Raptors Rookie Impresses In Season Opener

The Toronto Raptors hosted a depleted Chicago Bulls roster in Toronto on Thursday night. The Bulls were without a number of players including Nikola Mirotic who was hospitalized after a fight with his teammate Bobby Portis at practice earlier this week that resulted in Portis being suspended 8 games.

All that aside the Raptors started JV,DeRozan,Lowry, Ibaka and Powell and they were making magic on the court. The Lithuanian Lion, Valanciunas had 7 rebounds before the 1st quarter was even over and finished with a double-double. The starting 5 only left the court with just under two minutes to go and that’s when the young core (with the exception of C.J.Miles) hit the court. Fred Van Vleet, Jakob Poeltly, Delon Wright and O.G Anoouby were rocky at the start but then helped hold the Bulls to just 5 points in 8 minutes.

 

“I was really impressed with the young group,” said coach Dwane Casey. “They came in and didn’t look like they were a deer in the headlights. They expanded the lead and didn’t lose it, and really impressed.”

Anounuby was a star in his home court debut, just take a look at this dunk, which was one of two of his sky high jams of the evening.

“It felt good, I’ve worked on it before,” said Anunoby of his dunk on Pondexter. “I thought I could do it.”

“He’s going to improve and improve. Once he gets his game conditioning.” Casey said, “He had surgery not so long ago, seems like, and wasn’t really expected to play until December. Now he’s playing and way ahead of schedule.”

C.J. Miles is proving to put his money where his mouth is. He was 6-of-9 from beyond the arc.

“It’s what I came here to do,” Miles said after the game, “I hope I can go 6-of-9 for every game for the rest of the season (laughs).”

Although Miles is a new edition to the team he is an NBA vet and at 30-years-old is entering his 13th year in the league. With that experience comes knowledge that the young rookies are happy to to take in.

“C.J. and Serge have given me a lot of advice, just tell me to be confident and shoot the ball, play hard, and I know I can do that,” said Anunoby.

As for the game itself the Raptors had the lead for 95% of the game but don’t get your hopes up to high, as mentioned a lot of their team was MIA.

“Unfortunately for Chicago, they had two of their best players out. So we have a bigger test coming in Saturday night with Philly, a very talented team,” Casey said.

Tip-off for the Philly game is at 7:30 PM ET