Unedited Reaction Podcast – Quick ReactionRecapBox – Raptors 100, Nets 95, Series Tied 1-1

Landry Fields played in just 30 games during the regular season, accumulating 322 minutes on the floor. Some of that was due to a nagging wrist injury that required surgery, but he was cleared right around the All-Star break. Aside from a 25-minute outing against Golden State on March 2, Fields played double-digit minutes just once – against Orlando, no less – from Dec. 11 onward. On Tuesday night, he played 18 minutes in a playoff game, including the final six minutes of the game, which was a one-possession affair nearly that entire time.

It was a risky call by head coach Dwane Casey, who cut his rotation from 12 players in Game 1 to just eight in Game 2, gluing Tyler Hansbrough, Chuck Hayes, Steve Novak, Nando De Colo and John Salmons to the bench and dusting Fields off after a DNP-CD in the series opener. Salmons has reportedly been dealing with a sore back, but the decision to break the glass on Fields was due to the match-up problems apparent in Game 1.

Namely, that DeMar DeRozan can’t seem to guard anyone. As much as we highlighted his fourth-quarter heroics in the post-game recap, it has to be noted that DeRozan has been torched by Joe Johnson in this series, with Johnson scoring at will when checked by DeRozan. The Nets even attacked DeRozan with Alan Anderson on Tuesday.

The adjustment options aren’t obvious or ideal. Put DeRozan on Shaun Livingston and risk being beaten on post-ups while also forcing Greivis Vasquez to guard someone other than his ideal check in Livingston. DeRozan simply can’t guard Deron Williams and would be bullied by Paul Pierce, leaving Johnson as his man with most lineup iterations. DeRozan can check an Anderson or a Marcus Thornton, or even an Andrei Kirilenko it seemed, but the four Nets who would give DeRozan problems played 11 minutes together, and the three in particular that he’d potentially guard played 18 minutes together. DeRozan can’t simply be benched because the team needs his scoring, and so there’s usually a mismatch for the Nets.

In Game 1, the Raptors lived with that, occasionally crossing to have Terrence Ross or Salmons guard Johnson, though they weren’t particularly successful either.

Paul Pierce represents a slightly smaller problem, as he can pull Amir Johnson out of the post and leave the team’s help defense thin. Amir Johnson and Patrick Patterson have done an acceptable job on Pierce save for a couple of hot minutes late in Game 1 and one major slip up at the end of Game 2 (Pierce missed a wide-open three), and they’ll pretty much have to – the team can ill afford to lose Jonas Valanciunas’ post scoring and rebounding for long stretches, and you’d rather have Johnson or Patterson at a slight defensive mismatch than force Ross to the four or use Salmons in that role.

With Kyle Lowry doing a strong job on Williams and Kevin Garnett being less of an offensive presence than in the past, the defensive questions are who checks Johnson, Pierce and whoever the additional close-out player is, usually Livingston but on Tuesday, Kirilenko (late in the season it was usually Livingston in “clutch” situations).

The Raptors don’t really have a versatile wing defender who can be relied on to consistently check the “hot hand.” They have Ross, who has shown flashes of being very good but who is also susceptible to long lapses, Salmons, who rarely makes mistakes but isn’t exactly a stopper, and Fields, who has a solid defensive reputation but barely played all season. Fields’ reputation is hard to quantify, as it is for any defender, but stats from SynergySports show him as being fairly average in the four primary situations he’s been put it (the final column is where his career mark would rank this season, roughly):

Fields Defense 2013-14 2012-13 2011-12 2010-11 TOTAL
Minutes 322 1037 1894 2541 5794
ISO PPP 0.83 0.83 0.83 0.83 0.83 150
# Isos 24 78 108 153 363
PnR PPP 0.48 0.75 0.92 0.81 0.82 140
# PnR Handler 21 60 128 156 365
PostUp PPP 0.89 0.94 1.04 0.99 0.98 215
# PostUps 9 64 57 77 207
SpotUp PPP 1.35 0.93 0.96 1.04 1.01 200
# SpotUps 37 115 190 245 587

But again, these classifications aren’t perfect, and it doesn’t matter so much what Fields has done in the aggregate as what he can do in the present, given the match-up. Fields brings benefits on the defensive end: he’s intelligent, he sees angles well, and he has a good mix of size and lateral quickness, though he’s not elite in either regard.

