Raptors 102 Hawks 86

So this is what happens with a well coached team; the Raptors take down the 4th and 5th best teams in the East (by record) in three days while each of them is trying to lock-down home court in the 1st round. You could argue that the Raptors can’t even tank properly, but Alexander the Great said it the best:

I am more afraid of one hundred sheep led by a lion than one hundred lions led by a sheep.

I’ve been watching Friday Night Lights lately (great show; highly recommend it), and the permeating theme is the trickle down effect of great leadership. Guys who care how the game is played; who know their role and play hard; guys are held accountable; and play with heart, this is how you build a team that wins basketball games.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Dwayne Casey.

From the moment the Raptors won the tip, they never trailed for the game: tempo, shot selection, match-ups, control of paint, transition offense/defense, the battle on the glass; everything was dictated by the Raptors for the rest of the game. The Hawks were able to tie it up a couple times early in the first half-half, but Casey made masterful timeouts and got everyone back on the same page.

DeRozan’s resurgence in the 2nd half of this season has been staggering for me. I admit that I’m quick to write people off when they are playing like doo-doo, but all the work he’s put in during practice and the off-season is really making a difference; all he needs is some help. When asked about picking up the slack with so many injuries to the team before the half, he simply said “I got to”, flashed a peace sign and headed to the locker room; had me nodding like a proud father.

DeRozan opened up a lot of space for his jumper by attacking the Hawks paint early, and finishing in some traffic. You know how I feel about shooting jumpers in general, but you get much better looks when your defender is on his heels expecting you to go to the rim without much shot blocking behind you. DeMar did this perfectly; he had Joe Johnson and Hinrich guessing what he was going to do, and made his mark by shooting over, and posting up, Hinrich, and attacking Johnson off the bounce. 15 field goal attempts and 11 trips to the line; exactly what you want from the guy.

A few thoughts:

  • The Raptors perimeter defense, probably by design, was weak(ish). It gave the Hawks shooters *cough* Josh Smith *cough* enough space that he they attacked early, but were met with perfectly timed rotations that protected the paint. The Hawks had no answer in the 1st half, and were forced into shooting 36% from the field
  • The Hawks had one real opportunity to win this game, which came at the start of the 3rd quarter; they came out of the half on a 15-6 run, but Casey called a timeout, substituted Ed Davis in for Aaron Gray on Josh Smith, and squashed the comeback. The game was over with 5 minutes left in the 3rd; masterful
  • Alan Anderson outscored the entire Hawks starting lineup (not including Josh Smith) 16-12; seriously. I mean, Jason Collins doesn’t really count, but still; that’s brutal for a team that’s been to the EC semis three years in a row
  • Had the Hawks not taken advantage, and scored 10 points off of nine 1st half Raptor turnovers, the game would have been over early in the 3rd quarter
  • Offensively, we saw a lot of one-and-dones for the Raptors. Fortunately they created really good shots for themselves and nailed them. Most of this is attributed to Calderon being out, but 16 assists on 102 points is a bit low, especially considering the Raptors shot 55.4% from the field
  • Ivan Johnson is a monster, he reminds me of Jason Maxiel before he got that contract
  • Solo and Forbes were a -3 in 2 minutes of garbage time

We’re going to see a different Hawks team tonight; Blake should have some good insights on how to lose this one. Here’s hoping for six five straight losses to close out the season; we can’t keep sacrificing ping-pong balls when it doesn’t help us. This team will have a different identity come next season.

Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

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30 Responses to “No Calderon. No Bargnani. No Problem.”

  1. Roarque

    So, if the Raptors find a monster big to play in the paint and sign AA to a contract so he’ll be around to slap JJ in behind the ear with when he goes Prima Donna on the team next season, is there something else missing?

    Anyone else think Anderson could be our Lin?

    • Statement

      I think Anderson could be our Lin, our Bautista, our Malkin, our William Shatner, our John Cena, our Anderson Silva, our Marilyn Vos Savant and our Dos Equis guy.

    • Nilanka15

      Hopefully we land some lottery luck this year.  Because neither Johnson, Kleiza or Anderson are our answer at SF.

      • Sam Holako

        Anderson is a nice piece coming off the bench, but he’s not the answer by any means. I do like his game, though.

    • sleepz

      Only problem with this comparison is Coach Taylor is coaching up kids, and sits them down whenever necessary much to the chagrin of Buddy Garrity.

      Casey coaches grown men with contracts and has to appease a meddling Colangelo.

  2. Kujo

    Raps winning meaningless games with D-league scrubs in the line-up, hurting their draft position.  Good grief.  The universe is off it’s axis.

  3. Copywryter

    When a patchwork team with three d-league call-ups seing considerable floor time beats two respectable +.500 opponents you have to consider A) how good our coach is (covered above) and B) how mediocre and replaceable our starting unit and 6-7th men are. 

    • Raps4Ever

      I certainly agree with “A)”, but offer a “C)” as a counter to your “B)”: C) Some players on this team have developed more and are better than many hanging out here give them credit for.

      For example, aside from 3 pt shooting which he hardly does the past 2.5 months, DD’s shooting has actually been quite good since struggling through the 1st month, including making a lot of tough shots, yet people still say he can’t shoot. His FG% is among the best of SGs in the league over the past 2.5 months, but “he can’t shoot”. He’s been driving to the basket a lot more and drawing fouls a lot more, but some persist in saying “he can’t handle the ball, can’t drive and is afraid to create contact”. The facts and reality are transforming in front of our eyes, but old perceptions persist. Why? Clinging to old news that support previous stated opinions is more comforting? Just asking, because the kid simply keeps getting better over the course of this year and most seem to insist on the first 3rd season being where he’s at now.

      • sleepz

        42% on 15 shots a game. Less than 30% from the 3 pt line.

        Both of Colangelo’s key ‘core’ players have had below average years shooting the rock.

        • Raps4Ever

          Speaking of this being recognized development year within new coach/system, I spoke of his improvements, yet people clinging January perceptions. In the past 2.5 months, that percentage is 44%. Nothing all that fantastic right? But compared to other SGs whose FG% this year are:
          Kobe- 43%
          Joe Johnson- 44%
          How about some similarly young guys that many have been all over as giant acquisitions if they could be had:
          Ellis- 43%
          Mayo- 40%
          Thornton (Sac)- 43%
          Tyreke Evans- 44%
          George (Ind)- 44%

          If DD can’t shoot, he has an awful lot of company in the NBA, with some pretty impressive talent right beside him.

          • Statement

            DD’s True Shooting Percentage (taking into account free throws and threes) is 57th out of 75 out of guards who play greater than 25 minutes and only besting (very slightly) Monta Ellis.

            So no, he doesn’t have any awful lot of company.

      • j bean

        Right now he is a better player than last year. Isn’t that what we expect from a young player? He is doing what is being asked of him and when more calls start going his way [which they will in time] he will be even more valuable. I agree that sometimes it’s hard to see past our previously voiced evaluations but DeRozan is worth a fresh look. A couple more years of improvement on his weaknesses and you’ve got a stellar guard.   

      • hye hye

        that was touching and it brought tears to my eyes,but i still don’t like you.


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