Saw the whole thing from start to finish in HD. The only thing better would’ve been to be at the game and judging by the scarcity of the crowd, I’m thinking tickets would’ve been cheap! Sloppy game this one even though the total turnover count was only 29. I’m thinking they need a new stat in the box score called “Feels like TOs” which would work kind of like how they do it with temperature. For example: This game had 29 turnovers but it felt like it had 47. I think there’s an idea here and if I had the time to dive deeper, I might even come up with a formula and call it FLK and apply it not to just TOs but everything. Case in point: Jonas Valanciunas had 8 rebounds with an FLKREB of 26.
People would start having basketball arguments and throwing out FLK stats. Doing comparisons and all between FLKPTS/48 and FLKPTS%. I’m sure Hollinger would extend this thing to make it PERFLKTSeFGOREBDREB%. Next thing you know Wages of Wins will be considering Dominic McGuire the most efficient player in all of basketball based on his FLK/WP48/π. I digress.
Jonas Valanciunas had a nice showing again, this time going against Emeka Okafor who clearly hadn’t read the scouting report. That’s the only explanation I have of him falling for a Jonas pump-fake from 16 feet out which was promptly followed by a rather thunderous dunk in the paint as the help defense was left gaping at Jonas’ athleticism. The young big man even had a couple nice hooks, and as usual, was there to contest everything even if he couldn’t make the play every time. I felt the overall team defense was better when he was on the floor in combination with Bargnani, and the two do seem to be doing the job on defense. The stats might disagree here in terms of +/- or whatever but I’m not Blake so I won’t worry about that.
He did get stripped a few times and you saw them coming every time. He’ll soon learn that he doesn’t have the time to check the seam on the basketball before dribbling, and that pesky NBA guards salivate at the prospect of a 7-footer bringing the ball beneath his waist. It’s like me when I watch a girl in tight pants drop her phone on the subway. Four turnovers for him, including a BS offensive foul. He learned a lot of lessons today, one of them being that Okafor isn’t as good as he might’ve been known to be in Europe.
The other big event of the night was Kyle Lowry getting a start and you immediately saw what kind of point guard he is: Homo sapien, black, 6’0″, 26-year old, right handed…er…I mean, he’s probably the most aggressive point guard we’ve had since T.J Ford, except that he’s stronger, can withstand contact, and can play defense. The other comparison to past PGs you might make is Jarrett Jack, which would’ve been valid if it weren’t for Jarrett Jack only knowing how to barge in to the lane and throw something heavy off the backboard. Lowry’s defense was on display as he pressured the ball often enough before he got tired; he looked for his own shot too and was 0-4 from three, and as is his nature, he tried to get into the paint any chance he got. I cans see this guy fitting into Casey’s plans quite well, and once he gets on the same page as the bigs (lots of missed chances on the interior last night), things will click.
I don’t recall DeMar DeRozan even attempting a jumper in this game. He had made up his mind around 4:30pm today that he just wasn’t going to shoot anything outside of 3 feet and he held true to his word. You could not tempt him to take a jumper even if promised a coupon at the Rail. The PGs looked for him and Bargnani in isolation situations and for the most part something positive came out of every time. DeRozan had 11 points on 5/9 and Bargnani had only 7 on 2/7, yet I felt the latter had a good game. Maybe it’s because he collected 6 rebounds and didn’t leave the duty to Valanciunas every time. Now when Andrea has sub-par game, nobody really notices as much since there’s other things to talk about like Lowry, Valanciunas etc. When they said he’d benefit from playing with Valanciunas, that’s what they meant!
Lucas and Jose played together for a bit, with Jose at the two and that was I’d say one of our weaker stretches defensively. I don’t like the idea, I say we scrap it unless its specific to the situation. The lineup that held their own and I totally didn’t expect them to was Calderon, Kleiza, Anderson, Davis, and Johnson in the second quarter. I honestly couldn’t see how the Wizards didn’t get ahead during that stretch because a) there was zero cohesiveness on offense, b) the Wizards looked much fresher than us, and 3) our FLK TO was 16 in that quarter. Yet, the Wizards had only managed to score two points in the first six minutes.
I’d give credit to Amir Johnson for knocking down his jumpers today, which made up for being bullied on the glass. Thirteen points is sweet output and the other banger bro, Ed Davis, had a cool 8 points and 9 rebounds. Good movement from Ed today and was very active on the glass. The one quality he has is that he’s “slithery”, he can slide off your back and get the rebound around you, he’s got long arms and a good reach so he can make up for poor rebounding position more than others, and when he starts off with good rebounding position, that’s when his FLK DRB% is a 100%.
They say Landry Fields had 15 points on 6-10 shooting, his FLK stats were a lot less and I applaud him for being so stealthily efficient. I can only presume he got his points in the second half on broken plays, transition, and by adjusting the score when nobody was watching. The stat that I look for Landry Fields is from three, which he didn’t attempt any of. I’m already flirting with the idea of using this offense of his as part of the second unit because I have my reservations about that unit’s scoring ability, and maybe a Ross for Fields swap with DeRozan at the three wouldn’t be terrible. Hey, it’s just an idea and it could be a totally brutal one.
“I like him coming off the bench”, is what Sherman Hamilton expounded as Jose nailed a jumper from the left elbow. “I know, dear”, is what I thought as that’s what fans everywhere have been saying for the last 6 years. I’m glad to see our TV analysts are finally coming around to the same opinion. I should really just stop talking about Calderon because he’s consistent in every game and his median performance is a 8 points, 5 assist night. Last night he had 12 and 8, while committing zero turnovers. Lucas got shafted for minutes only getting 12, which he made the most off by registering a team-high +9, and nailing a pretty important three in the fourth. I don’t know how this will shake out, but I do know how it should and I’ve already said that like 10 times this pre-season.
I’d say the Raptors could’ve looked sharper today, they were quite poor defensively in the first half before tightening things up in the second and restricting the Wiz to only 43% for the game. Offensively, they were disjointed in stretches and that’s to be expected given Lowry’s arrival into the lineup. The unforced turnovers are a bit of an issue, but again, that can be attributed to a new guard rotations and how picks are being set by the bigs, and the guards’ reaction to them. It’ll take some time to get on the same page but progress is being made. I’m more impressed by the individual performances of the players than the team as a whole…whatever that means. I enjoyed watching this, that is all.
So, let’s do some one-sentence recaps:
Lowry – Good for someone who hadn’t played at all.
DeRozan – Paint.
Valanciunas – Defensive solid, lessons learned about dribbling.
Fields – Mysterious.
Bargnani – Bargnani.
Davis – Do that every night, eh?
Calderon – Logistical.
Johnson – Production from unexpected areas.
Anderson – Quincy Douby.
Lucas – Still managed to impress in limited minutes.
Kleiza – An old ass uncle.
McGuire – Err…Follow @raptorsrepublic