Before the season started, Ujiri stated that he needed about 25 games or so before he could get a handle on the talent level he had in Toronto before he would be comfortable affecting change. His job would have been a lot easier if the Raptors just did what many fans really want – stink to high heaven that would line Toronto up with a better opportunity in the 2014 draft lottery to nab home-brew college phenom Andrew Wiggins. The excitement is growing in the “Riggin’ for Wiggins” sweepstakes with people watching closely which NBA teams will tank in order to have a chance at nabbing the Toronto native, who is a freshman at Kansas. But the Raptors clearly didn’t get the memo.
Up until the 4th when he became ball stopper again he was incredible. He has athleticism to pick up easy rebounds, ability to draw and create for his teammates, its just his 1 on1 ball stopping play that holds him back. When he plays in rhythm and makes an effort to create for his teammates he is a very good player. Most talented player I’ve ever seen go to waste. Analyst have raved about his potential, Smitch compared what he could do to LeBron. I don’t get why Rudy doesn’t see it. It bothers me, honestly, If Rudy stopped with that 1 on 1 crap he could easily be in that upper echelon of players, top 3 or top 4 player alongside LeBron, Durant, Kobe. This dude could drop triple doubles on the regular.
History will ultimately judge whether the Raptors or Philadelphia 76ers were right in their approach to this NBA season, whether an early teardown process works better than a modicum of patience and a bit of a wait-and-see attitude. It will be years, most likely, before the final chapters of these books are written, and only in the land of instant gratification would you put Wednesday night’s Raptor romp over the Sixers at the Wells Fargo Center on some list of significant accomplishments.
The Raptors may not have a winning record, but they have themselves in first place. “We’re nowhere near where we need to be,” coach Dwane Casey said. “We’ll take it, but it’s early. We’ve got to continue to work and stay hungry.”
DeMar went for 33 tonight, after going for 29 and 37 against the Trail Blazers and Bulls respectively. He’s really picking up his offensive game all-around recently, firing a nice 50% from the field in that 3 game span. The same cannot be said for Rudy Gay; still struggling from the field. However, he did contribute with a career-high 8 assists.
From the jump, it was clear Toronto had received the message loud and clear that the team wasn’t passing enough. After considerable work in practice on moving the ball from side-to-side, Toronto was even overpassing early, leading to turnovers which kept the Sixers in the game. But the visitors eventually started executing better than at any point this season. That, coupled with deadly shooting from outside (5-for-5 in the first quarter, 5-for-9 in the third) carried the Raptors to the win.
This was a battle between the ‘best’ 2 teams in the very weak Atlantic Division with first place going to the winner. The Raptors pulled ahead in the second quarter and never let the 76ers catch back up to win 108-98 and take over first place in the division by a half game over Philadelphia.
The Raps still haven’t played an entire 48 minutes with the skill they are capable of. I hope that last night’s Q4 was more coasting than a precursor of future games. Toronto now leads the turtle derby which is the NBA’s Atlantic Division, and can maintain that position with a win at home on Friday against another team off to a slow start, the Washington Wizards.
“We don’t want to use that as an excuse with Thad being out for personal reasons,” Sixers shooting guard James Anderson said. “He’s a big part of our play. Without him, it was kind of a hole in our offense. And Mike coming back, trying to get back into his rhythm. “But like I said, we don’t want to use that as an excuse.” Even so, the Sixers were out of sync.
Again, Spencer Hawes was tremendous shooting the ball, submitting a Hardenesque efficiency of 28 points on 13 shots. Honestly, it was too bad that Hawes missed a chippy off a nice pass from Michael Carter-Williams late in the game, because it prevented himself from reaching 30. Frankly, I’m a bit surprised to be typing these words, but Hawes has clearly been the team’s best player so far this season. In addition to his shooting, Hawes is also cleaning the defensive glass at a career-high level. We’ll see if that number holds.
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