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Thread: Learning from the Pacers mistakes

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    Raptors Republic Starter OptimalOptimist's Avatar
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    Default Learning from the Pacers mistakes

    This article had me going this morning. I know it's a long read, but i think it is worth it.

    http://hoopshabit.com/2014/06/01/tor...els-promising/

    I think that the parallels between the team are really strong from a players perspective. The coaches also draw the same positive and negative reviews. The me against the world mentality is really embraced as well in the new Raptors culture (as being on the wrong side of the whistles, enduring the "Won't play in Canada" years.) Both teams had winning basketball season based more on team play, hustle, role definition

    Both teams have superstars in the making whom struggles in various areas. (George disappearing offensively, DeRozan being exposed as a 1 on 1 defender.)

    However where things differ, is the mistakes the Pacers made, regarding their identity and culture.

    First move which appears to really hurt them, from an eye test and stats standpoint, was the swap of Hands Bro with Scola.

    Scola, while being a way more skilled player, proved to be a predictable odd fit on the roster, posting the lowest FG% of his entire NBA career and a negative win share on offense.

    Handsbrough in his last Pacers season had a higher PER, higher win shares in offense and defense, better rebounding numbers and was just an overall better player to have in a Pacers' culture.

    I won't write about the Andrew Bynum move because it was just terrible. Even if it was just to prevent the Heat from signing him, it showed one thing to the players: lack of trust of them defeating the Heat with their current roster. From that signing on (sorry no stats there) Roy Hibbert began to be horrible, trying to do too much on offense and not being the shell of himself defensively.

    Finally, the worst move of them all. Swapping a veteran on the decline for Evan Turner. Even though Turner, at this stage of his career, is a better player all around than Granger, the transaction created even more issue. Firsteval, the former all-star that was Granger was also George mentor and his departure coincide with a dramatic drop off in George's and even the whole team play winning 7 out of 17 games. The move also deferred the leadership role to David West. While he's a terrific player, he wasn't an homegrown talent like Granger.

    Chalmers, while speaking of that trade and the Pacers struggles, said that he couldn't picture the Heat parting ways with Haslem because of his heart and soul role.

    WHERE I'M FINALLY GETTING AT.

    Parting ways with veteran on upcoming talent
    Trading Amir Johnson, not picking his option, not resigning him, etc. What effect could that have on that team? He, with DeRozan, are the raptors who have been Raptors for the longest time. He is as important, to not say way more, than Haslem is to Miami and than Granger was to Indy. Loosing him means more than loosing a player, it means loosing an integral part of what makes the Raptors the Raptors, and would lead to a probable identity crisis such as the one the Pacers went through.

    The same needs to be said about DeRozan. Like it or not, he is the raptors face in the same way Granger was. Let's create a scenario in which Lowry stays and DeRozan quits. The leadership would differ to Lowry who, despite being an impact arrival (like West was), didn't grow as a player within the organisation which leads me to think that the team could possibly try to adapt to a new personality leading to a new direction which might not lead to a winning situation.

    Importance of role players
    Role players are about more than just being role players. They define the identity and allow the starters to keep playing their game instead of adjusting to other players. The importance of this cannot be underestimate. The Pacers had to play freaking Rasual Butler (god was he awful) instead of Turner because of this exact reason. Bringing Turner in the game disrupted the entire Indiana offense.

    Playing the Sacramento Raptors with the starters didn't led to any discordance because they all are (yes even Salmons) gritty and hustle player which mesh to the identity and culture.

    Conclusion
    Any further acquisition of players, through the draft or FA, must allow the team to continue playing Raptors basketball and not going away from what they are doing well.
    Myself (March 2014):
    The raptors are a tremendous young team and will win a championship in the following five years.

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    Great post man a lot of good points.

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    Raptors Republic Starter OptimalOptimist's Avatar
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    Quote imanshumpert wrote: View Post
    Great post man a lot of good points.
    Thank you man, appreciate it.
    Myself (March 2014):
    The raptors are a tremendous young team and will win a championship in the following five years.

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    Super Moderator CalgaryRapsFan's Avatar
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    I appreciate the sentiment of the OP, especially about roster continuity and smart team building. I agree that some of the moves made by Indi were just mind-boggling, especially the Granger move (savvy vets are important in the playoffs).

