Raptors News

Post-game news & notes: Raptors can’t take step forward; Lowry could look West

That’s all for another year.

“It feels bad and it was ugly but it shouldn’t diminish the excellent regular season we had.”

That was Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey after his team was swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. The degree to which you agree with that statement depends on your outlook on the team and sports in general, and I’m not here to tell you how to be a fan. For some perspective, though, the Raptors did win 50 games again and make the second round of the playoffs, feats they had accomplished zero and one times before last season. It’s nice to sustain some success, even if it’s at a level or two below the ultimate goal.

Contextualizing the season and this playoff sweep is, of course, an activity for the weeks and months to come, and everyone is welcome to their own take on the past, present, and future.

An assortment of end-of-series/season quotes

The Raptors will clean out their lockers and be available for a full postmortem tomorrow, but there were a few comments as it pertains to their potential future after this one.

DeMar DeRozan: “At the end of the day, you gotta give them credit. They’re a hell of a team for a reason. They got one of the greatest players of all time. It’s on us to let this sink in and understand we gotta come back extremely better, individual and team wise. It’s something that we got great experience with playing these guys two years in a row. We just gotta figure it out. We gotta figure it out.”

Dwane Casey: “It’s tough. We know we could have played better in the first three games.”

Jonas Valanciunas: “We can’t just look back now and feel sorry for ourselves. We gotta learn from that.”

Patrick Patterson: “I can’t really say right now if it’s a step back, I just know it’s not a step forward.”

Casey also put some of the shortcomings on his own shoulders: “We all want to win. I don’t know if we’re there yet. We’re knocking on the door. I like our team. I wish we had a little more time to jell together. I didn’t do a good enough job getting them to jell, quick enough to play at a championship level.”

More DeRozan, on possibly breaking up the core: “It’s hard to break down a team that won 50-plus games two years in a row, with the core guys. That’s on upper management.”

More Casey, on the same: “I’m going to leave that up to Masai. We haven’t talked about it. We’ve been trying to win this series. It’s something where we have some free agents. Those decisions will be up to Masai and Jeff. We’ll sit down and talk about those things. Right now is not the time to even think about those things.”

The 3s, man

As I wrote at The Athletic yesterday, this series threatened to have the largest 3-point disparity between teams in any series ever. Well, congratulations! With a 16-10 edge in Game 4, the Cavaliers out-shot the Raptors by 34 made threes in this series, tied for the most ever for a four-game set (the 2006 Suns hit 46 more threes than the Clippers, which is the biggest gap for any series ever).

Team 1 Team 2 Playoffs 3-Point Edge Net Points
Cavaliers Raptors 2011 34 102
Mavericks Lakers 2016 34 102
Cavaliers Hawks 2010 30 90
Magic Hawks 2017 29 87
Magic Bobcats 2010 26 78

To say this will be a point of emphasis in the offseason, if the Raptors opt to keep pieces together and compete once again, is an understatement, though there’s not a very clear path to adding inexpensive shooting this summer.

It isn’t strictly a talent disparity, to be clear. The Raptors’ were without Kyle Lowry, their best 3-point shooter and creator of threes for others, and more or less banished DeMarre Carroll from the rotation. Cleveland also hit a ludicrous percentage of their contested looks, while the Raptors hit an inordinately low number of theirs. That would even out over time some, but there’s not time for it to even out here.

“They got a great 3-point shooting team,” Cory Joseph said. “At times, we’d make a run, they’ll hit timely threes and push the game back open, and it was tough for us to catch back up.”

It certainly didn’t help that LeBron James, only a slightly above-average long-range shooter, went 13-of-27 for the series, most of them pull-ups and a fair share contested.

“When LeBron is shooting the 3-ball he is, at the rate he’s shooting it at the average he’s shooting it, they’re difficult,” Casey said. “I’m not saying it’s impossible. But they’re very difficult to beat when he’s shooting the ball like that because the ball is so spread.”

Good luck, whoever’s next.

This should be a crime

LeBron James averaged 36 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 5.3 assists in the series while shooting 57.3 percent overall, 48.1 percent on threes, and 83.3 percent at the line.

