Talking Raptors Podcast – We’re In The Eastern Conference Finals

Absolutely unbelievable. We are here folks. After an emotional roller coster ride through two rounds, Nick and Barry finally get together for an episode they never really thought they’d record.
On this special EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS episode of Talking Raptors the guys collect their thoughts on what’s happened and what lays ahead.

They discuss:

Winning 2 Rounds!

Miami Vs Toronto – Fans, Buildings, Atmosphere.

Raptors Play-Off Branding.

Whats Vegas saying about the Raps vs Cleveland.

Kyrie Irving, PartyNextDoor and adultery.

Jurassic Park.


All this and a little bit more.

As always, thanks so much for listening and we hope you enjoy!



Life is good.

Grab the iTunes feed or check us out on Stitcher on Android. There is also the plain old feed. You can also download the file, or just listen below:

Game 7 Post-Game Podcast: That All-Time High Feeling

Tim Chisholm joins the party as we celebrate the happiest moment in Raptors history, anoint a new GOAT Raptor, and talk about how Richard Jefferson about to be destroyed.

Grab the iTunes feed or check us out on Stitcher on Android. There is also the plain old feed. You can also download the file, or just listen below:

Quick Reaction: Raptors 116, Heat 89 – Raptors Advance to East Finals

A new level of success for the franchise calls for overly positive grades.  Bring on Cleveland!

Miami 89 Final
Recap | Box Score
116 Toronto
P. Patterson 37 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-4 3FG | 7-7 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | — +/-Not great early. Battled on the boards but was beat too often, allowed Josh McRoberts to get going with some fairly easy baskets, and committed a pathetic foul on Dragic while pretending to chase him down on the break. But he also won some key battles for rebounds, including a big and-1 with 3:16 left in the first half to put Toronto up 7 and steal some momentum from seven time all-star Joe Johnson (who I will never not be afraid of).

The second half we got a great Patterson. Outside of his shot not falling, he found lots of ways to impact the game in a lot. Big boards, good passes, and tough defence. You could feel his energy.

D. Carroll 34 MIN | 4-5 FG | 2-2 3FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | — +/-Drew fouls on both Dragic and Wade by attacking off the dribble, and generally did well at keeping with Wade’s herky-jerky dribbles. Sadly, he was the one guarding Joe Johnson when he got hot…bit of a mixed bag, which was the one blemish on his otherwise solid performance. His transition threes were big for Toronto.

B. Biyombo 41 MIN | 6-8 FG | 0-0 3FG | 5-12 FT | 16 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | — +/-Is Biyombo the greatest Raptor of all time?? Incredible performance from the 30 23 year old. Huge blocks, challenging everything at the bucket, big rebounds, and a couple huge dunks. Outside of Lowry, he is the biggest reason the Raptors won this game. He has been a nearly perfect back-up centre this year, and a great compliment/change of pace to Jonas.

And he drove McRoberts to violence. Love it. Nobody punks, Biyombo!!

K. Lowry 42 MIN | 11-20 FG | 5-7 3FG | 8-11 FT | 7 REB | 9 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 35 PTS | — +/-He was okay in the first half, but KLOE showed up in the third quarter. He asserted himself as the best player in the game, and him playing like this is the solution to the regular season Raptors arriving in the post-season. Whenever the Raptors needed it, Lowry was there.

D. DeRozan 35 MIN | 12-29 FG | 0-1 3FG | 4-7 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 28 PTS | — +/-DeMar had horrendous shot selection far too often (pretty routine, really…) leading to several Miami buckets on the other end, whether by fast break or taking advantage of mismatches in transition. At half he was 4-of-17 shooting. 17 shots to get 15 points!! And no first half assists. Far too focused on his own scoring, rather than on the success of the team…which feels far different than how he succeeded all season.

Got better as the game went on, so I’m not sure how to properly weigh his performance.

J. Johnson 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | — +/-Mood: Utilized at the end.

J. Thompson 7 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | — +/-Great energy in his few minutes, and his best of the playoffs so far. Fought on the glass, and forced a very tough McRoberts’ shot at the end of the shot clock.

