each player well rested.

To add to that, Nick Nurse already has his finger prints all over this team’s early season success. Keeping Jonas Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka off the court at the same time has helped each big man find themselves on both ends off the court. Ibaka, especially, has been playing the best minutes he’s ever played in a Raptors uniform. Meanwhile, Kyle Lowry, a notorious slow starter has been playing like one of the best point guards in the a league, leading the NBA in assists with 11.5 per game, while remaining a key leader on the team.

“We just played with great energy for the first three and a half quarters or whatever,” commented Nurse on the 121-107 Sunday night win. “It was everybody. OG [Anunoby] did a great job on James. Pascal [Siakam] was pushing the ball. Everybody it seemed was in there trying to dig out turnovers out of the lane and get out and run with them. We got our hands on a lot of balls. We looked athletic and fast all over the place tonight.”

The Raptors followed up the performance by blowing out the Donovan Mitchell-less Jazz on the second night of the back-to-back, again with Leonard out of the lineup, nursing a foot injury.

Winners of four strait, the Raptors will look to close out their four-game road trip with a win on Wednesday night against the Kings.


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