I knew it was coming the whole time. I’m not claiming clairvoyance, and it’s not because I think the Raptors are terrible. It’s because I know that the Warriors are nothing close to as terrible as they were for the first 30 minutes. Even though the Raps were up double digits all game, the way the Warriors were randomly fouling, mailing in defence (even for them) and turning over the ball with such dedicated purpose made me nervous. It had hustle written all over it. I couldn’t get the image of Woody Harrelson awkwardly warming up on the side as Wesley Snipes pretends to be furious about getting stuck with him as a teammate in a money game. The classic hustle that the plotline of White Men Can’t Jump revolves around. The Warriors were hustling us, and the 3-point barrage comeback was always going to happen.

Now, while the Warriors get a ton of credit for pouring it on the way that they did, they got a lot of help getting back in this game. A LOT of help. At some point during the Warriors frenzied comeback, the Raptors went from running a team offence and pretending to play disciplined defence to quite simply emptying their collective metaphorical bowels all over the court and then throwing it.

As I see it, I have only two choices as to how to respond to a 27 3rd quarter lead turning into a 9-point loss in that fashion. I can do what one of the characters from White Men Can’t Jump did when he got hustled like that, and go get a gun out of my car, or I can respond with a series of increasingly snarky remarks. Being that I’m a Canadian and thus do not own a gun, I will go with door number 2, and hurl criticism and sarcasm from behind the sanctity of my ivory tower. What follows is a list of increasingly snarky observations breaking down last night’s collapse.

  • The Raptors big men hedging on pick and roll defence is abhorrent. Often times last night it ended up being Hansbrough or Novak running up out of an acknowledgment to a team defensive rule to block the ball handler from going around the pick, but not far enough to actually slow the ball handler down. The wing player then simply follows the ball handler instead of fighting through the pick or hedging out to stop the ball handler from going against the pick. What results is so terrible it’s almost beautiful, as they double team the ball handlers heels while both he and the roll man move unimpeded to the basket or pull up from 8 feet. Pick and roll defence can get worse than this, but it involves literally lying down.
  • So does this mean that the Pacific division is better than the Atlantic division then?
  • This is Lawrence Frank’s fault. By the way, you know how you can tell that Jason Kidd is still stuck in a player’s mentality instead of a coach’s one? Because he blamed the coach for the Brooklyn Nets bafflingly bad start. The only problem is that he’s the head coach. I’ve heard of star players having personal ego-driven battles with the coaching staff before; it happens all the time. But this is the first time I can ever remember a head coach having an ego battle with the coaching staff. So the assistant coach Lawrence Frank takes the hit. Because it’s just like everyone always never says, this team’s struggles are totally the assistant coach’s fault.
  • Why is Tyler Hansbrough starting? Did Casey see that Mark Jackson was starting a white frontcourt pair and feel obligated as a guest in someone else’s home to politely match as some rule of etiquette? Hansbrough works hard, I get it. As I said earlier this season, he’s Tyler ‘The Big Effort’ Hansbrough. But he’s a gift for the defensively anemic David Lee. Worse still, he doesn’t fit well as a starting five-role player because he isn’t a great screener and, more problematically, he wants to shoot and he thinks he can score. On a bench unit without a dynamic creator or offensive team system, it’s not such a big deal for someone to take a bad shot just because they want it. But taking those shots is how you end up on the bench unit (Rudy Gay notwithstanding). Wasted minutes.
  • David Lee defensive stink has gotten all over Andrew Bogut. He got burned over and over again on individual defence. Jonas shot it over him and beat him off the dribble. Amir shot it over him and beat him in the post. Then, as the final insult, Jermaine O’Neal proved to be MUCH better than Andrew Bogut. (Please don’t tell Andrew Bogut I said that, he’s really big. Also, I just watched the Malice at the Palace clip for the thousandth time; please don’t tell Jermaine O’Neal that I said that either.)
  • Is Landry Fields hurt or just benched? LANDRY FIELDS SIGHTING! Casey didn’t let him actually play at all, but he did get subbed in long enough for me to notice that he just got a fresh haircut and for Devlin and Rautins to mention on TV how he’s been benched lately. As soon as the announcing crew has a chance to bring this up, Casey immediately pulls Landry out of the game. I’m 100% convinced that Casey orchestrated this entire sequence just to get Landry called out on national TV for being benched. EPIC TROLL!
  • This is the part of the post where multiple people get their motivation for commenting about how all anyone on the internet ever does is talk about how great Amir is. But him subbing in for Hansbrough is like the difference between a car running with and without oil. Amir isn’t the engine for the offensive vehicle, but it doesn’t run well without him. The difference on his screens alone is staggering. He knows where to space himself to help open up the lane and stay out of the way when wings are driving. Maybe it’s just that Hansbrough hasn’t played enough with the starters to know his role and spacing. I get that everyone loves Hansbrough. He’s Toronto loves nothing more than gritty big-effort wingers who throw around their bodies, have attitude, heart and work in the corners. It makes sense that the same would carry over to basketball and the Raptors. I respect the effort level, but there is a marked difference between hockey and basketball.
  • Here are a few relics of optimism and positive feedback that I had written in my notes during the first half:“Remember that time when Jonas Valanciunas made Andrew Bogut his son? Jonas is abusing and embarrassing Andrew Bogut repeatedly.

