UNDRCRWN is sick. This shirt is the best.
UNDRCRWN is sick. This shirt is the best.

So, we lost the opener to the Pacers. It was a disappointing finish to a great game, but there were some positives to take from it, as Arse outlined (in a double-dip post-game!). The crowd at the ACC seemed raucous, Jonas looked strong, if not overeager, Kyle Lowry looked as advertised, and the team’s defense outside of the first quarter was stellar.

In terms of tonight’s game, there’s no point in doing my usual quick table comparing rates and rankings since a) the Raptors have played just one game, b) the Nets have played zero thanks to Hurricane Sandy, and c) using 2011-12 statistics for these Nets would be ridiculous.

Offseason Moves
Toronto In: Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas, Landry Fields, Terrence Ross, John Lucas, Quincy Acy, Dominic McGuire
Toronto Out: Jerryd Bayless, Gary Forbes, James Johnson, Jamaal Magloire, Ben Uzoh, Solomon Alabi

Brooklyn In: Barclays Center, Joe Johnson, Mirza Teletovic, C.J. Watson, Reggie Evans, Jerry Stackhouse, Andray MFing Blatche, Tyshawn Taylor
Brooklyn Out: Prudential Center, Sundiata Gaines, Gerald Green, DeShawn Stevenson, Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Jordan Williams, Johan Petro

The Nets are obviously much improved, to the point that Hollinger, among others, predicted 46 wins and a 4-seed in the Eastern Conference. I’m not nearly as optimistic about them in general, but it’s difficult to find teams in the East that are better on paper than a team led by Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez. All but Deron have pretty serious warts but together that’s a formidable top-four players. No, I don’t think they’d have a chance against the Heat, Lakers, Spurs, or Thunder, but their range of finished in the East is pretty reasonably as high as two and only as low as maybe sixth. The Nets won’t defend well, but they’ll score with great efficiency, and that’s going to be enough in the East most nights. Specifically, Deron and Johnson are both dangerous outside threats, while Deron is also one of the best at setting up three-point field goals for teammates, shots Johnson hits with great success.

Fun Facts
*Per Ryan Wolstat of the Sun, the Toronto Raptors hosted the New Jersey Nets in their first ever game, were the New Jersey’s final opponent, and will be Brooklyn’s first ever opponent and the first visitor to the Barclays Center.
*Also per Wolstat, the best poorly-worded quote of all time. Dwane Casey on Andray MFing Blatche: “Dwane Casey thinks Andray Blatche is very, very good. Says he kills all his teams.” I bet he does.

Positional Breakdown
Guards: Kyle Lowry (starter) and Jose Calderon vs. Deron Williams (starter) and C.J. Watson
Advantage: Nets
If we phrased this as guards/forwards/centers, the Nets advantage would be even more extreme here. As it is, as much as I’ve fallen in man-love with Lowry, Deron Williams is one of the premier guards in the league. While his FG% fluctuates wildly and last season was just 41%, he’s a consistent 20-10 threat who is also adequate defensively and better when motivated. Lowry should be able to stay in front of him without issues, but Williams is one of the best guards in the league when it comes to posting up, where he’d have a huge advantage over the smaller Lowry (that said, he only posted up 82 times last year). Watson is also the rare backup-PG that can rival Jose in terms of backup quality. While he’s not the offensive force Calderon is, he’s a tenacious defender and long-range threat. Calderon likely has the slight edge, but it’s not enough to make up for Williams’ advantage. It’s also worth noting that the Nets don’t employ many small guards, meaning the 19 minutes of two-PG lineups we saw in the opener should be shelved.

Wings: DeMar DeRozan (starter), Landry Fields (starter), Terrence Ross and Alan Anderson vs. Joe Johnson (starter), Gerald Wallace (starter), MarShon Brooks and Josh Childress
Advantage: Nets
Johnson is an all-star calibre scorer, and is actually probably DeRozan’s ultimate upside (and the cautionary tale that convinced Colangelo to re-up DeRozan now). He’ll be a tough guard for DeMar, so we’ll likely see the more savvy Fields draw that assignment, although either give up significant strength to Crash Wallace, as well. I’ve always been a big Wallace fan and if he’s your fourth option you’re in pretty good shape. The Raptor wings played terribly in the opener, with Fields going 0/6 (but having the team’s highest plus-minus rating, showing just how misleading small samples of that stat can be), and DeRozan going 1/7 on shots in the paint. This has to be a game where Fields hits his open looks and DeRozan gets to the hoop and converts, because the advantages at positions one through three are too pronounced for any Raptor to have a bad game.

