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ArseTalk: The Y-Factor

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A loss to the Wolves? Didn’t see that coming.  I had turned the game off just before halftime thinking the rest was routine, and spilled my Kahwa when the notification popped up on the phone.  It’s OK, though, these kinds of losses serve as a good reminder that we’re susceptible during the best of times.  There’s no doubt that some guys were looking ahead to All-Star weekend and I can’t blame anyone for that.  It’s like when I’m in the line at the buffet passing past the vegetables with a keen eye on the butter chicken – you think I even know what that green shit is? Kale? Lettuce? Broccoli? How about IDGAF?  That’s what the Raptors did, they just walked past the Kale and right into that delicious goat curry which is All-Star weekend.

Kyle Lowry missing contested threes in crunch time isn’t something that I want as a lasting memory, and I shudder to think that that’s what Dwane Casey would offer coming out of a timeout against the Hornets in Game 1 with the score tied 94-94.  Then again, it’s hard to complain with the team winning 14 out of 16, even if the assist numbers aren’t great.  Nobody will deny that we’re relying heavilyon Lowry and DeRozan to generate offense, and probably ask more of them than what other teams ask of their top two players.  Those shots are made harder by having Jonas Valanciunas touchless while being 4-4 from the field.  Not saying he’d have saved us but there’s something to be said for diversification of an offensive portfolio.  Moving on.

I was making a few folk at work mad jealous about having a press pass and getting to watch the game live, making up prices along the way.  You know, this pass is worth $25,000 considering where I get to sit all three nights.  People be going, Oh, lucky you, while secretly hoping for my death. That’s cool, part of life.  You win some, you lose some.  And I certainly lost $50 hoping Liverpool can close out a replay FFS.  I mean, a 120th minute winner? I’m looking forward to the three-point shootout the most, mainly because it’s the only competition where the manifestation of the skill on display is similar to what you see in a game.  I know, they’re not picking up the ball off of a rack but it’s kind of like handling a pass thrown slightly to your left.

Bismack Biyombo took a pretty strong tumble in that Minny game, which reminded me that Bebe still exists.  He came on for a 4-minute stretch in which he scored a hoop, and it got me thinking of Y-factors.  What’s a Y-factor? It’s that thing that you need done once the X-factor does his thing.  That contribution which no one sees coming and when it does happen, you wonder if it could turn out to be the real X-factor that could decide a game, a series, or maybe even a life.  Think Matthew Dellavedova for the Cavs last finals, he was good enough that he almost became the X-factor in the series, but didn’t, which made him the Y-factor.  Who’s the Raptors Y-factor? I nominate Bebe, much in the same vein as Chris Childs years ago.

There’s some talk that DeMar DeRozan is now a three-point shooter.  He’s shooting 54% from three in his last 10 games, and I’m attributing this rise in percentage to two things: 1) taking more threes, 2) making more threes.  Damn scientific, isn’t it? He was averaging around 1.5 threes in November and December, and in January and February he’s around 2.6.  He’s taking a three more per game, because defenses were fading off of him in anticipation of the drive, and generally give him that shot.  Even though he’s hitting a high percentage of late, he’s still being given, as discussed on the podcast with Blake and myself, the Luis Scola treatment where even if he makes the three, the defense won’t believe its worth unless he does it for a prolonged stretch of time.  I think DeRozan will be getting clean looks from three all season long, and into the playoffs.  Even if he keeps hitting at a 37% clip, nobody will come out to defend him because his reputation as a three-point shooter will take another year to form in the league.

Lastly, you might notice that this season, with a lot of help from Blake, we’re producing an insane amount of content including Raptors news, analysis, podcasts, play breakdowns, and so much more.  This costs money, and if you’re able to, help us out by becoming a Patreon and continue receiving quality Raptors content all season long, and right through the summer.

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