    I love DeMar DeRozan, 3-point shooter. Motion is smooth, his body is so much better set and he fires with confidence.

    Amir Johnson has quickly matched his per game statistical output by halftime, despite not starting. It’s almost as if David Lee was just begging for someone to exploit him this whole time.

    Raptors are generating ball movement on at least some regular possessions. This continues to open up good shots and seems like it might actually catch on.”

    Haha, remember when we thought things like that? Before the dark times.

  • Raps shot 60% from the floor in the first half. I don’t care how good you are; you need help from the other team to get there.
  • Earlier last night I went and saw Thor 2: The Dark World, wherein the bad guys waited 5000 years to hatch their plan to use a mystical power called ‘the ether’ to turn the whole universe into a black nothingness. The Raptors got the job done in 12 minutes.
  • Novak, DeRozan and Hansbrough getting BURNED in the 4th quarter comeback because of course those are the defenders you want on the floor guarding 3 all-star caliber offensive players with the game on the line.
  • Steve Novak defence = Basketball shadenfruede.
  • Klay Thompson missed two three pointers in the third quarter, so naturally, THERE IS NO NEED TO EVER COVER HIM AGAIN BECAUSE HE CAN’T HIT ANYTHING.
  • Raptors made a habit of forcing awful nervous shots before they even lost the lead. Letting shot clocks evaporate like a bad football coach running three straight plays up the gut with 3 minutes left on the clock up 3.
  • The following conversation took place between the 5 and 2 minute mark of the 4th quarter:
    Toronto Raptors: Hey Andrew, remember when you said in the pre-season that the bottom of the league was too terrible and that we were too competitive to be able to tank?
    Me: Yeah, I re—Toronto Raptors: DON’T EVER TELL US WHAT WE CAN’T DO!!!
  • Leo Rautins interviewed David Lee instead of a Raptors player after the game, which is too bad, because the TV coverage missed the Raptors turning to the Golden State crowd, bowing, and proclaiming “The Aristocrats!”
  • Dagger

    Start at 18 minutes in this podcast for a great (but sobering) analysis of Raptors trade prospects by Zach Lowe and Bill Simmons: http://espn.go.com/espnradio/grantland/player?id=10073986

    • Jamshid

      Great Podcast. Thanks for sharing it. I think every Raptor fans should listen to it to see where we are here. How bad the situation really is. The only winning card that UM has is Lowry contract which can be used to move Field, DD or Gay’s contract. Things are bad and the ONLY way to improve this team is to move these guys and really tank …

      • Dagger

        Absolutely. Unfortunately it can be hard to distinguish tanking from chasing a playoff spot in the East this year . . . .

