Archive for November 21st, 2012

Raptors at 76ers Points Per Game: Bargnani, Calderon not going to work; Three point defence brutal; Too much Swag, too much Damaja (Jrue)

- November 21st, 2012

PHILADELPHIA —

Cue the grumbling. And there’s a lot of it, following the latest poor effort by the Raptors in the clutch. Some of it is warranted, some of it isn’t, some of it is just plain crazy. Some thoughts:

- Might as well get this out of the way here: You’re not going to win very often with Jose Calderon at the head of your defence and Andrea Bargnani providing its last line of defence. We have lots of evidence of this. Lots. It’s not really Calderon’s fault. How many NBA point guards can guard their quick counterparts effectively. It’s a small list and really, the best merely slow down guys like Jrue Holiday, who was fantastic. More problematic, to these eyes, was the poor rotating, the slowness getting to the correct spots by the other Raptors. This team guarded the three tremendously last season. Now? Few teams do it worse.

- Casey indicated last week that he might try to force the issue with Philadelphia the next time the team went small – ie. playing a big lineup instead of trying to match small with small. But that didn’t happen. I would have liked to see Jonas Valanciunas start the fourth quarter and give a tiring Andrea Bargnani a rest. I can understand Casey wanting to go with Amir Johnson and Bargnani down the stretch, that’s who he is comfortable finishing with at this point, but Valanciunas was the best Raptor on the floor through three quarters and seeing what he could do against the small Sixers lineup would have been nice. At some point it has to happen. I’m not sure if this is an issue or not, because they aren’t good defenders to start with, but Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan are playing a ton and maybe that’s why they are even worse defensively late in games?

- Holiday is a very good basketball player but not the greatest at finishing at the rim. I think the plan was to get up on him so that he could blow by and try to finish at the rim instead of shooting jumpers, which he is really good at. Problem was instead of going to the hoop, Holiday found open teammates constantly. The Raptors were helping too much, leaving the team exposed. Just let Holiday go to the hoop, that’s your best chance against him. Stay on your man.

- Expect to see Terrence Ross tonight. DeRozan needs a breather.

- On the plus side, Toronto’s ball movement was excellent. Most buckets were created from an assist and the cuts and movement without the ball was superb for most of the game. Bargnani played well offensively and Lowry provided a lift. An in-form Lowry makes his free throws and guards Holiday and the Raptors probably win this game.

- Ed Davis continues to be buried many night and there’s not much Casey can do against teams that go small. Davis isn’t going to produce offence and he’s not going to be able to guard Thaddeus Young or any of the other guards or forwards Philly put on the court.

- I knocked Valanciunas for his hands during the game, but upon further reflection, a lot of his bobbles are the result of bad passes. Either the passes are low, or they aren’t thrown at the proper time. A discussion with ex-point guard Sherman Hamilton helped change my thinking on Valanciunas’ mitts. He’s not great catching it on the move, but to be fair, he’s not really being thrown the ball properly.

- Two big turning points: Doug Collins takes a technical after DeRozan gets to the line. Things changed after that. Also, when Lowry picked up his fifth foul and had to sub out, Philadelphia went on a run.

- Nick Young sure loves playing the Raptors.

Some quotes I didn’t get in the game story

 

ALEX KNOWS BEST

While Lowry was eager to return as soon as possible, Casey said the team didn’t let the fierce competitor dictate the decision.

“Well, no, I’m going to listen to Alex (McKechnie) the medical people. Not to Kyle, because Kyle will want to be out there the whole time and play the whole time and you can’t do that. We’ll have to listen to the professionals,” Casey said.

The coach said Lowry needs to get back into game condition, something that will be difficult considering the team won’t have many practices in the next little while.

“That’s the hard part, getting that conditioning and that sharpness back without a practice.

“He’s excited, but we understand the situation with his health and we want to make sure we do the right thing for the team for the long run.”

Lowry will be tested on Wednesday in Charlotte, when the Raptors complete a back-to-back.

Dwane Casey:

We lost a lot of guys in transition. Everybody focuses in close games on missing shots, that has nothing to do with it. We missed free throws, yes, we missed nine free throws, but basketball plays, winning plays, 50-50 balls, second shots, transition defence, closing out the touch, all those little things are basketball plays that you have to make in  crunch time.

It’s not missing, it’s when you miss them (free throws).

Kyle Lowry:

A lot of the things, I just put on myself tonight. Nick Young got hot, J-Rich got hot. They hit some tough threes. They made some wide-open shots. They executed their offence really well down the stretch.

I thought I was ready to go and that’s why I played. It (being at home) had nothing to do with it.

Jose Calderon:

Mental thing? No, we just have to be able to get better. They were switching a little bit more. Was more against us, wasn’t about them. It was our game and we couldn’t control it at the end.

(On struggling to guard three-point attempts) We have to try to get a little bit closer. We’re maybe too worried about the points in the paint. It’s something that has to be collectively. It’s a team issue. We’ve got to get better in a lot of aspects of the game as a team.

DeMar DeRozan:

Just a step slow. We’ve got to anticipate the next pass and understand who the next person is, whether it’s a three-point shooter or a driver.