Injury Updates – Kyle Lowry did not play, could go West; Serge Ibaka slowed by ankle

Facing perhaps his last game as a member of the Toronto Raptors, Kyle Lowry once again sat out due to a left ankle sprain. Lowry had said at practice Saturday that in pushing so hard to play Friday, he may have made things even worse. He won’t get a chance to return this year, surely a disappointing end to his season.

Lowry now has seven days to exercise or decline his $12-million player option for the 2017-18 season. He will decline it, but officially doing so (or not exercising it) is a necessary formality. There’s also this:

More on that tomorrow.

Serge Ibaka noted he’s been slowed by an ankle injury as well. You’ll recall he first suffered that injury in the opening round but didn’t miss any time.

Lineup Notes

  • The Raptors starters were +7 in 20 minutes together, which is easily the best mark for any starting unit in this series and may have been the best of the postseason.
    • Just shocking that starting P.J. Tucker was a boost, right? He wouldn’t be able to play 46 minutes at that level every night, and LeBron James still went off, but Tucker’s effort was incredible. He was a -7 here, finished the series with one of the better net ratings on the team, and the playoffs with the best defensive rating (103.4) of any rotation regular.
      • Here’s Casey on Tucker’s job on LeBron James: “I thought he was probably as aggressive on Lebron as he has been in the entire series. I thought he got into him. James had six turnovers. I thought a lot of that was Tuck being into him and I think that is what you have to do. LeBron is one of the best who has ever played the game but still you got to get into him.”
  • The starters with Norman Powell in for Jonas Valanciunas were -5 in 10 minutes, most of them high-leverage.
  • A DeMar DeRozan-P.J. Tucker-bench unit was +4 in 3 minutes. Shout out to Fred VanVleet.
    • That same group with Serge Ibaka in Patrick Patterson’s spot went -8 in 3 minutes.
  • Dwane Casey suggested the groups today may have played a little better together perhaps because of greater familiarity. Basically, after the trade deadline, the team played a lot more with Cory Joseph, and the team never really got a comfort zone with Kyle Lowry after he returned late in the year.
    • DeRozan was asked about that and had no time for what-ifs, as usual: “If we had LeBron on our team, too, we woulda won. We can say that all day, time, everything, we didn’t. It happened. We got swept. It’s gonna be one of them long summers for us.”
    • Casey also kind of shot down his own what-if: “All of those are excuses. Nobody gives a crap…Again, it’s hard to say. If’s and but’s are candy and nuts and we’d all have a Merry Christmas. But nobody really cares. “
  • The Cavaliers’ starters were -13 in 13 minutes. Afternoon Toronto games.
    • Channing Frye with the starters were +8 in 6 minutes, shooting 9-of-12 from the floor. Designated Fryever.
  • Deron Williams and Kyle Korver in with the starters were +11 in 5 minutes. Basically everything with Korver was lethal.
    • Here’s DeRozan on Korver: “They get hot. They have one of the best shooters in the league in Kyle Korver. They do a great job of getting him going. It showed tonight, it came through big for ‘em.”
    • Iman Shumpert had a rough series and was a -6 again here.

Assorted

  • On his potential future in Toronto, Serge Ibaka said he likes the city, likes playing center, and will talk it over with his daughter.
  • Tyronn Lue indicated that LeBron James didn’t want to come off the floor, which either speaks to a feeling the Raptors may have been able to pull it out if given a window or a real desire to get a week off.
  • Norman Powell told ESPN before the game that he wasn’t particularly happy with LeBron James tugging on his jersey in Game 3 to get his attention and prevent a substitution technical. It seemed mostly harmless at the time, but Powell felt there are better approaches. “Just don’t pull my jersey,” he said. “I feel like that’s a little disrespectful, you know what I’m saying? Like you’re trying to son me and I don’t go for that.”
  • The Raptors finished 0-3 with impending free agent Drake at the Air Canada Centre on the year.
  • As noted above, Kyle Lowry now has seven days to make his (obvious) decision on his player option for next year.
  • I’ve been posting some pics and quotes and other things to my Instagram story. Follow along there for, uhh, my offseason activities, I guess?
  • Locker clean-out day will take place Monday. We’ll have full coverage for you here.

On a personal note, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for reading and following along all season. I really, really appreciate you guys, through agreement and disagreement, wins and losses, re-ups and rebuilds. Thank you.

Comments
To Top