    However, I disagree with the parallel drawn between the Pacers and Raptors. The Pacers were rolling in the 1st half of the season, as one of the top teams in the league. The moves seemed odd no matter how you analyzed them, considering how well they were doing. They seemed almost like moves made for the sake of making moves, or out of fear of standing pat and not improving on the previous year's playoff results.

    As for the Raptors, they're a borderline playoff team whose top players could walk for nothing this offseason (Lowry) and two offseasons from now (DeRozan), not even mentioning the fact that Amir could walk next offseason. An up-and-coming bubble team like Toronto, with so many real/potential question marks, is hardly in a position to start worrying about loyalty & chemistry (as top priorities - both are obviously still crucial to sustained success). Toronto's top priority right now needs to be asset accumulation and improving the team's talent base, even if that means having to part with some fan favourites to do so.

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    I remember when the pacers traded Granger for whatshisface and i thought it was the dumbest move and got SLAMMED by everyone WELL WELL LOOK WHOS THE KING OF THE INTERNET NOW
    @jerboat

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    Raptors Republic Starter OptimalOptimist's Avatar
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    Quote CalgaryRapsFan wrote: View Post
    I appreciate the sentiment of the OP, especially about roster continuity and smart team building. I agree that some of the moves made by Indi were just mind-boggling, especially the Granger move (savvy vets are important in the playoffs).

    However, I disagree with the parallel drawn between the Pacers and Raptors. The Pacers were rolling in the 1st half of the season, as one of the top teams in the league. The moves seemed odd no matter how you analyzed them, considering how well they were doing. They seemed almost like moves made for the sake of making moves, or out of fear of standing pat and not improving on the previous year's playoff results.

    As for the Raptors, they're a borderline playoff team whose top players could walk for nothing this offseason (Lowry) and two offseasons from now (DeRozan), not even mentioning the fact that Amir could walk next offseason. An up-and-coming bubble team like Toronto, with so many real/potential question marks, is hardly in a position to start worrying about loyalty & chemistry (as top priorities - both are obviously still crucial to sustained success). Toronto's top priority right now needs to be asset accumulation and improving the team's talent base, even if that means having to part with some fan favourites to do so.
    Thanks for reading/replying.

    If the Pacers were rolling in the first half of the season, the Raptors were rolling in the second half.

    On paper, aside of Bynum, these move had been seen has "talent upgrading" transaction regardless of fit and team culture/identity and that hurt them big time in the long run.

    Of course DD and AJ could walk, but do you see that happening? Both have embrace Toronto and it seems to me that if they wouldn't come back it would be more a management issue than a personal desire to leave town.

    About Lowry leaving. Well that could happen, however, he isn't as crucial as DD and AJ regarding stability and chemistry. But he's right there next to them.

    About the Raptors being a borderline playoff team, I strongly disagree, if the same core returns, we are for sure in the playoffs next year, and the following years as well. I do not believe that we need to part ways with our best players to accumulate assets as we already have a shitload of them. We got a terrific PG rotation, 2 upside wings, a solid rotation of bigs and expiring contracts.

    I'd rather go the Spurs way, even though they had a transcendent player. Let's focus on player development to get assets where team usually don't (second round, castaways from other team, international player, etc). We already have 3 picks this year and 3 in 2016. I just think the Raptors are too far in team progress to go the Celtics way of rebuilding.
    Myself (March 2014):
    The raptors are a tremendous young team and will win a championship in the following five years.

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    One problem I found with the Pacers is that they were just exposed as emotionally weak after the Granger trade. Yes, he was a veteran but trades happen in the NBA all the time and I think his impact was vastly overrated - everyone always knew their starting 5 was dominant but they had a bad bench and Granger leaving didn't change that.

    During their slide their emotional weakness was shown as well, with players taking shots at each other post game and, even as late as the Heat series, when the other team went on a run the players just hung their heads and looked at each other with no passion or fire.

    One thing that really showed it for me though was when David West talked about how much adversity they've had to deal with, and when they asked Lebron about it he just laughed. Which is true, the Heat have had 100x the adversity of the Pacers, who somehow let the impact of signing a 10th man who never played and trading an 8th man apparently disrail their whole season.

    So in conclusion if trading someone like Granger/Amir (not exactly the same scenario since Amir is still a big part of this team whereas Granger is washed up) sends your team into a free fall then I think there's something definitely wrong with the mental make up of the team. It's not even like the Pacers lacked any other veteran, they have Scola, West, Butler, Mahimi (won a championship) and others.

