Breaking Down an Opening Night Disappointment
Old 11-01-2012, 04:08 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Raptors Breaking Down an Opening Night Disappointment

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.

- Bargnani 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!!!
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Old 11-01-2012, 05:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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i'm a pretty big andrea Bargnani homer but this is they type of game that makes me want to give up on the guy
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Old 11-01-2012, 10:48 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Guys come on. I put a lot of effort into this post. The least a few of you could do is read the whole critique and offer some feedback!
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Old 11-01-2012, 10:53 AM   #4 (permalink)
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great notes, i remember being frustrated with the line up in when Indiana was chipping away at the lead.. an Bargnani couldnt contain David West. West killed us late and that was horrible to watch. solid effort, but similar to last season this team just cant close out games and that needs to change.
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Old 11-01-2012, 11:05 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Demar and Bargnani don't do the little things to win you games especially during crunchtime. Secure a rebound, dig out a loose ball, box out, rotate properly on defensive sets etc. Maybe a good team can live with one of those players, but having two of those players on the floor during crunch time will leave you on the short-end of the stick in close games on many nights. Like many posters have mentioned that the bench can win you games. But the starters can lose it for you in the end.
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Old 11-01-2012, 11:13 AM   #6 (permalink)
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We took 91 shot attempts to their 77. If we shoot better than 36% we win running away. We also only had 10 turnovers which was a good sign. We missed by my count 4-5 layups which is not a normal occurance. It's the first game and we shouldn't lose our marbles just yet. I said a couple days ago that we'll struggle out of the gate. Don't be surprised if we're 7-13 after 20 games. It's what we do after that that'll make or break our season.

Also, Kleiza struggle in camp/pre-season but so did Fields. Are they playing no matter what for 25min b/c of his contract? If so they deserve what they get.
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Old 11-01-2012, 11:44 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I was at the game. AB had a great 1st Q and to be honest, he played well on D too. David West hit some tough shots in a row and killed us, but AB showed his D not bad as people may think. The bottom line, it should have been a W.
Val - I like what I see, I wasn't a fan of this draft pick, but I must admit I like what I see. The guy is raw, but in a good way, he looks like a great teammate, runs to help out players who are on the floor, plays hard on D, gets rebounds and tough as nails. The guy is only 19 and deserves some credit. I honestly think he will be our X factor this season, and he has a shot to be the ROTY - but since he plays in Canada chances are slim.
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Old 11-01-2012, 11:52 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Tommy C View Post
I was at the game. AB had a great 1st Q and to be honest, he played well on D too. David West hit some tough shots in a row and killed us, but AB showed his D not bad as people may think. The bottom line, it should have been a W.
Val - I like what I see, I wasn't a fan of this draft pick, but I must admit I like what I see. The guy is raw, but in a good way, he looks like a great teammate, runs to help out players who are on the floor, plays hard on D, gets rebounds and tough as nails. The guy is only 19 and deserves some credit. I honestly think he will be our X factor this season, and he has a shot to be the ROTY - but since he plays in Canada chances are slim.
Valanciunas is 20 already.
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Old 11-01-2012, 12:09 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by jeffb View Post
We took 91 shot attempts to their 77. If we shoot better than 36% we win running away. We also only had 10 turnovers which was a good sign. We missed by my count 4-5 layups which is not a normal occurance. It's the first game and we shouldn't lose our marbles just yet. I said a couple days ago that we'll struggle out of the gate. Don't be surprised if we're 7-13 after 20 games. It's what we do after that that'll make or break our season.