Bigs: Andrea Bargnani (starter), Jonas Valanciunas (starter), Amir Johnson and Ed Davis vs. Kris Humphries (starter), Brook Lopez (starter), Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche
Advantage: Raptors
Humphries and Lopez can both score, but neither can defend, and Lopez might be the only seven-footer on the planet less adept at grabbing rebounds than Bargs. Still, Lopez will pose a defensive issue for the Lethaluanian, but one that hopefully Jonas can negate by beating Lopez consistently at the other end of the floor. No Net big can guard Andrea, meaning his primary goal other than being aggressive will be to play adequate team defense backing up his guards and wings. Bargnani acquitted himself well enough against David West in the opener (West was just really good), and hopefully he maintains that effort level against lesser scorers. As with most games, the Raptors have a big advantage in terms of bigs off the bench, although you never know what you’re going to get with Andray Blatche’s crazy ass.

Overall Analysis
The Raptors are likely to be in tough, but the matchup on paper read that way against the Pacers as well. Being the first opponent at Barclays means that the Raptors will likely face an inspired and excited crowd, even if they do have trouble getting there, but that won’t be an excuse. The Raptors aren’t going to be the type of team to lie down against anyone, so I’d anticipate the game staying at least close. With that said, unless DeRozan is just overcome with good feelings of butterflies and rainbows and confidence from his new deal, the disadvantage outside of the post players will be just too much. Deron and Joe combine for 50 and the Raps give a solid effort but come just short once again.

Vegas Line: TBD (writing this Friday)
My Prediction: Nets by 5

A Few Words on the DeRozan Extension
I talked about the deal a lot on Twitter leading up to the extension so some of you may already know my feelings. And since Garrett did a great job yesterday with his piece, I didn’t feel the need to write 2000 words on it, as I likely would have. But I still need to get my thoughts out.

The contact is silly. Looking at comparable players, they’re almost uniformly paid less. Looking at comparably paid players, they almost uniformly perform better. Looking at his draft class mates who received similar extensions, they’ve all taken larger strides and shown more marked improvements. The reason the RFA system exists is to avoid exactly this kind of situation; by letting the season play out, the Raptors would have attained certainty, known the market for DeRozan better, and been better able to evaluate a deal. The best case in this scenario was they knew what DeMar was and paid him appropriately, or neglected to overpay him. The worst case was that someone signs him to a 4/48 deal, and the Raptors eventually spend an extra two million a year, a very small price to pay for what would essentially be “insurance” against the deal they just signed.

Now, I LOVE DeMar. Compton High jersey and all that. He seems like a great dude, a committed player who wants to get better and lead the team and the franchise. I have no problem with him being a core part of the franchise moving forward (although I then question the Fields contract and Ross drafting). But at this price, and under a tight-but-not-really deadline like this, I feel it made far more sense to risk paying said “insurance premium” if his value went up, rather than paying an expectant price for significant improvement on both ends of the floor.

Can and will he improve? I wouldn’t bet against it, as the organization knows him best and have indicated he’s the type of person they want to invest in. But the timing and the dollar value don’t make sense even if the player in question was Mahatma Ghandi’s kind heart in Jake Voskuhl’s cheer-leading body with the potential of a thousand Javale McGees.

With all of that said…once pen gets put to paper, the deal is a sunk cost. We can occasionally look back or look forward to evaluate where this contract stands in terms of proper valuation and continued flexibility and all of that. But on a game by game basis, the contract is what it is, and it’s not useful to evaluate the player moving forward in terms of his deal. It’s signed, and as fans our objective should now be to return to evaluating DeRozan on the floor compared to previous versions of himself. If the time comes when we can’t acquire someone because his deal is eating too much space, by all means become vitriolic. But in the meantime, on a nightly basis, forget the deal…the money is paid, the cost is sunk, upward and onward.

