Toronto Raptors 99 Final

Recap | Box Score

77 Chicago Bulls
Amir Johnson, PF 30 MIN | 6-11 FG | 2-3 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | +13Looked tired tonight (understandable given the torrid pace he’s been on lately), but worked his ass off, as usual, and had a big fourth quarter to turn in a respectable stat line. Watching him work with Vasquez on the pick and roll is a thing of beauty and should only get better as they become more comfortable with one another. Not sure how I feel about the “Doctor of Denial” nickname.
Jonas Valanciunas, C 31 MIN | 6-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 4 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +14One of his best games of the year, though it still came with a couple of things to improve. Fought hard to get his through an excellent scouting job by the Bulls, who were content to let him shoot from the free throw line. He also had difficulties at times containing Joachim Noah down low, mostly due to a strength disadvantage, and missed a couple chances to convert when he was hit in the hands with a pass and wasn’t ready for it. With all that said – he had four blocks and made his presence felt against the veteran Bulls on both ends of the court for most of the night. It’s clear that the more touches he gets, the more confident he becomes, and I hope the Raps continue to look for him in the block.
Kyle Lowry, PG 33 MIN | 7-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +18Excellent game against a depleted Bulls backcourt – just a single turnover, and made excellent decisions with the ball. His stock continues to rise in the face of what most consider to be an inevitable trade, and you have to love the compete level with rumours swirling.
DeMar DeRozan, SG 39 MIN | 7-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | +22Not the most impressive stat line, but what stood out for me the most in this game is how he didn’t force any plays on the offensive end. With Gay gone, he’s got more confidence in moving the ball among his teammates, and it’s making him a far more efficient player. He also seems to always come through in the fourth to ice the game when the team needs him to. Had difficulties guarding Luol Deng in a smaller starting lineup, which you’d expect.
Terrence Ross, SG 24 MIN | 4-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | -6An up-and-down game – forced his shot a ton in the first quarter to the tune of a 1-for-8 start, but settled down nicely and affected the game in different ways as it went along. Was rightfully benched for Vasquez in the fourth quarter when the Raptors put the game away. A career high in assists, most of the highlight-reel variety – you have to like to see that in what has become a motion-heavy offence.
Tyler Hansbrough, PF 14 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +7Grind, baby, grind. Did what everyone expected of him in limited minutes and had a nice conversion of a Vasquez pick and roll early in the fourth. He’s not going to move the needle, but when he’s your fourth big, you’re in pretty good shape.
Patrick Patterson, PF 21 MIN | 4-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +11Much, much better game than his first one in a Raptors uniform. Held his own defensively and hit every long range shot he took, including two threes (his lone miss was on a reverse layup following some excellent Raptor passing). His ability to stretch the floor was key tonight in the first half against the paint-clogging Bulls.
John Salmons, SF 28 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +19Eight shot attempts is too many for him, but he hit a three and played some excellent perimeter defence, which earned him his minutes. He’s really got a nose for the ball – it seems like he’s in passing lanes more often than not.
Landry Fields, SF 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1Fields/Novak/Daye/Buycks all got in for a minute of garbage time with the game out of reach late. I’m not going to write this out for all four of them.
Greivis Vasquez, PG 17 MIN | 2-6 FG | 3-3 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +16Invisible for most of the game until an excellent fourth, when DeRozan and Lowry rightly deferred to what had become an almost unstoppable pick-and-roll offence. His D looked pretty good tonight, too, though most of his minutes came against DJ Augustin.
Dwane Casey
It’s ridiculous that it took Rudy Gay being moved for the offence to open up, but it did, and it has. Had the team playing hard defensively, the ball movement was excellent, picked the right five players (the starting lineup with Vasquez in for Ross) to ice the game, and even ran a few inbounds plays, which was about as surprising to type as I bet it was to read. It’s weird giving him an A, but tonight, I have no complaints.

Three Things We Saw

  1. I’ll expand on this in my column tomorrow, but these Raptors are definitely – definitely – a playoff team in the East. If the goal is to tank, more moves are necessary. A few more games of this, though, and Masai might be rethinking that.
  2. We’re becoming a bit of a broken record here at RR, but the Raptors really do look like a different team since the Gay trade. Tonight, they set a season-high in assists, with 26 on 40 made shots. What’s most exciting for those evaluating the team individually is how many of those are coming from DeMar, who’s really coming into his own as an offensive focal point.
  3. The Bulls will always be tough defensively, but they look listless and lost. Besides Luol Deng and Mike Dunleavy in spurts, nobody was able to get going tonight. A byproduct of some solid Raptor defence, to be sure, but they really miss having a facilitator at the point.

  • Tanks-a-lot

    cross posting my notes from the announcers of the Chicago game

    chi 4th game in 5 nights, sluggish

    ‘kfc bucket chart’, (it’s only racist when Chicago doesn’t do it IMO)

    BMO commercial in chicago? (this, with the TD Center in Boston means a Canadian bank takeover of America.. it’s good for me)

    ‘deltran battery tender’ (commercial) cool!