T. Ross 18 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-4 3FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | — +/-Ross gets a good grade if only for the time he stepped in and stole the ball from Wade in the open court. His shooting was just a bonus, let alone following it up with a block on Miami’s next possession. He seemed locked in pretty much all night, and Ross is such a different player when he is awake.

L. Nogueira 1 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | — +/-We got a Bebe alley-oop dunk!!!! I wish I could give an A+++

C. Joseph 19 MIN | 0-8 FG | 0-1 3FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 1 PTS | — +/-Very little contribution on the stat sheet, but he didn’t let Dragic go off like in game 6. Solid effort though to fight through screens and prevent lane penetration, but still not the Cory Joseph performance that we have come to expect.

D. Wright 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | — +/-The fact the Delon played means something either really good or really bad…it was really good today. Let the record show, Delon Wright was on the court the first time the Raptors secured a spot in the conference finals.

N. Powell 3 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-1 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | — +/-Only got three minutes tonight, but the Raptors wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for him in round one.

Dwane Casey
Outside of garbage time he kept the rotation to a tight 8, and would have been 7 if not for a few minute stretch from Jason Thompson. Great line-up decision, and schemed to prevent the open lane drives that doomed the Raptors in game 6. Still wish he would have reigned in DeMar a bit, but as the first coach to lead the Raptors to the Conference Finals, he gets an A. The Raptors bounced back from an embarrassing game 6 to take the series decisively, and are now 6-0 coming off of a loss in the playoffs.

Five Things We Saw

  1. The Raptors are off to the Eastern Conference Finals. If you’ve made it this far you’ve already read those words a number of times. I’ve had to type if repeatedly in order to remind myself that it’s real. The Raptors are a final four team, and have the chance to do more…just as we all had hoped when the season started. It’s just beautiful!
  2. Not only are the Raptors a final four team, but they have a lottery pick this summer (thanks, NY!).
  3. Great crowd, but I wonder when fans (myself included) in Toronto will stop getting panicked when the opposition goes on a mini-run. Does this season’s success help curb this problem? Will this only go away after a championship? Are we perpetually scarred?
  4. I never read flagrant situations correctly, but McRoberts should have been ejected. You could see that play building, and knew that he was about to hit someone. Dirty play. I was shocked to not see him walking to the locker room.

Hassan Whiteside out for Game 6

Word out of Miami is that center Hassan Whiteside is out for Game 6:

The big man sprained his knee in Game 3 which was confirmed by an MRI and he has since been listed as “day to day”.

If things hold, this will be the third straight game missed by Whiteside and Raptors center, Jonas Valanciunas. The Raptors are 1-1 in those games, with backup center Bismack Biyombo becoming an increasingly big factor in the series.

Whiteside is making about $900K right now and is set for a massive raise, and that has to play some part in the decision-making around rushing him back quickly. On the other hand, Biyombo’s making $2.8M and has a player option for $2.9M next season, which he’ll be sure to opt out of. Biyombo is averaging 5.3 points and 9 rebounds in the post-season, and was a decisive factor in the Raptors Game 5 win, while surely upping his stock heading into a rich summer.

DeMarre Carroll (wrist) and Luol Deng (wrist) are both listed as questionable.

Game 5 Post-Game Podcast: Let’s close this out in Miami

Gavin and Zarar start things off and Will makes an appearance midway through to talk Game 5 which saw DeMar DeRozan return to being a functional basketball player, just in time to setup a potential Game 6 close-out in Miami.

Grab the iTunes feed or check us out on Stitcher on Android. There is also the plain old feed. You can also download the file, or just listen below:

Raptors Offense without Kyle Lowry: Attack Joe Johnson

With Kyle Lowry fouled out and DeMar DeRozan having one of his worst games ever, the Raptors offense was left to come up with points against a Heat defense playing five wings. The Raptors strategy was simplistic: try to exploit Joe Johnson. The plan was foiled by Johnson who came up with huge defensive stops in one-on-one situations.

