Raptors loss to Pacers illustrates painful lack of bench skill
The Toronto Raptors take pride in the fact that they have so many quality scorers in the starting lineup, as players like Scottie Barnes and Fred VanVleet are all capable of taking the game over. Unfortunately, there is a major flaw in their roster construction, as bench players like Malachi Flynn and Svi Mykhailik dragged them down in a loss to the Indiana Pacers.
The shorthanded Raptors may have been missing Khem Birch in this game due to knee swelling, and OG Anunoby’s injury forced Precious Achiuwa into the starting lineup. Even if you were to make exceptions for that, Toronto’s reserves did a genuinely terrible job of responding to Indiana’s broadsides.
While the Pacers do have a standout rookie on the bench in Chris Duarte, their second unit isn’t exactly an elite unit when one looks at the group in totality. Kelan Martin and Torrey Craig shouldn’t destabilize an entire defense, but they managed to do just that against the Raptors.
This night was a painful reminder of where this team is at and why contending for a playoff spot may be difficult. Even if the starters manage to put up exemplary nights against a hot Indiana team, their lack of second-unit punch will impact them for the rest of their season.
The Toronto Raptors need more their bench on offense.
When Chris Boucher, who has been borderline unplayable at times this season, ends up being the best reserve player with nine points, something has gone horribly wrong. Flynn, Mykhailiuk, and sparkplug Dalano Banton combined for just six points. Duarte, Martin, and Craig each ended up in double figures.
The Raptors are running their starters into the ground, and VanVleet and Anunoby are near the top of the league in minutes per game. The only path towards the postseason so far is hoping that the starters don’t get ground into dust, as the lack of elite scoring will limit them against most teams.
Malachi Flynn and Svi Mykhailiuk had bad games for the Toronto Raptors.
If Achiuwa tallied one more point, all five starters will have scored in double figures. VanVleet tallied 26 points, Pascal Siakam recorded another double-double, and Barnes continued to show his offensive skill after a brief slump. None of that mattered. Indiana was able to decimate their defense.
The Raptors knew that this rebuild was going to take some time, but this team is painfully thin at multiple positions. If they want to make it to the postseason, they need to either change up the rotations or sign someone, as the group they have now has been ripped apart multiple times.