Another win for the suddenly streaking Raptors. Again, the key was moving the ball and stepping up on defence when they had to. It wasn’t the prettiest game, far from it, but it was another team effort. As Dwane Casey said, “everybody who stepped onto the floor gave it to us tonight. No one player tried to take over.”
“We were kind of sleep-walking, playing in mud the first quarter. That’s got to be our identity, hard play, hard work and togetherness. If we don’t do that, we’re not going to be successful.”
Interesting that the team has been able to do that without its two top dogs, Kyle Lowry and Andrea Bargnani (and you can use the term literally for one of them …).
Which brings us to Dwane not exactly dousing water on the idea that Jose Calderon, who has followed one of his worst stretches as a Raptor not too long ago (as a reserve), with one of his best (mostly as a starter) could stay the starter when Lowry is ready to return.
The idea seemed inconceivable when the Raptors gave Lowry the “keys” the the team, but perhaps a 5-5 record with Calderon starting and the much-improved chemistry when he has started has swayed Casey?
He still maintains that’s a bridge he’ll cross only when he has to, but it sure seems like he has strongly considered the idea (see my game story for the quotes).
More on what Casey has liked out of Calderon:
“He’s running the show, helping his teammates, moving the ball. HE took what the game gave him, which was a lot of jump shots. He came up looking for his shot and that’s what he’s got to do. He’s got to be greedy. He’s one of our best shooters. When he comes off a screen, I want him to be greedy, think shot-first when he’s open.”
Calderon knows he needs to shoot more, but he also knows the ball has to move, which it has, and no one player can go into takeover mode.
What do I think of the idea of keeping Calderon as the starter long-term?
Raptors are in a tough spot. They need to win basketball games. Colangelo’s deal is nearly up, Casey only has one year left and could be a lame duck if a change is made. The results say Calderon is a better fit as the starter. But … I think it would be a disaster waiting to happen. As a message to Lowry for a few games (get in better shape, stop gambling as much and buy in on defence, trust your teammates to hit shots on offence) long-term, I don’t like it. Lowry, when he has his head on straight, is a far better player. He gives the Raptors a better chance to win. He’s a far better defender and rebounder and gets to the hoop, something few Raptors, aside from DeMar DeRozan, do. He also has not taken well to being benched in the past, especially when he has lost his job due to injury.
Nothing is set in stone, but if Lowry loses the job long-term, I can’t see it ending well for the franchise.
Kyrie Irving finally had a decent game against Calderon and the Raptors, though his defence is still woeful. Interesting that the two top point guards to enter the league the past two years, Irving and Damian Lillard, are bad and terrible, respectively on defence.
Caught up briefly with Tristan Thompson. He had a good game. His offensive rebounding abilities really impact the game.
No minutes for Landry Fields because it was a tight game and he hasn’t had much time to practice, but his presence gave the team a lift.
Not a lot of Terrence Ross either with Alan Anderson playing so well and the team going small with Linas Kleiza at power forward to provide some shooting.
Casey’s going with Amir Johnson as the lone big down the stretch of late and he’s doing a great job. Johnson and Anderson were Toronto’s X-factors against Cleveland.