Pacers 95, Raptors 90 – Box

A win at the end of that effort would’ve been well deserved. As it stands, it’s another loss to the Pacers (exact score as last time) caused by wounds that were self-inflicted.

No Bargnani in the lineup translated to DeRozan looking for his offense right from the start. He scored 14 of the Raptors’ 21 points, before being silenced by Casey. After DeRozan’s hot start, I would’ve brought him right back to start the second, hoping his forward momentum would continue. Instead, he sat for more than 6 minutes of the second, and when he did return failed to even hoist up a shot.

Much has been made of his struggles this season, and last night we saw that not only can he operate within the structure of slow-pace offense, but is actually desperately needed to keep things fresh. There is no reason why he can’t have a similar offensive output with Bargnani in the lineup. It’s not like Bargnani’s game is clashing with this, if anything they should be a decent fit seeing how Andrea’s playing inside and out these days.

What I hate about DeRozan’s game right now is that he’s taking too many jumpers. It’s the curse of the improved jumper – whenever a player realizes that he’s marginally improved as a shooter, he’ll start hoisting them up at a rate that isn’t in line with his actual ability. Right now he’s taking 2.1 threes a game compared to last year’s 0.6. Yes, the percentage this year is better, but as we saw by the numerous airballs last night, it should not be option one or two on any play, and it tends to be more than is desirable right now.

Indiana came out very uninterested, turned the ball over, and weren’t giving a proper account of their positional advantage at arguably every position. The day off seemed to serve the Raptors well and they shot a blistering 59% in the first quarter countering Indiana’s 29%. You should know the story by now, Raps get hot early at home, jump out to a lead, and then sure as shit, give it right back.

Let’s fill in the numbers in the age old equation.

  • Why they got the lead: day off at home, Indiana lethargic, hot shooting by DeRozan and Barbosa
  • How much was the lead? 16 points
  • Why they lost the lead: regression to the mean
  • Which scrubbish player which we totally didn’t expect to burn us burned us? George Hill, 22pts, 7-11 shooting
  • When did they lose the lead: Indiana didn’t take the leads till the fourth, but by halftime the 16 point lead had been cut to 5, so yeah, the Pacers had all the momentum

It didn’t help that Jamal Magloire tried to “toughen” things up by getting under PsychoT’s skin, which had the same reverse effect as with DeMarcus Cousins, where a player who was playing like shit started to give some. The second was also where I finally decided that I should talk about Rasual Butler a little. He’s been ignored in every post I’ve written so far, mostly because I can’t be bothered with the guy. Tonight though, I’m reflecting on whether he’s the worst starter in the NBA. A couple of his airballs were of the highest quality, good enough to make one of those 80’s blooper reels that used to come out on VHS (younger audience can google that term). I realize Kleiza is playing on one leg and James Johnson is halfway between meh and whatever, but if either of those two have a pulse, it should automatically mean that Butler is on the deep end of the bench, preferably in civies, and even more preferably paying for a ticket to the arena.

So did Ed Davis take advantage of his first start? Glace at the box score and you see 10 rebounds, and a couple late hoops, but overall verdict: disappointing. He’s supposed to be our PsychoT, and for large parts of this game he was anonymous. When you finally get a chance to show why you deserve more minutes, you have to come out and have your presence felt. He got pushed around too many times, didn’t contest in the post against West well enough, and crucially, was pushed too far underneath the basket on a late FT miss which cost the Raptors two points.

He was also rejected by Danny Granger, which led to the latter’s completely underserved ejection. The NBA is soft man, imagine someone giving Pippen a second technical after this play? Never. Not saying Ed cost us the game, just that a bit more was expected of him.

After the lead evaporated by halftime, the third was going to be a test of whether the Raptors could stick with a Pacer team that was very much interested in the game, and would’ve received a talking to at halftime, including some adjustments. One of said adjustments was going down low to David West, who the Raptors had trouble matching up with, as is expected. I expected the Raptors to fold in the third, credit to them they only managed to lose it by 5.

