Minnesota Timberwolves 101 FinalRecap | Box Score 89 Toronto Raptors
Amir Johnson, PF 25 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -6Forced to bang with Love and Pekovic who can use their bulk to push him around; did well not to leave his feet, defend with his feet while staying straight-up. Ran the floor well, and even hit a straight-up three. Didn’t come out much to defend but I’m thinking it has something to do with Casey wanting him to stick to the paint.
Rudy Gay, SF 20 MIN | 2-7 FG | 7-8 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +5A good game in the sense that he attempted to attack rather than settle (the FTs reflect that), but the shooting percentages speak for themselves. When you’re supposed to be, as Devlin described, an “elite player”, then this kind of shooting efficiency is frankly unacceptable and I hope that it’s only temporary and that he turns the corner into becoming that elusive All-Star player the Raptors have failed to produce in years.
Jonas Valanciunas, C 27 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -6Strong showing early going at Pekovic, did well fighting for the boards against some muscle, and had his offense ticking. He makes his physical presence felt on both ends which is something you couldn’t say last year. You might think he was going against team play by looking for his shot when it might not have been there, but that’s just fine with me – he needs touches and with Gay and DeRozan around, those are going to be at a premium.
Kyle Lowry, PG 20 MIN | 4-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +2Defensively missing and got shaken off too easily by Rubio using simple screens, part of that is poor communication but part is just not anticipating Rubio based on his tendencies. Offensively, looked effective running the break, providing some drive-and-kicks, finishing in traffic, and other than an instance of leaving his feet without knowing who to pass to, had a good offensive game.
DeMar DeRozan, SG 23 MIN | 6-7 FG | 5-6 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 17 PTS | +1Solid, solid, solid offensively. Two games in a row where he’s pulling off moves that were sure to end up in rejections the last two years. The up-and-under is working and so is the spin at the elbow. He’s active defensively as well, although Martin didn’t provide much of a challenge tonight so that part of his game went untested.
Tyler Hansbrough, PF 21 MIN | 2-6 FG | 5-6 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -13Guy plays hard, we know that. Battled the Minny bigs well and all in all, made them take shots he wanted them to take – unfortunately for him, lot of them went in. Six field goal attempts in 21 minutes is a bit much for a guy his skill level, but it is preseason so it gets a pass.
Austin Daye, PF 3 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +1I guess it was his turn to take the night off.
Landry Fields, SF 26 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -18The jumper looks messed up, it’s got a weird kink in it that makes it look even worse than before. He’s a wanderer on offense and defense, except that he doesn’t seem to be in the right place at the right time which is what most freestylers are supposed to be good at, get what I’m saying? For a guy whose selling point is his versatility, he’s disappointing in pretty much every category.
Chris Wright, SF 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0Why he not play? He needs to make the team, really feel he can be of help this season.
Steve Novak, SF 21 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | 0The sniper did what he’s paid to do – knock down open looks. The guy moves along the semi-circle well, always presenting himself to a potential passer which, after having watched Bargnani all these years, I had forgotten was a thing. As has been true in his NBA career, the guy is allergic to the paint.
Dwight Buycks, PG 17 MIN | 3-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | -13Rude awakening #2. Blew some pretty open looks, threw a terrible pass, and looked generally out of place for most of his 17 minutes. The coach obviously favours him over Julyan Stone, but Buycks hasn’t shown just why yet. I realize Barea can be a tough cover at times, but I was hoping Buycks would show some of that defensive skill that he was hired for.
Julyan Stone, PG 4 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -3No idea why he’s not getting any run, I guess Casey/Ujiri’s mind is already made up.
D.J. Augustin, PG 13 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -3Limited playing time tonight and found himself paired up with Buycks again in the fourth which for some reason Casey thinks is a realistic lineup? Maybe he’s got plans on these two playing together in some smaller lineup, but I tell you, I don’t see it. He needs to play with some skilled perimeter guys for his assist and scoring numbers to be respectable, tonight it didn’t happen.
Terrence Ross, SG 19 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 7 PTS | -8Wow! Two wide open threes, one hit the side of the backboard, the other was an airball. His confidence on offense is shot (pardon the pun) and has been for quite some time, and I’m not sure what technique Casey can employ to get it back. He did have one nice spin move in the paint for a jumper, but other than that he was nowhere to be found. He’s trying to be a hound on defense (e.g., closing out hard) but the quick Minny wings make you pay for that.
Carlos Morais, SG 3 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +1No idea what the point of playing two minutes is.
Dwane CaseyThat defense that he’s been preaching about was nowhere to be found as Minny shot 47% and were above 50% for most of the game. I get that the offensive sets aren’t even there, the spacing is terrible, but given the talk coming out of practice, I would’ve expected this to be a defensively impressive performance, even for just the first half when the starters got the majority of the minutes.

