On Monday night, a group of Raptors 905 coaches and players were in attendance for the Raptors’ key Game 5 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. Head coach Jerry Stackhouse, as well as players Pascal Siakam and Bruno Caboclo, witnessed the wild atmosphere and cheered on the big club, including Fred VanVleet, who was on Toronto’s bench after logging 16 games with the 905 earlier in the season.
Seeing their will and determination during a key game was useful in applying to their own situation, as the 905 were facing elimination against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the D-League Finals.
“It was a really important Game 5 and they came out with a lot of energy,” Siakam said. “It really helps to see that and just learn from it – know that when you have your back against the wall, you have to play hard and give everything you have.”
The following night, Siakam scored a game-high 32 points as the 905 topped the Vipers to keep the series alive and set up a winner-take-all Game 3 on Thursday night. Raptors star DeMar DeRozan, forwards DeMarre Carroll and PJ Tucker, and centers Lucas Nogueira and Jakob Poeltl were among the pros in attendance to cheer on the 905. Their support says a lot about the camaraderie between the two clubs and the culture within the organization.
“It’s great, they didn’t have to do that,” Siakam said. “They’re going through the playoffs and it’s really intense – just to see them out there shows the good group of guys we have and how close we are. Seeing them jumping around and going crazy definitely helps.”
The 905 came out and put their best foot forward in Game 2 just as the Raptors had done in Game 5, with both teams earning key victories with their backs against the wall. Still, they know their work isn’t done. They’re ready for the biggest test of all.
“I think we continued to fight, continued to work and grind the game, and we’ve got one more,” Stackhouse said. “It’s not about the X’s and O’s, it’s just about who wants it the most right now. It’s going to be a real dog fight.”