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    Good analysis but I am surprised that Lance S. was not mentioned as possibly the one player who completed the blowup with his team chemistry and on floor/in game antics. I believe Vogel & Bird just let it go before it was too late....he seemed to have problems with most of his mates including George. Maybe it was Granger who kept him in check previous years.

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    In my opinion the Pacers are (well I guess, were) heavily overrated.

    People should stop pretending that Wade wasn't injured in the 2013 matchup. Having a superstar playing hurt, coupled with Indiana's ability to exploit Miami's greatest weakness with Roy Hibbert playing the best stretch of basketball of his career, was how they were able to push that series to 7.

    Without resting Wade and going all out, Miami is probably a 60+ win regular season team. Because they didn't gun for the top seed, Indiana was able to get it, which made this series closer than it really was. Had Miami had homecourt advantage, they win this series in 5 games.

    I think Indiana would've probably taken 7 to beat Brooklyn. They aren't as much better than us as CRF is making them out to be. They are also not title contenders, and would lose in the 1st round of the Western Conference playoffs. They are pretenders like we are.

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    Quote OptimalOptimist wrote: View Post
    Thanks for reading/replying.

    If the Pacers were rolling in the first half of the season, the Raptors were rolling in the second half.

    On paper, aside of Bynum, these move had been seen has "talent upgrading" transaction regardless of fit and team culture/identity and that hurt them big time in the long run.

    Of course DD and AJ could walk, but do you see that happening? Both have embrace Toronto and it seems to me that if they wouldn't come back it would be more a management issue than a personal desire to leave town.

    About Lowry leaving. Well that could happen, however, he isn't as crucial as DD and AJ regarding stability and chemistry. But he's right there next to them.

    About the Raptors being a borderline playoff team, I strongly disagree, if the same core returns, we are for sure in the playoffs next year, and the following years as well. I do not believe that we need to part ways with our best players to accumulate assets as we already have a shitload of them. We got a terrific PG rotation, 2 upside wings, a solid rotation of bigs and expiring contracts.

    I'd rather go the Spurs way, even though they had a transcendent player. Let's focus on player development to get assets where team usually don't (second round, castaways from other team, international player, etc). We already have 3 picks this year and 3 in 2016. I just think the Raptors are too far in team progress to go the Celtics way of rebuilding.
    I certainly wasn't suggesting a rebuild and agree completely that the team already has some young talent that can be further developed (plus 4 1st round picks in the next 3 drafts). My point was that even if this Raptors core is good enough to be a 1st round playoff team, is that enough? I hope not. That's why I would argue that the Raptors' top priority should still be to increase the overall talent level of the team. I can't understand the desire to place loyalty above talent acquisition, for a team that might have a 2nd round ceiling?

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    Quote Raptorsnz wrote: View Post
    One problem I found with the Pacers is that they were just exposed as emotionally weak after the Granger trade. Yes, he was a veteran but trades happen in the NBA all the time and I think his impact was vastly overrated - everyone always knew their starting 5 was dominant but they had a bad bench and Granger leaving didn't change that.

    During their slide their emotional weakness was shown as well, with players taking shots at each other post game and, even as late as the Heat series, when the other team went on a run the players just hung their heads and looked at each other with no passion or fire.

    One thing that really showed it for me though was when David West talked about how much adversity they've had to deal with, and when they asked Lebron about it he just laughed. Which is true, the Heat have had 100x the adversity of the Pacers, who somehow let the impact of signing a 10th man who never played and trading an 8th man apparently disrail their whole season.

    So in conclusion if trading someone like Granger/Amir (not exactly the same scenario since Amir is still a big part of this team whereas Granger is washed up) sends your team into a free fall then I think there's something definitely wrong with the mental make up of the team. It's not even like the Pacers lacked any other veteran, they have Scola, West, Butler, Mahimi (won a championship) and others.
    There is a difference between having veterans and having a franchise homegrown veteran like Amir/Granger. As washed up as you think they might be (you can throw in Haslem for that matter), they are still players and more than that, they are THE persons every other player on the roster has seen, prior to themselves, wearing the uniform. They are the one that new players go too regarding the city, the coaches, the organisation, etc.

    The moves i mentioned were made to improved their bench and had the total opposite because they didn't fit in the Indiana culture.



