When you’re playing a team like OKC, you have to play your cards perfectly.
But when you’re playing Mickael Pietrus, even perfect basketball won’t cut it.
It’s pretty clear we can point to about 50 games this season where the other team is more talented than this unit. Vegas would agree, and they’re an uncanny kind of accurate, because Vegas knows talent is usually the main deciding factor in sports.
We could probably simply point out the talent disparity after every game and depress everyone on here that no rotation or coach could really change the fortunes of the franchise.
But it’s pretty clear now that Bryan Colangelo’s decisions are the main reason behind this team’s performance for the last half-decade. The final few supporters who clung on to BC’s Phoenix Suns legacy have jumped ship and it’s probably only a matter of time now before the axe falls.
Right? Right Larry Tanenbaum? If you’re going to have only one supporter, who better than your own boss?
While we wait for the endgame to play out, there are still games to be played, like the one here on Sunday afternoon. Directing our venom at Dwane Casey will have to suffice for now.
Take Mickael Pietrus for one.
He brings nothing to the table right now. If you want to play the defense card, then Landry Fields should get the nod. Even a rusty, post-surgery Fields is better than Pietrus. Offensively Alan Anderson is clearly better than Pietrus.
The beginning of the game was really hard to watch. You could see Westbrook just overwhelm Calderon, stripping the ball off of him to begin the game. Perhaps the game was won right there, because Jose played tentatively for much of the game.
Jose is a good point guard. On a team that has a competent shooting guard, or even a playmaking small forward, he would be fine on most nights. He facilitates, but as Sunday afternoon showed us, he had no-one to pass it to. Pietrus not being able to do much is understandable, but DeRozan shows us once again that he’s a player that finishes plays, not starts them. That’s not what you want in your shooting guard in today’s NBA.
Thabo Sefolosha might be a good defender, but we need to hold DeRozan to a higher standard here. The good players in this league manage to produce even when they don’t have their “A” game. DeMar seems to be easily contained if teams want to. This is not a slight against his effort or mental makeup. It’s a talent thing. He just lacks that polish and elite first step to overcome adversity. Whatever he is right now is a product of his relentless approach and the major role he has been granted on this team.
This is just about managing expectations. He is an adequate shooting guard, but he will not win you games with his talent. Just like the Andrea Bargnani debacle, this is on Bryan Colangelo for expecting more out of his draft picks than he should.
The Thunder could have ran away with the game pretty early on, but the Raptors stuck around due to the shooting antics of Alan Anderson, who ended with a career high of 27 points.
It’s getting pretty tiring waiting for your bench to come on the floor. That’s not right is it? You should be holding your breath when your starters check out, because they are your best players. But unfortunately in the Raptors case, we have rarely, if ever, seen the optimal lineup start for this team.
Kyle Lowry needs to be inserted back into the starters role. It should be clear as day that he is the best offensive talent on this team. If we had more offensive talent in the starting lineup, then Calderon is just fine.
Same goes for Aaron Gray. Amir was excellent this game, and had he not been in foul trouble last game, the Sacramento game might have turned out different. His defensive impact cannot be understated. He is no longer an undersized center. If you take a look around the NBA, the big behemoth center is an endangered species. A quick, long player generally suffices now.
What iced the game for OKC were the usual suspects, Durant and Westbrook, who were able to break down the defense with dribble penetration and kick out to guys like Kevin Martin and Serge Ibaka for jumpers. It doesn’t even matter that they have a below average center in Kendrick Perkins, because perimeter play drives everything now.
Even with the Raptors down double-digits, OKC decided to iso Durant on DeRozan in the 4th, almost as if to simulate a “real” close game situation. After seeing what this incredibly coordinated and agile 6’10″ player can do with a basketball, two words come to mind:
As mentioned in the Quick Reaction yesterday, it’s hard not to root for a guy like Durant. We won’t see him play the Raptors again this year (thankfully) but he’s such a refreshing departure from what we’re used to seeing in today’s NBA stars.
Overall, this game was a disappointment because the Raptors could have played them closer. They aren’t as good as the blowout victories against Portland and Orlando, nor are they as bad as they have been in the last two games.
But this team, if Lowry plays increased minutes and Pietrus is nailed to the bench, should continue to play closer to the team we have seen since mid-December.