Mississauga, ON – The Raptors 905 topped Grand Rapids Drive 91-90 in a nail biter that required overtime. In the first round of the G League single elimination playoff format the adrenaline was high at the Paramount Fine Food Centre in Mississauga. The 905 fielded a talented team with both Malcolm Miller and Chris Boucher on assignment from the Raptors. They were further flanked by recently signed Wade Baldwin IV (just waived by the Portland Trail Blazers) and 905 two-way player Jordan Loyd. Grand Rapids also had a former NBA player in Marcus Thornton, who showcased his dangerous three-point touch throughout the game, as well as two-way players Kalin Lucas and Isaiah Whitehead.
This was an exciting affair from buzzer to buzzer that was predicated on defense as the 905 finished the game shooting 34 percent and the Drive 35.4 percent from the field. Embracing this kind of slug fest game, the 905’s Loyd said the following afterwards. ‘We didn’t shoot the ball the way we wanted today, but I think that speaks to our defense. We didn’t hang our heads. If the ball is not going to fall we are not going to let them score either.” He further commented on this games wild character. “The game was like out of a movie, they did something then we did something, crazy calls, crazy shots.”
The game started with a sputter as both teams struggled in the first quarter. After playing each other to a 5-5 start Grand Rapids pulled away, though not from their stellar play but rather from the 905’s poor shooting. Whitehead paced Grand Rapids with 10 points mixing in threes with aggressive drives to the rim, including an impressive left-handed finish through contact. With broad shoulders and a powerful upper body, he is formidable attacking the rim. On the other side, the 905 damaged the paint on the rims with a 4-of- 24 (16.7%) brick fest. Their one bright spot was Miller who managed to shoot 2-of-3 from three and score eight of the 905’s first quarter tally of 12 points. After the game Malcolm said the following to describe how they weathered this first quarter drought. “We have great basketball players on this team, we’ve had slow quarters before, it was mostly about staying calm. We were not taking bad shots, we were getting good looks I knew they would start to fall.” The quarter ended with Grand Rapids up 25-12.
It was a tale of two quarters as the 905 were able to battle back into the game by out- scoring the Drive 29- 18 in the second. The 905 played impressive defense forcing six steals and igniting their offense in transition. The 905’s Baldwin tallied 11 of his first half 13 points including a momentum shifting four point play. The highlight play was a big Boucher block that started the break and led to Miller finishing the break as the trailer over the rim with two hands. Despite a poor shooting night, going 6-of-20, Boucher was the first player in G League history with a 12 point, 12 rebound and 10 block triple-double. He was everywhere tipping jump shots, pinning balls to the board, and coming over as a weak side rim protector.
The Raptors pulled ahead in a closely contested, defensive focused third quarter and went into the fourth up 63-60. The 905 bench stepped up adding 11 of the 905’s 20 points. MiKyle Macintosh paced them with six points, including a key three with two minutes left that gave the 905 the lead, their first since it was 5-2. Macintosh brought a physicality banging with the Drives forwards that helped soften them up for more 905 attacks at the rim in the fourth.
The fourth quarter was a wild back and forth affair that ended in a G League 2 minute overtime. After holding an eight point lead going into the final five minutes the 905 relinquished it by giving up a 7-0 run. The Mississauga fans were brought to their feet by a back to back offensive/ defensive possession where Boucher first had a massive put back dunk then blocked Todd Withers’ dunk attempt on the other end. These energy rising plays were not enough to seal the game though as NBA vet Thornton added 11 points in the fourth and OT, including multiple clutch catch and shoot threes that sent the game to the extra frame. The finale of the game saw Loyd – who also pulled down 15 boards from the 2-guard spot along with 18 points (6-of-18 FGs), seven assists, four steals, and two blocks – retrieve a Baldwin blocked shot and seal the game with a quick push shot from a difficult angle off the glass.
The 905 will next travel to Long Island to play the No. 1 seed Long Island Nets on March 29th at 7 pm.