I, for one, expect DeRozan to make appreciable improvements this year in terms of shot selection, finishing at the rim, and getting to the line. Whether that’s enough, and whether improvements defensively accompany it, is yet to be seen. Though it’s tough to imagine $9.5M/year looking good at some point, let’s try not to let it sour us on DeRozan.

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  • Puffer

    Good read. Reasonable comments on Raps chances and DeMar’s contract. Glad somebody other than me thought AB had a decent defensive night in the home opener.

    • Carl Mac

       Maybe AB had a decent defensive night for the first 3 quarters, but it was David West that destroyed him play after play in the 4th quarter, and that cost the Raps the game. I put Wednesday’s loss on Casey – they had a 10 point lead and blew it because they didn’t adjust the West-Bargnani match up.

      • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

        AB was still too slow/lost on many D rotations throughout the whole game.

        Casey is just another BC yes man coach full of BC memo’d talking points.

        • Destro

          His d is trash….help man to man it dont matter…When he doesnt score 20 + hes a complete liability…

  • Me

    Derozans contract may be bad and it was stupid of BC to extend him now but what’s done is done, he plays for the team I love and he works hard. Go Demar, Go Raps.

  • Theswirsky

    Last two games Toronto played vs the Nets with Bargnani playing, were losses.   Perhaps Humphries combined 37 rebounds (16 offensive) had something to do with that?

    I’m actually expecting something rather opposite from the match ups tonight.

    PG – Toronto edge.  I’m expecting Lowry and Deron to have a great battle.  Lowry is shorter than Deron, but he has both the strength to match him on the blocks, and quickness to match him on the perimeter.  The only way Jose doesn’t outplay Watson is if Watson gets hot.  I’ll take Jose’s consistency over Watson’s randomness every time.

    Wings – Edge Brooklyn.  Fields and Derozan both have problems matching up with Wallace, both defensively and offensively and thats where the edge lies.  Joe Johnsons is better than either of them, but if I can see one of  the two having a good night against Johnsons

    Bigs – edge Brooklyn.  These will be the problem match ups for Toronto.  Good C with size matched up against a rookie, and high energy rebounders vs. Bargnani.  Humphries ate Bargnani’s lunch and slept with him mom last time they played.  If 13 game Bargnani doesn’t show up, it could well be a bench worthy showing tonight.  Evans is around to play back up… and again not a match up you want for Bargnani (strong, energetic, rebounders who stand their ground).  Val is no doubt the C of the future on this team, but Lopez is going to give him the same problems Hibbert did.  Best chance here is Avery Johnson decides to play Lopez on Bargnani and Humphries on Val.

    Humphries has been a net positive defender the last two years.  Lopez hasn’t, but he’s also not Andrea Bargnani defense.  I’m much more concerned with Toronto’s bigs defending than Brooklyn.  West embarrased Bargnani last game, as Hump did in the last matchup they had (hump 16 – 21- 3 -3 -3 vs Bargnani 10 -2 – 3 – 1 – 1), and Val inexperience makes him a bit hit and miss on tonights match up. 

    Simply put, for Toronto to have any chance at winning the game tonight either 13 game Bargnani needs to show up tonight, or at the very least he needs to get hot and nail some of those inefficient shots he loves.  Much like Watson vs Jose, I’m not putting my money on the inconsistent

    Over/under Bargnani + Lopez rebounds I’d set at 10 

    • mountio

      This game is not going to come down to Humphries. While he lit us up a couple of times in the past .. hes the least of our worries (and is in a close battle with Lopez for who is most overpaid on this team) …. and thats with Joe Johnson as a teamate!
      This game will come down to whether or not we can hang with their wings. If we can, I think our chances are good as KL will stick with DW and I expect AB/JV to outplay Humphries and Lopez (or at a minimum balance out each other .. with AB/JV outscoring KH/BL, but KH getting a bunch of useless boards … so people like you can sing his praises .. ).
      Looking forward to it. If we want to hang in the east we need to beat the brooklyn/nyk//indiana/phillys of the world on a regular basis. Tonight will be the first test 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/6JA2KUFGA5K337Q5MZVDMIKSRQ Matthew

    Most balanced take on the Derozan deal I’ve read anywhere.  Great job Blake.