Nobody but Joseph touches the ball, DeRozan’s screen frees up Joseph from Dragic from distance for half a second and he buries the long-two. Other three guys are stagnant. Heat make a mistake by not switching.

One of the worst possessions in the game. DeRozan wastes the clock and for some reason, it’s Cory Joseph screening him which is an easy decision for the Heat because they switch Winslow on him, who is an equally good defender (if not better) than Deng. It’s like the Raptors high screen was designed to pit DeRozan against a better defender. The resulting shot speaks for itself.

Three spectators and another late shot-clock situation as Joseph uses another high screen to get rid of Winslow, who sticks with him and forces the tough shot. The Heat are using a 5-out lineup and the screen should come from the guy who is 1) your best screener, and 2) being guarded by the worst defender. In this situation, that is Patterson, not Carroll who should be setting the screen.

There’s nothing much to say here, except that the Raptors didn’t even bother setting a screen on the potentially game-winning possession. They literally didn’t do anything other than have Joseph dribble the ball up the court and take a contested shot. So much wrong here.

Good news is that the screen is set by Patterson so we get the switch we want. What I don’t get on this one is that Joseph, despite getting the switch, passes it to Patterson only to receive it back. The ensuing drive is contested well by the Heat, but look at the bottom of your screen and Carroll and DeRozan – they’re standing way too close to each other. Carroll should be coming back to the top of the key to receive a potential pass from Joseph. DeRozan standing at the three-point line isn’t even a factor since nobody respects his jumper, let alone his three.

5-second violation. Patterson needs to come towards the sideline and present himself, and Ross has to be a little less casual.

Once again, they use Patterson correctly to draw Johnson (arguably their weakest defender) on DeRozan, who doesn’t have the quicks to blow by him and gets blocked.

This is a good play given the shot-clock, they get the switch on Patterson and he just misses a relatively easy shot over the shorter Wade.

Yet again, the Raptors use Patterson to exploit Joe Johnson who comes up huge again against DeRozan by stripping him. The Raptors are making a concerted effort to put Johnson in pressure situations, and the guy is simply responding, with the Raptors not showing any Plan B.

Another Patterson screen, another attack on Joe Johnson, this time Cory Joseph makes a tough hook over the taller Johnson. The Heat are very willing switchers and have full confidence in Johnson’s ability to defend anyone off the bounce. The Raptors lack any off-the-ball movement, cutting, and any sort of creativity in their offense, so Johnson is basically defending a guy in front of him, rather than chasing guys around screens, which he is more likely to struggle at.

What you think of this play depends on your appetite for DeMarre Carroll as a scorer. He got the switch on Dragic, but chooses to look for contact and throw up a tough shot. He had had a good third quarter so I can’t begrudge him the shot. What I do bemoan is the pure lack of activity from 3 of the 5 Raptors on the court, who continue to contribute zero to the possession.

DeRozan finally scores one without the help of a screen on Deng. Nice turn by DeRozan to go away from Winslow who would’ve swiped at it if he’d have kept going straight.


Here’s all the plays combined:

The core flaw in the Raptors offense is that a defender has to worry about one thing and one thing only. Since the Raptors essentially run a two-man game with three guys stagnant every time, help on any drives is always easy to provide, and the other three defenders don’t have to worry about chasing their own man while the two-man action is happening. We’re letting them off the hook buy not moving without the ball, setting off-the-ball screens, and generally speaking, not putting enough pressure on the defense except from the point of attack.

Play-by-Play Breakdown: Raptors Overtime Defense – Game 4 vs Heat

The Heat went 4-9 from the field and out-rebounded the Raptors 4-1 in OT. One of the talking points coming out of the game was the absence of Bismack Biyombo, the Raptors primary rim protector, as the Heat got the vast majority of their points in the paint.