    Announcers notice that JV isn’t used on offence. Like it’s weird.

    JV is a load. He knows what to do. When it gets better, including his already good FTs…………. (seem to have hopes)

    announcers keep ‘praying’ for a ‘spark’ from Chicago

    Raps in no hurry, playing their offensive pace and the Bulls can’t stop it.

    Notice that DeRozan is consistent

    Raps getting the ball inside late in the game

    Greasy’s bucket leading to the 19 pt lead and timeout by bulls sent the fans to the ‘cold outside’

    Raps balanced scoring

    • tonious35

      Then you listen to Tommy Heinshon……and a 9mm hole is in your brain

      • Tanks-a-lot

        lol
        I just like to hear the other side’s comment as opposed to slitting my wrists listening to the usual hometown broadcast.

  • unknown

    The thing about tanking is….we can’t ALL do it successfully. Milwaukee, Philly, Utah, Sacramento, Orlando…even if the Raptors tanked hard, it doesn’t guarantee anything. We could tank to excess, and still end up ninth or tenth in the East.

    I’d love to somehow see the bottom two teams play in the last game of the season, tied in the standings. Absolutely no reason to try to win, every reason to try to lose. I’d buy tickets for that…it would be awesome.

    Tonight the game was very fun to watch. I’ll take that any day.

    • DrFunk

      sacramento has gay, no catching that tank

    • ad

      Tanking is the ONLY way for this team to get star players/elite talent. It needs to be done. In the nba, you need stars to go deep in the playoffs. This team doesnt have any right now.

      • CJT

        Indiana.

        • ad

          Indiana was bad for a while. Got a high draft pick (george), were a bit lucky. Made some other shrewd draft picks, signed some FA’s, made some trades and turned that team around.

          • SuperRapFan

            Paul George was the 10th pick, was it lucky what he turned out to be, sure but i wouldn’t call that a high pick. Hopefully with Masai at the helm this team can go somewhere instead of stuck in mediocrity.

            • ad

              This team needs a george. More often than not, those guys go in the top 5. Sometimes you can get them in the top 10 if your lucky.

              • Chewwy

                Regardless, maybe tanking is not the way to go. Opening up some cap space to sign a free agent and making smart draft picks, can be a positive step. I really hope that we start to win a lot more so I don’t have to read and listen about tanking. Losing on purpose is an insult to real fans who pay money for the games.

                • ad

                  If your a hardcore fan of this team like me, tanking IS the way to go. If your a casual fan, of course you dont want the team to tank.

                • Guest

                  Whatever. If you can’t get behind the team win or lose, that makes you the casual fan. Don’t build yourself up to be something you’re not.

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

                  Let’s stop this “real fan” nonsense. It never ends well. Please move onto another topic everyone.

                • rtzyyz

                  I agree with Tim. Just the fact that we are on here debating on the future of this team and that we all want to see them win in the future means we are all “real fans”. Let’s move on.

          • CJT

            Indiana has not had a high draft pick to assemble this team, just smart picks, trades and a bit of luck. To be honest I don’t believe that you need to have a dominant scorer type player on the team, if the team plays properly and the ball moves points and assists will be evenly spread out and make it very difficult for opposition to key in on one player as “the finisher”. I am not saying that we couldn’t stand to have some talent upgrades because obviously we do. But look at Brooklyn and NYK both full of multiple allstars and they look awful.

      • Tanks-a-lot

        Legends are made in the playoffs.

        some players seem like they should not be in the league anymore but ERUPT in the playoffs.

    • TheR3dMenace

      You kind of just described the final Raptors game of the 2011-12 season. The thing is, management wants to lose, not the players. So they trot out a lineup of D-Leaguers hoping for calculated talent deficit. But Ben Uzoh gets a triple double, and instead of nabbing Damian Lillard with #6, we drop to #8.

  • Plus

    Vasquez deserves an A. He’s developing nice chemistry with Amir and his teammates. Definitely one who can run the offence efficiently. Give it some time. Too bad we didnt get his guy when Calderon was here. Would have been a consistent PnR duo. Patterson surprised me with the long range shooting. Just waiting to see how Hayes plays.

    • Tanks-a-lot

      Calderone is a shorter and equal player

      why would you want two useless PG defenders, as well?

      • CJT

        GV held his own against a much faster guard in DJ, who was undoubtedly trying to make sure the Raptors knew they made a bad decision letting him go. I don’t think he is as useless as some have made him out to be on defense.

        • Tanks-a-lot

          lel

          we waived DJ and the Bulls were desperate. jeeze, at least compare to a non-flawed PG

          • CJT

            Did he win his match up tonight? He has only two games under his belt with the Raps as he plays more, I will form an opinion about his D. But so far he has looked better than led to believe on D and very solid on offense.

            • Tanks-a-lot

              When they say someone in the NBA sucks on D, its only because they can’t move their feet at an elite level.

              It’s not a big deal as long as that player understands that their career is destined to be one of a role player, not a game changer.

