No one really knows what this team would look like over time since it’s barely been together. To date, Andrea Bargnani and Landry Fields have each missed 20 games, Alan Anderson’s missed 17, Linas Kleiza’s been out for 14, Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas have been on the shelf for 13 games apiece. Toss in three other minor bumps and the Raptors have missed 100 man-games to injury already.
Ever since returning and conducting this honest interview, Fields has come out and looked like an entirely new player for the Dinos. Although there still may be some hesitation with his mid-to deep-range jumper, he’s picked right up where he left off as a Knick with his slashing and distributing ability with and without the basketball. This has worked in favor of the guards handling the ball, especially Jose Calderon, who has looked in sync with Fields’ cuts and positioning to the basket in the half-court game.
Kobe watches the game for the first time and live-Tweets it:
After my first bucket I realized their rotations weren’t sharp or early
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 22, 2013
The troubling thing is DeRozan’s shooting woes aren’t isolated to this weekend, but instead have lasted all month as he is shooting 40 per cent from the field in January. According to Basketball Reference, DeRozan has made all 26 of his 27 dunk attempts and 59 of the 117 layups he has attempted. Those two shots are responsible for almost a quarter of his field goal attempts and helped to spike his field goal percentage. Where things start to get scary is when you realize that nearly 75 per cent of DeRozan’s field goal attempts are jump shots but he is only making 38 per cent of those (169-440). So, in essence, he’s a shooting guard that has struggled to shoot this season.
“We weren’t closing off games the way we started off,” said forward Alan Anderson. “We’re still playing hard. We’re got to finish the way we start off.” That’s what is perplexing about the Raptors. They are getting great individual performances but because of the hideous start and the team’s inability to close out close games, the record is damning.
DeRozan attempts more shots inside when he isn’t playing with Davis or Fields. He also gets to the free throw line at a higher rate when those two are on the bench. With those two on the floor, the Raptors don’t have a lot of spacing since Jose Calderon is the only credible three point threat. The obvious solution would be to add another three-point threat to the starting lineup to improve spacing.
All in all, the Raptors have lost nine games in overtime or by five points or less. A staggering number considering if the team wins just half of those games they are sitting in a playoff spot. That number becomes even more surprising when you combine it with all the injuries the team has endured.
Considering all the factors working against Toronto this season, the team has clearly shown their never quit attitude. The Raptors have been unlucky with injuries, officiating, and closing out games. However, night after night the team sees a new player step up.
The Heat (26-12) haven’t played since Thursday when they capped a 10-day, six-game road trip with a 99-90 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. They started the trek with losses to Indiana and Portland but closed by winning three of four. “It was good for our team to kind of get a rest,” said Dwyane Wade, whose scoring average of 20.1 ranks 10th. “We are one of the oldest teams in the league. (It’s good) for guys to kind of mentally and physically get away from the grind.”
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