Alright, so we all saw the game. Great first half, close with a lot of whistle swallowing. Second half we play tight on D and actually get a 10 point lead, then little by little lose it for a number of reasons and get an L on a last possession shot. I don't think the officiating was very good and clearly a lot of us were upset with certain blown calls.
Here's a great vid showing all of the blown calls made against the Raps last night: Raptors Pacers questionable calls - YouTube
Now I don't agree that all the calls in there were incorrect. Some were correct, some were borderline. Some were simply blown and unfortunately they were on important possessions that swung the momentum. My sobered up reflection is that we lost the game, but the refs are what kept them in it.
Really, I'm blaming this loss on Coach Casey and there are a number of reasons why I think he mismanaged the game tonight:
- Firstly, he's shown time and time again that he doesn't know how to play the hot hand; Bargnani
was going strong in the first quarter and he sat him right at the six minute mark. Playoff coaches know when and how to ride their best players and this was one of those times. You don't put the bench in just because its "time to", you put them in because starters are getting fatigued and/or playing poorly. This is especially so because Bargnani, as many I think will agree, is prone to bursts and droughts.
- Second, and on the flip side, he kept in certain players that clearly needed benching. DeRozan wasn't getting the calls, but he tried to make up for it by attempting too many iso 3-on-1s, stopped the ball dead on every possession he touched it and generally played lacklustre. Fields was trying but couldn't finish a single shot (including two lay-ups I believe) and seemed to be getting outworked left and right. He really appeared to lack some conditioning.
As part of this point I have to mention that If Linas Kleiza wasn't then hurt I really have to scratch my head at his DNP-CD. On a night when all three wings (DeRozan, Fields and Anderson) weren't any help offensively, he should have been on the floor.
Similarly, and I don't know exactly how long it was, there was 2 to 4 minutes where the line-up was Calderon/Lucas/Anderson/Davis/Gray. This line-up should never be on the floor under ANY circumstances. It can't score nor should anyone have expected them to and I really think this is the biggest reason why they were allowed to chip away our lead. I actually think there was about six or so minutes where the line-up was either that or with Fields in place of Anderson or with Amir instead of Davis. Those are marginally better at best and Casey should have been more fluid with minutes when he could see we were struggling so hard to get a bucket. That also reminds me...
- He showed a real lack of gamesmanship with his timeouts. He didn't pause to regroup and draw up an easy bucket early enough in the critical stretch when we had that drought, nor stopped to control the momentum when David West scored on, I believe, five straight possessions. And that's aside from the fact that Gray or Amir should have been told to flagrant him after scoring six in a row. Flat out, he shouldn't have felt physically good enough to score 14 points in the quarter, or at the very least he should have had to earn some of them at the line. (The Raps only scored 17 total)
- Last, but certainly not least, Bargnani
should not take the final shot. Period. End-of-story. Much like Andre Iguodala, he simply isn't that guy. His record for game-tying or game-winning shots is beyond abysmal - I remember seeing that exact stat last year after the Triple OT game against the Nets in London - he's below 30%. Not to mention he had already gone 4 for 14 in the game and hadn't had a bucket all of the fourth quarter (pretty sure his last points were in the third, but if I'm wrong then he only got two). Calderon
and Lowry are the only players who should be taking the shot in this situation and even then Lowry is the only one who can create his own shot.
It didn't even appear as though a play had been drawn up and I was disappointed at the lack of off-the-ball movement and cutting that should have preceded the inbounds. It should have been Bargs
back to Jose or Lowry off the inbounds for a three, or DeRozan cutting across the lane to set a pick to free space for an AB lay-up or close jumper from the baseline, or an alley-oop to DeRozan although that's rare and pretty tough. More than anything I've brought up, this is the easiest yet possibly most important thing Casey has to change. I won't stand for another iso AB hail-Mary.
*PHEW* Now that I got that out, some good notes:
- Big V is everything we hoped for and more. Barring injuries he's going to be an all-star one day.
- Lowry is much the same, but more of a known quality. If he consistently gets 36 mins he's one of the few players who has any shot at averaging 20/10. He made 21/8/7 with 5 Steals and 2 Turnovers look commonplace. Has any Raps PG had a line like that since Damon?
- The defence was, on the whole, fantastic. 63 points through three quarters is the kind of play that gets you a top 5 defence. The Pacers were 33 of 78 from the field for 47%. We were 33 of 91 for 36%. They were efficient but took many fewer shots and we forced them to move the ball and drain the clock more times than I could count. That shot discrepancy also has a lot to do with how well we were at forcing turnovers; it felt like we were the Grizz at some points we were smothering so well.
showed he knows what help defence is and played great man-to-man, although he got burned on some real tough shots by West. All in all I feel like a lot of shots dropped for the Pacers over good contests while we couldn't seem to hit the broad side of a barn. And that's the difference.
They get a few days to practice and tighten things up and hopefully Casey gives his old bud Rick Carlisle a call so he can get some tips on in-game adjustments. Then on Saturday night we get to be the first ever Away team at the Barclay's Centre - and we need that win.
Let's show them we know how to crash a good party!!!