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.
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