VanVleet’s fingerprints all over Raptors’ 9th straight win


BROOKLYN, N.Y. – It’s always fun to speculate about what the Toronto Raptors might do in the post-season with their unconventional large rotation, which commonly runs 10 and sometimes 11 deep.

Shorten it? Let it ride?

We’ll see, I guess. But count on Fred VanVleet having his fingerprints all over it, no matter the configuration. Starting, finishing, playing extended minutes? All are on the table for the increasingly productive and instrumental implement in Raptors head coach Dwane Casey’s toolbox.







VanVleet had his fingerprints all over Toronto’s 116-102 win. It was much more than his 15 points and four assists in 27 minutes, it was little plays like draping himself all over a previously wide-open D’Angelo Russell as the Nets guard – who had made seven threes on the night – set up for a shot in transition. VanVleet closed him down. The play-by-play shows the Raptors stop was sandwiched around a DeMar DeRozan three and then a layup in transition that put Toronto up 10, salting away an otherwise very close game, but VanVleet was making little plays all game long that made just as big a difference.

He had help. In particular C.J. Miles exploding for all 12 points of his points in the space of three minutes in the fourth quarter as part of a 14-6 run that finally gave Toronto some breathing room. That was much-needed in what was another tough game for the Raptors at the Barclays Center, having been stretched to overtime here in their last visit.

The win was the Raptors’ ninth straight, extending their season-high winning streak as they head to Indiana with a chance to push it to double figures on Thursday against the Pacers. Notably, Toronto won its 50th game for just the third time in franchise history and the third straight year, but the club has never done it with 15 games to play. Its lead atop the Eastern Conference is now four games over the Boston Celtics as Toronto has won 15 of its past 16.

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The Raptors were led by Jonas Valanciunas, who handled himself well against a series of smaller Nets lineups, punishing them at the rim with 26 points and 14 rebounds – four on the offensive glass. DeRozan and Kyle Lowry were otherwise subdued, finishing with 15 and 11, respectively as the Raptors shot 48 per cent from the floor and made 11-of-31 threes while getting 50 points from the bench.

The Nets were held to 12-of-43 from the field and 3-of-14 from three in the second half after converting 23-of-43 and 12-of-22 in the first half.

In the third quarter, the game was slipping away from the starters for third time when Casey went to VanVleet earlier than normal, bringing him in for an …read more



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