Tasked with guarding the huge-for-a-two Johnson (6-foot-7, 240-pounds), the 6-foot-7, 215-pound Fields is giving up some weight on post-ups, but not as much as Ross or Salmons would be. He’s also more capable of switching onto Pierce should the Nets action call for it, and would be a safer bet on Williams than DeRozan.

The end result was that in Fields’ 18 minutes, the Nets scored just 87.9 points per 100 possessions, compared with the 107.7 mark they’ve posted in this series when Fields has been on the bench. We won’t credit Fields for the team’s offensive improvement in those minutes, too, as he took zero shots, but he did grab an offensive rebound, dish a dime and secure two steals, one of which led to Patterson being fouled in transition.

So what exactly did Fields do, specifically in the game’s final six minutes? As I rewatched the game, I took notes on Fields’ usage down the stretch:

5:55 – Johnson posts Fields far from the basket on the left side and pushes off to get to the high left block, only to be met by Valanciunas showing double. Johnson then dished to Williams, who lost the handle on a spin move.

5:13 – Johnson and Williams run a pick-and-roll above the left elbow and Fields shows onto Williams but quickly recovers on Johnson, who receives the ball at the elbow but stumbles beyond the arc. Johnson does one quick crossover and pulls up for three with five seconds on the shot clock, but Fields gets a piece.

4:35 – On Johnson, not involved (a bit late on the help on a Kirilenko dunk but it would have meant leaving Johnson in corner).

4:10 – On Kirilenko in transition, not involved. Nets rebound. Shows help off Kirilenko on a Williams drive attempt. Leaves Kirilenko to zone up between Johnson and Garnett, but somebody missed an assignment here because Williams is wide open. Fields is switched onto Garnett and is not involved in the final shot, a Pierce pull-up.
fields4103:15 – On Johnson again, can’t stray too far from the corner to help on Garnett, who dives for an easy dunk.

2:40 – On Johnson in transition, not involved.

2:10 – On Johnson, switches onto Williams after pick-and-roll, then switches onto Pierce. Again there seems to be a miscommunication (DeRozan appears the guilty party), as Williams gets open but misses. Fields then gets called for a loose ball foul on Garnett on the rebound.
fields2101:20 – On Johnson, quickly switches onto Williams during a pick-and-roll and then gets back to Johnson at the left elbow. Williams tries to feed Johnson to establish a high post but Fields taps the pass out to Lowry.

1:05 – On Johnson, not involved.

0:33 – On Johnson, follows through a screen and fronts the post-up, and Livingston looks elsewhere. Fields wasn’t involved on the final shot, but how scary was this?


0:21 – On Johnson, runs into a Garnett screen on the inbounds, allowing Johnson to get free for an easy layup.

0:16 – On Johnson on inbound play, not involved.

0:11 – On Johnson in transition, not involved.

0:07 – On Johnson in transition, jumps on loose ball when Johnson fumbles the pass.

There’s not a whole lot there that Fields did exceptionally. The two steals were huge, of course, as was getting a piece of Johnson’s 3-pointer. Perhaps just as important is that Fields rarely lost Johnson or allowed him to establish strong position, and he and Lowry communicated well in pick-and-roll situations. More than Fields doing anything that stood out, he played mistake-free defense, except for the one inbound play (here’s where the commenters point out Garnett’s screen).

And, of course, the Nets looked to Johnson less often, with him taking just two attempts in those six minutes compared to, say, five in the first 10 minutes of each half, primarily with DeRozan on him.

