Gameday: Raptors vs Rockets – Mar. 1/10

On the second night of a back-to-back, the Raptors head to Houston to play a retooled Rockets team; without Bosh for the 5th game in a row.

I checked in with Rahat Huq of Red94 (you can catch him on Twitter) to get a sense of where the Rockets were after the McGrady trade:

Q: Darryl Morey: best GM in the league?
A: Obviously I’m biased, so my opinion there doesn’t hold much weight, but I think most people around the league have certainly taken notice. What Morey needs now in his resume is real success. The team obviously exceeded expectations last season and prior to the trade, this year, but for him to really cement his standing, he needs a real title run to show that his approach isn’t just conducive to overachievement – it can bring championships.

Q: How do you see Martin and Jeffries fitting into this team?
A: Jeffries just looks like a Houston Rocket – the activity and energy on the defensive end, always rotating, making deflections, drawing charges. Unfortunately, he also fits the bill for Rockets teams of past years on the offensive side in that he has no abilities. Martin is one of the most efficient scorers in our league and he kind of symbolizes the first major step towards what perhaps might be a vision to build an “offensive machine” – a drastic shift away from the defensive philosophy of years past. But he attacks the basket and draws fouls and it looks like, with the Lowry trade last year, that might be one of the main skills that the Rockets are building upon.

Q: Do you seirously think you guys have any chance of landing Bosh? What’s Plan B when you don’t land him?
A: I think there could be a chance given his ties to the state of Texas and the solid lineup we have built to (theoretically) fit around him. He fits this offense perfectly with his ability to operate from the high post. I think there might be some appeal to a guy like Bosh to coming to a situation where he would not only be the undisputed first option, but also have sufficient help around him. That’s pretty unique and I’m not sure many other teams can offer that appeal. Plan B would likely be Stoudemire or simply holding on until the deadline to see who might become available via trade. But I do think they will be very aggressive in free agency in gathering from what Daryl Morey has said.

Q: I’m sure you guys must be a stinging from getting thumped by the Raptors the last time out; what do you have to do to win this game?
A: I would really be shocked if we won this game. Not enough emphasis has been placed on the loss of Kyle Lowry, a guy who statistically speaking has been the team’s most impactful player this season.

The last time we played Houston, the Raptors played as good a game as they ever have, taking it to the Rockets for a full 48. With no real threat on the perimeter, and no double-team worthy player in the post, the Raptors perimeter defense was able to keep Battier and Ariza in check (and Brooks who went 6-20 but put up 20pts).

Scola and Landry were just monsters in the post, and absolutely owned Bosh and Bargnani combining for 46pts 22rebs, but Bosh and Bargnani countered with 41pts and 13rebs, and Turkoglu came up big from the wing with 23pts 6rebs 5ast. Replacing Landry off the bench with Jeffries is a step back, but the Rockets improved with the moves overall both strategically and tactically.

While the addition of Kevin Martin gives the Rockets someone who can create from the wing and score in bunches, he gives it back on defense. It will be up to DeRozan (but mostly Weems and Belinelli) to attack the hell out of him on offense, and keep Martin on his toes.

If Bosh were playing, I’d be all-in for a Raptor win, but in his absence, we don’t have a clear edge in the paint. Bargnani hasn’t really been utilized effectively, and Evans/Johnson/Rasho haven’t been able to fill in by committee. At the minimum, the pick-and-roll with Evans should just be put aside and never used again under any circumstances. While he does get the ball in motion, he is unable to do anything with it.


I mean seriously, last night Bargs went 6-9 from the field; with Bosh out, why isn’t he getting more shots? I realize some of it has to do with Bargnani making himself available and aggressive; but no plays are being called for him. Nothing. Just to recap shot distribution last night:

Rasho Nesterovic – 4-10
Hedo Turkoglu – 3-8
Andrea Bargnani – 6-9
Jarrett Jack – 4-8
DeMar DeRozan – 4-10
Reggie Evans – 2-4
Antoine Wright – 2-8
Jose Calderon – 2-5
Amir Johnson – 3-7
Patrick O’Bryant – 1-3
Marco Belinelli – 2-4
Sonny Weems – 5-11

That’s a lot of bad shots that could have been given to bargnani. Even if a quarter of those missed shots (those 5 combined for 18-46 = 28 missed shots) were called for Bargnani, that’s 9 more attempts by somebody who was shooting the ball well. When you figure the Raptors lost by 20, that gap starts to close rapidly, even with the sloppy play. Think about it Jay, it could help tonight.

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