MISSISSAUGA – Brady Heslip poured in 21 points off the bench as the Raptors 905 trounced the Canton Charge 108-90 on Saturday night to sweep its first-round series matchup and earn a bid into the second stage of the NBA D-League playoffs.
The 905 led by as many as 38 in the contest, notching its first playoff series victory in the franchise’s two years of existence.
EJ Singler finished the night with 17 points to go along with five assists, while Edy Tavares manned the painted area, hovering around triple-double territory with eight blocks to complement his seven point, nine rebound night.
Pascal Siakam and Bruno Caboclo chipped in with 13 and 12, respectively.
For the Charge, Kay Felder, who in game one had 31 points and 12 assists, struggled to find his rhythm on Saturday, scoring 22 points on just 8/25 shooting in 33 minutes of action.
John Holland also had 13 points in the loss.
The 905 made quick work of Canton in the opening frame. Singler, who helped fuel a 14-3 run five minutes in, connected on a trio of three pointers and spearheaded a dominant scoring surge to push the lead to as many as 26, while Tavares denied Canton any entry inside, collecting five blocks and holding them to an abysmal 16.7 per cent shooting.
Even when Canton players were able to find gaps in the defence, Tavares’s presence repelled any scoring opportunities, helping maintain the stout defensive play the 905 have carried all season long and now into the playoffs.
“He has unbelievable talent,” said head coach Jerry Stackhouse following his team’s drubbing of the Charge. “He just went up there and used his length, he has unbelievable timing.”
“Our guys were locked in. I thought our game plan was sound.”
Heslip continued his strong postseason play, carrying the 905 in the second quarter with 11 points and causing issues for the scrambling Charge all throughout the night. The Burlington, Ont., native has a knack for igniting scoring runs, and Saturday’s victory over the Charge showed to be no different.
“I just came in the game being aggressive and (that’s) how I need to play. We were able to get up big and just hold on to the lead.”
“We always watch a lot of film but when it’s playoff time it’s even more mental,” he said. “We play 50 games, so it’s not a lot about nerves or playing the game, it’s about locking in mentally and knowing who you’re playing against, and for us we did that two games in a row and we’re fortunate to win the series.”
Canton struggled to find any semblance of offence against a stifling 905 perimeter defence, as the Charge shot just 30.4 per cent from the floor and conceded 51.9 per cent shooting on the defensive end. Much of the issue for Canton stemmed from an over reliance on the 5-foot-8 Felder who went 0-6 to open the quarter and ended his night with a plus-minus of -32. John Jordan, a defensive staple in coach Stackhouse’s system all season long, had 13 points and six assists in the win, but it was his effort on Felder where his true impact lay, something Stackhouse alluded to in the post game.
“John set the tone, that’s why we wanted to put defence in the game to start the game,” he said. “That was why he started. John was great both games, I thought he was (good) in the pick and roll. As long as he’s into the ball, we’re a much better team.”
The 905 limited Canton to 13 points in both the first and fourth quarters and forced the Charge to 18 turnovers in the game, leading to 17 points.
All-Star forward Axel Toupane, the team’s leading scorer at 16.1 points per game, earned himself an NBA call up Saturday with the New Orleans Pelicans, his second one of the year (signed a 10-day contract with the Milwaukee Bucks in late February) and third in just two seasons – he inked a multi-year deal with the Nuggets in March of last year before being released at the start of the 2016 campaign.
Heslip understood that without their leading scorer in the lineup on Saturday, the 905 would need a collective effort to compensate for the scoring void.
“We’re happy for Axel, he’s our brother and he got called up,” said Heslip. “That’s where he belongs.”
Everybody here just knew (that) everybody had to pick it up just a little bit. We all just needed to raise our level and those guys that started the game (were) amazing.”
Written by Jas Grewal
Photo: Robert Ong
Edited by Drew Ebanks