For one night, this looked like it may be the answer, as much as there’s an answer for a player as talented as Joe Johnson. Limiting clean looks and denying post position are really all you can do one-on-one, and the Nets are simply too talented and too balanced to double anyone, anywhere. I’d guess Casey comes back with Fields as the first wing off the bench in Game 3, but I’d likewise expect the Nets to adjust, possibly finding ways to move Johnson around more and force switches, or just by feeding him constantly when DeRozan is the check, as they did Tuesday.

As we’re learning, the playoffs are as much about anticipating opponent adjustments as they are making adjustments of your own. The Nets expect Fields as a primary defender now, and they have several very talented offensive players who surely have ideas on how to work him. It’s anything but a checkmate, but it represents a nice first adjustment, and one that shows Casey is willing to be flexible and break his late-season rotation mold to gain an edge.

As for Fields himself, well, way to stay ready. He’s a very smart guy, one who probably benefits more than most from the cerebral nature of a playoff series. The contract is bad and this season a complete waste, but he was ready when his number was called and came through in a huge situation. Here’s hoping it’s the first step in a 2014-15 resurgence of sorts.

  • Rapchat

    Very nice breakdown Blake. I think the part of them not looking for JJ when LF was on him was the biggest key. It was SOOOO noticeable…JJ was not the storyline of the game. Job done.

  • Tom

    Crazy thought: could Patterson guard Johnson?

    Johnson is almost 33, and I don’t think he’s that quick any more. He has mostly been bullying the Raptors with his size.

    On defense, having a third big on the floor helps address the issue of Pierce pulling Amir away from the action.

    On offense, Patterson has better range than DeRozan, and can better spread the floor to open it up for Kyle/Amir or Kyle/Jonas P&Rs.

    On the glass, we’d just absolutely crush them.

    Moving DeRozan to the 2nd unit allows him to feast on weaker defenders and adds athleticism to the bench.

    • consmap

      Patterson would have a horrible time having to fight through screens and chase JJ around the perimeter. He’d be able to guard him on post ups probably but that’s about it IMO.

    • Alex Vostrikov

      Paterson would not last 5 minutes on the floor, while guarding JJ.
      defensively, raps are fine. nets PG-SG-SF will give you 20 a night regardless who guards them. raps should worry about the rest not to go hot on them. and worry about running plays… those ISO play for derozan in the end of the game almost gave me heart attacks. no clear looks what so ever… forced shots all the way…. casey almost screw it up.

  • afrocarter

    Not only did Garnett set that nasty pick on Fields during that inbound play, but he held Johnson to keep him from helping on the play. Wiley old vet.

  • Mexiballer

    On that Joe Johnson layup, Fields get hit pretty good with a shoulder from Garnett as he tries to get by the screen, which is why Johnson was so open for that layup.

  • Quest

    landry is awesome!

  • c_bcm

    Nice article. I am still a huge fan of Fields. His performance last night, while not stand-out, was a difference-maker. Solid solid pro. I really hope he can get his shot back. Would love to see him back for years to come if that happens.

  • asifyouknow

    Mr. Murphy this coach is the luckiest man alive. This was a great move, but it was not by choice, it was by necessity.

    Landry has been available for awhile, everybody on this site thinks the guy should of been playing a long time ago.

    He could of helped this team win a few more games this year and would of been ready to help even more in the playoffs, but I guess he was in DC dog house.

    Casey is always forced into a winning strategy and comes out looking like a hero.

    Lucky or not he is a winning coach , we can’t deny that. :(

    Here is an interesting article on the New York Times Sports site:


    • bobmasa

      Asifyouknow I like your Analyst this is how Dwen Casey is a lucky coach who dosnt know to rotate his players and hate some of them, believe me he wouldn’t have played Landry Fields without the pressure everyone was tired of John Salmon.

      • Pedro-

        do u honestly think Casey made his decision because he was pressurized by the comments here? Lool that is really funny.

  • thesyndrome

    The problem with Fields, and this became evident yesterday, is on the offensive end. The Nets completely ignore him, disrupting the already bad spacing and flow of the Raptors O. Still that might be worth the price to get the Nets away from those Joe Johnson post ups on Derozan which are borderline embarrassing.

