So, a few things conspired to make Andrew Wiggins night a bit of a bust: The refs forgot that first and foremost, the NBA is about entertainment, and took Wiggins out of the game for far too long by calling a couple of highly debatable fouls on him early; the announcer rushed through the introduction, which didn’t allow the fans to give Wiggins the reception they wanted to (when stars like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant are here, they get a longer pause); the game itself was pretty horrible because Minnesota could barely field a roster and because the Raptors were sleep-walking for much of it Prime Minister Harper bungled a tweet and Anthony Bennett couldn’t play, due to an ankle injury.
That said, Canada Basketball Night (the proper name for the evening) was still quite cool to see for someone who has been covering the burgeoning hoops scene in this country for a decade now.
More on the game itself and some repercussions:
- Kyle Lowry took a knee to the back during a spill and had to leave. He was in pain and noticeably hurt afterward. He has a high pain threshold though, so barring any bad test results, expect him back soon. The team also said Terrence Ross is now fine (after some back issues of his own) and Jonas Valanciunas is a bit under the weather (maybe because he is adjusting to the presence of his son – but at least said newborn is a great sleeper, according to Poppa Valanciunas).
- Chicago pummeled Indy and Washington survived against Utah to keep pace with the Raptors, though it is not clear whether finishing third would be better than finishing fourth for the Raptors (would facing Washington or Milwaukee be better in the first round? Wouldn’t facing Atlanta, as crazy as that seems, be better than facing LeBron James and the Cavaliers in Round 2?)
- Once again, DeMar DeRozan’s 4-for-14 shooting line doesn’t look good, but if you factor in he hit his only three and hit all 12 of his free throws, his true shooting percentage was actually excellent and his defence wasn’t bad either. Same can’t be said for Lou Williams, though at least he defended (his offence was atrocious).
- When Patrick Patterson and Terrence Ross are hitting 50% (or better) of their three-point attempts, the Raptors are extremely tough to stop.
- Greivis Vasquez took advantage of Lowry’s absence and played a strong game, especially later on when his big shots were needed. When Lowry is out of action, Vasquez shifts more to a facilitator role which is his ideal game.
- Dwane Casey responded simply, “we won,” when asked for his thoughts on the game, but later expanded on that, saying how the team performs is more important than winning or losing right now.
“That’s more important than the wins and losses right now, in terms of how we play, how we start. I’m more concerned with how we start the game. They outworked us in the beginning. Our execution defensively, running the floor, being where we’re supposed to be, walling defensively, being up at the level of the screen, all those little things are what we are trying to do. We have to do it in games, because practice time is so precious. You just don’t have a lot of practice time to get it in and improve the way we need to,” Casey said.
- Sam Mitchell on Casey being poised to catch him either late this season or early next for all-time coaching wins with the Raptors, after initially pretending we were giving him a kick in the knees by reminding him: “Guys I don’t think about that. Dwane is a heck of a coach, man. He’s done a heck of a job. I’m glad he’s doing well and I’m glad the Raptors are doing well. They treated me well. I have nothing but great, fond memories of the city, the organization and the team and the organization I was lucky enough to coach,” Mitchell said.
Some Wiggins reaction:
From Patrick Patterson:
“Tough energetic, active, resilient and that’s rare for a kid his age. For him to take the reins of the team, you know the team’s not quite successful, but he’s still playing hard, he’s playing well, he’s playing smart out there. He doesn’t back down to anyone, he accepts every single challenge out there and I admire the kid for that.”
(Still follow him in Huntington, West Virginia, Patterson’s home)? “Oh yeah, they love him as if he was from West Virginia. Everyone back home admires that kid to death, I know they definitely miss him at Huntington Prep, the guys always still talk about him, the coaching staff still raves about him. I’ve always followed him, I’ve followed him for a long time.”
Amir Johnson: “Very athletic, goes to the boards relentlessly. I think he’s going to be good, he just has to keep working and he’ll come into his own.”
DeRozan: “He’s talented. He’s going to be alright. He’s just a rookie. He’s going to be alright. He’s still young. Once he gets experience playing in the league, being in a lot of different situations, understanding the game, he’s going to be alright.”