“He’s a quiet man. I think people mistake that for him not caring. I do think he cares. I do know he cares. I do think that’s the part of Andrea’s personality that nobody’s been able to grasp upon. But there’s a lot going on upstairs. He does care. He’s very conscientious of where he stands with the team, in the league. Just because he doesn’t talk a lot, sometimes people mistake that for not caring.”
We Can Blame This Loss On…again, playing a more experienced team for starters, as it was evident tonight the club was still trying to figure out “who should be where” at both ends of the court. However the club’s offensive decision-making at times was spotty, Toronto’s wings despite putting up points, were very inefficient (Gay, Anderson and DeRozan were 15 of 47 (32 per cent), the team again had key turnovers at inopportune times (and 15 in total) and had major defensive issues in the second and fourth quarters (outscored 60 to 38.)
We can’t wrap up without talking about Andrea Bargnani’s return to the lineup. Bargnani finished with a decent 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting in nearly 24 minutes of action off of the bench to go with three rebounds, two assists and two steals. I thought his energy was fine and liked the fact that he kept the ball moving on offence, and I actually thought he did a solid job defending Kevin Garnett (I wouldn’t have minded seeing Bargnani on Garnett down the stretch), but there were also more than a few missed rebounding opportunities with Andrea on the floor, as usual.
Bargnani was not able to do much in the second half on offence (just two more points), but was solid defensively, using his length to cause Boston problems. But DeMar DeRozan turned in one of his worst all-around performances of the year, the bench faltered, getting called out by Casey (“we can’t give up the lead the starting unit has gained”) and the Raptors made many mistakes down the stretch.
The better Bargnani returns to anything resembling form, the better it will be for Casey and the Raptors: Either in the lineup or out. Either traded or not. Either moved at the end of the season, assuming he is able to play most of the rest of the second half. They talk a lot about getting him back to the good part of last season, the coach and the player do. Casey think he knows what buttons to push. He knows he has to run the gamut with Bargnani, who takes up so much time. You coach a little, love a little, push hard, browbeat, kick him at times, be fatherly, all this to understand what has been historically misunderstood.
“Rudy’s going to be Rudy, he’s not going to change at all, he’s still going to be a great scorer, but what he’s going to make is DeRozan a better scorer and everyone else a better scorer ’cause you have to guard Rudy,” Rivers said. “The spacing on the floor changes dramatically with him on the floor. It also gives them a bonafide go-to guy, a consistent go-to-guy, it makes them better immediately.” Dwane Casey agrees.
Squandering a 10-point fourth quarter lead is bad. Squandering a 10-point fourth quarter lead to a veteran and experienced Boston team is even worse. Against the Celtics they lost their composure while Boston remained calm. “I thought we rebounded well, defended well, caused some turnovers and were able to get out on the break and get some easy ones,” Paul Pierce said about Boston’s fourth quarter effort. “I feel like we didn’t have the pace we wanted all game long until the fourth and once we picked that pace up we got the lead and were able to win the game.”
Gay had 20+ for the third straight game, setting a franchise record for scoring in the first three games as a Raptor. However, he did take 24 shots and 8 free throws. Kyle Lowry had 17 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists, and Amir Johnson got 16 and 12, but it wasn’t enough. The Raptors didn’t have an answer for Kevin Garnett, with Aaron Gray only playing 20 minutes and hauling in just two boards.
Casey has a good defensive mind. He was a perfect assistant coach to Rick Carlisle with the Dallas Mavericks. With the Raptors he is out of his element. He doesn’t manage the game or the team well enough to earn calls from the referees during crunch time. Yes I said earn because in this league that is what you have to do with the referees. A call could be made on every single possession. It is up to the referees to decide when to blow their whistle. Unfortunately with Casey’s incompetence at the end of games the whistles just don’t seem to go the Raptors way.
“Rudy’s a great scorer,” said Boston’s Kevin Garnett. “You can’t stop guys like that. You’re just trying to give him different looks and hope that he misses.” Indeed, this will be yet another lesson for Gay to learn from as he adapts to his new team in a new city, with a new role. With so many young players on the roster, it’s clear that the Raptors view him as the face of their franchise moving forward. “It’s a lot of great players here,” Gay told CSNNE.com. “They’re just young. They have to learn. For the most part, it takes time. Hopefully I can lower the curve a little bit just being out here.”
“I was happy to see my old friends and obviously you can’t forget what we went through last summer with this team,” Pietrus said before the Celtics’ 99-95 win over the Raptors. “It was great to share in that moment with them and to see their faces made me feel good. I wanted to be part of the Boston Celtics family but I am not mad at management or anything. I still love those guys. We had a great run and I appreciate everything they’ve done for me. They got my knee right and today I’m happy.”
Boston’s bench wasn’t itself Wednesday night. Check that – most of Boston’s bench wasn’t itself Wednesday night. Leandro Barbosa was the exception. Barbosa was the spark plug the Celtics needed in the fourth quarter of their 99-95 win over the Raptors in Toronto. He scored 12 points in the fourth quarter alone and helped the Celtics overcome the 10-point deficit they stared down heading into the decisive frame. The speedy guard lit a fire under the C’s with an and-one layup to start the final quarter. Boston erased that 10-point deficit over the next two minutes and then tied things up at 79-79.
Dwane Casey followed through on his threat Wednesday night. He played Andrea Bargnani – and the Air Canada Centre roof didn’t fall in. Bargnani heard more boos than cheers when he came in after missing 26 games with an injury, the Toronto Raptors committed six fourth-quarter turnovers and lost 99-95 to the Boston Celtics but the good news is unless Il Mago picked up another injury, general manager Bryan Colangelo should be on the telephone this morning.
“I thought we came out tip-toeing into the game where I thought they came out the hungrier team,” Casey said. “I thought we got that mojo back after halftime but we didn’t start the game with the same type of excitement and enthusiasm and the fight that we have to step on the floor with and that was disappointing.”
…I definitely like this trade as it sets up a (very uncontrolled) test of WP’s ability to measure the value of certain types of players. While Calderon is clearly terrific offensively, conventional wisdom and some more quantitative analysis (http://ascreamingcomesacrossthecourt.blogspot.com/2012/10/jose-calderon-example-of-how-wins.html) claim that Calderon is terrible on defense and that WP overrates him by setting his team defensive adjustment be equal to that of his teammates. If indeed Calderon plays significant minutes and Detroit does not improve significantly, would you consider re-evaluating the defensive measurements involved in wins produced? Both pose the question: if what you thought would happen doesn’t happen, does that mean Wins Produced is flawed? The answer is no, it probably just means that I predicted the minutes incorrectly.