Also, Kleiza struggle in camp/pre-season but so did Fields. Are they playing no matter what for 25min b/c of his contract? If so they deserve what they get.
i can agree with a lot of that.
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Old 11-01-2012, 12:12 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Game was lost in last 4 minutes. Offense went stagnant, to much iso, not enough execution or plays to get to the line or get easy layup. We all bashing Bargs but remember he played with flu and looked gased at the end, thus West got his offensive outburst against flat footed Andrea quite easily. I think you can blame Casey for missmanaging minutes a bit here, he should have kept Amir or Ed Davis on him and give Bargs more rest in 4th quarter. I agree that keeping Kleiza on the bench whole game was not very encouranging especially when Fields was so ineffective.
All in all it was good, exciting game and hopefuly both players and coach will make proper conclusions and adjusments from it.
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Old 11-01-2012, 12:21 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Pretty good summary of last nights game. It's unfortunate that we didn't come away with the W, but there are tons of positives to come away with.

-Lowry and Val are both the real deal
-We have depth, just need the SF's to start producing
-Bargnani played pretty good man on man, but needs to work a little harder on the hedging

It's just one loss, I can accept a loss like this. Getting blown out by a team like Charlotte or Orlando would be a greater concern.
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Old 11-01-2012, 12:25 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by jeffb View Post
We took 91 shot attempts to their 77. If we shoot better than 36% we win running away. We also only had 10 turnovers which was a good sign. We missed by my count 4-5 layups which is not a normal occurance. It's the first game and we shouldn't lose our marbles just yet. I said a couple days ago that we'll struggle out of the gate. Don't be surprised if we're 7-13 after 20 games. It's what we do after that that'll make or break our season.
Agreed
Everybody....breathe
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Old 11-01-2012, 12:27 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Also Indiana always get's the benefit of playing us at the right time. Last year they spoiled our home opener when the team was still learning things under Casey without a full training camp. They barely beat us halfway through last season when Bargnani was out, and then tonight they caught us in the home opener again. If Bargn wasn't dealing with the Flu, he probably has legs in the 2nd half and makes a couple more shots, which are probably the difference. Also Derozan was probably slightly distracted with the whole contract thing.
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Old 11-01-2012, 12:31 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Guys come on. I put a lot of effort into this post. The least a few of you could do is read the whole critique and offer some feedback!
I agree with a few points and the overall idea that Casey's bench management didn't help the Raps pull this one out.


I thought that when V got into foul trouble in the third and Casey brought in Gray he left him in far to long.

A. that lineup had trouble scoring as you already mentioned.
B. Amir was on the bench longer than usual and looked stiff and sucked balls when he came back into the game in the 4th.

Ever since Casey became head coach I've disliked the way he waits until the 5 minute mark to get all his starters in. Get them in at the 7-8 minute mark.

His 8 man rotation turned into a 10 man rotation and now apparently it's a 12 man rotation

What's with Ross playing in the first half with Jose and Lucas in the second...it boggles me. Clearly Lucas is the better player - so are we just throwing Ross minutes for development? Neither of them is going to perform very well playing 8 minutes a game.
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Old 11-01-2012, 12:40 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I hate when coaches play their entire 2nd unit together game after game. You need to manage the specific game you're coaching in. Another part of the game that helped us lose is when Gray went in, and then Lowry went out, we went on a huge drought. I think Casey needs to leave one of Lowry or Bargs in at all times(or Derozan if his offence has improved as much as people say). We cant just have Jose running screen roll for 7-8 minutes straight because we have no creators on the wing, and Jose cant penetrate well enough to get them wide open looks. It kills our flow and our defence suffers as well because of the lack of energy.

And I think Ross needs to be playing over Lucas and Anderson. We need a good shooting wing who can play defence. He needs to find his rhythm and stroke on offence, and playing him 4 minutes a game wont do that. He'll be exrtemely valuable if we get him to a point where he can play 15-20 mpg comfortably where hes not hurting the team because he may end up becoming our best wing defender sooner rather than later, and if his stroke is that good then we have a very nice option there. And who knows, he may even end up starting if he gets some confidence since Fields sucks.
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Old 11-01-2012, 01:17 PM   #16 (permalink)
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This is what I was talking about hen I said depth was not an advantage unless we define a proper core. Casey was working at a disadvantage in that he did not have a great sense of his team's pecking order or proper rotation of personnel, whereas his counterpart did. The BC mishmash still hampers this team. Casey is going to have to call on sacrifices across the board for the betterment of the team, and I have to imagine that itching a couple of weeks he will know enough to be able to do that.

