Thank God the game finished. The only thing worse than watching a pre-season game, is watching a pre-season game go into overtime, then double overtime. It was worth it though; the Raptors pulled out a gritty win in a game that resembled what the regular season vibe will be. The Suns game couldn’t be taken seriously; the Celtics and Bulls are top-four in the East; but the Sixers are on about the same level as the Raptors.
There were a couple goals heading into the game:
- Settle on the starting lineup that everyone has already picked out (Jack, DeRozan, Kleiza, Johnson & Bargnani)
- Get Bargnani out of his early slump
- Manufacture some trade value for Evans
- Win a bloody game
So with our expectations tempered, this game provided a nice glimpse into what we can expect for the season, pardon me while I kick it a bit roll-call:
David Anderson – while he was a good pickup in the offseason, the fact that he jacks shots every single time he touches the ball makes me nuts. Even though Bargnani played heavy minutes last night on the second night of a back-to-back, I was floored when Anderson was inserted in OT. He did make up for the poor shooting night with some nifty rebounding though.
Leandro Barbosa – anyone else get the feeling that our 6th man is going to be our leading scorer? As Arse said, he comes as advertised. I haven’t been used to seeing a Raptor break down his defender off the dribble and take it to the rack with any semblance of consistency, but Barbosa has given us a few games of that. He chipped in 19pts (8-16FG) and 6rebs last night, which is about what I expect from him on the season. An added bonus is his ability to get off a pretty good look at the basket in pressure situations, which gives Triano another option (Bargs) in crunch time.
Andrea Bargnani – Best game of the pre-season hands down. While I don’t think he will be a 22+ point scorer a game this season (18-20 range), I wasn’t too worried about him finding his range. Bargnani misses all that space Bosh created for him to operate:
It’s just a matter of him trying to acclimatize himself with the new guys, a completely different offence than we’ve had in the past, which has been put in place for a specific reason. – Jay Triano
Early in the game his contribution was on the defensive end; switching between keeping Brand (12pts on 13 shots) and Thaddeus Young (8pts 5rebs) under control. When he was needed to hit a couple shots to close out the game, he flipped that switch (it’s so obvious when he’s motivated) and almost won the game on an offensive put-back off of DeRozan’s missed free throw at the end of the first overtime. It’s not all rosey for Bargs, but the Raptors pulled one out with a decent contribution from him.
Jose Calderon – I’m not sure what happened to the Calderon from the 2008-2009 season, but I want him back. This incarnation of the kid is painful. He threw three really sloppy (and uncharacteristic) passes to Johnson and Anderson that overshadowed (for me anyways) his 8 assists on the night. Look, he won the Forderon situation, but only because TJ went ape-shit. Looks like Jack should get the starting nod because Calderon’s talents are best suited on the second unit, where no-one not named Barbosa can score of his own volition. I’d really like to see him shoot the ball more, 5 shots in 26 minutes, when the ball is constantly in your hands, is almost not even trying.
DeMar DeRozan – Look, I like the kid, but we may have to be reserved to the fact that this might be the most to expect form him. He can help his own cause out by putting up 500 shots a day, everyday, for the rest of his life. 5-15 from the floor and 6-11 from the line? He’s a shooting guard, you don’t expect those sorts of numbers from a starting shooting guard in the NBA. What I did appreciate from him was that he was aggressive in take it to the rack and drawing contact. He cooly (?) hit the game tying free throw, but was off on the go-ahead basket. My biggest criticism for him was that his contributions were mostly scoring, but last night he chipped in 5rebs 2ast 2stl and a block, a pretty good all-around game.
Ronald Dupree – Got T’d up for showing emotion after he got called for a blocking foul (looked like he drew a charge to me). Terrible rule…errr…Dupree shouldn’t have played in OT, but whatever.
Reggie Evans – It’s no secret I don’t think highly of the guy, but he had a good game…still could have done without seeing him shoot those three shots, but I’ll let it slide.
Jarrett Jack – If the first four games of the pre-season were an audition for the rotation, then Jack has secured starting PG duties in my book. He got into the paint and took good shots (shot chart below), got people involved protected the ball, grabbed as many rebounds as Bargnani and hit a massive three in OT to give the Raptors a 2 point lead with 40 seconds to go. Seriously couldn’t ask for anything else.
Amir Johnson – While he had 4 fouls in 27 minutes, the rate at which he picked them up didn’t affect how he played very much. 11pts 9rebs is a solid performance (considering Joakim Noah averaged 10.7pts 11rebs last season), but I’m always left wanting more. I want this kid to play more minutes, so he can score more efficiently and grab more rebounds. The Raptors might need to invest in bringing in a mentor for him, could be a thought.
Linas Kleiza – Foul trouble kept him out of the game, but frankly, I’m a bit disappointed. There was no reason he couldn’t leave his mark on this game, and looking through my notes, he wasn’t mention worthy in them at all.
Sonny Weems – Had a balanced game in my books, didn’t shoot too much, but attempted good ones. Like Kleiza, nothing really stood out for me though.
We got Boston again on Friday.
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Photo Credit: AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette