This post-game report is an obligation.  It is not written because I want to, but because it has been assigned to me and I must produce an article.  There used to be a time, I remember, that I used to derive some pleasure out of writing about the Raptors.  Those days are long gone, a distant memory where Vince Carter and Antonio Davis drift in and out.  Nowadays, it’s all about getting through a Raptors game without shaking your head, without wondering just why so much of your personal time is dedicated to this seemingly lost cause. These are disturbing thoughts so to distract me I’ll talk about this game briefly, show you some GIFs and call it a night.

Dwane Casey gave Tyler Hansbrough another shot in the starting lineup ahead of Amir Johnson.  To me that’s replacing one bench player with another, kind of like robbing Peter to pay Paul but whatever.   The Raptors got down early after some turnovers which were converted to fast-breaks, Hansbrough promptly got his shoulder injured (left game, didn’t return) and Amir Johnson stepped in to have a terrific game.

[Did you check out the Quick Reaction from Suns Game?]

The score was tied at the end of the first, the bench got a lift from Novak, and Rudy Gay went on one of those runs where he shoots greater than 50% for a brief stretch.  If that happens in the fourth quarter he’s hailed as clutch, the truth is that his “hot stretches” happen randomly and last night it was the second quarter where he went 4-6FG in 8:32 for 9 points.  Other than that, he was 2-9 FG for the rest of the game.   Credit to him for keeping the Raptors in it at halftime.

Jonas Valanciunas had a nice first half where he found himself in passing positions, usually at the top of the key and made some good decisions which netted him three assists.  I’ve been calling for his passing abilities to be leveraged in the offense for some time and last night, at least for the first half, it worked well.  In the second half his usage dropped significantly because the Raptors forget what works and their coach doesn’t seem to remind them.

It took about two minutes of watching the third quarter to figure out that the Raptors had no chance to win this game.  Why? The energy wasn’t there and the Raptors started taking “tired shots” – shots that are born out of not just an ability to execute, but out of not even bothering to execute.  They are shots that, when taken, the viewer is left shaking their head at just how, in such a close game, the Raptors are self-destructing at the slightest sign of adversity.  The point differential in the quarter was only -5 but it may as well have been -30 because Phoenix had gained the upper-hand by dominating the glass (53-36 for the game), and the Raptors were obliging by taking one-and-done low quality shots.  You don’t need to be a basketball guru to figure out how things turned out.

Dwane Casey has yet to impress me with anything, specifically his ability to recover from a negative position in a game, and that’s what the third quarter presented.  So I know without a shadow of doubt that the game was over, that there was absolutely no adjustment the Raptors could or would make to reclaim balance.  I don’t even remember what the lineups were because they don’t matter.  The lead ballooned to the 10-12 range in the fourth and when the Raptors needed to settle down, buckle up, and make a stand, these are the kinds of possessions they produced.  Click on the link to view the HTML5/GIF clip.

  • Play 1 (HTML5, GIF): This is out of a break in play.  The Raptors can’t figure out which guy is supposed to set the screen and which guy is supposed to flash.
  • Play 2 (HTML5, GIF): Lowry doesn’t give it up, takes it to the corner, wastes time off clock, drives into three defenders, throws up low-percentage shot.
  • Play 3 (HTML5, GIF): A high screen from which the defender recovers and DeRozan takes a shot he could’ve taken without even needing a screen.  The significance of this play is that it happened at time where the Raptors were struggling and a trip to the FT line would’ve helped.
  • Play 4 (HTML5, GIF): Rudy Gay fakes a 25-footer, drives a little and takes a contested shot.  This is what low-percentage offense looks like.
  • Play 5 (HTML5, GIF): DeMar DeRozan operating one-on-one again.
  • Play 6(HTML5, GIF): Notice when Gay comes into the picture on defense. – once the three-ball is in the air.
  • Play 7 (HTML5, GIF): Gay doesn’t pass at all while going end-to-end and gets blocked out of bounds.

Overall in the fourth quarter, the combo of DeRozan, Gay, and Lowry went 3/12.  Blah.  There’s also tons of defensive stuff I can talk about but I’ll just leave it at the Suns shooting 51% of the game.  Remember, Casey is a defensive coach and he can’t even get an honest effort out of the guys.

Losing faith here, losing faith big time.

Take your mind off things – here’s the World Cup draw.

worldcupdraw

  • Ds

    3 groups of death B, D and G. Best draw ever.

    • Nelson

      Most bs draw ever. How does France (Platini) and Switzerland (Blatter) her the easiest group ever in the history of the World Cup. The Swiss shouldn’t even be in the tourney they had the most ridiculous qualifying group. France and Ecu should come out of the group unless Blatter fixed that too.

      BTW let’s go tank nation.

      • arsenalist

        Not to mention how easy France’s cross-over group is once they advance.

  • Rick

    Masai will make changes soon! Hopefully sooner rather then later. He’s working the phones. Casey makes me smh. Tyler gets hurt but acy is no where to be seen with minutes. If masai changes coaches it would surprise me. I don’t think it’s happening until end of season. Just don’t trade dd and jonas.

    • TheTyrant

      Don’t hold your breath ex. Melo. He isn’t BC and gonna make a change for changes sake. I hate to say this but any moves he makes will be slow and steady ones that the we (fan base) must suffer through.

      • jjdynomite

        Nope. :-)

  • theworkhorseback.com

    Riggin for Wiggins is great and all, but if every team in the league knows that the incoming draft class is going to be good, why would they trade away their picks. Even if the raptors trade some of their assets, what can they really expect to get in return? Aside from the Heat and Pacers teams are hovering just at 500 and below in the East, which is terrible considering that teams are either that close to making the playoffs or being in the lottery. After seeing how well Jonas played in the summer, it baffling how late in games they go away from the big man.

    • gradgrind101

      The decision to play Novak late in the game means you can’t also have Valancuinas on at the same time if you want a chance to win. Pick your poison…Neither plays decent crunch time defense.

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      “Riggin for Wiggins is great and all, but if every team in the league knows that the incoming draft class is going to be good, why would they trade away their picks.”

      I don’t know. Ask New Orleans, Brooklyn, Detroit, Charlotte, New York, Dallas, Minnesota and Washington. They all traded their first rounders.

  • One relaxed fella

    Well, since the Raptors play their usual ugly basketball it is the perfect time to talk about World Cup draw.

    Indeed, like Ds said, three groups are deadly. I feel sorry for Chile because their team is fun to watch. Fast, skilled, especially Sanchez and Vidal, they are fantastic players. Unfortunately it’s going to be hell of a challenge for Chile to get to the knock out stage, because Netherlands and Spain are top teams in football. Group G is also exciting and both Ghana and USA can shake things up. Despite the fact that Portugal is an elite team, they have a bad habit to loose against weaker opponents. That’s why they qualified to WC only after extra games against Sweden. However, to me the most exciting is group D with Uruguay (Suarez, Cavani, Forlan), England (to many awesome players to mention them all) and Italy (same as England). England vs Italy is pure football classic.

    The most boring are groups C and H, although Belgium has a ton of young talent (Hazard, Kompany, Fellaini etc.). Personally I will be supporting France as usual. I fell in love with this team since I was a kid and saw a 1998 World Cup (Zidane scoring twice in the final). I also enjoy watching Brazil with their speed, creativity, flamboyance and all the special, almost magical stuff that this team brings to football for the last 50 or more years. Germany is an excellent team which has no weak spots at all. I think they have the best chance at winning the WC this time. I hate Spanish football, therefore, I can’t stand their national team. I agree, their football is amazing, but I can’t stand that arrogance, simulating fouls, pressuring referees, the boring tiki taka.

  • lewro

    This article was worse than the raps. Did u think the raps were better? Don’t bother publishing this get someone who wants to be here. This is great tanking. Rudy and Casey are perfect commanders. I’m optimistic. Good pick plus 20m when rudy leaves.

    • 2damkule

      just so you know, there’s probably not a ‘here’ without arse. just saying.

      • lewro

        i know who arsenalist is. there’s also no ‘here’ without readership. many on rr dont read doug smith bc he’s not interested in the raps. out of appreciation for the site (and by extension, arse) i’m saying dont go ‘there’, if you want readers to come ‘here’.
        you make a valid point. i think my point is valid too.

        • Bendit

          Zarar was honest enough to express his disappointment at the state of the team at the outset…came across depressed (he expected this team to make the playoffs). Maybe he should have declined the writeup to a more dispassionate colleague today. Take some happy pills Z..

          • lewro

            “(he expected this team to make the playoffs).”

            This is a bad team. it was bad before the season, it is bad now. I never thought coming into the season that we’d have a chance at the 4th seed but even with that option, I still don’t want it for this team because they are a bad team. and that’s ok bc they can blow it up and fix it.
            I don’t need happy pills, i’m just being real.

    • DDayLewis

      You try pushing out an article at 12 AM recapping the usual set-list of reasons to facepalm. Pimpin’ ain’t easy my friend.

      • lewro

        so don’t publish it. ask a colleague if they see something you don’t. there are comments about the game so obviously the reader has some interest. if you start with a disclaimer that you dont give a shit, then why should the reader?

        The author writes: “…last night it was the second quarter where he [Rudy] went 4-6FG in 8:32 for 9 points.” The raps also finally played some decent team ball in that quarter when rudy sat with fouls. There is an interest angle there. personally, i want to tank so i am happy to have him; we would be a better team if landry/acy got more minutes at the three. there are always angles and points of interest.

        it seems you admire the writer for his body work and from what i’ve seen, rightfully so, however, i think in this instance, he dropped the ball.

        • DDayLewis

          Just to put the cards on the table, I’m William Lou (one of the writers here on this site) and Zarar is my editor.

          It’s just hard sometimes to find angles when you’re faced with deadlines and a shitty product. I’ve only blogged about this team for a couple of months and I’m already feeling Zarar’s sentiments, and he’s been doing this for decades (FYI he’s an old man). Watching, caring, writing and reporting about this team is tremendously fun, and it’s a privilege to have so many loyal readers, but it doesn’t make performances like last night’s game any easier to swallow.

          TL;DR give the man a break.

          • lewro

            do you think it is fair that rr readers have made similar critiques about doug smith’s raps coverage? or that we often receive raps news through grange or foreign media? i’m saying this as a fan and follower of rr and knowing that zarar is a big part of that. i think there is a space for constructive criticism and indeed, this comment section is that forum. moreover, this is a site dedicated to raps criticism and appreciation. you are a writer and not a coach, ipso facto, how can you criticize casey? he’s getting older, ya know? obviously he cant see the angles bc it takes him forever to make adjustments.
            Given the situation, a better approach might be ask a colleague (such as yourself) for angles and failing that, throw it out to the republic: description of observations, response and a question. There’s over two hours of material to work with.

            • DDayLewis

              I’ve never read any of Doug Smith’s stuff so I can’t really speak to that, but in general, constructive criticism of this site is welcome.

              But is this constructive?

              “Don’t bother publishing this get someone who wants to be here.”

              • lewro

                yes, just as constructive as saying trade bargs, he doesn’t want to be here and that yielded us some assets/removed a problem.

                “I’ve never read any of Doug Smith’s stuff”. exactly, bc he doesnt give a sht.

          • Amigo

            He should have write down some hate on Bargnani to wake him up.

      • ppellico

        “Pimpin’ ain’t easy my friend”
        pretty funny!!!!
        I guess we all forget that the job of wrting about a losing team is hell.
        But then again. as much as we bash on the announcers…they to are just trying to earn a buck. Nobody at headquarters is gonna keep em around if they rant the truth live each game.
        So when we beat on them…we gotta remember they are just pimpiing as well.
        Anybody marries long knows the feeling. Bringing out “the truth” isn’t really the best way to get on.
        But this is a living, right?

