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Old 02-21-2012, 01:11 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Raps working on late game situations

“I think a lot of people focus on that last play but I think it’s the last three or four possessions before that where we’ve not gotten good looks or didn’t execute properly,” said Casey.

“We have to make sure we’re on time and on target in those situations.”

And that’s why Monday’s workout was so important. It was the first time since the season began that a fresh group — the Raptors had Sunday off — was given a golden opportunity to work. Without a game until Wednesday’s home date with Detroit, they didn’t have to worry about wearing anyone down the day before a game; a perfect chance for some serious work.

“That’s one area where we can try to take advantage during practice, work on timing, work on screening; slow it down and teach in a practice situation where in-game you don’t have that luxury,” Casey said.

“That’s a huge challenge because of the fact our go-to guy and a lot of our game situations are geared around Andrea (Bargnani), let’s be honest, so it’s tough when you don’t have that guy and you’re trying to put guys in that position who’ve probably never been in that situation before in their career.

“That’s why in practice we can put different people in there and try to prepare for that.”

Raps Need to Cherish days off


Raptors need to 'cherish' days off
On this strange stretch of time off, the Raptors need to work on poor starts and weak finishes
By Ryan Wolstat, QMI Agency

Raptors' Jose Calderon battles for the ball with Charlotte Bobcats' Reggie Williams during Toronto's loss on Friday night.

ESPN fires, suspends employees over racist Lin remarks

ESPN sorry for 'offensive' Lin headline

The Raptors didn’t have much of a training camp because the league tried to get things rolling as quickly as possible following the lockout.

Since then, days off have been scarce as well.

Now, almost exactly halfway through the condensed schedule, things have changed.

After all the zaniness the team has had to put up with (back-to-backs, seven games in nine nights and so on) the schedule-maker, that unnamed, humourless person or computer program is at it again. Monday was the third of four days off between games for Dwane Casey’s squad, or, four times longer than their previous longest streak of non-game days. Thanks to the all-star break, following Wednesday’s home tilt with Detroit, the squad will have another five days off before taking on Houston in Texas on Feb. 28. Unlike in past years, each player will have the full all-star break off, since Toronto is one of just four teams without a representative at the various events in Orlando — believed to be the first time that has happened in franchise history.

For Casey, who believes his team has slipped defensively due to a lack of practice time, this stretch is a long-awaited gift. Casey said he and his staff “cherish” these days.

The focus on Monday was performing better in big moments and closing out winnable contests, something the Raptors have had immense difficulty with so far this season.

“Our biggest bugaboo has been the execution the last two and a half minutes, especially the last three, four games,” Casey explained.

“We didn’t execute properly. Have to make sure we are on time, on target in those situations.”
Finally Compressed Schedule is favoring Raptors

More than the stretch of seven games in nine nights, more than the bizarrely constructed road trips, more than seven straight home games, this might be the weirdest part of the Toronto Raptors’ schedule: four days off in a row.

To put that into context, before this stretch, the Raptors had not had more than a single day off in between games. But after losing to Charlotte on Friday, they do not have a scheduled game until the home date against Detroit on Wednesday.

“It’s well needed. I think it’s well needed. We work our bodies down to the dirt,” forward James Johnson said. “You can lift [weights] all you want, get your aerobics in, but at the end of the day your body is still going to need a break sometimes. I’m glad it’s coming now.”

Even more bizarre: the all-star break comes after Wednesday’s game. They do not play again after that until Feb. 28 in Houston. That means in between Feb. 18 and Feb. 27, a span of 10 days, they have just one game — or six fewer than they had in between Jan. 6-14.

Bargnani's injury gives
Raptors chance to evaluate roster

f this season is as much about evaluation as wins, then it is hard to know what to make of almost anybody on this roster.

“Everybody is being evaluated in that situation, what they can and cannot do,” Casey said of the end of close games. “But some guys’ roles have changed since the beginning of the year because Andrea goes down, Jerryd Bayless goes down and then Kleiza goes down. Now guys have to take more of a scoring mentality where their role wasn’t a primary scorer when we first started.

“We always told guys their roles could change as the year goes on. And, my goodness, they have changed because of injuries.”

As the year goes on, it seems that a lot of decisions will not be able to be made until Bargnani can stay on the court. When that will be remains a mystery.
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