    Quote Bendit wrote: View Post
    Good analysis but I am surprised that Lance S. was not mentioned as possibly the one player who completed the blowup with his team chemistry and on floor/in game antics. I believe Vogel & Bird just let it go before it was too late....he seemed to have problems with most of his mates including George. Maybe it was Granger who kept him in check previous years.
    Yeah, this is where I was going. Granger had more to do with the team than he has been giving credit for.

    Quote imanshumpert wrote: View Post
    In my opinion the Pacers are (well I guess, were) heavily overrated.

    People should stop pretending that Wade wasn't injured in the 2013 matchup. Having a superstar playing hurt, coupled with Indiana's ability to exploit Miami's greatest weakness with Roy Hibbert playing the best stretch of basketball of his career, was how they were able to push that series to 7.

    Without resting Wade and going all out, Miami is probably a 60+ win regular season team. Because they didn't gun for the top seed, Indiana was able to get it, which made this series closer than it really was. Had Miami had homecourt advantage, they win this series in 5 games.

    I think Indiana would've probably taken 7 to beat Brooklyn. They aren't as much better than us as CRF is making them out to be. They are also not title contenders, and would lose in the 1st round of the Western Conference playoffs. They are pretenders like we are.
    I totally agree with this. Raptors are a lot closer to get to Indiana "level of success" than most people think. Honestly the Pacers are a good model as far as NOT repeating the same mistakes.

    If we had faced Atlanta and Washington in the first round, we would have clobbered them way easier than the Pacers did.
    Myself (March 2014):
    The raptors are a tremendous young team and will win a championship in the following five years.

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    ^
    We both agree on the objective, but differ on the manner. To me the best way to acquire talent goes with internal development.

    If I compare with championship level team and their more important players.

    Durant, Ibaka, Jackson, Westbrook were drafted there.

    Spurs, I don't need to go on.

    Heat is the exception among the NBA, even there, they developed Chalmers/Cole, Wade, and Haslem whose importance cannot be diminished.

    Pacers. Stephenson, George, Hibbert were internal talent, Hill is below average and West was an impact signing.


    If you can turn a 2nd rounder into SOMETHING, you have such a huge advantage over everybody else. A role player with upside on a cheap contract, see Parsons, has terrific value within the team and within the league as well.

    Let'S say we keep on JV, Ross, DD and resign Lowry. We got 3 high upside players with an impact veteran and got a glue guy like AJ to make everything flows. We are a bench away from serious aspirations I would say.
    Myself (March 2014):
    The raptors are a tremendous young team and will win a championship in the following five years.

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    Quote OptimalOptimist wrote: View Post
    ^
    We both agree on the objective, but differ on the manner. To me the best way to acquire talent goes with internal development.

    If I compare with championship level team and their more important players.

    Durant, Ibaka, Jackson, Westbrook were drafted there.

    Spurs, I don't need to go on.

    Heat is the exception among the NBA, even there, they developed Chalmers/Cole, Wade, and Haslem whose importance cannot be diminished.

    Pacers. Stephenson, George, Hibbert were internal talent, Hill is below average and West was an impact signing.


    If you can turn a 2nd rounder into SOMETHING, you have such a huge advantage over everybody else. A role player with upside on a cheap contract, see Parsons, has terrific value within the team and within the league as well.

    Let'S say we keep on JV, Ross, DD and resign Lowry. We got 3 high upside players with an impact veteran and got a glue guy like AJ to make everything flows. We are a bench away from serious aspirations I would say.
    I think the other difference in perspective is your view of our ceilings. If you're counting Demar and Ross as high upside players I think you're being overly optimistic.

    OKC's internal development is of legitimate superstars in KD and Westbrook.

    Spurs have the best PF of all time.

    Consider that the Hawks rolled with developing Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, and Al Horford and were stuck in neutral with their impact player Joe Johnson.

    If you misjudge the ceilings of our players it can be fatal.

    I agree 100% that we shouldn't dump Amir. I also think we want to avoid knuckleheads like Stephenson. But I don't think that should preclude opportunuties to raise our ceiling via trade.

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    Quote Scraptor wrote: View Post
    I think the other difference in perspective is your view of our ceilings. If you're counting Demar and Ross as high upside players I think you're being overly optimistic.

    OKC's internal development is of legitimate superstars in KD and Westbrook.

    Spurs have the best PF of all time.