        • lewro

          I watched the suns game on fox sports arizona. the announcer spoke the truth of julyan stone in that game – he’s not an nba player at this point. i appreciate that more than the sugar coating that happens on raps broadcasts.
          it doesn’t bother me nearly as much that the raps lose, it’s that they play shitty basketball. simmons said the raps are the most unwatchable team and he is right. also, recently watching raps/sixers, the sixers announcer gave some raps scouting report that he learned from rautins. then he said rautins was an example of a great college player who didn’t pan out in nba (basically called him adam morrison). charles barkley is the best!!! we need more of these announcers – not more rod black.

    • arsenalist

      I guess I’ve put it in a Rudy Gayish effort.

      • lewro

        Thanks for your response. I’m not trying to kick you when you are down; I appreciate your contributions to this site.
        As a tanker, I feel positive about the warriors and suns games. I think the raps are showing their true colours right now. it’s not pretty but it’s the truth. It is hard to watch and disappointing. on a positive note, this is a great tank team and the perfect year for it. What could be, is enough for me to suffer what is, for now. Speculating at what they could be, gives me some hope and interest to watch them develop. to this end, i would like to see more time for ross and jv. and that will happen more as the games become more meaningless. it’s bad now but it’s not bottom. masai only cares about growth right now. let’s cheer for that. i saw some good things from landry in the suns game. i’m hopeful that some of his iq will rub off on dd and ross. raps did a lot of positive things in 2nd quarter vs suns. one of the only times this year they’ve actually played good team ball. i’ll take that over some of their ugly wins.
        anyway, chin up. the raps have a chance to be something next year that they haven’t been since vince. that’s what we all want. the path is being laid now and it is exciting. I hope you feel that way bc if you find yourself depressed at 6-12 then it will be a long season for you. They might not even win 30 if they trade lowry.

  • desktom

    I paid 200 dollars to buy the nba package down here in Texas so I could watch The mighty Toronto Raptors showcase the talents of their 21 year old enthusiastic smiling big man play with joy and abandon. Apparently Coaches don’t like enthusiasim hustle and pride. They don’t like it when open big men set pics all day long and never get a touch, waving and talking to themselves , then the big men don’t run anymore and they don’t block out anymore , and they don’t care anymore. Apparently what the coach likes is to watch hog ball black hole ball overpaid no talent ball. Terence Ross is a beast sitting on the end of the bench being under coached and talking to himself . Enthusiasim and pride is all I ask . Masai take your head outta your ass and fire this coach and start the kids and lets all find some joy in the game of basketball again.

    • Roarque

      Well said. Can Masai just offer a bonus for points and assists from Jonas V, T Ross, DDR, Amir and Quincy Acy? Why bother to fire Dwane now? He’s only here for the rest of this season and he’s a nice enough guy – just motivate him to develop the skill set of the future of the franchise.

    • Amigo

      and 1.
      Wasn’t my point since last summer ? Yes indeed. While T Lewieke was parading Championships and MU was growing his bank account and saying “Novak does similar to AB” and RR was enjoying a ” FREE D Casey DEFENSE” and Tim & Sid Texeiro (who ?) making jokes,

      I was saying ” get drafts and young legs, fire Casey, take a coach with experience, make him a contract of 4 years and with him decide how to play and then let the youngs grow,

      Nah, was Calderon Bargnani fault, now we have R Gay “you should have drafted me” and you know he is taking over. See the gif play 7 and check DD body language after R Gay coast to nothing.

      Have a nice day you all

  • theswirsky

    Is there any softer athlete than a soccer player? Answer: No
    Some of the greatest highlights in sports though. Game time excitement on a scale of 1-10….. a 2. Much higher than baseball.
    Fits strangely well with a Raptors article (except the highlights part).

  • TheTyrant

    The good thing? Evidence that Dragic is *not* the PG our team needs. Thanks for the workout Suns!

    • 2damkule

      seriously?

      • TheTyrant

        He’s not gonna save this team… Maybe if our chuckers are gone. But even then he might make us competitive but not enough to crawl out of a low playoff seed.

  • gradgrind101

    I noticed something interesting about the raptors. This year every single player has a lower shooting percentage per game than their career averages except 2 players. Hansbrough (+ 0.04) and Ross (+ 0.02) are barely above their career averages.

