Garbage basketball makes writers grouchy.
Well, that was UGLY. I’m not even sure where to start. Do we start with the absolutely atrocious offensive execution? Do we start with the fact that the Raptors were outscored and outplayed handedly at the tail-end of a blow-out while facing the Celtics oft-criticized bench? Do we start with the fact that the Raptors, impossibly, are now 1-16 in games I cover for this site over the last two years? Or I could just wax poetic for 500 words about how much fun it is to watch Ray Allen, my favorite player of all time, even when he’s clearly going at half-speed on the second night of a back-to-back, knowing full well victory was certain?
In all honesty, it was a terrible game to watch, to cover, or to read the boxscore for. I’ve already received a handful of questions as to how or why I would cover this game, with the answer being, I suppose, that I’m obligated to. I don’t want to swim in hyyperbole here, but this was without question the worst Raptor game of the season, and probably of the past few seasons.
At one point, this game was 9-8 Celtics. And that was the last time it was worth watching, as the Celtics then went on a 16-1 run to stretch the lead to 25-9 and effectively seal the victory. The Raptors lost every quarter by at least 6 points, and never brought the game within 8 points after that first quarter barrage. And it wasn’t like in Atlanta where it was a Joe Johnson-lead ass-whooping, as this particular Celtics run saw baskets from four different players, while they ended up getting points from 12 different players, minutes from 13, and kept the Big Three healthy by playing them just a combined 66 minutes.
Oh yeah, and Rajon Rondo sat the game out as well.
Dwane Casey opted to go with a “bigger” starting 5 after the small lineup was in tough against Atlanta, likely thinking that the two-PG system would see one of the points guarding Ray Allen, leaving DD to handle Paul Pierce. Instead, we got the Jose-DD-JJ-Ed-Gray unit to begin, which at the very least confirms what I had said yesterday, in that I’ve thought Ed Davis has been playing better than he’s generally received credit for. Of course, the Raptors lost by 36, so maybe Ed’s second straight double-double was hollow and meaningless. Probably, but I’ll stand by him and my earlier comments, hanging my hat on his 10-and-12.
He was about the only even semi-bright spot for the Raps, who were lead in scoring by Jerryd Bayless and his 14 points, making him the only other Raptor to score in double figures. How does a team have just 2 players score in double figures? Well, you get blown out early, extend your rotation to 12 players, and oh, shoot just 34% for the game. This is becoming a scary trend of offensive ineptitude with Andrea out and DeMar terrified to attack (when not in New Jersey). Aaron Gray is not the answer (nobody is suggesting he is), but his season-high 8 points with 9 rebounds was the only other line worth mentioning. Honestly, if you want to know how bad everyone was individually, check the roll call.
I know Dwane Casey can’t do much with this particular roster incarnation, but there has to be some way of motivating a team in the midst of their second straight blow-out loss. How does a team get outscored by 8 in the fourth quarter, already down almost 30, against the likes of Greg Steimsma, E’Twaun Moore, and JaJuan Johnson, all while Mr. Intensity Kevin Garnett giggles and dances on the sidelines? This should make the Raptors furious, and I would hope a day off to practice and let these two losses settle in sees them come out on fire at home Friday, in an absolutely winnable game against the Wizards. If the Raptors come out flat in that one, I’m not sure what to think of Casey as a motivator. And again, he’s playing with a very short deck right now (short training camp, no Andrea, lack of talent, organizational incentive to lose), but it seems the Pound the Rock mantra is falling on deaf ears as the season enters it’s fatiguing dog-days.
Or hey, maybe the team just wanted a defensible reason to play Solomon Alabi for 5 minutes, right? He had one turnover and an empty boxscore line otherwise, and at this point if he’s only going to get 5 minutes of run in a near-40-point loss, what is he doing in the NBA? Ditto for Rasual Butler (2/2 on 3FG for a perfect 6 points, Zombie-ball for the win!), but for other reasons entirely.
I generally aim for a minimum of 1000 words with these things, and I’m only around 800 right now, so allow me just a few random game notes you may not have caught…
*Amir Johnson has an offensive rebound ripped out of his hands by Avery Bradley for a jump-ball in the third. What is wrong with him right now? It’s gotta be fatigue, right? RIGHT?
*Ray Allen is the greatest shooter of all time. He might be the best off-the-ball player in the league short of Richard Hamilton, as well. He’s an absolute treat to watch, every single time, and he was the only thing that kept me sane in the first half (no such luck in the second half).
*The Celtics shot 52% overall, 50% on threes, won the rebounding battle by 7, and the turnover battle by 5. The Raptors shot 34%, 43% on threes, and somehow went 8/18 at the line. Pretty thorough domination on the boxscore there.
*Steimsma, Johnson, Moore, Chris Wilcox and Sasha Pavlovic, also known as The “Most Frequently Cited Reason the Celtics Can’t Handle the Compressed Schedule” Five combined for 27-15-5 in 78 minutes, while the entire Raptors bench combined for 16-11-8 in 78 minutes when you exclude Jerryd Bayless. Utter domination, even at the lowest possible level.
*And finally, yes, I know that we should be losing, and every loss this season helps us for future seasons. I get this, and in the big picture I agree. But when you’re assigned single-game coverage, that rarely feels like a good consolation.