Knicks Trounce Raptors, 12 Games Left

Nothing to see here. Twelve games to go.

Raptors 84, Knicks 110 – Box
Raptors blown out in New York. After winning the first two games of the season series in dramatic fashion, the Raptors dropped the last two on successive nights. The Knicks had maintained a comfortable distance for the majority of the Friday night game, almost giving the Raptors a way back in right at the end. On Saturday night, the story was quite different as it was a classic second-half blowout with the Knicks winning every quarter.

Terrence Ross and Landry Fields got the start as the Raptors tried to match up with the Chandler-less Knicks, hung around in the first quarter on account of fast break points, got let down by their individual and team defense in the second which served as the Knicks’ resurgence, and were blown out proper in the second half.

The need for analysis is zero here, but I would like to point to something that irked me to no end at halftime. Check out these two first-half stat lines:

Jonas: 1-1 FG, 14 minutes
Anderson: 4-8 FG, 17 minutes

Valanciunas ended up taking and making four shots while collecting eight rebounds on the night. Anderson ended up taking more than three times the shots that Valanciunas did (4 vs. 14 – Anderson shot chart, Valanciunas shot chart). Casey cannot possibly justify this kind of shot distribution, or more importantly, the low level of Valanciunas’ involvement in the Raptors offense. When Valanciunas does get the ball in any post-up situation, the Raptors’ set just has better balance because he is literally the only player the Raptors can hope to play inside-outside with. Amir Johnson never did develop his post-game to the point where you could initiate something from it, which leaves Valanciunas the prime candidate to blend your offense with something different, yet we don’t see a concerted effort made towards doing so.

Our other man of interest, Terrence Ross, had a better showing. He went 3-5 from long distance and although looked horrible handling the ball and with some of the decisions he made in transition (3 turnovers), it was a step up from what he has been all season: invisible. He notched 31 minutes which was great to see, and I’m thinking his near-term offensive goal is to be someone like Jordan Crawford, except hopefully with better defense.

We got a good look at Landry Fields the last couple games against Carmelo Anthony and nothing new was really learned. We all want to believe that he’s a guy who does the “little things” well, and for the last two nights he has played fairly sound defense against Anthony (yes, Fields isn’t entirely to blame for ‘Melo’s point totals). Most fans acknowledge that he can be of some use here and there, mostly as a specialist of some sort and perhaps more if he can sort out that silly looking jumper of his. The problem comes with the expectations set for him and when Devlin describes him as a “lock-down defender”, that’s where you start rolling your eyes.

The usual backcourt-tandem of DeRozan and Lowry had reasonably good offensive games, other than Lowry jacking a few ill-advised long-range bombs early in the shot-clock and DeRozan letting guys like Novak off the hook in one on situations. The problem on the night wasn’t really offense but on the other end. The Knicks were +9 on the glass and shot better than 51%. It would be lazy of me to chalk up the bad defense to effort alone so I won’t.

When you look at this Knick team, the two guys you don’t want beating you are Carmelo Anthony and J.R Smith. Yet, those are exactly the two guys who beat them (Anthony had 28, Smith had 25, and Martin had 18). There was zero adjustment from the night before when the three Knick leading scorers were, you guessed it, Anthony with 37, Martin with 19, and Smith with 14). I realize those are tough guys to cover at times, but I expect a coach like Dwane Casey, who is known for his defensive mind, to throw out a scheme that does SOMETHING which forces guys like Felton, Shumpert, Martin, Copeland, Novak, or Kidd to try and take the game over, kind of like other teams do with us and Anderson.

Leaving strategy aside, the actual execution on defense was poor as well. The transition defense was late, picking up shooters were poor, and basic scouting report stuff was ignored. For example, why Kenyon Martin is being played for the shot is beyond me. Why we are not sending a double to ‘Melo when he’s within his comfort turnaround range, but sending one when he’s 22-feet out is also worth of a raised eyebrow. If this was an important game with something on the line we’d talk about these things in greater detail.

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