Raptors 109, Sixers 98 – Box
If you were part of the legions starved for offensive continuity and team play then you got your fill last night. The Raptors, albeit against the lowly Sixers, showcased a variety of team ball that we haven’t witnessed all year. Whether this is a positive turn for Dwane Casey’s offense or a mere routing of a nominal opponent, only time will tell, but let us savour in the taste of free-flowing offense while tempering our enthusiasm as appropriate.

The story for this game can be told in two key stats and none of them are FG percentage, which the Raptors shot a pedestrian 42%. They’re assists and forced turnovers. The Raptors turned the Sixers over 20 times which led to 19 points. In conjunction with this defensive pressure which included steals, deflections, and traps, the Raptors, through proper read of double-teams and dribble penetration, created positive offensive situations which led to some easy viewing. This resulted in 24 assists with the game never being in doubt.

[Did you read the player grades? Raptors 108 vs 76ers 98]

DeMar DeRozan’s 33 points might get the headlines, but Rudy Gay’s season-high eight assists is what stuck out in the box score and we’ll see some examples in a bit. Jonas Valanciunas was unable to find his place with Spencer Hawes and Daniel Orton pulling him outside, but on this night against this opponent he wasn’t needed which is what I’m thinking explains the fourth quarter benching. Great sub-play by Terrence Ross, a terrific cameo by Steve Novak (a man shrouded in mystery of late), and some very aggressive offensive rebounding from Tyler Hansbrough, sealed the deal for the Raptors.

Let’s spend the rest of the post looking at some of the offensive plays from this game that might lead you to believe that there’s hope here. Click on the image to load the GIF.

Here’s Rudy Gay attracting a double from the weak-side, Ross doing well to present himself and Gay responding to Ross’ movement by finding him for the three.

Here’s some good spacing by the Raptors which is made even better by movement as Gay drives, and Novak shifts nicely to present Gay with a passing option – open three.

I’m not going to lie and say all was great, there were still plays like these where Gay opted to shoot when options were open on the wing – notice how open Ross is here.

Here’s Ross taking advantage of a defense that is hesitating to drive and setup Tyler Hansbrough for an And1.

Rudy Gay recognizes the shift to his left and finds Lowry, a great three-point shooter, for the open look.

Johnson sets a great screen to free up DeRozan, and Lowry’s pass is on point. Yes, the defense isn’t great but they’re also worn down by the Raptors’ team play all game long.

Here’s the Philly defense lagging and Gay stepping up to make the three – notice the Philly defender finally come in to view in the last second of this GIF.

A great drive and kick by Dwight Buycks, the pass is a bit weak but Novak is in the right place to step-in and hit the jumper. Treasure this moment as you’ll never see Novak this close to the rim again.

This is just ridiculous play by the Philly defense – they’ve given up at this point and allow Buycks to come across the court for the three.

The Raptors drew a foul on this play where a solid screen was set to flash DeRozan at the elbow, and he used Amir Johnson as a screen for the second time to drive, while Johnson rolled – the pass back resulted in the foul.

It was a good day at the office. We are 5-7 which is in line with what was predicted – we’re on pace for 43 wins.

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