Here’s a possession-by-possession breakdown of our defense:

This is a 1-4 clear-out in the block for Wade, and from a Raptors point of view, this is not so bad. Our best one-on-one defender is on Wade and forces him to take a tough fade. The only question here is rebounding, and as Deng crashes the glass, the Raptors are fortunate it doesn’t come off DeRozan and collect the team rebound.

DeRozan is completely cleared by the screen allowing Goran Dragic to drive into the paint. As the defense collapses, Joe Johnson has the clean look which he misses. Without Biyombo in there, it’s nervous times again on the glass and unfortunately, Patterson tips it into his own net. The main failure of this play isn’t there, though, it’s on the perimeter at how easily the Raptors allowed Dragic into the paint on his strong hand. Even conceding a Patterson on Dragic switch would’ve been better than this.

Meh, you’ll live with this. Patterson has done a superb job on whoever he’s been guarding and here he doesn’t concede the switch that Miami is seeking. The Wade drive distracts him momentarily but he still recovers to force a tough shot from Johnson. Good defense.

Forget everything else, this is just a terrible close-out by DeMarre Carroll on Dragic. His angle invite Dragic to drive into the paint using his strong hand and the results are predictable. Again, not having Biyombo in there means Dragic has a clear path and doesn’t even have to contemplate his shot being possibly altered.

The Raptors concede the switch Miami is looking for and get Patterson on Wade, but the former doesn’t fall for the fake and contests the shot. The problem, again, is rebounding. The Raptors concede the offensive rebound and waste critical time off the clock.

Much like how the Raptors were trying to attack Joe Johnson, the Heat were putting Patterson in help positions (and thus away from the glass). The switch here happens closer to the rim and Wade gets a relatively easy look.

Miami’s drive-and-kick game is at it again, but the story here is another horrible close-out by DeMarre Carroll who hasn’t learned his lesson, and lets Dragic drive into the paint. With his strong hand. Again.

All the plays can be found here:

Game 4 Post-Game Podcast: Casey and DeRozan Cost Game

A gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, vomit-inducing, rage-inciting loss in Game 4 is squarely pinned on Dwane Casey’s pee wee league coaching and DeMar DeRozan continuing to choke hard.

Grab the iTunes feed or check us out on Stitcher on Android. There is also the plain old feed. You can also download the file, or just listen below:

Breaking It Down: Raptors Crunch Time Offense – Game 3

Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan were ball-dominant down the stretch in the Raptors Game 3 win. We look at the “under 5 minute” offense and see what was run. Video is followed by analysis.

4:25: Lowry make. Prettiest play of them all where three guys touched the ball and Lowry’s pump-fake sold the defense, resulting in a drive. Patterson is used as the screener, which is the norm in these small-ball lineups.  This is the quick-thinking Lowry that we’re all used to seeing – one step ahead of everybody else.

3:59: DeRozan miss. Dribble-handoff to setup DeRozan, and Deng goes under leaving DeRozan open. Yes, Deng went under which is an invitation to shoot and you might argue that DeRozan has to take this shot.  I disagree – this is a bad shot and this is why: Cory Joseph is screening Wade, and if DeRozan just looks to his left, he’ll see that DeMarre Carroll is wide open since Joseph has wiped out Wade.

3:12: Lowry miss. Can you blame Lowry for taking on Haslem here? I would’ve preferred if he’d have forced Haslem into contesting the shot at the rim rather than the fade, but that Lowry short fade has been money all year. Notice the Raptors spacing on this possession and how unhelpful it is. Specifically, take a look at Joseph and DeRozan who are within a couple feet of each other on the far side.

2:40: Carroll miss. DeRozan, after using the screen, has a chance to go right at Haslem but passes it off to Carroll with the clock winding down and the swingman fully covered. This is an instance where he should attack and try to get the foul on the laterally-challenged Haslem.  Carroll is not a good one-on-one player and putting him situations where he’s forced to create offense (without even the help of a screen) will always result in sub-par offense.

2:20: Joseph attacks and draws the foul which is called on the floor.

2:09: Lowry make. Nobody but Lowry touches it. Good screening by Patterson and a big shot is made.  I’ll take it.