    This means that either the players have tuned out the coach and are chucking shots or the offensive sets are poor… Or both…

    For example, one set has the player rubbing off a tight screen for a catch and shoot of 18-24 feet (low percentage play). Another one has Lowry dribbling toward the left pocket and reverse hand-off to DeRozan/Gay who then either (1) does a tight curl and cuts through the elbow to the bucket or (2) pulls up for a 16-20 foot jumper when the lane is clogged which is what happens after running the play a couple of times (defenses get wise and clog the lanes).

    These sets could be acceptable if the player had some pass options rather than hoisting low percentage shots. I know there are no options at the end because there is no perifieral player movement. No baseline sweeps, no backscreens, no pick and pops…Nothing is happening just 4 players standing and watching the shooter.

    By allowing this to continue Masai Ujiri is destroying his players trade value. He needs to put a stop to this after the LA game Sunday. This is not tanking..This is cancer.

  • imaginelino

    your first paragraph sums up how a lot of us feel. I lost interest. year after year the same thing

  • Cooljew

    Wow… World cup draw is crazy for Group G… they are trying to rob the Germans again :(

  • BryanColangelo

    man, those gifs are brutal.

  • Roarque

    For those paying an even passing attention to the game, the problem was obvious to all but the Toronto coaching staff who appear to live in fear of Rudy Gay. An event took place just after two fouls in the first quarter benched the aforementioned Mr Gay and Landry Fields was inserted into the line-up. Then a strange thing happened. It was almost immediately possible for fans to watch the Raptors without becoming darkly despondent.
    Mr Fields’ presence caused the ball movement between the Raptors players to increase notably so that the team’s offence could almost be described as entertainment. The dullness of a Gay-led offensive set suddenly became fun and the Raptors fans that surrounded me began to cheer loudly for the team’s efforts.
    After this happened, the Raptors’ coaching staff quickly reverted to their original game plan and removed Fields before he could do any more damage to the Toronto teams’ reputation.
    My point? My point is that win or lose, it’s always a good idea to entertain the fans. The team can lose and expect a strategic position in the 2014 draft ( an order of Wiggins, coming right up) while still allowing we the fans to smile and cheer for the boys in red and black.

  • TheJonez

    If ur tired of writing pack it in and move to l.a ……. No excuses we suck right now ……..but raptors republic does not know what a winnig culture is …… Whether or not ur happy with the team this is where we are ethier support or get off the train u don’t wanna write quit ….. Most of the time I can stomach u guys but that headline sounds like a vag that wishes they lived some where else other than that good key points these Are things the raps should work on…… But I think u have this sports writer thing backwards …… Educate fans do turn them against the team …… Be fustrated but u can let that show in your work fam …… I represent the team just and city just as much as the players on the floor ……. Right now u sound like a prolific dunker I once knew who only wanted to take jump shots and admitted to laying it in …. Stop ur crying and write with intent or don’t write #BRINGBACKSMITCH…. Or Lionel Hollands #RAPNATION

    • DDayLewis

      RR is tanking this season to get the number one draft pick in the blogger sweepstakes. We’re thinking of drafting Zach Lowe.

      • lewro

        that was funny, didn’t see it earlier. seriously, check hinckley’s running diary from a week ago. i thought he infused a new angle onto this site and i liked it and i told him so in the comments. i think you wrote the quick reaction for the same game and the diary followed. i thought it worked. it’s not zach lowe but… internal development. you could be the next zach lowe. i’m not just trying to be an ass, i’m trying to be supportive :) rr should have a rogers public access cable show or nba tv canada. take raps cast to the next level.

  • robertparrish00

    Time to fire the strength and conditioning trainers too, these no leg 3rd and 4th quarters are garbage.

  • gradgrind101

    Put your Canadiana aside for a second…
    Who really believes Wiggins will go first overall? Jabari Parker is a beast and he will go before Wiggins and probably Randle will as well. Wiggins is good too but won’t go 1st overall. Most likely he will go around 3rd or 4th.