I’m just throwing this against the wall to see if it sticks, but I don’t think the Mavs would have been able to win a game that saw them go tit-for-tat for most of it against a better rested team. Carlisle got this squad to push super hard, grab an early lead, and never give it up, no matter what kind of pressure was thrown at them. The Raptors slower pace suited them just fine.

After playing 3 games in 5 nights, the Mavs shouldn’t have had the legs to wipe-out a well rested, hustle oriented Raptors team, but they did. Like the Pacer game, this one was a result of not having the horses in the barn. Building towards something means taking a 13 point loss, and saying “you know what, that wasn’t a bad game because…,” and it wasn’t. I mean, there were infuriating moments throughout the game, but when you just don’t have the talent…

Some of you might remember when Michael Curry played for this team. The guy sucked, he really did; one of my least favourite Raptors of all-time. He contributed next to nothing offensively, was even worse on defense, and for some reason, he started. Rasual Butler is the 2012 Michael Curry. Casey alluded to him being a leader on the team, so it looks like he’s here to stay. His one contribution was a pull-up jumper in transition early in the 1st quarter with his foot on the line. That’s all I’m going to expect form the guy for the rest of the year, in fact, I’m not even going to mention his name unless he does something special; dude is dead to me.

You know what I like about DeRozan? After two lacklustre 1st quarter performances, he got Casey’s message and came ready to play. The kid works hard, and it’s showing; that jumper didn’t just fix itself. After pulling up in transition for a sweet jumper early in the 1st, he followed it up with a Michael Jordan’esque fade from the corner. This is where the game fell apart for the Raptors; while the Mavs were clanking brick after brick and grabbing their own offensive rebounds (Brendan Haywood had 5 in the first 6 minutes of the game…Brendan f*cking Haywood hurt the Raptors yet again), the Raptors were settling for jumpers and not grabbing rebounds of any sort on either end of the court.

This is crucial to remember, the Raptors defense didn’t let them down to start the game; they kept the Mavs to 41% from the field. It was rebounding that did them in. 17-6 with 5 offensive rebounds; the Mavs controlled the flow of the entire 1st quarter. It’s amazing that the Raptors were only down 6 heading into the 2nd, especially considering they closed out the quarter with both Bayless and Johnson forcing things on offense.

The 2nd quarter opened with Bargnani not touching the ball until the 8:19 mark. It’s going to take me some time to get over this, but when I’m yelling for someone to get Bargnani the ball, I’m clearly free falling down the rabbit hole. Bayless is not a point guard in any real sense of the word. He doesn’t orchestrate anything but the draw strings on his shorts. 3 times he missed an open player at the top of the key, and three times a bad shot was forced or James Johnson made an ugly. You know what two and a half minutes of Jerryd Bayless and James Johnson looks like:

10:45 Jerryd Bayless defensive rebound
10:32 Jerryd Bayless misses 19-foot two point shot
10:30 Ian Mahinmi defensive rebound
10:22 Rodrigue Beaubois misses 25-foot three point jumper
10:21 Ed Davis defensive rebound
10:03 Ian Mahinmi blocks James Johnson’s two point shot
10:00 James Johnson offensive rebound
9:59 James Johnson bad pass (Dirk Nowitzki steals)
9:48 Vince Carter makes 16-foot jumper
9:37 Jerryd Bayless offensive foul (Ian Mahinmi draws the foul)
9:37 Jerryd Bayless turnover
9:18 Andrea Bargnani blocks Rodrigue Beaubois’s 6-foot two point shot
9:17 Ed Davis defensive rebound
9:14 Jerryd Bayless out of bounds lost ball turnover
9:07 Jerryd Bayless personal foul (Rodrigue Beaubois draws the foul)

Yea…

We learned that Anthony Carter is a poor man’s Derrick Martin, and really shouldn’t be trusted to play more than 8-12 seconds a game. With about 5 minutes left in the 2nd, I was considering shutting thing down for the night and winging this piece, until Calderon got into the game. It wasn’t so much that he was creating basketball goodness out of thin air, as he was making the right decisions with the rock. The ball made it’s way to Bargnani who was singled handedly keeping the Raptors close with some dead-eye shooting. Throw in a timely zone defense that threw the Mavericks off, and the Raptors went on a 12-0 run, holding the Mavericks scoreless for two and a half minutes. The half finished with Nowitzki and Marion quickly figuring out the zone, and getting 6 of those points back with some nice 1-2 action before the half.

In the 3rd, the Raptors were able to take a 7 point lead with a lineup of Calderon/Barbosa/DeRozan/Bargnani/Amir (really interesting lineup, Casey should explore this a bit more), but it’s hard to make any real moves when you go scoreless for 6:45 of a quarter. That was basically it, the Raptors couldn’t muster a point in just under 7 minutes of action over two stretches of the 3rd. Mavs go 1-3.

Additional Thoughts:

  • I really have to wonder what kind of player Bargnani would have been had he had good coaches from the moment he came into the league. That we can put on BryCo. Smitch pissed on the guy, Triano coddled him, but a month with Casey, and the guy is a real basketball player
  • While DeRozan’s jumper is actually becoming a weapon, I’m getting that Vince Carter flash back with the guy; he’s beginning to rely a little more on his shot, and less on athleticism off the bounce. 4 for 12 from the field, but only 3 shots inside of 9 feet. Going 3 for 4 from the free throw line isn’t going to cut it
  • Having both Bargnani and DeRozan on the bench at the same time forces the likes of Bayless, Butler and JJ to have a larger offensive role than they should. Casey needs to have one of the two on the court at all times
  • Casey calls timely timeouts; none more important than with 35 seconds left in the 2nd quarter. The Mavs just answered the Raptors 12-0 run with a quick 6 points of their own, and instead of riding out the quarter, and potentially giving the Mavs an opportunity of going into the half with momentum, the Raptors got organized, and executed a great high pick-n-roll between Calderon and Bargnani for a jumper from the elbow. It was subtle, but it took the wind out of them heading into the half
  • You can add Ian Mahinmi to the list of guys who have career games against the Raptors: 19pts (6-6FG) 5rebs 2blks 1stl in 29min.
  • Having a healthy Aaron Gray would have made all the difference in this game. You can’t tell me Brendan f*cking Haywood would have grabbed 5 offensive rebounds in the first 6 minutes of the game if he was getting some burn; no way
We got the Magic tomorrow and the Knicks on Monday. Happy new years, guys.

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