“[Tuesday] was probably the hardest practice he’s had since he’s been back, because we’ve had so many day-in-between-[games] practices where there is not a lot of banging, hitting and body on body,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “[Tuesday] was kind of the first day we had that. He went through that well, made it through it. He got some tough rebounds, which was good to see. We’ll wait and see how his body responds [Wednesday].”
While I don’t think there’s anything universally wrong with having players take long shots, there’s something wrong with having most (if not all) of your top players doing it. 73% of Raptors shots are jump shots, whereas their opponents only settle for a jumper 64% of the time. The eFG% numbers actually show that Toronto shoots their jumpers more effectively than their opponents, but because they take so many, they end up being less effective overall.
Whether it’s his stoic nature, or his standoffish tendencies, his unwillingness to rebound or indifference to defence, fans in Toronto have never warmed to Bargnani. But as one grizzled veteran of NBA boardrooms mentioned recently whichever way this thing unfolds, as Bargnani is poised to make his return, the franchise should come out ahead. Say what you want about his defence, his rebounding or even his demeanour, but even his harshest critics will find it difficult to argue that the man can score
“They still have a veteran team,” Casey said. “They still have a championship pedigree with Garnett, Pierce, and those guys. They know how to win. They know how to play. What you have now is more ball movement and stretching teams out. You are so used to Rondo having the ball and now it’s zinging around quarterbacking through Garnett, quarterbacking through Pierce so it’s kind of a mystery where that ball is going. The whole league is going to have to get used to this.”
The arrival of Gay has had a positive impact on DeMar DeRozan in his first two games with the Raptors. The seven-year veteran is also helping Ross learn the nuances of the game. “Since he’s been here he’s been giving me tips and pointers of how I should do certain things come off screens, attack people and just seeing him actually do it is helping me a lot,” Ross said. When he’s not learning from Gay or DeRozan, Ross has been keeping a low profile. He said he has to as he adjusts to the pace and schedule of the NBA.
In our last poll, published just after the Rudy Gay trade was finalized, I asked about your emotional reaction to the deal. The largest number of votes went to “Good”, followed by “Great”. However, finishing a healthy third was “Enraged,” which is not an anti-Rudy comment, but one indicating the depth of feeling towards the loss of Jose Calderon and Ed Davis. “Indifferent”, which is the anti-Rudy vote, ran a respectable fourth and last. I’m with the “Enraged” crowd, as I think we’ll be mourning the departure of Jose and Ed for a long time.
Like Carter, it appears that the Raptors offence is going to be built around Rudy Gay who is the one player on this Raptor roster that you can feel confident can create his own shot. In past years it has been an offence that has been designed for Andrea Bargnani and at times DeMar DeRozan. Gay seems to be comfortable in embracing the franchise player label that has been thrust upon him since the trade. Andera Bargnanii and to a lesser extend DeMar DeRozan have had their chances to claim that role for their own. Now it seems that time has passed and this is Gay’s team to make his own around him.
The league has already taken notice of the Raptors. Dwane Casey believes the acquisition of Rudy Gay has instilled confidence in DeMar DeRozan to excel as a player. DeMar put up 27 points against Miami’s stifling defense. ”It takes the heat off of him because now teams can’t double team or send a man-and-a-half to him to put pressure on him when he has the ball,” said Casey.
…andnd that’s why Jonas Valanciunas is the Raptors’ most important player, and not Rudy Gay, or Kyle Lowry, or DeMar DeRozan. Gay is a dynamic wing player, the best scorer the team has had in a long time, and an immediate fan favourite, but how far the Raptors go will be dependant on the development of Valanciunas. Unfortunately for Raptor fans, Valanciunas’ development seems to be taking a back seat to Bryan Colangelo’s need for immediate success. It’s highly doubtful he’ll trade Valanciunas for a veteran who can help the team right now, but since his return from injury, he’s played an average of 8 minutes a game and, so far, has an undefined role.
Gay will be what he can for the Raptors, he’s already proven it with two strong games including a team-high 29 points against the Miami Heat with 11-of-23 shooting. In that particular game, Gay played all but seven minutes and did just about everything with four. rebounds, two assists and three steals. But Gay is making Raptor fans smile when he says he needs to adjust to find out where his teammates want to be at various times, then perhaps he’ll settle down, meaning he could produce even more numbers. Just give him some time.
Missed field goals up the wazoo. Anderson is shooting just 37 percent from the field. How bad is that? Among small forwards that average 25+ minutes per game, Anderson is dead last in shooting — 29th out of 29. Yes, he’s only averaging 25.5 minutes, but even among SFs that average 20+ minutes, he’s 40th out of 43. This, coupled with the fact that he takes 15.4 shots per 36 minutes (good for second on the Raptors if you discount Andrea Bargnani) amounts to one ugly conclusion: Alan Anderson is missing a ton of shots.
“I’ll tell you the truth, I didn’t even know we won four in a row. I just know that we have been moving the basketball, playing as hard as (we can),” said Kevin Garnett, whose team had dropped six straight before this run. “The normalcy of not having him here is starting to set in, so guys kind of know that they are going to play and being prepared for that. “We’re going to take it one game at a time and continue to … consolidate that responsibility through everybody.”
As great as the Celtics have been playing without Rondo I think the books are still setting lines for the Raptors as if they never traded for Gay, or at least setting lines for the Raptors anticipating that it will take a while for this side to gel with Gay’s inclusion. From what I’ve seen so far Gay has settled right in to this lineup. He shot the ball 23 times in 42 minutes (for 29 points) in the Raptors’ loss to the Heat on Sunday night so make no mistake about it, this team is more than comfortable with him in the side. I think the Raptors will end this 3 game home stand with a win over the C’s and they cover the number.
…even the Raptors have taken a jump since adding Rudy Gay last week. Though still a lot stronger on the perimeter than inside, Toronto has emerged as one of the league’s most fluid offensive teams. “Toronto is faster, a lot more confident, they’re playing with the element of getting the ball up and down the floor at an unbelievable pace,” Garnett said. “(Gay) has brought a spark to the city. That’s something that has stood out when I’ve watched him.”
Amir Johnson is usually solid defensively, but his numbers have declined since last season. He allowed 0.81 points per possession during the 2011/12 season. This season he is allowing 0.91 points per possession. The Gay trade has also temporarily left Johnson as the Raptors only big that is capable of logging major minutes. Often times he is playing out of position and battling centers that are much bigger than him. While he is able to take advantage of them on the offensive end, he gets hurt defensively.
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