Jose Calderon and DeRozan hit key shots that delayed the camel’s back from breaking, and even Gary Forbes pitched in with a quality cameo. In that quarter I realized, just how much the Raptors are asking Amir Johnson to do. He’s defending West, Hibbert, PschoT, almost on alternating possessions. The guy’s ribs must be in tatters. Kudos to him, I’m not even looking at the boxscore for his numbers, and I don’t need to. The guy is playing hard and for the most part, well.

On the backs of their defense, the Raptors kept it close in the fourth as well, and that’s the key improvement over years past – their defense keeps them in the games, they just don’t have the talent to win them right now. DeRozan had 6, and Barbosa had 9 in the quarter, mostly through individual plays. The lack of a double team threat means that points either need to be constructed the hard way against a set defense (no fastbreaking here, remember), or individual brilliance is needed. Barbosa displayed some of that in the fourth, and Calderon ran the sets as well as one can, while keeping Collison in control. Then again, the Pacers weren’t looking at their guard to score, but their bigs.

Close game till late, and really, we lost it at the FT line. West was the offense initiator for the Pacers, while the Raptors went to different options at different times, purely out of desperation. Amir Johnson was setup by Davis for an And1 and missed a FT. DeRozan was setup by Ed Davis gain on a back-cut after wing pressure by Indiana, and missed a FT. That tilted the balance. West was sent to the line for two FTs that would normally result in a two point lead giving the Raptors a chance to tie. Tragedy struck though, as Davis couldn’t secure the rebound and PsychoT nailed two FTs to ice it.

Casey had a brain fart at the end as well, he put Magloire in the game on offense, and had the inbounder pass him the ball down three. Indiana fouled, whether it was on purpose or not doesn’t matter, and Magloire missed both. The Raptors didn’t even get a chance to tie the game. That hurt.

Some random thoughts:

  • Barbosa with a great block on Collison in the fourth, Lebronesque.
  • Lots of fouls again, and it’s mainly because of fatigue. Tired players foul, simple as that.
  • Credit to the Raptors for sticking this out all the way till the end, didn’t think they’d have their legs in the fourth quarter. Tonight will be tough.
  • Matt Devlin referred to Andrea Bargnani as Andrea Bargnana. It was a Punjabi moment.
  • I’m trying to think of a matchup where Kleiza is at a clear consistent offensive advantage, and all I can think of is at the three in the post, and that too only after he’s received a pass in a deep post-up position because we can’t ask him to dribble – it’s fatal
  • Don’t really have much to say here. Good effort, DeRozan’s improving, but it’s clear we have a shortage of talent here. The small forward slot is critical, and a replacement for Jose Calderon needs to be found in the next year or so. This time should be ideally used to groom a point guard, and I’m not sure if Bayless is it.

Let’s not end on a downer. The Raps were shorthanded, played well, and despite the loss should keep their heads high. A year ago this would’ve been an embarrassing home blowout, as it is right now it validates the work ethic of the team as a whole.

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32 Responses to “Moral Victories: The Theme of the Season”

  1. AB7.38pt.on.CB4

    Amir Johnson/Ed Davis .It appears to me that Casey is happy with a AB/Val/Gray type of player/Amir for next year. 

    ED is clearly behind AB/Amir and 40 matches at 20 min doesn’t look enough.

    Time to inflate his stats and ship ? 

