I have to admit I was a little worried about this one. Masai Ujiri put together a great trade in the days leading up to the game, getting rid of Rudy Gay, who was having an atrocious season as their offensive centerpiece. The Spurs were on a FIGABABA and I feared the new look Raptors would come out energized and the Spurs would sleepwalk their way to an early deficit that they would never recover from. Fortunately, I was underestimating the Spurs' depth.

The Raptors looked like the more cohesive team to start the game, despite having just undergone a massive transformation. The ball was moving and the touches that would have been squandered in the past were being rerouted to Jonas Valanciunas in the post. The Dinos were also pushing the pace and finding the cracks in the Spurs' secondary transition defense and with Amir Johnson and Big Val hitting from mid-range, their offense was firing on all cylinders. The Spurs' offense, meanwhile, was a series of predictable sequences that inevitably ended with a Duncan jumper. The Raptors' big were controlling the paint against a dubitative Timmy and a severely over matched Ayres, while Demar Derozan was hitting tough shots to drive up the score in the first. Things were looking grim until Manu Ginobili entered the game.

Ginobili connected on a lefty layup after a pretty ball fake and then hit a three to start the comeback, energizing the team like in the old days. But while it was nice to see Manu wearing the cape once again, he was not the only hero of the night. Aron Baynes, who had lost his spot in the rotation and would have likely been inactive had Splitter been healthy, came in and changed the game on offense. Bangers hit a jumper, crashed the offensive boards and finished in traffic, providing the type of inside presence Duncan and Ayres failed to deliver.

Credit should go to Pop as well for the Spurs' awakening, as he understood that the Johnson-Valanciunas duo was too tough to handle without Splitter and went small the rest of the half with Kawhi Leonard at the four. The change forced the Raptors to match and allowed the Spurs to be much more disruptive on defense, especially when the bench was in. After trailing by as much as 14, the Spurs climbed their way back into the game and actually led at the half, 59-53 after a 13-4 Parker-led run.

Things went back to normal to start the second half. The Raptors looked like the talented but inconsistent team they are and the Spurs looked like battle-tested contenders. Aron Baynes started in Jeff Ayres' place and he continued to be a net positive. But while crediting Baynes with anchoring the soaring defense is tempting, what derailed the Raptors' offense was their disdain for what got them that big lead in the first place. The ball stopped going to Valanciunas inside and their execution just wasn't there on pick-and-rolls. The game was there for the taking and the Spurs pounced.

The starters were far from peak level but did enough to hold and stretch the lead a bit before the bench came in and sealed it with a 14-6 run to end the third. It truly is beautiful to see the bench move the ball to find the open man and hustle on both ends of the floor. Baynes and Ginobili continued to lead the way but a more energetic Boris Diaw, Marco Belinelli and Patty Mills all contributed to the cause and allowed Pop to rest the stars in the fourth quarter by securing a sizeable lead. The über consistent Spurs took care of business and will look to put pressure on Portland by getting a win tomorrow against the lowly Bucks.