    Consider that the Hawks rolled with developing Josh Smith, Marvin Williams, and Al Horford and were stuck in neutral with their impact player Joe Johnson.

    If you misjudge the ceilings of our players it can be fatal.

    I agree 100% that we shouldn't dump Amir. I also think we want to avoid knuckleheads like Stephenson. But I don't think that should preclude opportunuties to raise our ceiling via trade.
    The Hawks were coached by Mike Woodson, for what's it's worth. And can you say that they had a clear cut identity? Also, behind their core, they didn't had anything interesting. The Raptors already have more depth than the Hawks did.

    My points are that Raptors should continue doing things/transactions that respect the team philosophy/culture/identity that is heavily linked to DD and AJ. Role players and depth chart following that really matter.

    Ross scored 51 points in a game that actually amounted to something (read not like Brewer).

    You see flashes of potential as a deadly shooter, flashy passer and good ballhandler, not even mentioning athleticism. DD is a 23yo all-star who has improved significantly every seasons in the league. Remember the critics saying he should improve as a playmaker and as a rebounder? Well he did upgrade these numbers.

    JV shows that he can be and become a really good 2 way center.

    2Pat is actually a stretch four that can defend, how rare are these?

    I think that we, as fans, tend to undervalue our own talent.
    Myself (March 2014):
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    I'm confused. The Pacers made it to the Easter Conference Finals and lost to a team with superior talent, three future hall of famers (four if we consider Bosh), and a shit ton of veteran players that know how to get things done. I'd say what the Pacers have done is pretty damn impressive.

    The vibe seems to be that if the Pacers hadn't swapped Scola for Hansbrough, hadn't traded Granger for Turner, or hadn't signed Bynum, then Hansbrough would continue to post his incredible PER, Granger would have provided tonnes of veteran leadership to push to game 7 or beyond, and Hibbert wouldn't have turned into a shell of his former self. This is simply inconclusive. The Pacers HAD to improve, and they tried, but still came up short. Why is this bad? The Stockton-Malone era consistently failed, too, and they had a more "consistent identity". I'll take a Stockton-Malone era in Toronto any day of the week.

    If the right package for Amir or DeRozan comes along, you do it. The same applies to any player. We do not have an identity yet. We have one over-achieving season. And if we keep this core intact, we will not have enough talent to beat the Heat in a seven game series, no matter how you slice it.

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    Quote OptimalOptimist wrote: View Post
    The Hawks were coached by Mike Woodson, for what's it's worth. And can you say that they had a clear cut identity? Also, behind their core, they didn't had anything interesting. The Raptors already have more depth than the Hawks did.

    My points are that Raptors should continue doing things/transactions that respect the team philosophy/culture/identity that is heavily linked to DD and AJ. Role players and depth chart following that really matter.

    Ross scored 51 points in a game that actually amounted to something (read not like Brewer).

    You see flashes of potential as a deadly shooter, flashy passer and good ballhandler, not even mentioning athleticism. DD is a 23yo all-star who has improved significantly every seasons in the league. Remember the critics saying he should improve as a playmaker and as a rebounder? Well he did upgrade these numbers.

    JV shows that he can be and become a really good 2 way center.

    2Pat is actually a stretch four that can defend, how rare are these?

    I think that we, as fans, tend to undervalue our own talent.
    I agree.... I think Indiana was overrated and we're actually a lot closer to Indiana's level than most people think. If the Pacers lose Lance and we tweaked our roster just a little bit (add a real SF and a good backup C), I can see us surpassing them next year.

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    Quote Marz wrote: View Post
    I'm confused. The Pacers made it to the Easter Conference Finals and lost to a team with superior talent, three future hall of famers (four if we consider Bosh), and a shit ton of veteran players that know how to get things done. I'd say what the Pacers have done is pretty damn impressive.

    The vibe seems to be that if the Pacers hadn't swapped Scola for Hansbrough, hadn't traded Granger for Turner, or hadn't signed Bynum, then Hansbrough would continue to post his incredible PER, Granger would have provided tonnes of veteran leadership to push to game 7 or beyond, and Hibbert wouldn't have turned into a shell of his former self. This is simply inconclusive. The Pacers HAD to improve, and they tried, but still came up short. Why is this bad? The Stockton-Malone era consistently failed, too, and they had a more "consistent identity". I'll take a Stockton-Malone era in Toronto any day of the week.

