.. for the final push.

Warning: there are not a lot of stats here. Hopefully, a bit of common sense is mixed in there.

There are 12 games left, let’s just lay it all on the line regardless of what happens. Win, lose or draw. 12 games. Whatever you got. – Jarret Jack

We’ve been known to be critical here at RR and most often, for good reason. To lighten the mood up a bit, here are a few constructive thoughts on what I’d like to see done for the final dozen games. Keep in mind that there’s a saying that if a coach is foolish enough to take advice from the fans, he’ll soon be sitting among them.

Nah, it’s time to listen.

  1. Insert two warriors into the starting lineup (Jack and Wright): Jack – Wright – Turkoglu – Bargnani – Bosh. While Jack and Wright are not materially better than the alternative, they do bring more hustle, grit and defense. And Wright brings more experience. Given our defensive lapses out of the gate, we need to change the tone. If Turkoglu is sick, add Weems – he’s effective in this lineup as well.

    Why? Your defensive rating improves by ~5 points over our current starting lineup (Calderon – DeRozan – Turkoglu – Bargnani – Bosh).
    If we insert Weems instead of Turkoglu, the defensive rating improves by almost 18! (Note the sample size is not large, but most observers will agree our defense improves significantly with that lineup).

    Why (part 2)? Calderon plays very well with Weems and Johnson off the Bench (+47 on the season – which is +0.240 per min – very good).

  2. Tighten the rotation: Make an effort to have the same players play with each other and follow a pattern, having too many permutations of the players hurts players as they don’t get a chance to become familiar with each other’s tendencies.

    Bigs: Bosh (38 min), Bargnani (32 min), Johnson (26 min)
    Wings: Turkoglu, DeRozan, Weems and Wright. As much of the latter two as possible.
    PGs: Jack (24 min) and Calderon (24 min)

  3. Define roles: We have 12 games left and we’re fighting for a playoff spot. Given the urgent nature of the situation, the effort across the board has largely not been there. This needs to change today and it’s not going to happen on its own.

    Jack and Calderon – “…you will both play about 24 minutes each. That likely means 12 minutes less than the opponent’s starter. Which means you can go all out on defence given that extra rest. Take care of the ball – make smart decisions. Shoot the open 3 every time you have the chance. Get everyone involved – ball movement is paramount.”

    Wright and Weems – “…you are our energy guys. We need your hustle and passion on the defensive end – to set the tone. On offense we need your aggression and need you both to be focused on proper shot selection. Do those things and you’ll play – often.”

    Turkoglu – “… it’s supposed to be ‘your’ time. You are our best triple threat – take advantage of that talent. You help set the tone for our offense. Keep the ball moving. Be aggressive. Enough with complaining to officials so often — get your butt back on D. It lets the team down. Your playing time will be dictated by your effort on defense. It’s time for your abilities to shine.”

    DeRozan – “… we have given you an opportunity this year and you’ve largely improved throughout. It’s crunch time now and we need more confidence on the offensive end and more fight on D. We are going to make a change to your starting role, but you will be able to maintain your minutes if you deliver on those two things.”

    Johnson – “… you positively impact our defense more than anyone else. We need you in the game more – and therefore need you to make smarter gambles and reduce your propensity to foul. “

    Bargnani – “… you have incredible talent. And some nights you’ll leverage it with a solid effort. But we need more. We need you to rebound like it’s going out of style. Remember this?! (at the 3:10 mark) That’s the Andrea we know. Bring that inner confidence out. Your teammates need it”

    Bosh – “… show us the meaning of a franchise player. This is your team, bring them up another level. Lead.”

  4. Enforce those roles: Special treatment should be cast aside. The Raptors no longer have that luxury (well, they never did). Miss the playoffs? Season ticket renewals will plummet. Perhaps a star player will leave. Confidence will be low. It’s a team game. Communicate that ANYONE that doesn’t play within a winning framework will sit. Talent is fixed, but effort is controllable. Setting the right tone with consistency will result in improved effort. Want to play? Work you tail off. Names and salaries don’t matter anyone. We need to win.

Can we seriously make a real change with only 12 games to go? Absolutely. And besides, the status quo obviously doesn’t work. Demand performance and you just may get it as the talent is there. Challenge your franchise player to lead by example. Go to war. Together.

Sometimes we need more from fans at the ACC but what do most Toronto fans have in common? We respond incredibly well to the “all out effort” performances – even for players with marginal talent. Want the ACC to be loud?! Really loud? Have every player commit to an all out effort and the ACC will respond – in a big way.

#LetsGoRaptors #MakeSomeNoiseACC

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