Game 1 drunk thoughts

Kyle Lowry had zero points. Shame. He once again went missing and it’s become so routine that you don’t even get mad anymore. You just sort of expect it to happen and hope that we find some other way to win the game, and maybe if it’s a close one he pitches in with a shot or two. It’s asinine to even suggest that we should let Lowry get his playoff jitters out of the way in Game 1 – the fact that he actually has playoff jitters makes my skin crawl. Terrence Ross did get him good right in the groin so maybe that had something to do with it but probably not. The +11 tells a story that he mixed well with others but there’s not nearly enough individual production here. A couple of those pull-up threes with no rebounders underneath were unforgivable possessions.

The two-guard lineup with Fred and Kyle got killed on defense. They weren’t able to stop dribble penetration and were forced to commit fouls. To make matters far worse, the positioning of our big men was poor which meant Orlando got a lot of scores at the rim. The only success we had was when we put bigs on their guards to slow them down. Fred’s -16 is a true reflection of the overall quality of his game – too many predictable passes which got turned over, too many forced shots, and too often he got run over defensively, especially by MCW who has the size to bother him.

Kawhi Leonard playing only 33 minutes in a close loss should be a major talking point. If we can’t rely on our best player to play 90% of the fourth quarter then we’re not going far this year. If this is his max usage as a player going forward, not sure the Raptors should even re-sign him. The man needs to be playing 40 minutes with the 8 minutes of rest split between the first/second and third/fourth quarter breaks. This is an easy one to fix unless Kawhi’s quad is made of glass. I mean, what the hell is load management for if not for him to play 40 minutes now?

Good news! We hit 12 threes (12-36) which means everyone is eligible for free fries. Bad news! The McDonalds promotion doesn’t work for the playoffs. The three was nowhere to be found. Powell and Lowry were brutal, Fred wasn’t much better and basically everyone was mostly crap most of the time. The quality of the shots was high which is encouraging but there is unlikely to be any consistency in our three-point shooting this playoffs and it’s going to be feast or famine. Danny Green is the only guy I trust with a three right now.

Pascal Siakam’s 24 shots are a symptom of the Raptors guards failing to generate any sort of cohesive offense and relying on Siakam as an ‘out’ when they can’t muster anything up. I’m all for Siakam carrying the offensive load but there were more than a few occasions where a fairly average Magic defense was able to throw our sets off to the point where we went to iso-ball instead of moving it around. We have to stop relying on Kawhi and Siakam has a convenient crutch and use our two-man games with our guards/bigs far more effectively.

Jodi Meeks was more impactful in his three minutes than Norman Powell in his 16. The only good thing I can say about our second unit is that Jeremy Lin didn’t play.

The officiating was trash and inconsistent. There were enough dubious plays out there that you can argue it cost us the game, for example a ridiculous offensive foul on Kawhi Leonard and a couple charges which were called blocks. Then again, we should be good enough to overcome that and clearly weren’t. It seems petulant to complain about the officials but there’s enough there to deserve a mention.

We had moments defensively, notably in the start of the third where the team looked locked in and causing havoc, especially Siakam who was all over the place. Why that wasn’t replicated across 48 minutes in Game 1 of the post-season when all the regular season has been is a preparation for the post-season should keep you up at night.

They interviewed JV at halftime. He happened to be in the crowd and supporting the Raptors. It was a nice touch.

Game 1 is on Tuesday so we have a full three wretched days to soak in this one. Thanks Kyle.

Playoff Ibaka is back, baby!

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