Reaction: Raptors 87, Nets 79

I’m still not entirely convinced the Raptors actually won this game. Toronto Raptors 87 Final Recap | Box Score 79 Brooklyn Nets Amir Johnson, PF Shot Chart 30 MIN | 7-11 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | +11Forget…

I’m still not entirely convinced the Raptors actually won this game.

Toronto Raptors87Final

Recap | Box Score

79Brooklyn Nets
Amir Johnson, PF Shot Chart 30 MIN | 7-11 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | +11Forget everything Zarar told you about his short-comings. Did you see his play in the first quarter, where his pick-and-rolls thoroughly embarrassed Andray Blatche? And it takes a lot to embarrass Blatche. This is the man who took a corner three, and once had his shoe pooped in by Gilbert Arenas. Foul trouble kept him out for too long but when he came back, his defense was key, drawing a charge on Pierce and blocking him on another possession.

Terrence Ross, SF Shot Chart 14 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +3Brother, where art thou? I thought you wanted this match-up? You did nothing, and I literally mean nothing. That one steal fell into your lap. Even John Salmons surpassed you on the depth chart.

Jonas Valanciunas, C Shot Chart 23 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | 0When he was given the ball, he was effective. For example, in the fourth quarter, he finished off a beautiful pick-and-roll pass from Greivis. For some reason, he wasn’t even given a single look in the post. Interior defense was solid in the first half.

Kyle Lowry, PG Shot Chart 34 MIN | 7-17 FG | 5-5 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 22 PTS | +14What more can you say about this man? Had it not been for Lowry’s 6 point outburst at the end of the third quarter (a three, an and-one), the Raptors would have likely lost this game. He’s thriving as the off-guard in the two-PG lineup with Greivis, and he played a huge part in stopping Joe Johnson (along with Amir) on the Nets’ second last possession of the game. Sprained ankles/knees be damned. He’s putting the team on his back.

DeMar DeRozan, SG Shot Chart 43 MIN | 7-19 FG | 9-11 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 24 PTS | 0Kobe-esque in the first half, J.R. Smith-esque in the second half. He was blistering hot in the first half, but when the Nets made the decision to trap him in the halfcourt, he couldn’t make the adjustment, and struggled for the rest of the game. Defense wasn’t so hot either, but he did do a better job on Johnson today.

Patrick Patterson, PF Shot Chart 32 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 9 PTS | +7Notice the minutes played? Looks like someone on the Raptors coaching staff read Raptors Republic, or you know, has eyes and a functioning brain. He didn’t hit too many of his outside shots, but he was open on most of them, meaning the process works. His defense on Pierce was somewhat tolerable in the first half, only his closeouts were a little too strong, which allowed Pierce to get into the paint.

Chuck Hayes, PF Shot Chart 8 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0He played, and caused me to lose my collective *poops* on Twitter. Did a good job on the glass, which was about it.

John Salmons, SF Shot Chart 19 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -3It’s amazing to think that Bryan Colangelo once tried so hard to sign this man. Or, on a second thought, it’s perfectly appropriate. All three of his looks were open, and he clanked them all. Did a solid job in the post against Johnson, at least.

Steve Novak, SF Shot Chart 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2He also played for no reason whatsoever.

Greivis Vasquez, PG Shot Chart 35 MIN | 4-12 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 9 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +10The shooting percentage was bad, but he hit a clutch three-pointer late in the fourth to stretch the Raptors’ lead, which is all that counts in my book. He’s doing great as the primary ball-handler in the 2PG lineup with Lowry, and his defensive shortcomings haven’t been a problem because his size is allowing him to sag back on non-shooters like Livingston.

Dwane Casey
He almost cost the Raptors yet again with his rotations. Salmons played over Fields, which made little sense given the match-up As noted in the comments, Landry was out with back spasms. He also played a lineup of Hayes-Vasquez-DeRozan-Salmons-Novak at one point, which hurt my soul. He did make up for it by having the gumption to reinsert Amir and Lowry (who both had 5 fouls) in the fourth, and they were huge in the win. He got out-coached, but his players bailed him out.

Five Things We Saw

  1. A healthy Amir makes all the difference. When he’s right, the defense is tighter because everyone can rotate with confidence, as they know help will be there. On offense, he opens up a pick-and-rolls, which both results in scores for him, and also motion on the defense, which opens looks for everyone else.
  2. We need to stop overplaying the age factor. If anything, the Nets play like a younger team. They’re quicker, their closeouts are lightning fast, and the foundation of their defense is Pierce and Garnett (their two oldest players).
  3. As much as DeRozan’s Kobe-esque performance in the first half helped build the Raptors’ lead, his insistence on making things happen, aversion to passing, and questionable shot selection let the Nets back into the game in the third.
  4. Paul Pierce was a real problem on defense. His pump-fake forced Amir/Patterson to bite hard on the closeout, which allowed him to attack the interior. The way to defend that is to rotate quicker on the perimeter, because the reason he’s open on the weakside is often because Joe Johnson is drawing a double team in the post.
  5. It might be time to pull the plug on Ross, and start Vasquez in his place. Ross is a minus on both ends of the floor and looks completely overwhelmed by the moment.