              • CJT

                I would argue that he has changed the game for the Raps with his expertise in the pick and roll. Along with the realization from the rest of the team that moving the ball creates a much more efficient offense. I am not suggesting that he is going to be Bruce Bowen on the defensive end, but the fact that he has been able to get AJ, JV and all the other bigs proper looks on the offensive end is very important I believe.

                • Tanks-a-lot

                  I agree, I just know that he is a spark off the bench as opposed to a player one needs to contend.

                  He is NOT a starter on a consistently winning team.

                  I do like him and his play though.

                • CJT

                  Great, we need a great PG off the bench don’t we?

                • Tanks-a-lot

                  yes, he fits the bill
                  I don’t ever disagree with that

          • desktom

            You a kings fan ?

            • Tanks-a-lot

              no
              When I said ‘we’, I said it as a life long Raptors fan.

      • TheSpiceTyrant

        GV would more than a backup pg if he’s finding a third option off the pNR. Calderon was good at that which is why his assist and efficiency were so high. We haven’t seen GV enough to make that judgment.

    • FREEJV

      dont think Hayes is gonna get any playing time lol…..

      • tonious35

        Hayes will get his money for being a personal consultant to JV. In practice, on the bench during games, in a club, in a restaurant, etc. We want JV to grow into a pro, so have a Jeff Van Gundy graduate be a veteran mentor along with Magloire.

    • webfeat

      >>Too bad we didnt get his guy when Calderon was here

      I prefer Lowry with GV. It’s good to have PGs that play different styles. Lowry is a much better defender than Calderon, and it’s often a higher priority to shut down the opponent.

  • trolling

    this is getting bad, this team is playing golf right now and this is ruining the tank. bad trade by Masai

    • StrikerAI

      So you’d prefer to tank and go into next season with no cap space? Cause I don’t. Plus Masai isn’t done trading.

      • Tanks-a-lot

        we won’t know anything until after the dreaded western road swing is over.

        sometimes players ruin the GM’s best laid plans.

    • Chewwy

      Great trade by Masai. Anybody who knew anything knows this trade made us stronger. The team is playing better team basketball. Also, we will get some cap space with the buyout of Salmons as well as not having to worry about paying $30 million dollars to gay and Bargnani.

  • DDD

    all i want for christmas is an atlantic division title

  • caccia

    Tyler deserves a B for this one. He did a lot of little things like setting picks, tipping the ball out, grabbing the ball on a jump ball, playing tough defence on Noah, and scoring when he had the chance. I can’t wait to see what he can do with Vasquez.

    • Garrett Hinchey

      I was really happy with his chemistry with Vasquez as well. I may have been a bit low on the grade, though it was partly because I wanted to have a bit of a range among all the players instead of giving out 9 Bs.

      I think once his shoulder’s back at 100% he’ll be a key part of the rotation, assuming he’s not traded.

      • Bendit

        I haven’t seen a complete game like this against a top tier team (albeit w/o their best player) in I dont know how long. A travesty I say giving anyone less than a B. If they waved a towel one should get marks! :)

        • Garrett Hinchey

          Fair point. My judgement may have been clouded with all the crappy ball we saw to start the season.

          Don’t worry, I gush enough for two columns in my writeup tomorrow.

  • SuperRapFan

    This team is balling and minus Rudy Gay I love it, Masai might need to send some of these guys home on game night to tank.

  • FREEJV

    Rudy Gay while watching this game: “Damn i really fucked this team up”. Too bad he will never admit that lmao

    • desktom

      I’m here to tell you free , Rudy Gay could be the best thing to happen to the young guys . He showed them over and over and over again what hog ball and black hole ball does to a team. Rudy Gay should be thanked for teaching the kids consistently how not to play team ball.

      • RyGuy Awesome III

        Even DeRosan is whippin passes after he saw gay get shipped out

      • Chewwy

        Awesome point “desktom”. As much as your point seems harsh, it is bang on. You see guys not taking such bad desperate shots as before.You can tell the players know they may see the ball again if they pass it.

      • TheSpiceTyrant

        Absolutely agree. And this would be pretty good evidence of Masai and Casey being on the “same page” as reported.

        The more I think about this, I think that a lot of the hate for Casey may not be so deserved; yes, his rotations are weird, and play calls are fewer, but even in these last 3 game a we’ve seen more screen/rolls for different players during the game.

        I wish I was at the game to actually hear what Casey calls and what KLow does

        • CJT

          It seems to me that Casey tries to use his “Marquee” players in the way he thinks they are most effective or by reputation. Gay is a one on one closer that needs the ball in his hands to be effective. Rightly or wrongly he seems to tie the fate of the team to it’s best player. Now they are spreading the touches around and everyone is responding. It’s great to see.

      • webfeat

        Yep, the ball hog rarely gets play with someone who’s a bigger ball hog, so he never sees what he’s doing to his team. DD really benefited from getting to see what it’s like to be second option to a guy like Gay. I bet the morale in the Raptors locker must be a mix of elation of finally playing team ball, and worries that Ujiri will trade a bunch of them and ruin that feeling.