    • asifyouknow

      I did notice that.

      • Rapchat

        But….he was EXCELLENT at slashing and setting HUGE screens for DD, keeping the ball moving QUICKLY, and being a serious rebounding threat on O… Salmons?…. They don’t ignore him but they might as well..HA

    • higdale

      Fields doesn’t fit in with this team offensively. He’s a movement type of player and the Raptors are a jump shooting team. The system plays east and west not north and south. It’s pick downs, pick and pop, screens or swing it around for jumpers that’s where the assist are designed to come from in the offense.
      If the Raptors wanted to get Fields involved in the offense they could have put him in pick and rolls with the bigs as he has shown he can do in early games ( Charlotte and Bucks games for example ). His handle is good enough to get to the rim or get the ball to the bigs in the right place to score. When the Gay trade happened Casey got even more players who are shooters first and play east and west. Fields’ role on this team has never really been defined. It’s a little bit of this or a little bit of that and his cuts have been more to shift the defense rather than as an option to score. I’ve seen him get so wide open that the defense has been embarrassed but rarely get the pass to score. The players don’t look for it in Casey’s system and Fields’ best asset has never been jump shooting even without the arm/wrist nerve issues and I don’t think he’s high on Casey’s list even if the nerve issue is sorted out. If he played with someone like Rondo who looks for players who play and cut diagonally Fields’ skillset would be highlighted. It was good to see Casey use Fields’ defense to help win last night. He did it in the Golden State win but Fields didn’t see any meaningful minutes after that until the Orlando game and Casey was forced to do it because of an injury not because it would be a good fit for the system. Casey could have made a change when Salmons was ineffective for multiple games but he didn’t because Salmons is a east west perimeter jump shooting player that fits the system. Fields is at his best when things are chaotic or fast paced when defense triggers a off to the races mentality with a lot of movement. I don’t see Fields’ future in Toronto if Casey or a Casey type of system is in place. He just won’t get on the floor enough.

      • j bean

        It seems like such a shame to not utilize Fields offensively. Surprise the Nets with more inside pressure coming on his cuts and they’ll be hard pressed to come up with an adjustment.

      • Ghotte

        Agree for the most part but I don’t think you are giving Fields his due. Currently, his shot is in the worst state it’s ever been. In his first two seasons, he could at least make the defense take note of him due to his 3 point spot ups. I expect him to at least reclaim some of his jump shooting ability this summer.

        When Salmons is healthy he fits very well with the Raps’ system especially since he can (past tense) hit the 3 or dribble to shift the defense.

      • dunkmycat7

        GREAT analysis. Totally agree.
        Imagine if he CAN get his jumper back ? Remember his first year ? Even had the 3 in his bag.
        The nerve stuff is really tricky, sometimes it comes back sometimes not. For you and I it wouldn’t matter .For a professional basketball player it could mean his career.

    • Andre

      I think thats Caseys fault. The half court offense has been horrible. They do the same plays instead running more movement plays against a slower brooklyn team. They let brooklyn just sit there a clog up the lanes..

  • gizzly73

    Fields is a likable player on defense and makes intelligent decisions on offense – strong all around game. Unfortunately, he can’t shoot anymore which makes him an offensive liability with a 24 second clock.

  • Will

    I don’t understand why Casey is getting credit for a “gutsy” move going to Fields, when the alternative is Salmons. What did he have to lose?

    Is his contract terrible? Yes but that’s not his fault. Is he perfect? No, he’s got no shot. But at least he knows that and doesn’t force up jumpers like Salmons. He cuts without the ball. Every time someone puts up a shot he’s running in for the rebound. But the most important thing is his defense.

    If it were up to me, I’d start Fields over Ross just to try and neutralize JJ. DeRozan can guard Livingston and the rest stays the same. On offense, they’d still have JV in the post, which they should milk as much as they can, and Amir running P&Rs. They could even run some plays where Fields is the ball handler and the other guys are screening for Lowry. Ross could come off the bench with Vasquez and work against the Nets secondary wings like Thornton or Kirilenko.

