Game Analysis

When Tanks Collide

Cavaliers 104, Raptors 96 – Box

I don’t know if you can take any more away from this game than the realization how uninspiring Baron Davis’ career has turned out despite being prodigiously talented. While you can take any outburst against the Raptors with an Alexis Ajinca-sized grain of salt, the man’s undeniable talents were on display.

He started off the game dishing lobs to baseline cutters after strolling into the middle of the lane, on more than one occasion, a play that we’ve see on numerous Blake Griffin highlights. I wouldn’t have minded if it was Griffin doing that to our Raptors, at least it would have been wondrous. Ryan Hollins is not wondrous. Neither is JJ Hickson.

Hickson is as painful to watch as Chris Bosh was, but like Bosh he gets it done and tonight was no exception. With no Amir Johnson and a foul-ridden Ed Davis, it was left to Reggie Evans and at times James Johnson to man the post. Predictably, Hickson had no trouble finishing at the rim.

After a couple of eye-opening performances, Ed Davis looked like…well, a rookie. He got a couple of quick calls and even when he did return, was not able to get his usual assortment of garbage buckets due to lack of ball movement offensively. But when the kid does score, it’s how he does that gives you hope. He has the ability to rise over players for clean looks around the bucket.

About the consensus opinion that Easy Ed needs to bulk up: Don’t like it. We still need a true banger down low, so hope and pray the GM, be it Colangelo or his potential replacement, pulls through. But don’t put extra weight that his knees may not be able to handle. He’s already had some meniscus removed from one of them. Let’s stop trying to turn players into something they aren’t, especially if it means playing with their natural body types.

Really disappointed by DeMar DeRozan tonight. Can’t help but wonder if the guy would be putting up 17 points/game for a team a playoff-caliber team. Tonight, whenever he tried to make something happen, it did not end well. His greatest asset right now? Ironically, his spot-up jumper. A quality NBA guard not only creates his own offense, but makes players around him better. DeMar doesn’t get nearly enough assists, because a) His court vision is lacking and b) Frankly, he doesn’t draw enough defensive attention where guys are wide open as a result. His game has plateaued somewhat due to this. The court vision you can develop to an extent, but drawing in defenders like a Vince Carter used to? Not sure if he possesses that kind of ability.

So yes, you can conclude that Ed Davis has more potential in my eyes than DeMar for what it’s worth. Where does that leave Jerryd Bayless and James Johnson? Bayless has impressed. He’s shown a consistent ability to get by his defender, but then develops tunnel vision and usually goes for a strong take at the rim, and the rest of the team become spectators. I’d like to see guys cut baseline like Cleveland did so effectively last night to take advantage of that penetration.

James Johnson was underwhelming last night. For some reason he thinks he can be effective one-on-one. He does not have the handle or the shot to be able to do that. He won over some hearts with his defensive intensity, but once again a guaranteed starting spot has prompted him to focus less on that and more on his offense. He will get his opportunities and minutes because he’s a de-facto Colangelo pick, but I mean come on people. We’re so starved for a quality SF that some think a guy like James Johnson may be the answer? Julian Wright right now is more valuable as a player. At least James could have laid the smacketh down on Bad Joey, but decided against it.

The Raptors pulled to within 5 at one point in the 4th, and when Byron Scott decided to bring back Baron Davis into the game after the kids got to run around for a bit, the game was essentially over. He did make some tough shots that few players in this league can, so all credit goes to him. We’ll console ourselves with a top 3 pick.

For people who want Triano gone because of this teams defensive ineptitude: You’re looking at the wrong guy. It’s pretty clear, and I’m not alone in believing that Colangelo is very hands-on as a GM, which is why Jay is not going anywhere as long as Colangelo is in charge. He can’t fire him, because a lot of the minute allocation is definitely dictated by Colangelo and you’ve heard Paul Jones/Eric Smith repeatedly mention that the staff goes over everything defensively. Colangelo knows that Jay is dong everything he can while giving minutes to the players he wants.

So it’s the players that aren’t doing the job, obviously, and that falls on Colangelo. His major flaw is that he thinks players are developed through nurture and not nature. Players do need experience, but the right kind of experience, with the right kind of discipline.

Discipline.

If you can use one word to describe what has been lacking in Colangelo’s tenure in Toronto, it would be that.

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