Defensive tenacity guided Raptors to win vs. Suns

Imman Adan and Katie Heindl analyze Toronto's win vs. Phoenix and why defence has to be the teams' identity each game. Watch the full episode on our Yahoo Sports Canada YouTube channel or listen on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.

Video Transcript



IMMAN ADAN: Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of "Raptors Over Everything," brought to you by Yahoo Sports Canada. You guys already know the deal. Like, subscribe, leave a comment. Click the notification bell so you don't miss another episode.

I'm joined by Katie Heindl today. Katie, what is up? How are you?

KATIE HEINDL: I'm doing well. Got my first coffee of the day. Ready to go. The sun is shining. The Raptors--

IMMAN ADAN: Love that.

KATIE HEINDL: --have won.

IMMAN ADAN: It's been--

KATIE HEINDL: Feel good.

IMMAN ADAN: --so nice. It's so nice when the sun is shining and the Raptors won. Now I've not stepped foot outside, so I don't know if it's one of those deceiving sunny days. But yeah, that is-- that is very nice.

I want to talk about beating the Phoenix Suns. I should have used the-- the segue there, "the sun"--


IMMAN ADAN: --but I didn't. Oh well.


So the Raptors. It's so much more enjoyable doing these podcasts after a win. I was so sure I was going to come in here and be like, all right. So they lost another game, you guys.


IMMAN ADAN: But no. What were your thoughts on what the Raptors did last night, beating the Phoenix Suns?

KATIE HEINDL: Well, you run out of things to talk about when they're just losing all the time, because how many ways can you be like, they need to play better--


KATIE HEINDL: --and more consistently.

IMMAN ADAN: We don't even get to talk about the-- the chain. We-- like, we miss that entirely, which is such an important part of the conversation.

KATIE HEINDL: Yeah, they put all that money into the new chain, and they-- it's-- they're taking it really seriously. They hardly ever get to bust it out.

What I liked about last night's game is, and what was maybe equal parts frustrating about it, is that it proved that the Raptors are a good and competitive and cohesive team when they want and need to be, and that usually when they want and need to be is when they're playing up to better teams and the-- the level of competition is something they think, oh, right. Like, this is enough for us to get, like, our energy level up-- you know, like doing all these kinds of intangible things that win the game, like being really fast in transition, also not looking too ragged, not throwing up too many, like, Hail Mary shots. Like, even Dennis Schroder--


KATIE HEINDL: --I thought held it together.


KATIE HEINDL: He looked like-- late in the game, it looked like he was trying to get-- he just was trying-- He slowed himself down, I noticed, which was great.

But yeah. Like, it's a frustrating thing, because-- and as I've seen people chatting about, and I'm sure we're going to get into-- it's games like that that you kind understand what the front office sees in holding the best pieces of its core together and not making a move, or maybe hesitating on making the moves that everyone's been critical about them not making for seasons now. Because when-- I think Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam combined for 45 points. Like, when that happens--

IMMAN ADAN: That sounds about right, yeah. 22 and 23.

KATIE HEINDL: When that happens--


KATIE HEINDL: --against a team like the Suns-- sure, they're out a point guard, but like, you know, Durant was back. Devin Booker was playing. Like, those are still very good. Jusuf Nurkic, like, looking incredible.

IMMAN ADAN: I said he had a good game. Yeah.

KATIE HEINDL: Yeah, it was a good-- it was a good game, and it was a good win. So I think you see something like that, and you're like-- But you can't-- you can't pull that out against Bulls--

IMMAN ADAN: With the Nets?

KATIE HEINDL: --et cetera, the Nets, et cetera.

IMMAN ADAN: Yeah. No, I completely-- I completely agree with you. And part of that is-- so-- so one, not only did Siakam and Scottie combine for 45 points, but you also had Jakob chipping in 17. You had OG tipping in around 13. Same with Gary Trent Jr. So you're having guys all in the teens. Think, you know, all of those numbers are going to be varying.

But you have guys-- it felt like a cohesive game where everyone won. It wasn't just like oh, Scottie's being a superstar, which he was in the fourth quarter, or oh, Pascal's being a superstar. He's going to take us home. It felt more cohesive.

And it started on the defensive end, which is so nice to see, because that's how this team butters their bread. I don't know. I don't know what my saying is. But like, that's how this team is supposed to operate, and that's how this team is supposed to work.

But also, to your point of like, oh, you can get up and do this against the Phoenix Suns, but where was that effort in some of these other losses, I think the fourth quarter is, like, where I sort of like hone in on, is because they had a fourth quarter collapse against the Brooklyn Nets the night before. And in the fourth quarter last night, they came out and won that game, right? Like, it was tied at points in the fourth quarter, and it was their execution late.

A lot of that was Scottie Barnes. A lot of that, surprisingly, was Scottie Barnes leading the bench unit, which has not been a good lineup for the Toronto Raptors. And so much of that had to do with Scottie's aggressiveness, which I thought, like, his aggressiveness in the fourth quarter is what you want from Scottie Barnes night in and night out. If he's going to be the star that you're building this team around, you need to have that effort there.


IMMAN ADAN: And beyond that, I thought, like, Precious had a good game today. Like, you need your other bench players to really step up. That was his first double-double this season, which is nice. He came in for that-- for that last rebound to get that double-double. But you need to have your guys really step up. And I thought--

He also made a 3, which is-- which is nice. Hey, I'll take that as well. But grabbing the amount of boards that he grabbed, just looking more aggressive, playing within himself, which is something that you're going to need from your bench players. Gary Trent Jr. hitting the shots that you're going to need Gary to hit when he's open there. It just felt more like--

Like, I thought if Brooklyn felt like last year's Raptors in how disjointed they all were and how not playing like a team, and it just felt like individual pieces kind of trying different things at points, last night felt like the Raptors when they-- in season-- in last season, in seasons in the past, where they looked like a cohesive unit. You kind of saw both faces of the Toronto Raptors, in my opinion, in that Brooklyn Nets and in that Phoenix Suns game. And a large part of that is just credit to the whole team to just wash away what happened against Brooklyn and come out against a better team in Phoenix and not lay another egg so that you're not on this long losing streak, and actually get to snap another team's win streak, which I mean, how often does that happen now? It doesn't feel like very often.