Five Things We Saw

  1. The Raptors cut down their turnovers from the first game (26) down to 14, and six of them came in the first quarter. Things tightened after that. The starters held their own and had the Raps leading at the half, but the subs couldn’t pull their weight. Casey will have to be disappointed.
  2. The Raptors defended the paint much better than the perimeter – there weren’t any cheap fouls on the bigs, and although Love’s line is 20 pts, 9 reb, he didn’t dominate the way we’ve seen him do before and had to work for it.
  3. The perimeter defense was quite poor, partly because of the hard predictable closeouts which make it quite easy for the offensive player to get a head-start on the move they’re about to make (see Barea)
  4. Raptors philosophy seems to be to keep their bigs closer to the paint and concede jumpers – one of the problems today was a bit of over-helping from the perimeter guys which resulted in them being out of position. I say let the big men defend one-on-one and only help if there’s a known problem.
  5. Steve Novak can be a critical part of this team if he can knock down the three, because as of right now, with Ross struggling and Daye unlikely to get a ton of playing time, he’s easily the Raptors best three-point shooter. He made half of the six threes the Raptors hit.

  • Sig

    I think you’re being a little generous with Jonas’ grade there. I thought he forced his game a little and his spacing was really bad

    Actually in general the spacing was awful.

    • Bear

      Agreed. Not to mention 5 rebounds in 27min (zero offensive rebound) is not great. Pekovic got deep position on him nearly every time. He was late on help defense too often. I thought it was an ok game for JV. B- at best.

      • arsenalist

        I see your point on the defensive side, but I don’t know of too many people that are able to keep Pekovic outside, I thought he did OK with that “verticality” in the circle he talked about yesterday. For me, I’m wanting him to be a legit scoring option in the post that allows you to play inside-out and actually think that’s more important than defense right now. I’m not a believer of Gay’s bulk making him a real post-up option, or for that matter DeRozan’s. If we’re going to play paint-heavy ball it’ll be due to JV. Defensively, we should be OK with Hansbrough with him, Johnson supplying help D as a starter, Gay and Lowry hopefully providing good man-defense. For JV, my evaluative criteria for him is primarily on offense early on.

    • Tee

      he also got dominated by their bigs early

  • loreninthewoods

    Rudy may have taken a few bad shots, however 11 pts on 7 FG attempts is excellent efficiency.

    • StabbyRaccoon

      Well he shot 2/7 from the field which is a lot of missed opportunities. But you bring up a point, his ability to draw fouls is valuable. Considering his pay though…

    • Casey Sherman

      Well, 10 shot attempts really cause he went to the line three times. Still good

    • WhiteVegas

      .522 TS%. That’s what he was doing his last good season in Memphis in 2011-12. You’re definitely right that this is not the game to call out Rudy Gay’s shooting efficiency. Your shot won’t fall every game, and it was refreshing to see him attacking the basket to compensate.

  • leftovercrack

    They were ahead at the half, and lost ground when the subs got minutes in the second half, though I guess the Wolves also put in their subs. Buycks looks like he doesn’t have it, Landry has lost his shot and can’t get it back and Terrence Ross continues to be inconsistent. But their starting lineup showed potential against a sold Minny starting five

    • WhiteVegas

      We should probably run a 9 man lineup of Lowry, Derozan, Gay, Amir, JV, Hansbrough, Ross, Novak, and Augustin. We played 15 different players tonight. Once we up the starters minutes and tighten up the bench we should play much better.