  2. onemanweave

    Bang on. Excellent article.  Raps last night kind of reminded me of the battle of the Alamo, except maybe with a Primo pasta ad on the wall of the old mission and Col. Travis wearing a high collar and imported
       If anyone expects more from this team than they got last night, they’d better check out and re-join a few years down the road.  There were plenty of excuses not to compete. They didn’t take them. There were plenty of times to quit. They didn’t.
       For a team this thin, inexperienced and clumsy, frequent losses are not an option. As long as the defensive effort remains and they battle, there is a future for the TO Raps.Maybe the empty seats will convince MLSE that improvement is more urgent than they would like to believe.
        Amir is not a starting center, but he is a relatively young player with a lot of heart and some ability.  Ed Davis isn’t going to be a star. His offensive repetoire makes Amir look like Wilt.  However with scoring from the two and three spots, he could still contribute on a good team, if he develops.
        I’ll shut up now, cause you pretty much nailed it. Good work.

  3. p00ka

    Yup. I’ve had my issues with the negativity around these parts, from both some bloggers and some posters, and have gotten carried away and lost in response, but this was a fine piece of work Arse. Thank you!

  4. Buschfire

    “Which scrubbish player which we totally didn’t expect to burn us burned us? George Hill, 22pts, 7-11 shooting”

    Really george hill a scrubb?

  5. cesco

    Indiana is tied for third place in winning percentage behind only Chicago and OKC . We lost by 5 points in both games we played against them . It seems unlikely at this point that BC could not find via the draft , trades and FA ‘s two pieces who can make this team very competitive . He absolutely cannot fail , he has all the stars lined-up correctly this time .

  6. macayita

    Well… we should let go  the Big Cat, who is a very brainless basketball player!!! and Butter….. they are horrible in all games…..

  7. Red and White

    nice article

    I knew that the “bargnana” would make it into one of these articles.

  8. JHP

    Good article and without knowing much about basketball I would like to add

    – roster has not really changed in several years.  Yes Bosh left but was it a shock?
    – replacements are all short term and min players
    – for several years traded away draft picks
    – left last year’s pick in Europe

    So to even be in games is testimony to the remaining players grit and determination.

    And I would not be a bit surprised if they trade their second round draft pick/Alabi/veteren to some team for some 3/4 year player to be another frustrating short term work in progress. All for the right to overspend on some free adgent…

    Easier to rant in cold snowy weather 🙂 

  9. BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

    I liked watching the Raptors play w/o Bargnani it’s time to ship him out (TD/off season) and sell high once he’s healthy to see what offers we can get in return to add to the roster.

    Jose too.

    Why did Casey sit DD after a hot 1st Q so long? Dumbest early game move.

    Would Casey had sat a hot shooting Bargnani likewise? I don’t believe so.

    As well, leaving Big Cat on the floor late in the game and inbounding the ball to him was befuddling to say the very least.

    BC is taking years of of Amir’s career by asking him to bang with the big boys on a nightly basis in order to accommodate AB’s PF fetish.

    Loved Bosa hustling back and blocking Collison. Re-sign Bosa!!

    Kleiza, BC’s prize off season free agent acquisition 2 off seasons ago, is what we thought he was a great FIBA player a so-so NBA player that should not dribble the basketball more than 1 dribble.

    I can see Casey in the near future losing some players as it becomes evident that he’s allowing AB to get away with things but holding others accountable (Ed).

    Btw- PG Ish Smith (released by GS) is someone the Raptors need to seriously look at as ACarter is done.

    Jose (as long as he is a Raptor) should be the veteran NBA 30 year old pg mentor to younger pgs- waive Alabi ASAP!!

    BC has created a losing basketball culture  in the TDot thus moral victories aren’t going to change that particular but reinforce that fact- only cure is Ws via more (better) roster talent.

    • WHAT THE

      Dumbest early game move and a Dumb late game move aleast he took the blame for this one,Sam would be saying something like “listen man like I always tell may guys…” anyhow good game a I didn’t have to throw my remote O and wha wha wha what the wha your a big kid now I see your now talking thats how it is sometimes you have to go and sit over in the corner (time out) by yourself and reflect and not let little things like “lol” worry you but I can see that you are a big kid now and is welcome back into the SANDBOX  lol

    • mountio

      What makes you think Ed is being held accountable, but others (AB) arent. Fact is, Ed has played like shit with very little energy this year. I would like to see him get more minutes, sure .. but hes gotta do something with the minutes he gets .. which is hasnt at all. Im hopin its a short term blip .. but lets be honest here .. Ed’s issues are with this play, not with Casey …

  10. Black Angus

    Derozan needs to go back to the basics to create some space for himself… a jab step or ball fake every once in a while would be nice. At least at lot better than an out of control spin move in traffic.