I just hope we don't have to see Jose on the court to finish games. The tandem worked ok for a stretch, but Jose looked confused about his role as the game wore on. Passing up an open 3 in order to give DD a rushed 3 was just inexcusable. And then when he did shoot it was a hesitant shot. And that sort of defined the whole offense down the stretch. For the whole game there were too many bad, forced shots, and too many hesitant shots. Get a nice 8-9 man rotation in play and let the offense develop some flow, with everyone understanding where their shots come from, and you've got a much better chance of success. Is that going to happen, or is DC going to feel compelled to play Jose x amount of minutes? Will he be compelled to continue to start Fields? And then is he going to have to squeeze in minutes for other players that can have more impact than those two?

I'm hoping Casey is still assessing what he's got and will make the appropriate changes soon enough. They managed to hold a good team to a 15 point quarter. They saw some of what Lowry and Valanciunas can do, and now they need to define roles that work best with that and let BC do the job of turning the rest of the mishmash into something useful.
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Old 11-01-2012, 01:31 PM   #17 (permalink)
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cant stand the pacers, i was happy when lebron finished them off, especially danny granger who gets in everyones face for no reason

that guy is a punk
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Old 11-01-2012, 01:46 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Can’t believe the amount of criticism and the dissection of the first game of the year. The Raptors held the Pacers to 90 points and the game was lost because they could not make a bucket with 5 mins remaining. Whether substitutions were made at an ideal time in the first half, whether the right players played the right amount of mins or whether the refs blew a few calls is irrelevant. After couple of 3s by Jose to build back a lead, no one on the Raptors was able to put the ball in the basket (including wide open shots) at the end of the game when it counted. That is the reason they lost and to start analyzing each move in hindsight makes little sense.
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Old 11-01-2012, 02:17 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I just hope we don't have to see Jose on the court to finish games. The tandem worked ok for a stretch, but Jose looked confused about his role as the game wore on. Passing up an open 3 in order to give DD a rushed 3 was just inexcusable. And then when he did shoot it was a hesitant shot. And that sort of defined the whole offense down the stretch. For the whole game there were too many bad, forced shots, and too many hesitant shots. Get a nice 8-9 man rotation in play and let the offense develop some flow, with everyone understanding where their shots come from, and you've got a much better chance of success. Is that going to happen, or is DC going to feel compelled to play Jose x amount of minutes? Will he be compelled to continue to start Fields? And then is he going to have to squeeze in minutes for other players that can have more impact than those two?
I don't think he left Jose in just for the sake of giving him minutes. He was shooting the ball great and our wings weren't. Anderson, Fields, Ross, and Derozan really did nothing the whole game so Casey had to leave Jose in to provide some offence. I saw Jose put up a couple threes in the second half without hesitance so i'm not sure what you saw but your right about passing to DD.

Our problem was scoring late in the game which has been the problem for the last few years. We really need a go to guy late in the game. I'm hoping Lowry becomes that guy or we might see more games like this.

Last edited by kishan13; 11-01-2012 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 11-01-2012, 02:18 PM   #20 (permalink)
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We took 91 shot attempts to their 77. If we shoot better than 36% we win running away. We also only had 10 turnovers which was a good sign. We missed by my count 4-5 layups which is not a normal occurance. It's the first game and we shouldn't lose our marbles just yet. I said a couple days ago that we'll struggle out of the gate. Don't be surprised if we're 7-13 after 20 games. It's what we do after that that'll make or break our season.

Also, Kleiza struggle in camp/pre-season but so did Fields. Are they playing no matter what for 25min b/c of his contract? If so they deserve what they get.
Good summary. Indy has poise, Raptors have a great base to work from, if a better last play was run --a better look, would've been an epic opener.
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