Welcome to the Toronto Raptors Drinking Game. All season long I’ll be summarizing Raptors performances filtered through the rules of a drinking game. Some rules you’ll see over and over. Some will be one time moments. Reading these headings collectively will give Raptors fans a clear snapshot of the game.
For non Raptors fans, here’s a chance to enjoy our team the ways we do. We love the highs and are brutally honest about the lows. (See rule number 41 below)
15. Fred VanVleet forgets he’s only 6’0
It’s bound to happen at least once a game right? VanVleet is driving through traffic surrounded by guys six or more inches taller than he is. You think he’s going to pass. You hope he’s going to pass. He doesn’t pass. Fortunately, VanVleet always acquits himself admirably.
After inking his 4-year $85M contract during the microscopic NBA offseason, Fred VanVleet went to work early in this game. There was a two-minute stretch in the first quarter where he made a three, got a steal, missed a three, got another steal, and made a layup. He seemed to be everywhere.
Although overall the box scores didn’t leave Freddy looking the best (9 PTS, on .025 shooting) I saw the confidence and poise I expected to see from him. The kind of steadiness that leaves me with little concern about the leadership of the team should this be Kyle Lowry’s last season as a Toronto Raptor as I expect it will.
14. Every time Kyle Lowry takes a charge
How shocked am I that Kyle Lowry picked up his first charge in the first game of the season? If you guessed not even remotely, you’re right. I mean, we are talking about the guy who takes charges in preseason and All-Star games after all.
Lowry is like a fine wine. He’s only getting better with age. He finished the game with a 18 PT, 10 AST double-double on 4 of 9 shooting from range. The 34-year-old vet is showing no signs of slowing down.
37. When Norman Powell makes you kiss your teeth
Seconded. All in favour? https://t.co/wSITvVThaF— Jade ''Auxiliary Things'' Johnson (@auxiliarythings) December 24, 2020
What to do about Norman Powell? Almost the only times I noticed him during last night’s game caused me to shake my head and hope he plays well enough to be worth trading this season. Powell managed to finish with 12 PTS on the back of a 7 of 8 night at the charity stripe. The .182 and from the field and .167 from range though? Come on, Norm.
Listen, I wish I was wrong about Powell, I really do. I mean, I named a kitten after the guy back in 2016. I don’t think I am though. We’ve seen the best that Norman Powell has to offer. Frankly, it’s not consistent enough to be the sixth guy off the bench. Hell, as far as I’m concerned it’s not good enough for him to be the eighth guy off the bench. Especially with the likes of Matt Thomas, Terence Davis, and rookie Malachi Flynn waiting in the wings. As @EsiMagic so astutely pointed out, his inconsistent minutes are getting in the way of other guys’ development.
His evidence of his inconsistency is only bolstered by the fact that Raptors Drinking Game rule number 10 was also applicable in this game:
10. When Norman Powell has a moment that makes you forget he made you kiss your teeth.
41. When the Raptors need Habitat for Humanity on standby to clean up all the bricks
The real story of this loss to the New Orleans Pelicans started in the 3rd quarter when the Raptors went an abysmal 0 for 10 from three-point range. It’s not like they were taking terrible shots either. A lot of these were just open misses for no good reason. There was an ever so slight improvement in the 4th quarter when they shot 3 of 12 from beyond the arc. After only the first game of the season and I’m not particularly worried about early shooting woes. That said, dang that second half was hard to watch!
25. When someone on the roster proves a fanbase overreaction to be completely unwarranted
It’s no question Pascal Siakam struggled in bubble play at the end of last season. The thing about Spicy P is that no one could have been harder on Siakam than he was on himself. He’s committed to resetting his outlook on the game and playing with joy again. The Spicy One put up 20 points in this game along with 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Taking into consideration first game rust, the confidence I expressed that he would get back to being himself has only been bolstered by last night’s performance.