  • BadDinosaur

    I expect the Nets to struggle a little. This is basically a new assembled team. Brook didn’t play last year, JJ is new, so everything is new for Deron too. I expect the game to be close with the winner being decided in the last 2 minutes.
    But this could also turn out to be a blowout with Raps on top, of course.

  • JHP

    I feel the odds are against the Raptor’s.  Hurricane, opening night, etc…  Another long year and I think DDD’s contract could be viewed as a poison pill for the next gm.

    Hope I’m wrong!!!!

  • 511

    Man … I’m lookin forward to this like it’s a playoff game. Has that feel. 

  • Jamshid

    I hope to see Ross get some serious minutes. 6 minutes for 8th pick in the draft is just too little. We need to develop this guy. Same goes for Ed Davis and Big Val.

    • what the

      but first we have to get rid of dribbles and fields   (JC and LF)

    • mountio

      Totally agree .. not that AA hasnt played ok .. but T Ross needs those minutes. Hes our only hope as a wing that can shoot the ball. Even if we play at our best, this team is still in the building mode (ie squeak into playoffs best case) .. young guys need to get minutes.
      JV should get 35+ mins (pending foul trouble .. and I realize thats a big “pending”)

  • Danielscott677

    The raps do match up well against the nets if they play hard and TOGETHER. This game is gonna come down to which teams shows up on the defensive end and rebounds the ball. Every 50/50 is gonna count in this bout. Yes this is the first game of the season for the nets, but they will be pumped with a new arena and fans on a historic night. I hate talking or reading about AB’s rebounding but he will have to keep net’s KH off the boards tonight. The game feels like it will come down to the last five minutes, and i just hope the raps show up in crunch time better then game one. That game is still stinging after watching them close out games in the pre season even though YES, it was only pre season.

  • cdub

    I think derozan got his contract because the raptors feel he can consistently get to the line.  In all fairness the guy gets more no calls than anyone in the league I think.  I look back to the Bargnani deal and some thought that was a bad deal but it ended but a pretty fair contract.  If Bargs were a FA hed be in for a raise right now.  So only time will tell with this.  It’s only 4 years so in a couple years it either looks good or they have an expiring contract to deal like calderon right now.  I personally don’t like the deal but I actually really like this raptor team so I’m not that mad.  Except for Fields he just seems out of place out there.

    • what the

      Fn Feilds couldn’t even guard  Demar when he was with NY, yet BC has NY 2nd round pick as our starter and not only that watch his free throws, this guy should give up his girlfriend ontill he can shoot freethrow . lets go  DeMar

  • Milesboyer

    The combination of Colangelo, Gherardini and Stefanski f*cked up that much on the Derozan contract?  I think there is a business angle to it that the average fan does not take into account. I’m not saying it was a good or bad deal but I think there is more to it than meets the eye. On a side note and in a complete fantasy world, if I were GM I would have drafted Andre Drummond, not signed Fields, not extended Demar, traded JV and whoever for James Harden and swung the Lowry trade.  That would have been a guaranteed playoff team that could have gotten better with age but that’s just fantasy of course.

    • mountio

      care to elaborate on what you mean by a business angle (or than the generic stuff, he seems to like to TO, they can sell loyalty to their players / fans) .. are you thinking something specific?
      hindsight is 20/20 .. but I think most would look back and say they would do the picks / trades the way you lay them out (although Harden and Lowry might have been mutually exclusive as you would need the pick to get both…)

  • Scottbbaird

    Is Farmar on an NBA team?  I liked his game in LA, and if we weren’t so deep at PG, I’d want Colangelo to pick him up.

    • what the

      oh no the L.Fields look a like

  • Thetruth

    Handing Landry Fields 20 million dollars and extending DeRozan for 40 million is really reaching Billy King levels of ineptitude. I love DeMar as a player but this deal is indefensible. He will never live up to that contract and it’s unfair to him, the organization, and the fans.