  • desktom

    On a cold Decemeber Saturday night in Chicago, I watched the Toronto Raptors turn a corner. The last time Demar Derozan faced the Bulls he scored 37 with 1 assist in a loss at home. Tonight he goes out and plays team ball distributes the points to the team , and leads them to victory. Low post basket ball, pick and roll basketball, looking for the dominate match . Success for the young guys is the greatest reward for sharing the ball. Don’t trade Lowry , don’t throw the success out the window, tanking should never be mentioned again. What a pleasure to watch some pay back.

    • ad

      Oh cmon. Raps fans are so fickle its sickening.

      • desktom

        fickle this . I have never been for the soul killing tanking that the fans with manginas have been advocating . I want the raptors to win every game they play.

        • ad

          Good luck with that. You’ll be soulbroken more often that not expecting this team to win games.

          • desktom

            lololololol I have been a fan of this team since day one. 20 something kids rocking the ball with a focus and understanding that hog ball and black hole ball is done in Toronto. Break my soul baby all day long, hustle heart and team play will lead to many victories. I cant wait to pay back people like you.

            • ad

              I’ve been a fan of this team since the VC days. Ive been like you and rooted for this team to win games the in the past. With this roster, they wont go far. In fact, theyll get stuck in the middle most likely if masai doesnt do something. Wins against shitty teams like phi and chi shouldnt change anybodys opinion of this team.

              • desktom

                That’s that positive Toronto spirit we know and love.

                • ad

                  Has this team accomplished anything to give me that hope? Nope

                • desktom

                  Don’t break your ankle climbing onto the band wagon .

                • desktom

                  3-1 since the hog ball trade, 2 road victories, Amir Johnson playing like an All star ,26 assists , Kings players getting a new lease on life. You can have a little hope.

                • ad

                  When this team beats up the pacers, spurs, thunder, heat etc, I’ll have some hope. Not that im expecting them to.

                • TheR3dMenace

                  So you’ll only have hope when the Raptors are “beating up” on championship contenders? GTFO, that sounds like someone waiting for a bandwagon to happen

                • FREEJV

                  ok then you ll be having some hope next sunday ?

                • Chewwy

                  If you are a real fan, then you should want this team to win every game. It would be nice to win the Atlantic, getting a fourth seed and having a chance to watch playoff basketball. I don’t care what the record is or the fact we may get whipped by Indiana or Miami. By getting a fourth seed, we get hope of actually winning a series.

                • ad

                  Id rather suck this year, get a star player in the draft, be a little better next year and go for it the year after. Being 4th this year is fools gold. I want a title contending team, not a treadmill team.

                • desktom

                  Your tanking mangina is showing . Soul killing losing to try and get something that may or may not happen is not the way to go , watching a team learning to win is such a pleasure. The Mas knows that there is other ways of getting high draft picks without losing. Your point about beating the elite teams is valid, but wont it be a pleasure to watch the young guys achieve these goals, baby steps , baby steps. Tankers suck,

                • ad

                  Lol tanking mangina. are you 12? Learning to win? are you leo rautins? thats such BS. Either you have the talent or you dont. This team doesnt.

                • desktom

                  Go kick your dog.

                • FREEJV

                  who is to say Raptors cant be 3rd this year? dun dun dun

                • ezz_bee

                  It’s totally cool that you have “hope” that we actually we a playoff series, but I still don’t think it’s realistic. The bump in seeding we could potentially get by winning the division DOES NOT translate into home court advantage if we are playing a team with a better record than us. Yeah, we’ve got a decent chance to win the division, but we’ve got just as much of a chance to not win it. Either way, the ceiling for this team is still a first round exit IMO. Which I do believe is the worst position you can be in. Yes the raps are playing well since the Gay trade but we’ve seen runs like this before. How many 2-3 game winning streaks did we have last year that made you think, “If they can keep this up we’ll get a playoff spot” and what inevitably happens? A 2-3 game losing streak that keeps us on the outside. And by pushing for the playoffs with the current roster the most likely scenario is you end up with a pick in the 13-18 range and either miss the playoffs or suffer a quick a first round exit. If witnessed other quick first round exits from he raps, and it left me VERY unsatisfied.

                  Raps can’t stand pat with this roster. Although I am personally, pro-tank, if Ujiri wants to try to package some of our smaller parts with a legit skill set Novak/Fields/Hanbrough to upgrade the talent (and I’m not sure how or who) I’m not against it IF it means we can compete against Indy or Miami. I want a team with a 50/50 chance of getting to the conference finals. A well fought loss in the second round, would match our previous playoff best (Raptors v. Sixers) If Ujiri can’t put together a roster that matches our previous best in the playoffs (which isn’t very good compared to the rest of the league over that time span) than I’d rather he divest of talent ESPECIALLY LOWRY as he is the stray that stirs the drink, and sadly, probably Amir, who is by FAR my fav raptor. And this season he has passed Alvin Williams as my fav raptor all-time. It sucks that in order to be legit in this league we might have to jettison such a beauty of a player, but that may be the case. Winning takes sacrifice.