        • DrFunk

          you can oddly do both…

      • 2damkule

        i’ve never been high on DD, but i think he’s quite tradeable on his own, despite his contract…as long as a move is made while the iron is hot. he goes into a funk, loses his long-range touch, and the team goes into the shitter, then his value drops. but it’s a bit of a different market now, teams are putting more value on guys with some years on a contract (as long as it’s not a ridiculous AAV) vs. guys with an expiring contract.

      • Huey Newton

        Right cause its DeRozan’s fault the team is struggling…:rolleyes:

        • Dagger

          You realize that’s pretty much the opposite of what he said, right?

          • Sham

            Lol

  • sleepz

    There should be no tanking-anti tanking debate for this Raptors team.
    No matter what side of the fence you are on, they are a lottery team.

    The only thing yet to be decided this year is whether they will position themselves to be a high lottery or low lottery team.
    Casey’s press conference was bordering on pitiful. Teams getting ‘hot from 3’ doesn’t account for an almost 30 point lead Coach.

    • thegloveinrapsuniform

      well said sleepz.

      The funny thing about this whole scenario is that Masai is still going to come out as the messiah. either way. If the team started out hot, Masai wouldve gotten credit for sticking with the team and letting things play out. Now with this losing and eventually getting a lottery pick, Masai will still be praised as the one who stuck with these guys probably knowing that theyre not going to be a good team and eventually ending up int the lottery anyways without making any moves. And i actually like this route, coz either way its kind of a win-win situation for management and the fans. management knows the team sucks, but fans still hope the team somehow ends up in the playoffs.

      i do think with a high draft pick and Gay/Lowry gone, it could be a good fresh start for the Raps.

      • FLUXLAND

        You’re right. Masai comes out as a genius either way. Just goes to show you, there is no plan of any kind. It’s all flying off the seat of his pants, selling fans what they want to hear – i think the plan is called Forever Evaluating.

      • UneducatedRaptorsFan

        Uneducated as reptor fans are this one takes the cake

      • GoingBig

        I never saw him as someone in command of anything with the dead-weight of Rudy Gay’s contract. Masai was dealt a set of players by BC that might or might not work well together.
        And I didn’t see Masai with any options for changing the DD/Gay set with the salary cap at the beginning of the season. There were no desperate teams on November 1st.
        There are two Raptors Teams:
        – no defensive pressure from the opponent – that works smoothly(especially at the end of last year)
        – one under strong defensive pressure from the opponent – the pieces have to fit together to work – this is the one that has to show up against +.500 teams. There was no way Masai could judge DD/Gay by last year and pre-season.
        So the situation is :
        – The coach is under pressure to try and make this work – Casey is being tested on all aspects [Offence (- ive), Defence (+ve), Game Management/Planning( -ve), solving the DD/Gay question (-ve)] He’s been given a fair shot. The next coach will appreciate that.
        – DD might continue his development – succeeded! Asset value increase!
        – Rudy might change his ways and up his value – definitely not and he has a reduced value. We seen flashes but it’s been a fail. Asset value decrease!
        – there will be desperate teams on December 15th – succeeded (I don’t expect any deals directly on December 15 but everyone is opening shop or started shopping seriously)
        I think the playoffs are a legitimate corporate goal. No longer have to talk about 5 years without playoffs.
        But we are going to see a lot more of the Raptors playing before any moves are made. It’s going to be a cold December for the fans and a very hot one for Casey and the DD/Gay setup. There are pieces there to make “something” but all the pressure is on Casey and the DD/Gay

    • FLUXLAND

      Not so fast,my friend.

      The real jockeying for the lottery will begin in the latter quarter of the season. That’s when they will starting winning games, setting up ticket sales for next season, with talk of how “bright the future” is by just missing the playoffs.

      C’mon sleepz, you’ve seen this movie before.

      • Jose

        You can count on late season “surge”. They’ll win 9 out of last 12 or something like that, it’s becoming tradition. Hopefully Ujiri will have different plan (hopefully, again).