    • what the

      is it your money?

  • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!

    Bigs: Andrea Bargnani (starter), Jonas Valanciunas (starter), Amir Johnson and Ed Davis vs. Kris Humphries (starter), Brook Lopez (starter), Reggie Evans and Andray Blatche Advantage: Raptors

    Shiiiiiiiittttt (Clay Davis voice)

    Pencil Hump in for a double double. Lopez will abuse Val on offense. Reggie will scare AB while grabbig Val’s nut sack.lol Plus Blatche is a very talented offensive player- especially coming off of the bench, that’s seemingly has matured a bit in his new situation.
    Advantage Nets.

    • BCStefanskiCaseyGots2Go!!!


    • mountio

      Not sure I agree (espeically with Lopez on Val – I think Val gets the better of the matchup .. but the Clay Davis voice was very well played and cracked me up… so Ill give you this one

      • Destro

        YOU would !

  • vino

    “If the time comes when we can’t acquire someone because his deal is eating too much space”
    The question is not “if”, but “when”. Also, this approach is an excuse in itself since all transactions undermine financials, so every move or potential move that could have even be hypothesized… now becomes irrelevant. I liked BC until yesterday morning when I read about this nonsense extension. Pathetic!

    • p00ka

      “so every move or potential move that could have even be hypothesized… now becomes irrelevant.”

      I thinks that’s totally untrue, and my basis for that is in facts that I know, rather than opinion. I welcome some education toward the CBA and how this is tying the Raps’ hands on the potential of a move. I admit to somewhat limited knowledge of the CBA, but the effects of this extension over the next couple of years at least, don’t appear to hinder the potential for any move, whether that be a trade or signing a FA, if there’s a feasible FA available that’s worth it (is there this coming year? I don’t think so).

      – this contract has zero bearing on what can be done this season
      – unless you assume they would just let DD walk on July 1st, from there on for the next year at least, it still has little to no effect on the team’s ability to make a trade, or sign a FA (again is there any even worth talking about?).

      “When” isn’t something that can be assumed at all, but “if” is very applicable, and yet to be determined. I welcome any feasible (we’re not getting Dwight or CP3) scenario that you think the Raps couldn’t move on over the next couple of years.

  • what the

    raps 0-2 to start the season I don’t expect a win tonight 2 reasons .  

    • what the

      make that  3 reasons i just found out that the commish is also there

  • mountio

    demar stop shooting long jumpers .. fuck! Wheres the chat?

    • Destro

      1/2 from 3 pt
      7 pts 2 boards and he made a great defensive play on JJ…you had the itch to hate tho huh…

      • KJ-B

        MY DUDE–haters gon hate…same Toronto fans gone say he’s the 2nd coming jus now…SMH

  • Destro

    Is Andrea gonna bother guarding G Wallace tonight ?
    Hes left him wide open 3 times and missed his rotation a couple times,fuck hes a terrible fckn defender on all levels…When Jonas isnt out there theres NO post presence under the basket at all….

  • Destro

    Lowry is picking this team apart….

  • Destro

    Amir Johnson should be teaching Andrea how to help defend in the paint….

  • Destro

    Dwane Casey needs to get this second fckn unit out the game right now…

  • Destro

    this team aint shit on the defensive end….

  • KJ-B

    Tryna like Lowry and all-but I’m seeing some Mike James tendencies–hopefully, this gunner mentality is a one-off–DEEBO balling outta control when dem fiyah engine red Nike’s!!! J looking smoove!

    • Destro

      27/8/8 how the fck can u hate on that,hes scoring cuz nobody else is and hes setting up guys….

      • KJ-B

        love the heart–not the turnovers gettin his cookies picked…work in progress BUT I love the effort!  Just questioning, cause nobody’s beyond the pale…zeen?!

        • Destro

          Fck that BS if anybody else NOT including DD stepped up they win that fckn game….Jonas got worked by Lopez and Bargs is a puss….You need a 3rd guy against a good team to help out…

          Lowry nearly won that game by himself…

    • hater

      the fuck u talking about klow almost be putting up triple doubles + great defence

  • KJ-B

    ALAN ANDERSON–what’s the <3 affair??? Don't get Casey on this 1…at all.