    If the right package for Amir or DeRozan comes along, you do it. The same applies to any player. We do not have an identity yet. We have one over-achieving season. And if we keep this core intact, we will not have enough talent to beat the Heat in a seven game series, no matter how you slice it.
    If you break up the core you will not be able to beat the Heat in a seven game series either! Continuity/Talent/Stability.....the BC era is gone my friend. The whole point of the OP's post was to show how trading the heart/soul/players of your team can destroy team chemistry.

    What's with the infatuation with trading our best players? I rarely hear other fans around the league so enthusiastic about trading their best players.

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    Quote Marz wrote: View Post
    I'm confused. The Pacers made it to the Easter Conference Finals and lost to a team with superior talent, three future hall of famers (four if we consider Bosh), and a shit ton of veteran players that know how to get things done. I'd say what the Pacers have done is pretty damn impressive.

    R: Totally agree with this.

    The vibe seems to be that if the Pacers hadn't swapped Scola for Hansbrough, hadn't traded Granger for Turner, or hadn't signed Bynum, then Hansbrough would continue to post his incredible PER, Granger would have provided tonnes of veteran leadership to push to game 7 or beyond, and Hibbert wouldn't have turned into a shell of his former self.

    Nailed it on the first part, but I'm not saying they would have beaten the Heat, I'm saying they were a better team before the moves were made.

    This is simply inconclusive. The Pacers HAD to improve, and they tried, but still came up short. Why is this bad? The Stockton-Malone era consistently failed, too, and they had a more "consistent identity". I'll take a Stockton-Malone era in Toronto any day of the week.

    I'm not saying the intention was bad, I'm saying the result was. They did acquired more talent, but the newcomers didn't fit in the Pacers' culture, and the moves ultimately worsen the older players who had to adjust their playing styles.


    If the right package for Amir or DeRozan comes along, you do it. The same applies to any player. We do not have an identity yet. We have one over-achieving season. And if we keep this core intact, we will not have enough talent to beat the Heat in a seven game series, no matter how you slice it.

    This is where i respectfully disagree. We do have an identity. We are going into the 4th and 5th years of Casey and pounding the rock, hard-nose defense and blue collar approach makes the Raptors what they are. I'm not sure how we over-achieved. Just look at the teams behind us in the playoff. Chicago DID overachieve. The Wizards won't be as good next season with Ariza not being in a contract year and they might loose Gortat as well. Their bench was freaking Al Harrington, Andre Miller, Drew Gooden (who are all pretty close to being washed up), Webster and to a lesser extent Booker. Hornets are a terrible offensive team with less upcoming talent than the Raps. Hawks, lol. The Nets aren't getting younger.

    Where you see over-achieving, I see taking care of business.

    Is there a single team in the East who has the talent to beat the Heat in a 7 game series? Who is close to do so?
    Replied in bold.

    Also, even if the Raptors and the Pacers split the season series 2 game a piece, Raptors still had a +5 points against them.
    Last edited by OptimalOptimist; Tue Jun 3rd, 2014 at 10:59 AM.
    Myself (March 2014):
    The raptors are a tremendous young team and will win a championship in the following five years.

  25. #19
    Raptors Republic All-Star Letter N's Avatar
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    Learning from the Pacers Mistakes
    Keep Demar out of the stripclubs
    Have Jonas get more than 2 rebounds in a game
    Tell T. Ross that blowing in people's faces or punching them are not good defensive tactics
    Don't let Lowry end up on an episode of Catfish

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  27. #20
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    Quote OptimalOptimist wrote: View Post
    I won't write about the Andrew Bynum move because it was just terrible. Even if it was just to prevent the Heat from signing him, it showed one thing to the players: lack of trust of them defeating the Heat with their current roster. From that signing on (sorry no stats there) Roy Hibbert began to be horrible, trying to do too much on offense and not being the shell of himself defensively.
    Hibbert was terrible for all of January. Bynum was signed at the start of February. If anything, the Bynum signing was Larry Bird reacting to Hibbert's struggles that started long before. Did Hibbert perceive it as a slap in the face? He probably did. But he was melting down anyway. Hibbert needs to end the sensitive hipster routine and man up.

    I think it's very hard to blame Larry Bird for growing tired with the Pacers' lack of mental toughness this year, and Hibbert has been exhibit A of that problem for many years now.

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