      • sleepz

        lol, I was hoping that they might forget that part this year.

    • Dagger

      Actually, the updated Hollinger Playoff Odds put the Raptors at 72% to make the postseason: http://espn.go.com/nba/hollinger/playoffodds.

      Even tanking is difficult in the East this year.

  • Pong

    Our bigs definitely outplayed theirs for the majority of the game yesterday. I had a feeling it would be Amir’s redemption game considering he put up one of his best games in his career the last time they were at the Oracle.

    That said, JV needs to improve on getting better positioning in the post. There were several instances where he’s getting the ball just inside the foul line and ended up getting the ball stripped by the GS guards. The lack of touches is also affecting his confidence on the offensive end. Not sure if it’s by design (or lack thereof) but he looked lost in the 2nd half. There was one particular instance where lowry gave him the ball just above the key with no one around him. He’s not a great shooter, but he’s respectable from there. Instead of shooting, he paces around for several seconds before handing it back to lowry.

  • Suns

    I don’t know what game you watched, but Amir definitely hasn’t been the oil that makes this offense run this season, and he hasn’t helped on defense at all either. Putting Hansbrough in the starting lineup is a good move (a rarity) by Casey, he is simply hustling more than anyone on the Raptors and provides plenty of 2nd shot opportunities while still knowing his place in the offense. Amir has been putting us into deficits with his just awful defensive rotations and his lack of hustle that we all saw last season.

    The only reason we had a lead was solely Lowry and DeRozan just killing it, but teams adjust to iso-ball a lot better in the 4th quarter.

  • Smile E. Coyote

    I don’t know. Hansbrough looks pretty good with the starting lineup. The dislike for Hansbrough is staggering! I’d say the starting lineup has looked pretty good with Hansbrough so far. Look at how the past two games’ starts have been! I posted a defense of Hansbrough on the other Rapid Reaction post, I dont’ want to copy and paste it here, so I hope someone reads it. Stats aren’t the end-all, be-all, but the great statistic game Amir had didn’t do much to win the game for us. (-18). We just need to get a gameplan that actually incorporates our bigs’ abilities.

    • TIMAY

      Its not Amir’s fault that he was on the court with Novak, Stone, and an anemic Derozan for most of the comeback, stop looking into +/- so much, by that logic Fields should have played all 48 minutes

      • Smile E. Coyote

        My use of the +/- wasn’t to make the case that Amir shouldn’t be playing with such a low +/-. Because your’e right, these stats hide a lot of problems and are relative to how other players are playing. I merely wanted to point out that his effort, albet it great, was wasted by playing with a losing bunch. Thus, trying to emphasize that he isn’t necessarily the “oil that runs the machine,” or however it was put in the blog. The coaching is a disaster.

  • Marz

    Pfft, not only did I know it was coming, I went to sleep after the first half because I couldn’t bear to watch. I’ll admit I thought it would be a 3rd quarter collapse, but the timing is irrelevant.

    It’s very frustrating watching this team :(

    • robertparrish00

      I was the same. I thought it would be 3rd quarter collapse, because that is when the opposing coach makes adjustments in the locker room. That is pretty standard Casey ball.

  • Sammy

    “Earlier last night I went and saw Thor 2: The Dark World, wherein
    the bad guys waited 5000 years to hatch their plan to use a mystical
    power called ‘the ether’ to turn the whole universe into a black
    nothingness. The Raptors got the job done in 12 minutes.”

    …awesome!

  • Tanks-a-lot

    “Being that I’m a Canadian and thus do not own a gun”

    What was the point in making this completely asinine statement?

    • 2damkule

      to prompt an idiotic reply?

      • Tanks-a-lot

        I come here for the basketball analysis, not idiotic leftard ideas of what it means to be Canadian.