  11. voy

    – did casey put magloire in the previous defensive possession or was it right before the inbounder threw him the pass?  I thought he was in the play prior for “defensive” purposes.  Either way, it was a brain cramp to have Maglore touch the ball on the offensive end.

    – on Rasual jumpers I’ve noticed no one is even in the same area code as him. dude’s gotta take it to the hole.  I dunno, maybe rasual sees himself as the black, less robotic but more useless version of kapono.

  12. Bendit

    Can someone inject a little Hansborough into ED? Sometimes I feel like he is playing to get out of here.

    • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

      Well, apparently under BC Bargnani is the Raptors PF of the present & future so I’m pretty sure Ed wants to start and wouldn’t mind a trade elsewhere- some combination to Portland (who just lost Camby to an injury) for SF Batum?

      Even though in PO he would be behind LAldridge or could play next to him in a small line up- LAldridge, EDavis, GWallace.

      Ed gets to the boards solidly though when given starters minutes.

      • mountio

        How would that be any different from a minutes perspective than what hes dealing with in TO??

        • mountio

          Ed wants to start .. so how about trade him to a team with an even better PF (who has an even more similar game to him than AB) .. help me make sense of that one?

          • p00ka

            Every now and then he slips and demonstrates that he has an IQ greater than a rhesus monkey, or at least a Reeses peanut butter cup, and quite capable of making sense, but it’s not his game on here.

  13. brother

    Nice write-up. IMO here’s what Colangelo could do to turn this club around so that next year to put more horses in the barn so that they’ll start winning these close games:
    – trade Barbosa at the deadline for a quality contributor (maybe a pick, maybe a young big)
    – trade one of Ed Davis or Derozan (likely Derozan) for something better than a stick in the eye – maybe a point guard
    – draft a point or two guard in this year’s draft
    – amnesty Kleiza if his contributions in any one important category aren’t in double digits by year end (i.e. rebounds, points) OR if he gets re-injured
    – free agency, collect one or two non-over-the-hill vets to augment whatever rookies come to bear
    – send a thank you card to Rasual Butler for getting us more lottery balls than any single player in the history of the game
    – Put Anthony Carter and Jamaal Magloire on a cruise ship to nowhere
    – trade Bayless for anybody but Bayless

    Then you’re left with everybody still standing PLUS JV, another lottery pick, and maybe three or four middling quality new assets from trades and free agency. Maybe two young and two 5 or 6 year vets.

    • p00ka

      Some of what you said is what’s already in play, but some is highly unlikely to be possible, and/or wise:
      Barbosa: CBA doesn’t allow straight up trade for a pick. Highly unlikely that Raps can get a young big with salary to match, and worth it. Biggest part of barbosa as an asset is expiring contract creating financial flexibility for this summer. I guess there’s always a chance that he could be packaged in a multi-player trade, but it becomes a lot more complicated doing that while finding a GM that thinks he’s getting enough in return for what the Raps get, keeping in mind they’re trying to be patient with the build.
      ED: Could only trade for another rookie contract guy, and EDs value is rather low at the moment. I think they still see enough potential in him to not give up on him yet, merely to get another unknown quantity. He’s cheap, and if he begins to reach his potential more, even if he becomes odd man out in a future crowded front court, he’ll be worth more then on the trade market.
      Derozan: worth a lot more on the market than ED, but no way they’re willing to give up on him for anything they’ll likely get back in return in matching salary and potential, especially in the form of a PG (much more in demand). Some have floated Mayo out there, but why would Memphis do that?
      Draft a PG: No doubt they’ll make that move if the opportunity presents itself without passing up on a much greater prospect.
      Kleiza: amnesty may turn out to be an option to consider, particularly if it gives them a chance to sign a desired FA this summer, or make room to accommodate a desired trade.
      Free agency: the financial flexibility that has been built up is targeting free agency, and I think will either be used to make a bigger splash than simply “non-over-the-hill vets”, or continue to be used for cheap 1 year rentals until they can do something significant.
      Butler: card already came in the mail, with 1 year rental contract
      Carter, Magloire: tickets already came in the mail with 1 year rental contracts
      Bayless: another expiring contract (I think) and not going to get anything better in return. He either shapes up considerably this year, or likely walks into journey man scrub mode for a while longer.