1:34: Lowry FTs. This is more like it. You see Haslem on you and there’s absolutely no reason to do anything other than to attack and attack hard. The Raptors should be searching for the big on small switch because the Heat bigs, other than Whiteside, can’t challenge without fouling.

1:00: DeRozan miss. Very tough shot by DeRozan but the real problem here is that he picked up his dribble too early because of the pressure supplied by Patterson’s man. In a live-dribble situation, he has a much higher chance of drawing the foul but since he picked it up, it becomes much harder. There’s also 9 seconds on the shot-clock when he shoots, and a kick-out for a better play to be run was an option.

:33: Lowry make. This is an All-Star shot. Wade hung with him on the screen, contested the shot, but Lowry’s rise and release was too quick.

There’s a distinct lack of touches by anyone other than Lowry and DeRozan, with most possessions having only one or two guys touch the ball.  This is nothing new and we can’t expect this to change this late into the season, so it boils down to decision-making from those who dominate the ball, namely DeRozan and Lowry.  In every single play that didn’t result in the outcome we wanted, there’s an easily identifiable reason why that didn’t happen, and it’s down to our two star players being context-aware.

Raptors Weekly Podcast – Game 4 Preview: A New Series is Born

Raptors lead the Heat 2-1 with pivotal Game 4 looming in Miami.  No Jonas Valanciunas, and likely no Hassan Whiteside means that the series is born anew.

Grab the iTunes feed or check us out on Stitcher on Android. There is also the plain old feed. You can also download the file, or just listen below:

Breaking It Down: Raptors OT Offense in Game 2 – Heat Switching

The Raptors offense struck early in OT and faltered after, but didn’t require heroics down the stretch.  Here’s a play-by-play breakdown of how things played out in OT as the Raptors ran their offense entirely through their wings with mixed results.

4:41 – score: Great Lowry screen forces switch and DeRozan catches it on the move for a floater.  This is so much better of an action than when he dribbles with the defense in front of him from the top of the key to take that long-two.

3:51 – miss. Lowry drives to his weaker side which Dragic is fine with, and when he turns Whiteside is there.  There’s no other movement so the only option is to slide a difficult pass to JV, and Lowry takes the only feasible option with the shot-clock running down.

3:09 – miss.  Bad DeRozan long-two.  This is the prototypical shot that has killed him every post-season.

2:26 – make. JV involved in the pick ‘n roll and Whiteside will always prefer to hang back and worry about Lowry than defend JV out there – easy FT-line jumper for JV who doesn’t hesitate.  If the Raptors want to confuse the Heat, they should play Patterson at center and run this play, which would force Whiteside to come out.  Of course, the problems would be on the other end.

1:46 – miss. Too much time wasted by Lowry so when Carroll gets the ball with seconds left, he’s got to make quick offensive decisions which he’s not the best at.  Probably could’ve played Lowry going in towards the hoop, but settles for a contested jumper.  Would’ve also liked to see a cut into the paint from Cory Joseph who’s standing idly on the corner.

1:08 – turnover.  Lowry tries to shake off Dragic using a Carroll screen, but the Heat are very comfortable switching here and Wade forces Lwory baseline who jump-passes without a target in mind.  Bad pass, turnover.

1:06 – fouled.  Carroll comes up with the fortuitous steal.

:36 – miss. DeRozan tries to use the high-screen and Heat are again comfortable switching Wade onto any wing, so DeRozan doesn’t gain any advantage.  Tries to fake out Wade and nobody’s biting, and the possession ends up with Carroll driving against a good defender in Deng resulting in a low percentage shot.

:22 – intentional foul. Good misdirection by Joseph to fake going forward only to peel off to receive the ball.

:11 – intentional foul.  DeRozan is probably the guy the Heat wanted to foul the most, and the Raptors obliged.  Would’ve liked to have seen Joseph come down and present himself.

:5 – intentional foul. Massive mistake by Richardson to come towards the inbounder and leave Lowry in the backourt.  Wasted precious time off the clock for the Heat.