                  I’m secretly hoping we can keep Amir (probably can’t), and trade lowry for assets but then resign him to reasonable contact in the off-season. That’s the kind of stuff that doesn’t happen very often but would certainly help grow the legend of the Masai-ah.

                • Daedalus

                  Do all the people hoping the Raps tank realize that only 4 teams with the worst record since the lottery began have won the lottery. Sure you get more balls thrown in but it’s still a “lottery”. I’d rather have a shrewd GM pull off moves to improve the team rather than staring at the TV mid June with my fingers crossed hoping for a top 5 pick.

                • ad

                  Still you are not necessarily aiming for THE top pick. Top 5 will do in this draft and thats what makes it unique.

            • sleepz

              I’ve been a fan of them since day one as well.

              They’ve only had any measure of success when they have had all-star talent. There is none of that here.

        • ac1011990

          How have the past 5 years of hoping to win worked out for you?

          • TheR3dMenace

            We’ve been tanking since Bosh left… It’s just been spun as something different. Get a clue tanknation

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

              No, the Raptors have been poorly managed since Bosh left. They most DEFINITELY weren’t tanking last year after giving away a guaranteed lottery pick for Kyle Lowry and then trading for Gay. Not sure how you could call that a tank.

      • Chewwy

        It’s not being fickle. It’s real fans like us who cringe at the constant conversation of losing games on purpose for the chance (yes chance) at getting one player who may become a superstar in this league. I will take winning and playoffs over hoping all chips fall perfectly into place with luck .

        • Ralph on tankers.

          I couldn’t agree more. Minus this ‘real fan’ stuff. Like it was said earlier. Anyone posting on here is a fan! Why else read these blogs and comments. That said. Tanking is the most insane thought process. What does that do to the young players heads. What does that say about your team. And most important. Try to tell Demar and Amir to tank. What most if you pro-tankers don’t get is that the players we have believe that they are good and they don’t need a rookie to make the team better. On top of all that, it’s a lottery style draft! Tanking is a rediculous way of thinking.

    • ac1011990

      Every year this happens, we see some ball movement and wins against depleted or bad teams and we start thinking we can make it in the playoffs, I’ve had enough of this, do it right for once and then move on. I hate being in this accelerated rebuild, we can’t lose or win properly and half the fans hope to win, half hope to lose. This team has no chance against a good playoff team. None of you will be this excited for us to make the playoffs in a year or 2 when we have the same team with limited potential going against a team like Utah or the magic. They did things right and bottomed out and got good pick, made moves for the future. I like what Masai has done but if we try for the playoffs I’m not sure I want to keep watching.

      • desktom

        Don’t let the door hit you on your ass. Here take some Midal for that soreness in your mangina. The best part of a team turning it iaround is the baby steps. We need success now far more then we need soul killing losing. Demar , and Amir deserve some success. We have finally got a gm that can get things done by not tanking , by using his head . There are many ways of getting draft picks and solid free agent signings . This tanking crap is over with , start enjoying the little things ,after the horrors show we have had to endure. Tank this.

    • sleepz

      It’s a gigantic pleasure to watch a 9-13 team. Watch out now, this team could be a contender!

  • ad

    Can we get back to losing/tanking please? Yes, the team is playing much better team ball. However, the teams they beat (phi and chi) are awful. This is basically the same team pre gay trade that was shit with vasquez being a calderon clone. Masai needs to deal lowry and amir asap for draft picks/young players. DD as well. Get that tank back on track.

    • CJT

      Great night. Nice to see team chemistry developing and efficient ball movement in the offense, defensive intensity. Here comes another Atlantic division title

    • Chewwy

      You’re pathetic. So if I understand this correctly, you want us to trade our top 3 players so we can shit the bed for 5 more years? Getting a bunch of draft picks don’t mean squat, especially when the difference widens drastically after the top 4 players. Randle, Wiggins, Parker and Smart. After that you have Gordon, who shoots under 50 % on the free throw line and a bunch of players who are not gonna change a franchise. So even if you get one of the top 4, they are gonna struggle badly because “ad” the GM equivalent of Rob Babcock, will surround him with Valunciunas, pile ons and scrubs. Brutal!

      • Chewwy

        Also if the team stinks badly with their top 4 draft pick, JV and a bunch of scrubs, don’t you think that draft pick will bolt the second his rookie contract is up because he will be sick of losing? Think man!

      • ad

        Dude, your not thinking. Im saying get really bad, like top 5 bad, to get one of those guys.

        • ad

          btw you missed exum

    • FREEJV

      bro stfu We re not getting wiggins ok just accept that and move on with your sad life lmao

    • webfeat

      Trading Amir would really dishearten a lot of Raptor fans, not to mention what it would do the team’s morale.

  • Red Baron

    How is it possible for a team to change so much after trading one player? (Gray and Acy weren’t on the floor enough to consider their effect). The Pick and roll was virtually non-existent all year for this team, but all of a sudden we trade Rudy and voila, Amir and Jonas are rumbling down the lane and our backcourt are finding them regularly. Both Jonas and Amir look completely revitalized. However it happened I’ll take it. WIn or lose this team is actually fun to watch again. They will definitely make the playoffs if this current roster remains intact.

