With Kawhi Leonard next to load management, Toronto Raptors did not miss a blow as they rolled into a victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden
MORE: Who has intensified in every game without Kawhi?
Here are some of the most important withdrawals from Raptors & # 39; victory.
No, Kawhi, no problem
When they've done it all Raptors took care of business without their superstar little forward in the lineup. They are now 16-5 in the 21 games he has missed, which is actually a better winning percentage (.762) than they have in games he played (37-18, .673).
Pascal Siakam took over the lead role in this one, finished with 31 points on 11-19 shooting. He also ended up with a plus-minus at +31, the best of any Raptors player.
He now has five games this season with a plus-minus of +30 or better, breaking a tie with Klay Thompson mostly in the NBA.
All five have come in non-Kawhi games.
That Siakam Surprised, probably not so much a surprise given how it seems that Siakam comes up big in most games without Leonard.
What may be surprising, however, is that this actually marked only the fourth time that Siakam has been Raptor's leading scorer in the 21 games without Leonard. This honor is usually reserved for either Kyle Lowry or Serge Ibaka, each of whom has been Toronto's top scorer five times in the non-Kawhi games.
|Serge Ibaka  17.6||5|
Thanks to a handful of big games – 33 points to the hackers on February 7 and 44 points to the wizards on February 13 – Siakam is the team's leading leader in games without Leonard.
In recent days, head coach Nick Nurse mentioned to journalists that he felt his team could defend themselves well, even though it was not consistent to defend at an elite level. Nurse mentions that the team at times did not have any identity on one end of the floor.
You would never know based on the star's defense on Thursday when Toronto stitched Knicks from the jump.
The Knicks missed their first 12 shots from beyond the bow with Dennis Smith Jr.'s jumps of seven seconds back in the second quarter made the team only three points in the first half.
In the decisive first half (Raptors led 55-36 in half), they did not allow for a single quick braking point while running 11 trades and surrendering only five assists.
Of course, all this came against a Knicks team that came to death at the end of the NBA in offensive efficiency and won't confuse anytime soon for the sweet shooter Milwaukee Bucks. But winning a game crucially early with defensive bets on the road without their best defensive player is a good sign of a team to be locked in that end, the off-season
What is next for Raptors?
Toronto is essentially locked in the 2-seed, making the last six games an opportunity to either rest key players or experiment with different looks.
Raptor's next match is Saturday against a German team, missing most of its key players and just lost 20 to Portland in a game it played without their five leading scorers.
Afterwards, a four straight game against potential 1st round opponents as they host Magic before road games in Brooklyn and Charlotte before returning to a Miami Heat date.
Given the chances of Toronto meeting one of these teams, Nick Nurse may choose not to give away potential secrets and, instead of experimenting, roll with the same strategies that have
Raptors finish the season Tuesday April 9 in Minnesota, giving them an extra day off as 22 out of 30 teams finish the season on Wednesday, April 10.