Drake wasn’t offering any clues about the upcoming Raptors rebrand, but it’s clear the guys on the court don’t need much revamping. The team got a bit of revenge on the Brooklyn Nets with a convincing win on Wednesday night. Like usual, Kyle Lowry propelled the Raptors with another great effort. If he keeps this up all season, Lowry will be in the top 5-7 in MVP voting. He’s been that good.
- Was interesting to gather different perspectives on just how often the playoff series is on the minds of certain Raptors. Amir Johnson said he has not watched the tape of the Game 7 loss even once … “It’s a brand new season, put that behind us,” Johnson said pre-game, while Patrick Patterson said “That Game 7 was on my mind from the time I woke up this morning to even now.” Patterson said “we handled our business and it was a bit of revenge.” Dwane Casey also said he’s gone over the series dozens of times, thinking about what could have been done different, but also added that it is time to move on. “If its and buts were candies and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas,” said the coach at his post-game press conference.
- So with that, let’s turn to the present. James Johnson was brought in largely because the team couldn’t stop big, one-on-one scorers like Joe Johnson. Though they perhaps didn’t play him quite enough on Wednesday, when James Johnson was guarding his namesake, he did the best job on the team. The Raptors’ Johnson had the game’s best plus-minus and was far more effective than the final boxscore tally of five points, six rebounds and three assists indicates. He did a little bit of everything and the Raptors seized control and also closed the game when he was out there.
- What can we say about Patterson at this point? He was giving himself a hard time for blowing a dunk that would have given Bruno Caboclo an assist, but is simply on fire from deep. Since a tough 1-for-6 outing from three-point range, Patterson has shot 5-for-7, 2-for-2, 1-for-3, 3-for-4, 2-for-4 and 3-for-4. Simply incredible, and he thought he should have been 4-for-4 Wednesday, with the shot rolling around the rim before falling out. He’s shooting 60% from three for December, better than the 58% he is managing on two-point attempts.
- Patterson isn’t the only one in the frontcourt putting up gaudy numbers. Amir Johnson seems to finally be healthy and Jonas Valanciunas has jumped to 16th overall in rebounding (nine per game, in the fewest minutes of anyone on that list) and over his last six games is averaging 12 rebounds, 12.7 points and shooting 57% from the field. The only non-encouraging thing is the Raptors have been better with him off the floor a lot of the time and he is only a cumulative +1 over those six games.
- Casey says Bruno is going to be good. “ I tell you what, the young kid is going to be a player. He works … I’ve never seen a young kid work as hard as he works on his game each and every day. He lives basketball,” Casey said
“You don’t get to see it but behind the scenes he’s working as hard as any young player I’ve been around.”
- Bruno and Bebe also found the time to have a little fun.