  • KJ-B

    Do my eyes deceive or is JLIII, Casey’s pet hunting down shots like he’s James Harden???

  • hater

    lowry is a fuckin beast but he cant win this on his own playing alongside a scrub like bargnani who is supposed to score at the very least,, D had a good nite tho and lowry like i said…he DID that

    • KJ-B

      funny cause DD called for a side pick n roll and gave #7 the shot on his hand to tie at 92-94 and, yup that was a brick and they never got back in it after that! SMH……..

    • KJ-B

      but at the same time I can’t kill #7–those boys in BK are big dudes…btw where was Landry Fields 2nite, in Manhattan???

  • Destro

    Caseys coaching NEEDS to be talked about..its very questionable…You cant have Bargs guarding Wallace/Humphries and leave Lopez to SGs and Amir….with the game on the line…

    • Nilanka15

      WTF was up with the Calderon, Anderson, McGuire, Davis, Amir lineup Casey trotted out to start the 2nd??? That’s where we lost the game. Not one offensive threat. Brutal substitution pattern.

  • Destro

    Casey has cost us both games with his coaching….
    Why are we playing Aaron Gray in crunch time ? 18 + plus mins,im sorry that is ridiculous you wont win with gray out there closing games..Val is your best bet FUCK if he struggled early you HAVE to let him play thru shit…Hes your best post defender (sadly) and he gives you alot more than gray can off…Just a poorous decision.

    Secondly Why is Ross getting ZERO mins ? Your bench sucked..this guy is supposedly NBA ready and hes not playing ??

    Thirdly would this idiot coach pls pls stop with 2 PGs play its KILLIN us defensively…
    It doesnt work all the time….and learn to fckn sub properly Casey sloppy subbing is so bad…he leaves guys out of the game too long for us to come back and make a game of deficits…

    Casey has blown BOTH of these losses with inadequate coaching no way around that…

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XHJKFMCGSMBEQGBRKJVLKUGSEQ john g

      Val was getting bodied all game by Lopez. Its just too much of a risk. Gray can at least push Lopez off the block a little more and did a pretty decent job in the second half than Val would have done.

      • Destro

        I give you that Val didnt look good but Gray did no better defensively on Lopez then bargs did.The coaching comes into play when he dont recognize that Ed Davis was solid when he played..He scored and gave you good D what that idiot Casey should have done was bring Ed in the 4th to play PF and have Bargs on Lopez at C.
        You still needed scoring to win the game thats the problem with Gray is you get none…These are the subbing mistakes that i always talk about with Casey he never reads the game situations right and never makes the correct subs according to how the games going….

        Even with Gray in there your down 4-5 pts you need scoring from your front line and Ed was giving you that…

        Terrible coaching…

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XHJKFMCGSMBEQGBRKJVLKUGSEQ john g

           Wells its not like you can ride Ed for the whole quarter. I think he was getting tired. And if you played Ed at the 4, that would have been an even worse matchup, against Gerald Wallace. This is how I see it, if Bargs made that jumper to tie it from that pass from Demar, that would have put us in a position to win the game. With Ed, he had a nice run but you have to put in your starter no matter what.

    • mountio

      The Ross thing is driving me crazy (so is the Val .. Ill give Gray some credit for bodying Lopez .. but fuck .. he blew two wide open dunks down the stretch (at least got fouled on one (1/2 from the line).)
      As for Ross .. its one thing to stretch for the dude and take him ahead of Drummond (which I am ok with btw) – but its a whole other to do that and then not play your #8 pick in a loaded draft??? When he possesses a skill (ie 3pt shooting) that your starting 2/3 dont have?
      Fine, maybe hes not that confident, but give the dude some burn and let him learn. Hes got some skills, and the Raps are a sneak in playoff team AT ABSOLUTE BEST .. so we should be developing JV and T Ross as much as possible.
      Sorry AA (whos played ok), sorry Aaron Gray .. you guys ride pine while our players with the talent figure it out …

      • Destro

        Worst case is this team misses on the playoffs and did it at the expense of not playing Jonas and Ross minutes…