Lots of people were interested in this Spurs-Raptors game because of certain players who were returning to certain cities where they spent a certain amount of their career. I’m talking, of course, about Jakob Poeltl and Marco Belinelli. Poeltl was drafted by the Raptors a few years ago and is now busy getting marginalized by Popovich even though he seems like the kind of player who Popovich would somehow make into a beast. People definitely wanted to tune in to see that, and Poeltl didn’t disappoint; he absolutely got into the game and even scored points.
And who can forget Belinelli’s exciting one-year stint with the Raptors back in the 2009-10 season? The Raptors’ attempt to create an Italian Stallion Super Friends Team of him and Andrea Bargnani was one of the hottest storylines that year, with 75 percent of Italian-Canadians reporting that they never missed watching a Raptors game. For some reason, despite the incredible ratings and merchandise sales (I still cherish my Bargnani/Belinelli combo bobblehead where they have one body but two heads and two numbers/names on the jersey), the experiment was abandoned after one year. I think the failure of the FO to swing a trade for Danilo Gallinari at the deadline had something to do with it, but those are just rumors. Belinelli has bounced around the league after that, and one can’t help but wonder what would’ve been had they stayed the course.
But that’s in the past now. We’re talking about the present (actually, it’s the past now too, because literally EVERYTHING except the current moment is in the past), and Belinelli just went back to the city he once called home and dropped 21 points, including a late shot to take the lead. The rest of his teammates choked once Belinelli secured them that two-point advantage with under a minute left, but it was still a big shot that reminded the fans of what they could be seeing on a nightly basis.