In the Paint
Join Date: Dec 2007
Daily Raptor Dish - 09.01.2012
Raptors set for marathon
DeRozan is not reacting well to being game-planned around following a hot start to the year. He has had two off games in a row, but intends to show better during this stretch, which in turn will help the offence as a whole.
“We’ve got to look at all (our) options, not just one. Give our sets a better chance to get a bucket,” DeRozan said.
“A lot of teams are starting to pack in the paint. I’m going to watch film and get a hold of it. Figure out ways around it, but that’s what I see right now.”
No matter how much film the team watches though, it won’t change the fact that there simply isn’t enough offensive talent on the roster to make up for off nights by two of Calderon, DeRozan and Bargnani.
The imminent return of Linas Kleiza will help in that regard, as would a speedy recovery by injured guard Jerryd Bayless.
The Raptors will need both of them to get through this brutal stretch.
Rubio double-double powers Timberwolves with Raptors up next
Rubio, the 21-year-old, fifth overall selection of the 2009 draft finally came over this year and has surprised many by excelling right off the bat in the NBA. Is Calderon one of those people?
“Not really,” Calderon said late Saturday night, smiling for the only time following a tough loss to Philadelphia when Rubio’s name was brought up.
“He’s a great player, he showed me that every day in practice when we were together on the national team.”
Calderon spent six seasons playing in Europe before making the jump to the NBA with the Raptors and struggled with his shot and confidence early on before establishing himself as a quality NBA point guard.
Most expected the case to be the same for Rubio. After all, he had far worse mechanics and nowhere near the shooting resume of Calderon while toiling in Spain from 2005-06 to last season and had underwhelmed in recent appearances for his home country.
However, Rubio has shot well from everywhere but the free throw line so far (over 50% from the field and from three) and his trademark game management and flair for the dramatic has been readily apparent.
Rubio already has three double-doubles, including Sunday’s sublime 13 points, 14 assist dismantling of the struggling Washington Wizards (five turnovers aside).
There have been some whispers that Calderon and Rubio aren’t close, that battling for the point guard spot on a world power has breeded some discontent between them.
Not true, asserted Calderon.
“He’s a great friend … I’m so happy he’s done great he’s adapting so quick to Minnesota.
Doug Smith's Sports Blog
There’s no telling how different the Washington Wizards would be if they had drafted Ricky Rubio when they had the chance. Surely they couldn’t be any worse than what they are now: a winless team running out of ways to express its humiliation.
Rubio and Kevin Love controlled the game in a 93-72 win for the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday as the Wizards were showered with boos during a 12-point fourth quarter as they dropped to 0-8.
“There’s really not much to say,” Washington coach Flip Saunders said. “Disappointment. Embarrassment. I don’t know if words can explain.
“My job over the next two days is to try to find five guys who can play the right way and can play with some heart. . . . It was bad to watch. It was bad to coach. It was bad to play.”
Added forward Andray Blatche: “It’s frustrating. It’s sickening. Embarrassing. They booed us; we deserved it. I don’t know what to say.”
The Timberwolves selected Rubio with the No. 5 overall pick in 2009, a selection they acquired from the Wizards for guards Randy Foye and Mike Miller. Foye and Miller are long gone from Washington, while Minnesota waited patiently for Rubio to play two more years in Spain before making his impact as a rookie this season.
Rubio had 13 points, a career-high 14 assists — one fewer than the entire Wizards team — and six rebounds Sunday, controlling the game during much of his 30 minutes off the bench. He entered with 1:30 remaining in the first quarter and quickly hit a 22-foot jump shot to start a 17-2 run that gave Minnesota the lead for good.
“We’re happy to have him now,” said Love, who had 20 points and 16 rebounds. “Today’s just an example of how good he is — and how good he can be.
“Who’s to say? He’s still working on his jump shot. He’s still working on his game.”
The Timberwolves opened their first set of three games in three days without forward Michael Beasley, who will miss all three after spraining his right foot during Friday night’s loss to Cleveland.
Eric Koreen: Raptors’ offence and defence inextricably linked
I’m going to say this right out loud:
I cannot wait to see Ricky Rubio play tonight.
I’ve seen the kid quite often in person – most notably at the worlds in Turkey a summer or two ago – and there really is just something about him.
Maybe he doesn’t shoot it as well as you’d like quite yet but that’s a teachable skill, what you can’t teach is court vision and flair and, man, this kid’s got it.
There aren’t too, too many regular season games I look forward too – and there are going to be fewer in this abomination of a regular season when every team seems tired every night – but this is one of them.
You should be, too.
Tweet of the day
In every game of the Toronto Raptors’ season, up until another ugly loss in Philadelphia on Saturday, Toronto’s opponents had taken more field-goal attempts than the Raptors. Casey said he was not concerned about the statistic, but instead of the issues causing that symptom. On one night poor rebounding was causing the attempts disparity; on another, it might be turnovers.
“You put a finger in one hole,” Casey said, “and another one opens up.”
In a larger sense, that is the biggest problem for a new coach, especially after a shortened pre-season and with fewer opportunities to practise. Casey does not have enough time to maximize the worth of his roster in all facets of the game. So he must pick and choose.
Casey’s first priority, stated many times, was to improve the Raptors’ historically bad defence. By almost every metric, he has succeeded in that mandate through eight games. The emphasis, however, has hurt the offensive production. The offence hit a nadir in Philadelphia: 62 points on 32% shooting, along with 17 turnovers. Take away the starting front court of Amir Johnson and Andrea Bargnani and the Raptors shot a staggering 13-for-55 (23.6%) from the floor.
For now, the offence and defence are inextricably related. The Raptors’ defence is, to over-simplify it, a passive one. Casey explained earlier in the season that he wanted his defence to be less aggressive in passing lanes and more committed to fortifying the interior. Toronto’s opponents are shooting just 40.2% from the floor, with only Philadelphia holding their opponents to a lower accuracy. That is promising.
But practising that type of defence has contributed to the Raptors causing just 11 turnovers per game, the fewest in the league heading into Sunday. That is where the offence comes into play.
The Raptors are currently playing at the third-slowest pace in the league. They average just 90.9 possessions per game, with only Boston and Detroit using fewer, both incrementally so. The predictable offshoot of that: Toronto is averaging 6.7 fast-break points per game, fewest in the league. The easiest way to run on offence is to cause turnovers on the other end. You can run in other situations — off of long rebounds, in particular — but running is most effective when creating turnovers, as there is not much time for the opposition to transition from offence to defence.
The problem is that this team is not at all fit to trade half-court offensive possessions. They have one player, Bargnani, who can score with some regularity in one-on-one situations. They have another, Jose Calderon, who can run the pick-and-roll very effectively. But players such as DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis and Amir Johnson excel in transition. DeRozan is a nice finisher in transition, while Davis and Johnson are much more nimble and co-ordinated in full stride than most of the big men they face. And when Leandro Barbosa is off of his game, as he was this weekend, the Raptors’ half-court problem is exacerbated.
In the short term, de-emphasizing some of the strengths of several young players makes little sense. This Raptors season, though, has more than an eye on the future. Casey was charged with transforming the team’s defence and identity, and he has to find out which of the players currently on the roster will be able to contribute while playing that style.
The Jan Vesely era begins...with an air-balled foul shot! It can only go up from here for the Wizards' rookie. #TBJ Video: Jan Vesely airballs first ever NBA free throw | The Basketball Jones | Blogs | theScore.com
Last edited by LX; 01-09-2012 at 12:03 PM.