      As stated, this season’s plan is development of some, evaluation of all, and sit down with tons of financial capability with a plan for next year, without getting impatient and spending much on mediocre talent.

      • brother

        Hey good points all p00ka.

        Though Barbosa can’t be traded straight up for a draft pick, there are moves a clever Colangelo can make using multiple assets to make things work in concert to get a pick or in the case of Derozan and Davis, maybe bring in another rookie with potential to replace either of those rookies “with potential”. Roll the dice on somebody else’s failed prospects – see if they respond to Casey and friends and a new environ and opportunity.My over-simplified take on things was really obfuscating this view: we have assets that somebody will value, and in some form we can get assets back that could have value to us or somebody else that will get us value in the end. We all know that Colangelo has a penchant for making sometimes complicated deals and also on taking risks on guys who somebody else doesn’t see value in: Parker, Garbajosa, Bargs, Bayless, Oneal, Marion, etc. etc. Some work, some don’t.I don’t now, nor did I believe when I wrote it that these were all necessarily straight up one-for-one trade scenarios. I also say yes, this is ALL about next year. My trade suggestions were all about setting the stage for next year. For god’s sake, keep the 1 yr Carter, Butler and Magloires on the floor until the dying minute of this DOA season, but when you go to replace them in the off-season, avoid making similar decisions.I also think that middle-tier, quality free agents are the way to go. Swinging for the fences with Turkey and other guys like an overpaid Rudy Gay (who was much discussed last off-season) is a total mistake IMHO. No big stars are coming to, and then staying in, toronto. Check in with Dwight Howard, Wade, James, Pierce, Rose, Bryant, Bosh(!) etc. All of the big names have the power to control their own destiny. None of them see any markets outside of those top 6 or 7 cities as coveted destinations. None of them will of their own free will make the decision to come to Toronto over LA, LA, or NY or Chicago.

        SO I vote for two or three quality middle of the road, middle of their career specialists. Their expertise and leadership are intended to give Toronto the kind of team that I think Casey can be a successful steward of; that is, one that embodies team above individual based philosophies. Look at the team you end up with next year: JV, Calderon, Bargs, Amir Johnson, another lottery pick, two or three new specialists in the prime of their careers. You might end up with six or seven guys with starter potential and maybe two more who are quality bench caliber guys. Maybe one of those newer guys is another 2012 draft pick. Who knows. But I like the way this is shaping up. Bargs and Calderon are both having all star type years. Surrounding them with quality team-centric wing-men could be Toronto’s only hope. Low turnover, defensive minded and offensively efficient.

        • p00ka

          Agreed brother!! I now understand better where you were going with the middle of the road role players. No question we’ll need a few and I think that’s part of the evaluation of guys like JJ, Bayless, Forbes, Kleiza, Gray this year. No way are any of these starters on a quality team, but there’s a slight chance they can fill a role moving forward. Keep the faith bro. BC is creative and he’ll keep searching for those diamonds in the rough, like Amir. Going to be some fugly games, and lots of losses this year, but future looks much brighter than it has in years.


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