  • Huey Newton

    I grow weary of this team…

  • Jclaw

    Aristocrats. Well played

  • guest

    Posted on another blog…”This team and coaching staff is only giving the illusion of trying to
    win. There is no way that DJ and Fields are buried on this bench behind
    (Bycks and Stone, who are D league players at best) rarely seeing
    playing time and when they do its with always with the backups. Both
    have too much experience, and have logged meaningful minutes on playoff
    teams. I could only agree with how they are being used if they were
    playing behind legit youthful players who had tremendous upside and
    needed development. Just an observation with limited info on what is
    truly this team’s goal for this season.” Couldn’t agree more!

  • thatpeterguy

    I like Casey as a person, and his work shutting down the Heat with his defensive schemes in the Finals was genius but he is simply not cut out to be a head coach because from what I understand about the position you also need to be able to run an offense and have some feel for when to call a GODDAMN TIMEOUT!!!

  • Duke

    This kinda sh*t has been happening for so long that it doesn’t anger me anymore, it’s actually comical and makes me laugh. I know the poor coaching has been beat to death on here but it’s just so atrocious. I remember at one point late in the 4th quarter last night, we actually passed INTO a double team. Gay was baseline, didn’t have the ball (but had 2 defenders shadowing him) and we just swung it right into the trap. I’d like to see Casey fired, Lowry & Gay gone, and a PnR PG brought in to run plays with Jonas, Amir & DD. I’d also like to see Jonas & Ross start logging 30+ mins a game. I was all for a playoff push, but at this point I’d rather see us develop the young guys we have before it’s too late. And if it leads us to a decent pick, that’s fine with me. Even if we end up with a later pick in this draft, there’s always Cdn PG Tyler Ennis (if he declares). Kid knows how to run a team, and is a big reason why Syracuse is undefeated and currently ranked 4th in the nation.

    • Duke

      Also just un-seated Jabari for the first time all season as ACC Rookie of the Week. Kid can ball

  • WTF

    What is Ujiri’s and Casey’s love affair with Julyan Stone? This guy can’t play dead, he brings very little to the table when he plays. If not for Masai’s belief in him he would never be on a NBA roster. If your gonna have a 15th roster spot on a team playing this bad you at least need to fill it with an NBA caliber player. If he is supposed to be such a good defender when are we gonna see it. Every time he plays the opposing team’s guards almost piss on themselves in anticipation. I may be being a little harsh but…CMON MAN!

  • DrFunk

    team played well with Gay on the bench…. just saying

  • caccia

    “Why is Tyler Hansbrough starting?” In stats per 36 minutes, he is first among rotation players in rebounds, second lowest in turnovers, and second in TS% (which takes into account free throws). He is also first in offensive rating, tied for second in defensive rating, first in total rebound percentage, and first in Win Share per 48 minutes.

    Those stats and his intensity are the reasons he is starting. The Raptors had a all-time franchise record first half last night! That was not a coincidence.

    Once Hansbrough gets used to playing with the starters, and they get used to playing with him, this move will pay dividends. Lowry needs to learn how to run the pick-and-roll with Tyler and where to pass him the ball in rhythm. He and Valanciunas need to be on the same page on both ends of the court. But it will take at least another four to six games, and lots of practice. The bigs in general need more shots for the offence to be effective.

  • AB4EYE

    Its funny one of the main knocks you have on Hansbrough starting is that he wants to shoot too much but he’s taken just 8 shots as a starter and half of those came off a tip or put after offensive rebound. Novak has taken 2 more shots in 40 less MP the last two games and Stone of Fields are the only players to take less over the two games.

    He took zero shots in the second half of that game and we got blasted when he was touching the ball a lot we were running GSW out of the building. Also Tyler can score in this league and while its not pretty he has a very good Point per shot efficiency but standing around watching Gay and DD iso or only getting the ball in the post off offensive rebounds isn’t going to allow him to score big totals.

    PER36 Tyler ranks 7.1 shots this year which is 13th on the roster, the lowest he had in 4 years with the Pacers was 10.7 so its clear we aren’t giving him the ball.

  • Craven Moorehead

    blame jose and bargs you idiots. stupid fans. stupid media. stupid management. stupid bloggers. keep overhyping these scrub players……pathetic franchise.