First off, thank you to the Raptors for ruining my last two Saturdays in exquisitely terrible fashion.
It’s for that reason that I’m beginning writing this at 6:45am on Sunday. I wanted to have it completed yesterday but thought the tone might be a little more measured if I slept off the debacle that was Game 4. Well…I’m still grumpy and this thing still has a deadline.
So let’s review the all of the positives so far:
- This is so much better than last year’s playoffs
- Toronto has split the first four games
- The series is now a best of three, with two of these games taking place at home for Toronto
- The Raptors are undefeated in games that begin later than 5:00pm EST
- Games 5 and 6 are guaranteed to be evening games.
And that’s all I got. I spent an entire evening thinking about this, slept on it to try and put myself in a better mood, and still could only come up with absolutely nothing about Game 4 to appreciate. It was just terrible in every sense.
What’s really annoying is that I’m trying my best to stay positive. In fact, I do believe that the Raptors are the better team and that they will still win this series. I do believe they are the better team in this series, and the better team almost always wins when it comes to a seven game series.
But it isn’t that cut and dry. What makes it so annoying is how easily the Raptors dismantled the Pacers on April 8, despite sitting Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll (still injured), and Luis Scola, while playing Jonas Valanciunas just 21 minutes. Despite all of that the Raptors still won 111-98. Indiana played their regular players (George Hill saw 32 minutes of action and Paul George got 28 minutes while being a minus 14), and were beaten by a lineup that heavily featured Delon Wright and Norman Powell.
So what on earth is the problem now? There are lots of issues that have surfaced in Games 1-4, but it’s hard to not recognize the problem that is DeMar DeRozan. And that’s hard for me to say. Although I see the flaws in his game that everyone else sees as well, I generally like DeMar. He is a hard worker, sets the tone for the team, has high character, I have had hopes that he could be the first lifelong Raptor, and he has built himself into an All Star…but he has been absolute crap in the playoffs this year.
Through the first four games of the series the Raptors and the Pacers have literally played to a draw, with each team scoring a total of 372 points. The series is literally divided equally in team scoring.
Meanwhile, according to NBA.com/Stats on/off court numbers, DeRozan is easily a team worst -20 through four games, and was -14 in game 4 alone. Granted, he was far from the only culprit in yesterday’s embarrassment. The plus/minus king in Patrick Patterson was a shocking -22, and Cory Joseph was -17. Yesterday was a team effort in terrible.
But for DeMar, it is the way in which he earned his -14. He is supposed to be one of the leaders of this team along with Lowry, and yet it is tough to argue that he has been that on the court. Despite shooting just 29.6 percent in the playoffs, DeMar continues to force difficult shots. Paul George is swallowing him whole and he just thinks he can shoot his way out of it.
DeMar took a team high 15 shots yesterday, and they were largely terrible decision.
His shot chart doesn’t even do it justice, with many of his shots being contested fadeaway jumpers and/or difficult isolation attempts. The worst instance game with roughly 5:30 left in the fourth quarter. DeRozan tried to isolate against Rodney Stuckey, who rather easily forced DeRozan into a difficult pull-up from the free throw line. Patterson managed to fight off Paul George and tap the ball back out to DeMar. Without hesitation DeRozan barrelled his way into the lane and telegraphed a clear charging call.
The Raptors need from DeRozan than he is providing. He cannot continue shooting below 30 percent, he cannot commit a team worst 6 turnovers like he did on Saturday, and he cannot continue to try and force a one-on-one game against a defender like Paul George.
And granted, I am picking on DeMar after a game where virtually everyone played well below their abilities, but more is expected when you are the star of the team.
Now it’s up to DeMar to go out and prove this entire article to be just stupid drivel, and I sincerely hope that he does.