    • Tanks-a-lot

      “How is it possible for a team to change so much after trading one player?”

      It’s a combination of contract and Juice. Rudy Gay has too much contract and Juice on the Raps. On the Kings, Rudy Gay only has his contract.

      It’s all about the fans and their preferences. The Kings have fans that already see their 1st and 2nd option.
      Masai probably angled the trade based on this aspect of the NBA game.

    • StabbyRaccoon

      Yeah Rudy was hurting the offense, the bigs weren’t getting enough touches. Also Vasquez coming in helps because they had absolutely nobody who could hold it together when Lowry was off the court. Buycks and Stone don’t have the experience, with the team and in general.

  • RyGuy Awesome III

    If this is what tank nation was all about then count me in

  • leftovercrack

    Kind of ironic, for months everyone called for Gay to be traded to go into full tank mode, and it turns out trading him is helping us win games. I gotta admit, I have no idea what the Raps should do now. The current version of the Raps is clearly too good to tank successfully, but I still doubt that it would go far in the playoffs. What if we trade Lowry and Vasquez turns out to be a great fit for this team? Instead, can we use a good young core and the cap space from the Gay deal to try to sign a free agent? Everyone says that none will sign in Toronto.. yadayadayada … but why not give it a try? Maybe MU is a great salesman too. I feel like we are in limbo

    • CJT

      Maybe everyone misread the Gay trade completely. All the media has said that it is definitely a sign of tanking, but maybe is intentions are the opposite. Clearing cap space and signing players that can be packaged to get more assets in trades, acquiring picks and signing free agents. I think that even the most loyal tanker would admit that the brand of basketball the team has played in the 4 games since the trade has been much better to watch.

    • TheSpiceTyrant

      Easiest way to Tank is by not protecting the ball. If KLow turns the switch off and Vasquez gets injured, this team will sink.

  • Tanks-a-lot

    I like Lowry as a winning team starting PG

  • Tanks-a-lot

    uh, sup with the retarded multiposts on the “Put Backs”

    This is the ESPN site, rite? It’s supposed to be professinal and stuff, rite?

  • Mexiballer

    Something to note. November and December are both very difficult months on the Raptors schedule. After January 7th the schedule becomes much more Raptor friendly for the rest of the season. It will be all that much more difficult to tank if thats what Masai has in mind.

    • tonious35

      With all the dog-s@#t play from Rudy, costing us maybe 5 wins, we would not be talking about tanking. MU believes in scouting, making San Antonio-ish draft picks, and Karma. Make sure our city and team knows what it takes to win and up the value for trade candidates. This might make us finally get a 1st round pick from trading a high value player that was Rudy or Demarcus Cousins oppressed.

  • rtzyyz

    Everyone covered most of the things that are important but a few things that I noticed that I really wanted to point out.

    1. JV’s Passion- the guy loves the game, if you watched him he really cares about every play. One example is how even after the opening tip he gave a little fist pump when we won the tip.

    2. DeRozen’s shift towards team play. Before he use to get upset and frustrated when Rudy did not pass the ball, or when he himself missed a shot but if you watched him throughout the game today he didn’t show as much emotion when he missed a shot but when one of his passes didn’t get to the target he showed visible frustration. A great shift in attitude.

    3. Casey needs to really hold himself back from falling in love with Salmons. This is the incarnation of Alan Anderson and it has to be nipped in the bud. If anyone should be used as trade filler its Salmons because of the Damage he can do to the development of Ross.

    4. Patterson may be a little better than advertised but we need more evidence to make a decision.

    Lastly, I’ve been really torn the last 2 games about tank or no tank. I think the one thing that this team has never had is consistency. The BC era was a revolving door of coaches and players and if you look at some of the most successful teams in the league, what they have is consistency behind the bench and on the floor. Someone mentioned how this team is the same team that we had before Masai and minus Vasquez but I will digress, this is a team with young players that have had some time to mature, grow and watch Rudy Gay and learn what not to do. The ball is moving, the offence looks more fluid and it can only get better with time and as JV improves and grows.

    On the other hand, if we do tank, is it realistic to believe that one player in the draft can turn this franchise around? I believe the answer is no. Whoever is drafted will also need time to grow and it could take 3-4 years (look at Paul George for example) but our fan base seems so impatient after a year, if the new player isn’t suddenly delivering conference finals births we will again call for the tank.

    The other evidence is what Masai did in Denver. He put together a team that moved the ball, had lots of weapons, motion offence and no real stars. On top of that he created lots of cap space for himself for the future, something that no one ever got to see how he handled because he left. Clearly though, he had a plan and the same thing is shaping up here. He is creating flexibility, cap space for 2015 and a core of players that is young and still learning.

    However, the one thing that is baffling me the most is Casey. Was the lack of offensive plays, out of bounds plays, poor substitutions and awful game management a result of the Rudy Gay presence or is he really an inept coach? I will admit that I have been one of the first to jump on the fire Casey wagon but perhaps the departure of Rudy Gay and not having BC breathing down his neck, having the trust of management to see what he really can do will show us that he is a better coach than we give him credit for.

