Quick Reaction

Reaction: Timberwolves 101, Raptors 89

Raptors drop the preseason home opener, DeRozan with a strong showing, Ross not so much – overall, the defense was disappointing.

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.
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