Quite a victory by the Raptors and head coach Dwane Casey over Boston on Friday wasn’t it?
Not even the most hardcore of Raptor fans thought the team had a chance against Boston. Rajon Rondo clearly wasn’t into this one and Ray Allen was out, but this was still a statement game for Casey and his club. They won’t back down against anybody, they will fight and scrap and play above their talent level. It’s a very good sign for a franchise that has rarely had that over the course of its existence.
- I really liked the way DeMar DeRozan played. As he said afterwards, the shots weren’t falling so he decided to take it inside. He hit all 13 of his free throw attempts and consistently got elite defender Avery Bradley into trouble. As the clear No. 1 option, DeRozan stepped up. Now he’s going to have to learn how to do that in a complementary role going forward.
“Shots were’t falling so I was just trying to be aggressive. Get some easy points from the free throw line,” DeRozan said.
- Casey wants DeRozan to finish his and-ones more frequently, seeing that as “the next evolution” for the shooting guard.
- It was the seventh victory in team history when shooting under 35% fewest number of made field goals in a win.
- Full credit to Ben Uzoh for playing a great game. He has a knack for getting on the boards and was a major reason why the Raptors hammered Boston on the glass, a key to the win. He looked more confident and in control. Along with Justin Dentmon, he kept the turnovers to a minimum, another key.
“We defended and played together as a team, played hard. They really pick up the pressure, they really thrive on their defence. They’ve been on a roll. For us to get this win, this definitely boosts our confidence and shows what we’re capable of when we play hard, play together,” Uzoh said.
- Ed Davis remains a complete non-factor on offence and that jumper can’t be re-worked soon enough, but he is getting his on the boards. He had a game-high 12 rebounds and now has hit double figures in three straight games.
“Ed is putting his work in, paying his dues so let’s see where he is,” Casey said before the game.
- Casey’s comments about Bargnani were interesting. He basically said Bargnani (or other players) will be under a much different standard next season as the Raptors start to (hopefully) turn the corner. Minor ailments won’t mean missed games or extended absences. The toughness level and pain threshold will have to rise because the team is going to be intent on making a run at 7th or 8th in the weak East, which should be realistic with a number of upgrades coming via the draft, Lithuania, trades and through free agency.
- Casey said Bargnani’s standout first 13 games are “all he has to go on,” but later added that it might be unrealistic to think Bargnani can play at quite that high a level – particularly defensively, where he ranked No. 9 overall in the entire league, according to Synergy. Still, the coach wants him to be much closer to that level than to the Bargnani of old. As Casey says, he’s shown he can do it now, so it’s on him if he turns back into a pumpkin.
- Also interesting were Casey’s draft comments. I’ll have more on that another time, but suffice to say how hard a prospect plays will be a major factor for the Raptors. Valanciunas projects as a high impact guy with a great motor. Bryan Colangelo’s trick will be scooping up another prospect like that.
Calderon was held out for “precautionary measures” so that he wouldn’t do anymore damage to his stitched up eye. He will try to return either Sunday or Monday against Atlanta.
His backup, Jerryd Bayless, is itching to play, but team doctors are expected to hold the restricted free agent out for the rest of the season.
Kleiza (knee) and Amir Johnson (back, foot) were able to play.