    • emanon

      Dude, a little long but great read.

    • dave9t5

      In hindsight, it seems possible that Casey had instructions from Masai to showcase Rudy Gay until they found a trade partner.

  • Chewwy

    One thing I am noticing is that in the last two games especially, JV has a lot of trouble catching solid passes. I get it that this is new for him to get the rock so much but he has to stop dropping/fumbling easy passes that come to him.

    • CJT

      A lot of those passes are in traffic, not necessarily easy passes. Of the ones I have seen JV looks to be trying to get rebounding position when the pass is thrown, experience dictates that he is most likely not getting a pass in those situations. I think he will start to learn to expect them more often.

  • nyStef

    I’m a transplanted resident and here are a couple things on a late-saturday evening that I don’t much care for.
    1 – I’ve never heard fans of a sports teams take a player’s name and change that name to something cheesy or disgusting or vaguely insulting … or anything really just because it almost rhymes (or whatever other dummy excuse they peg it to, for doing it), like I hear idiots in Toronto do. (Sorry dude, maybe not you so much cuz you’re new and you don’t know better yet.) But that is a guy’s *name* you’re messing with. You don’t do it; it’s just not done. And if someone here comes up with some obscure example that I couldn’t have imagined or thought of right now, well, that’s probably the exception that proves the rule. You want to take a shot at giving somebody a nick-name? Knock yourself out. But don’t do it by taking a player’s actual NAME and replacing it with a cheap’n’cheezy rhyme. Please. Don’t mess with a player’s actual name. It’s stupid for you and demeaning for him, always. (A player will NEVER appreciate it, you can win bets on that.)

    2 – I don’t like announcers who over-pronounce the last T in Toronto. I pretty much decide which announcers I like-and-don’t-like by that alone. (Ok, except for Leo. He just makes my ears bleed within four sentences whenever he’s sitting next to Matt, courtside.) But if an announcer on tv or radio says ‘Toronno’ the way almost everybody in Toronto who’s been here for ten minutes says it, I find I like him or her just fine. But if you are an announcer and you say ToronTOE … sorry, it’s an incorrect pronunciation and I pretty much hate you a lot and will avoid hearing you say it like a person avoids a poisonous flu … and I probably always will. Until you stop talking on tv or the radio like a dumb-ass rookie. It’s just a thing, it’s not you, it’s me and I can’t help it. So there ya go. But I’ve also learned lately tho, that I’m not actually alone with this. So that’s all I got. Except Jonas is gonna be a monster, I think I said that once before. Somehwere. Not now not yet. Cuz Compared to what he’ll be in a couple or so years, right now he’s sort of a clumsy puppy-dog. Watch tho. But a lot already know that, don’t cha. Go Raps.

    • desktom

      Canadians wouldn’t mind if you moved back home .

    • desktom

      What a positive uplifting post. I’m sure your home country misses you.

      • nyStef

        if you think I’m gonna take time to do a back-and-forth with a shit-for-brains thirteen year old … sorry kid. Not today.

        • desktom

          Maybe if you took that large pickle out of your lower extremity , you might not sweat the small stuff and start enjoying what your new country has to offer in creative nicknames. Welcome to Canada.

  • Thomas

    Seems like i’m one of the few fans that still wants this team to make the playoffs this year. Playoff experience is only gonna help this team

    • ad

      Hah one of the few on here that wants the team to make the playoffs. Judging by the comments here you would think the raps drafted wiggins and won the nba title simultaneously!!

    • StabbyRaccoon

      I’ll want them to win every single game I watch. But I also realize that Masai is going to tank and I think he’s smart and knows what’s best. I don’t see this as contradictory, we just know what’s coming.

  • jimmy

    man this raptor team has turned me really bipolar. after the spurs loss i was thinking, we definitely need to tank. after these last two wins, i’m all pumped up and looking at favourable playoff positions. i don’t wanna get too excited, i’ll start leaning towards playoffs if we start beating some of the elite teams but until then, i would recommend a nice big grain of salt. still a lot of fun to watch though!

  • Mihkel Bafter

    This team deserves to make it to the playoffs and get steamrolled.

  • FREEJV

    if we can get a 6th seed or higher who is to say we cant win a playoff series in the weak east this year? #serious

  • diceman

    Don’t trade Lowry just yet

  • Mihkel Bafter

    Danny Ainge says it best. You don’t want to make the playoffs if your team is just the best of the worst. If you play well, develop and earn it, that’s a different story. That’s the difference between being in Boston’s position vs a team like Phoenix.

  • guest

    I’m not surprised that the Raps are doing this well without Gay. It was pretty clear that there were some sparks of talent and potential on this team, now it seems to be really coming together. It’s hard to advocate for tanking at this point (and hard to see this current group of players losing continuously). Lowry actually looks like a good fit for this team (finally). For once it’s nice to feel that whatever direction we go in thinks might just turn out all right after all.