      • leftovercrack

        Sounds good, but I hope today was just a bad game for Ross. His inconsistency is worrying. He is atrocious in summer league, but raises hopes with his first preseason game then lays an egg tonight. I recognize that this is preseason and doesn’t matter, but it is not confidence inspiring no matter how much Casey tries to pump the kid up in the media

      • Giselle

        Even though Landry can’t shoot anymore I feel he should get minutes over Novak. One because they plan on playing Novak more at the 4 and two because landry is just a much better defender. Bring in Novak as a situational guy for when we really need some 3 point/perimeter shooting. Maybe Novak over Fields might work but with they way our defense is looking so far you probably don’t want to play a guy like Novak too many minutes.

        • WhiteVegas

          I guess more realistically, it would be a 9.5 man lineup, with Novak/Fields being deployed depending on the matchup. If we need more D then Fields, more scoring/spacing go with Novak. I also don’t see Novak playing much 4 once the season starts, as I think he’ll play the 3. Even when in the lineup with Gay I think they’d rather slide Rudy to the 4 then let Novak try to defend the 4.

  • Adriiian

    It’s going to be an interesting season that’s for sure.

    First season without Calderon. Hmm, I wonder how we’ll do.

  • Casey Sherman

    Kind of harsh on Rudy again: he’s a combined 9-18 FG, 9/10 FT for 28 points in 43 minutes now, and you guys give him a cumulative grade of B/B-? Sheesh. That’s solid production right there (not to mention a +18 rating in the games combined)

  • leftovercrack

    I’m worried about our bench: looking rough besides Hansborough and maybe Novak for 3s. Ross and DJ Augustin have to step it up

  • Guest

    What more than lowry and ross does it take to get rondo?

    • Fred

      a lot.

  • Ian Reynolds

    I like these player by player recaps.
    I didn’t get to see much of the game… who got Novak the ball on his makes? I have visions of Jonas kicking it out to him on a double team, or one of the 10 not great point guards we have driving and kicking. If we’re lucky enough Demar’s post game will lead to Novak getting open looks.

    Ross’ shot has been off, we need to see him move more like in the previous game. I know different opponents may handle him different ways, though. Every one of the things his skills say he should do, he can’t seem to do.

  • Ian Beast

    I have no idea why everyone is all doom and gloom about this game tonight. You are all too easily lured into negativity. Its PRESEASON, and dwayne casey is throwing out random combinations and giving scrubs like Austin Daye, Dwight Buycks, Terrence Ross, Augustin etc. minutes. That being said, we saw so many good things tonight. We saw Jonas make some impressive high basketball IQ plays, Derozan execute some drives in new more impressive slashing ways, Novak looked like a good shooter, Hansbrough continued to show impressive bench play, Rudy was driving with authority, and Kyle Lowry has been very consistent so far.

    • GLF

      Couldn’t have said it better myself. The only thing is Augustin and Terrence are our main bench guys so they need to play better. I think Augustin has actually played well, I don’t know why people are so down on him.

      • Nilanka15

        Yeah, I think Augustin will be fine for his expected role on this team. He’s a very capable backup PG.

        Buycks, on the other hand, should be in street clothes most nights (unless we’re tanking).

  • ppellico

    well…not being able to watch live, it was hell reading play by play.

    Looking at the stats as they popped up…I thought…defense? What stinking D was coach talking about? All week long and all preseason all we are hearig about is the push on hard defense.

    It was half time and nearly 60 points scored by a team. That would mean 120 by end of game!!!

    So…then, once again, coach…what defense?

    And you remark on Amir…”but I’m thinking it has something to do with Casey wanting him to stick to the paint.”
    Well…no shit. Did you ever think that just maybe it is a big reason you don’t like the way Gray plays? That maybe…just maybe…he really LISTENS to his coach. When he gets an order to play a certain way, inside D…he does. Stay inside???
    But then he will get the poor grading because he didn’t score and instead did the small things that coaches told him and allowed others to get away with their chest beating.
    Just think…it might be a coach tlling a player to play a certain way.

  • ppellico

    it did show us what a REALLY good 3 point shooter can do! Reading the numbers after Novak come in and hit those can eventually open up the inside and JV would be better than he was last night. I still say he will be very good once we establish an outside threat.
    Novak showed what this could be. I would like to insert hi in earlier and maybe for shorter periods…just to open it up for the bigs.

  • DDt

    ” He’s active defensively as well, although Martin didn’t provide much of a challenge tonight so that part of his game went untested.”

    Well obviously he didn’t provide much of a challenge — he only played 6 minutes!