Reaction: Raptors 118, Thunder 119

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Oklahoma City Thunder 119 Final
Recap | Box Score
118 Toronto Raptors
Amir Johnson, PF Shot Chart 50 MIN | 12-19 FG | 1-2 FT | 12 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 5 BLK | 3 TO | 25 PTS | +2

Amir was sensational tonight. Pick and roll beast—including several smart assists. His help defense was the best it’s been in weeks, netting 5 blocks (2 on Durant) guarding the rim while also tracking Serge Ibaka and doing as well as a mere mortal is likely to do guarding Durant. Amir was the most important player on the court for the Raptors tonight.
As an aside, at what point does it become wise to give Amir Johnson a week or two of rest to make sure that his battered ankles and other injuries aren’t holding him back come playoffs? He’s making solid contributions while playing through pain, but the Raptors are in deep trouble with a hobbled Amir in the playoffs, and dead in the water without him. The lack of frontcourt depth is an issue.

Terrence Ross, SF Shot Chart 22 MIN | 1-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -5

There is an alternative universe version of Terrence Ross somewhere who plays angry, physical and without hesitation. That Terrence Ross is terrifying on the basketball court. I would like very much for the two of them to spend some time together. A little more Evil Terrence would be a good thing.

Jonas Valanciunas, C Shot Chart 45 MIN | 3-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 13 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -5

Jonas got several good looks early on and missed all of them. They weren’t bad shots, they just rimmed out. It happens. Roy Hibbert has shot >40% from the floor for at least one 30-day stretch of time each of the last three seasons. Nitpicky fouls continue to find him a little too often. It’s unclear how Jonas was whistled more than Steven Adams in their back-and-forth battles. If Valanciunas wants to win those physical battles, he’s going to have to learn how to invite contact on offense, play the body and get himself to the free throw line.

Kyle Lowry, PG Shot Chart 46 MIN | 6-16 FG | 8-9 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 25 PTS | +1

Say what you will about Bryan Colangelo, but how one-sided does that Kyle Lowry for (the pick that became) Steven Adams look now? Kyle Lowry was at times the team’s most dominant scorer, best rebounder and best defender. Kyle Lowry was the only player to deny Durant from getting into the paint when guarding him off a switch. He was his usual bulldog self on both ends of the court, and hit a big onions 3 to keep the game alive for OT.

DeMar DeRozan, SG Shot Chart 49 MIN | 9-23 FG | 15-16 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 33 PTS | +3

DeRozan got his points in the first half, but he did not get to the free throw line. He settled for a step-back or fade-away on almost every single shot. That’s well and good when it’s dropping, as it did in the first half. But when it’s not hitting, which has been the case lately and, you know, throughout his entire career. DeMar is a 38% career mid-range shooter and a 30% career 3pt shooter. The second half saw DeMar drive more, continuing to push his recent trend of 10 FTA per game. 33 points and 8 rebounds is great, but 9 of 23 shooting is not. There is a way for DeMar to do everything he did tonight while taking less, or at the very least better shots.

Tyler Hansbrough, PF Shot Chart 20 MIN | 1-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -3

I was really hoping for more of a direct Steven Adams-Tyler Hansbrough matchup. I wanted to know what would happen when they both grabbed each other and pushed off on every rebound. Would they bonk heads in a comical elastic display? Would they accidentally hug? I was hoping for at least one of those double-technical fake fights scenarios where both players pretend like they’re going to do something while putting their faces way too close together and waiting for their teammates to step up and hold them back. Am I the only one who thinks these two are offsetting fouls matched in heaven?

John Salmons, SF Shot Chart 18 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | -10

Salmons came into the game having hit just 3 of his last 17 shots. Tonight he shot a reliable 0 for 4, bringing the streak to 3 of 21. Can Landry Fields seriously not provide similar defense? Not even worth a try? Is he just never healthy? Did he deeply offend Casey somehow? Maybe insulted his awesome old-man suit game? Is Dwayne Casey an old ex-boyfriend of Elaine Alden and it’s a petty jealousy type thing? Because I would get that. Interesting side-note on the state of Fields’ career, if you start typing Landry Fields’ name into Google, by the time you get to “Landry Fiel” the top suggested search is: “Landry Fields wife”. If you’re getting the impression that I’m going out of my way not to talk about John Salmons, you’re not wrong.

Steve Novak, SF Shot Chart 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +4

Steve Novak did an awesome job of checking in to the game for 15 seconds to run in a circle for a pair of inbounds passes.

Greivis Vasquez, PG Shot Chart 31 MIN | 9-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 21 PTS | +9

When General Greivis isn’t forcing his own shot he can be a tremendously helpful offensive player. Pick and roll, floater, wide-open 3. Those three moves are the General’s wheelhouse, and those are the 3 moves that he used to put up essentially all of team’s points off the bench.

Nando de Colo, PG Shot Chart 7 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -1

I have a theory that Nando De Colo doesn’t wear the facemask because of an injury, but so that nobody will be able to identify the face responsible for his play.

Dwane Casey

Casey put Ross on Durant; Durant glued Ross’ feet to the floor and burned him. So Casey put Salmons on Durant, but Durant fleeced him, refusing to grant the senior citizen’s discount. So Casey decided to put Johnson on to Durant. Johnson played great defense on Durant, blocking his shot near the basket and sticking with him. So Durant started draining deep threes over Amir. The point here is that Dwayne Casey should not be held accountable from a coaching perspective for Kevin Durant’s offensive onslaught. Casey made adjustments; it’s just that Kevin Durant isn’t fair. From a schematic perspective, the Raptors responded well to the Thunder’s habits of slipping screens for open jumpers or cuts to the basket. On offense, the Raptor’s exploited the Thunder’s habits of having their big men wait back on pick and rolls and Serge Ibaka’s habit of overplaying for the block. The result was 3 assists for Amir Johnson, either finding the open man low or kicking it back out, all of the free throws for DeMar and a bevy of team offensive rebounds. The decision to unabashedly double team Kevin Durant as soon as he got the ball in overtime worked for 9 minutes and 58.3 seconds of overtime.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Is anybody else concerned about the Raptor coming back too soon? He’s scheduled to come back this Sunday. He tore his ACL in the preseason. It’s too soon! Granted, I’m unfamiliar with costume dinosaur physiology, but do you really want to risk re-injury before playoffs or taking years off of his career?
  2. When is the Air Canada Centre staff going to finally get around to dealing with that Hardwood monster who lives around the free throw line and trips DeMar twice a game out of nowhere when he’s trying to drive to the basket? That monster is a dick. Those turnovers are adding up; something needs to be done about it.
  3. We need to gather together as a society and do absolutely everything we possibly can to protect Russell Westbrook’s right knee. They took Penny Hardaway from us. They took Derrick Rose. They cannot have Russell Westbrook.
  4. For anyone else who overdosed on first round college ball yesterday, tonight was your fifth and sixth overtime games in the last 24 hours. I’m starting to forget what life not watching basketball all day long was like.
  5. Kevin Durant is a cheat code.

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