  • AB4EYE

    What the hell is the plan, are we going to tank or try to win? If the plan is to tank Dwane Casey is a worse coach than we gave him credit for!

    Totally a fan of the way we handle our potential trade assets. We let DJ go for free and he looks to found a nice home with the Bulls with 6 dimes off their bench but with a bad shooting night, we

    Tyler goes from starting to 9th man off the bench behind the new guys which isn’t going to help get us anything in return and between him and DJ after coming in on team friendly deals and not getting PT it should scare off any FA we don’t over pay for. Then we have guys like Novak and Fields who should be out there as well building up trade value.

    If Tyler isn’t moved soon I bet he takes someone out in Practice with a hard foul since he asked the Pacers to let him walk leaving way more money and a chance at a ring to go get PT and now he’s getting less than what he wanted out from but on a team stuck in no mans land.

    If Masai isn’t back from his scouting trip yet I bet he gets met at the airport by a group of unhappy players who got bypassed by the scraps of a team worse than us who has a better shot to draft the guy we want.

    • TRoss1000

      Novak and Fields should be out there? Don’t think so, not when we’re taking early leads and not looking back. The Bulls on the road, tired or not, are still a tougher test than the Sixers at home. And once the game got going, they really seemed to feed off each other on the defensive end for sure. Particularly Jonas who may have finally figured out that you have to embrace contact and take punishment on a nightly basis to be a premier big man in the future.

      Tyler will get his playing time, in the exact role he was meant to be, energy off the bench. He does that role as well as anyone on the team and putting him the starting five is just not a smart idea. I liked how we went up 10-4 or whatever and never let the bulls come back. Before they realized what happened they were down 10, and the Raps could focus on executing on defense and keeping the bulls to the outside, to varying success.

      DJ Augustin? Not even worth the effort buddy. You can take your Novaks and Fields, we’re an athletic team and we’re not going to win with those two playing minutes, there just too slow.

      I like how DD isn’t trying to be Kobe anymore every single play. He knows where he likes to go, and the plays the percentages, whether taking his shot or kicking it out. His, fade-away and turn around jumper are all-star calibre, in my opinion. Still needs to improve the handles but a huge improvement from his first couple of years, he seems to have settle down (not that he was ever erratic) and matured nicely. In the next few season I wouldn’t be surprised to see him and Val as our two main stars.

      Those Celtics are sweating now, we could definitely win the division if we just keep doing what we’re doing and don’t make rash decisions and/or lineup changes. I want Jabari Parker as much as the next guy, but we’re not that bad, we’re not getting a top 3 pick (Unless Masai works some magic of course) so suck it up. I’d just as well take another division banner, at least…a championship would be better of course, but it’s a process. Anyone who has followed the Raptors should have been smiling during that game as the bulls we’re a little shell-shocked maybe. We’ll have 3 or 4 game losing streaks I’m sure but at least we’re playing the right way, without egos.

      • AB4EYE

        Yes we aren’t going to win that the point!

        We want to lose while building up value in guys we can trade! We can play others when the deadline is gone but now should be about getting every single thing we can out of guys we expect to trade.

        What’s more important getting bounced in the first or second by Miami or Indy at best and getting a bad pick while losing some guys to FA and starting over, or losing now getting an elite pick in a deep draft and dumping players who aren’t our future for assess that can be the future.

        Masai said we weren’t going to get stuck in no mans land but that’s where we are heading. If we want to win go get help if we want one of these picks tank and play the vets until the deadline.

  • TheSpiceTyrant

    As much as I enjoyed this remember CHI were clearly tired. So let’s not get our knickers knotted just yet.

    And I remember a few similar games when Bargs got injured last year, where there was so much talk about a ‘renewed energy for passing the rock’. Remember what happened then? (Before the Gay trade)

    I’ll feel like this might be going somewhere if we’re stringing a 5/7 game winning steak against decent teams.

    • webfeat

      CHI was missing their top two PGs (Rose, Hinrich) and had to play DJ Augustine for 19 minutes 45 seconds, a player that would rank fifth on the Raptor’s PG pecking order.

  • thatpeterguy

    I keep trying to think of ways in which we can get greedy and go to the playoffs but then also be in a position to then throw a godfather deal at whoever has the number one pick to nab Wiggins but nothing seems all that realistic. I assume they’d want a lot of number first round picks along with a couple guys from our core. If it was the right mix I’d def do it.

  • Hassan Mehmood Khan

    Hopefully we can make that trade with new york and get shumpert and hardaway jr this team would be set

  • mike, prague

    The real test starts Friday with the Mavs in town, followed by OKC and the Spurs. We shouldn’t be judging them much until they play against a few above average teams. They have been playing well it seems though.

  • Louvens Remy

    Playing to lose sucks. Go out there and try to win. Make the playoffs. Get some experience. Foster a culture if winning. Let the draft chips fall where they nay. Make an informed draft pick that fits w the team concept. Lather, rinse, repeat. Go Raps.

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  • Guest

    We finally have a temporary Backup PG