Moments that Mattered: Raptors' transition offense, Nets playoff rematch
The Toronto Raptors clinched the Eastern Conference's second-best record Sunday afternoon with a 108-99 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
The win means the Raptors have essentially nothing to play for in the final three seeding games, although Toronto is just one game back of the Los Angeles Lakers for the second-best record in the NBA and clinching that would certainly be nice.
Here are three moments that mattered from yesterday:
1: Siakam attacking the rim
Pascal Siakam first made a name for himself as a rim-running forward who could whiz up and down the court making buckets in transition.
This year, he's seen his role change as he's become the team's primary scorer. He's had to do more off-the-dribble, hitting midrange shots and pull-up 3-pointers. It's something he showed late in the game against Memphis when he nailed a pair of pull-up 3s to seal the game for the Raptors.
But even as Siakam's game has changed, he's still at his best when he can get downhill and attack the hoop with speed.
He showed it late in the second quarter yesterday when the Raptors got out in transition and Siakam showed off his burst, slicing through four converging Grizzlies defenders for a layup.
"I feel like I’m doing good, I’m going to the right path, obviously a couple games there where you feel like you didn’t play as well as you could have but I just feel like it was expected for me and I had to get a rhythm and continue to understand that this is what I do," Siakam said Sunday.
2: Transition offense
So much of the Raptors' success has come from their transition offense this season. They get out in transition more than any other team in the NBA and average 1.16 points per transition possession, the third-most in the NBA.
After a sluggish first quarter against Memphis, the Raptors defense began causing the Grizzlies all sorts of problems, forcing 11 turnovers in the second quarter.
Here the Raptors rotate perfectly. Fred VanVleet switches onto Grayson Allen for a moment before recovering onto Brandon Clarke. Once Clarke gets the ball, VanVleet snatches it from him and the Raptors get out running in transition.
This has been Toronto's engine all year and will need to continue into the playoffs against much better teams far less prone to injuries.
3: Brooklyn Clinches 7th seed
This didn't actually happen until after the Raptors' game, but the Brooklyn Nets clinched the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference with a 129-120 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers last night. It means the Nets and Raptors will play in the first round of the playoffs.
It will be the teams' first playoff meeting since 2014 when the Nets vanquished the Raptors in Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs. This time around the Raptors will be the heavy favorites with loads of playoff experience on their side.
Toronto went 3-1 against Brooklyn this year, but without Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Kevin Durant, the Raptors shouldn't have any problem making quick work of the Nets.