  • Bendit

    Never mind all the negative peripheral stuff on Landry (most not of his doing)…above all, he is a consummate team guy…just the kind of mentally strong individual the Raptors should want to have on the team.

  • ckh26

    Been taking in a few of the other games in other series. My observation is the Raps/Nets contest is far and away the most intense defensively. Its a half court slugfest. If we get by these guys I don’t see who can put up a much stouter defense. Nets clog the passing lanes and get TO’s via deflections very well, interior guys clutch and grab as Ross/DD and Kyle come down the lane without paying too high a price via PF’s and we are fighting through it evidenced in game 2. Hope the lesson is sinking in that our ball handlers have to take care of the ball like it was your last beer on a hot night on each and every possession .If it does and we stop turning it over 20 plus a game our chances of taking out Brooklyn are better than 50/50.

  • matthew nelson

    It’s what Fields didn’t have to do that mattered. Johnson didn’t hunger for the ball the same way and he wasn’t aggressive knowing that he couldn’t have his way with Fields. The team didn’t feed him like they did when DD was marking him.

  • caccia

    Coach Casey might consider putting Hansbrough on Pierce for part of the game, rather than Amir. He has no problem getting to the perimeter and is a good pick-and-roll defender. We could have used him on the offensive boards. I’m not sure why he was not part of the game plan on Tuesday, but a long series requires continuous adjustments.

  • The Red Fury

    JJ got shut and Pierce had foul trouble. This game should have turned into a blowout if they don’t give Telokokfjkejwfkjwovich open 3’s and they don’t go 2/16 from ThreeLand.

    • Andre

      Man, I cant spell or say that dudes name either LOL but I know WHO YOUR TALKING ABOUT LOL

  • asifyouknow

    Here is a cool one, Vaz and his best pall Landry…


  • Rapchat
  • Eunys

    The raptors Management should be reading these RaptorsRepublic posts instead of banning Tshirts..We have been saying for weeks, months that Landry fields should be playing…over John Salmons..Don t even know why people complain about Dwayne Casey being 5th for Coach of the year….Even the way he uses Novak is rudiculous…He waits the last 45 seconds and expect the guy to pull a miracle….

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  • dunkmycat7

    Yes Laundry is a better fix for ISOJOE than TRoss, DD or AJ or JS…but lets remember despite his BBIQ, defense and all the other intangibles he brings…HE CANT FREAKIN’ SHOOT ANYMORE.
    I have said all this before but…Brooklyn does not have to play D on this guy, that means a either a double on DD or KL or they can super cheat on the help.And thanks again BC for not doing your due diligence and signing LF to what has become the WORST MOST UNTRADEABLE contract on this team.And if you think that’s wrong then 29 other GM’s in the NBA disagree with you. LF has been trade bait for 2 years – offered as a piece of EVERY deal..ZERO takers.He had nerve damage and HOWTF didn’t BC and his troll staff know that ?
    So yeah, while he may be the answer RIGHT NOW for this specific matchup,, in the NBA you can’t have a wing that can’t shoot.So- make no mistake…The Raps would trade LF in a second if they could .Simple as that. In the meantime – whatever it takes to win.
    Any body else notice that all of a sudden Salmons has some sort of “back injury” ?
    Right. He just sucks. Sit him down and crazyglue him to the end of the bench.
    Go Raps !!

    • SR

      All true. But for this series when you’re looking at a switching up FIelds for Salmons, Salmons has also been one of the worst shooting rotation players in the entire league this season. Lowe had some stats in his article, and the only place Salmons has even been close to average is on spot up 3’s. Aside from that, he’s been all around terrible. Fields will definitely be an upgrade.

  • morganc

    I was impressed with Fields during the game, but even more so now after re-watching some of the plays he was involved in. That block on the three, and the two steals, were absolutely HUGE. Nothing flashy but smart, active defense. He can be a real stopper for us this series. I wouldn’t mind seeing him as the first wing off the bench.

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