Posts Tagged ‘Roy Hibbert

The return of Points Per Game: Pacers at Raptors PPG

- November 1st, 2012

New season means it’s time for a new season of my post-game thoughts, which will appear by Noon the morning after games.

Here we go with Pacers vs. Raptors Points Per Game:

- First off, that was the best atmosphere I’ve seen at the ACC in years. The fans were great, they were into the game and it was a heck of a contest. This Raptors team plays the way fans in this city like their teams, with an edge, at a fast pace.

- Kyle Lowry was superb. I tweeted he’s the best all-around Raptor since Vince Carter, sorry Chris Bosh, and I believe it. Made a difference at both ends of the floor.

- That said, Lowry’s main weakness is shot selection. He fires at will and at times that’s great, but down the stretch of a tight game, he needs to make better decisions. Ditto Jose Calderon, who got a bit trigger happy at the end, which is rare.

- People are blaming Andrea Bargnani for West going off, but Bargnani actually did a decent job defensively on him. Sure, he hedged too much late, but where was his help? It’s the lost offence, particularly from deep, that should cause concern where Bargnani is concerned. He’s never going to rebound, but his defence was pretty good last night. He needs to rediscover his form from outside. His overall shooting line could have been better, but the refs blew two wild shot attempts that should have led to free throw attempts.

- DeMar DeRozan had terrible timing. Really hurt the team, was completely locked down by Paul George and looked off all night. The pressure is going to be on DeRozan now that the Raptors overpaid to lock him up.

- Landry Fields had an even worse night and quickly bolted the room afterwards.

- Hard not to be impressed by Jonas Valanciunas. Played like a man against a tough opponent in Roy Hibbert. Also, Ed Davis and Amir Johnson are two solid reserve big men. Will give Raptors a lift all year.

- Referees clearly gave the proven Pacers the benefit of the doubt with the calls. Raptors better get used to that. This is how the NBA works until you establish an identity.

Some more thoughts from the paper:
The Raptors did some things quite well in the 2012-13 opener, but enough negatives crept in to deny the team a win against Indiana.
Head coach Dwane Casey foreshadowed the outing pretty well earlier in the day, when discussing how he thought the season would go overall.
“We’re taking steps in the right direction,” Casey said.
“To say that we’ve got to make the playoffs, it’s a bust if we don’t … I don’t buy into that.”
This could be the story of the season. Great effort, some distinct positives and a lot of tough losses.
Casey knows many people don’t think much of his team, but also believes that the pressure of making the playoffs shouldn’t be pushed onto the group.
“I’m excited about this team, I want to prove (the critics) wrong, and our players should want to prove them wrong. But we can’t have it where they’re predicting or saying (the Raptors) will win 30 games the next person says the season is a bust if they don’t make the playoffs. So, it’s confusing,” Casey said.
What the coach wants, is for the Raptors to show “Great growth … and maybe (if that happens) we’ll be knocking on the door at the end of the year. And that’s our goal, our internal goal.”
PLAY ‘EM ALL
Casey went deep into his bench, playing all but forward Linas Kleiza. Getting so many Raptors in early kept them fresh and ready for work later on.
He subbed wisely, using behomth Aaron Gray at times to try to slow down Roy Hibbert, who was giving Jonas Valanciunas trouble due to his sheer size.
Ed Davis gave the club a huge lift late in the third quarter when the game appeared to be in danger of slipping away, hitting a couple of shots, blocking one and getting on the glass.
The two point guard lineup of Kyle Lowry, who was spectacular and Jose Calderon also was used to great effect. Going with veteran Alan Anderson and nailing a complexly out-of-sorts Landry Fields to the bench also paid dividends for Casey.
GREAT, BUT
As good as Lowry and Calderon were (36 points, 11 assists, 6 steals, 3 turnovers), the duo made some uncharacteristic mistakes down the stretch, taking bad shot after bad shot and failing to run the offence properly, allowing Indiana to erase a big Toronto lead and score all of the game’s points in the final four minutes.
Lowry put the team on his shoulders and Calderon excelled as well, but they have to be smarter late in games.
BENCH BOAST
When asked what the main difference was between his first Raptors team and this one, Casey was succinct: “Our bench basically were our starters,” Casey said.
DeMar DeRozan said the feeling around the team is different as well.
“You see the hunger more in guys that’s been here and been through the tough times and you see the hunger in guys like Landry, (Lowry), that’s been in tough positions and been winning,” DeRozan said before the game.
“The hunger is there in everybody and we’re just going to bring it out tonight.”
The Raptors definitely did, but could not overcome 36.3% shooting from the field.
ROOKIE NERVES?
Rookies Valanciunas and Terrence Ross said they were nervous beforehand since they had watched many openers on television and now would be a part of NBA basketball.
Valanciunas said he had trouble sleeping.
But they didn’t show it. Valanciunas had one of the better first quarter debuts in team history, compiling six points, four rebounds and a pair of blocks.
But Hibbert frustrated Valanciunas for a while after that until the Lithuanian showed the vet some things at both ends in the third quarter.
Before the contest, Valanciunas said he had goals for this season:
“Win games. And win rookie of the year.”
DeRozan was the last rookie to start for the Raptors on opening night (Damon Stoudamire, Vince Carter and Joey Graham were the others) and had some advice.
“You’re going to be nervous, without a doubt. Just go out there, stay focused and do your job and don’t think too much.”
Afterwards, Valanciunas said he had fun, but was upset about the loss.
When reminded that there were still 81 games to go, he seemed surprised.
“That many?” Then reminded observers that he played 86 games for Lietuvos Rytas last season and about 100 overall, counting his matches with the Lithuanian national team.
He didn’t have to wait long to find out the answer to one of his pre-game musings:
“I like fans, maybe fans are going to like me? I hope so,” he said.
Valanciunas got one of the loudest pre-game roars and was cheered throughout the evening like a conquering hero, particularly when he tried to rip down the basket in a Shaq-like display on a dunk.
His counterpart, Ross was more tentative, missing a pair of three point attempts early and failing to see action in the second half.