Originally Posted by Jay
The win over the Celtics the other night was an important win for a variety of reasons, but none more than the Raptors making a statement to themselves that they belong as a legit contender in the East, that they do have the tools to pull out some wins against the best teams. But as I mentioned in the post-game, it would all mean nothing if they weren’t able to come up with a win against the Bucks last night.
So while people will say that the Raptors had a statement game against the Celtics, the real statement was made against the Bucks. By coming out and wiping the floor with the Bucks, the Raptors just reinforced that their game against the Celtics was no fluke. But the great thing for the Raptors is that they made more than one statement by hammering the Bucks. This was a close game at the half, with the Raptors only ahead by 5 points. The Raptors then came out and broke the game open in the third quarter, which is a problem I had talked about a few posts ago. By coming out in the third quarter and outscoring the Bucks 32-11, the Raptors made the statement that they are able to come out and bury teams they are supposed to bury, when they are supposed to bury them. It may be easy to overlook the fact that the game was really won in the third quarter, but when you take a look at the Raptors and their lack of energy, game plan and enthusiasm in most games in the third quarter, last night was definitely a statement.
The Raptors also made a statement by outrebounding the Bucks. Sure, they didn’t beat them on the offensive boards, but at least they were active defensively, limiting the Bucks on second chance points and controlling their own end. The Bucks are not a good rebounding team, but neither are the Raptors. They are actually right beside each other in 25th (Raptors) and 26th place, but by coming out and controlling the defensive end, the Raptors were able to make the statement that they are starting to work on various parts of their game…parts that can make them a little more dangerous down the stretch.
The Raptors were helped out by some Bucks shot selection that can only be called curious. 3-23 from behind the arc. 3-23?!!! Dear Mr. Redd: We know, shooters shoot, but 5-14 with 1-7 from behind the arc? You also went 1-2 from the charity stripe and managed an amazing 0 assists. Dude, share the ball. When you are dead cold, get your teammates some looks and you will actually be working yourself into the game, where you may open things up so you get some better looks. As a team, the Bucks just didn’t look like they had much of a game plan tonight and maybe they bought into some of the hype surrounding Raptors the win over the Celtics the other night (a team that almost lost to the Wolves tonight…a 1 point victory at home against the Wolves? I’m telling ya, Detroit is the beast in the east, not Boston).
Just as we started to enjoy the Baryogi nickname, Andrea starts making us look good by finding his game again. Could it be that somebody hooked him up with that slump-buster? Maybe…but I am going to say that when you go into a game against a team like the Celtics and you have been having a rough year, nobody expects anything from you, so you are able to relax and just play ball. So after you have a night like that, you start to think, “Hey, not bad…still got it.” Then when you come into a game against a team like the Bucks, you are just following up on what happened in the previous game. There are two things that I am liking about Andrea’s game right now. 1) He is not hesitating to attack. He has sorted out that dragged pivot foot problem and is now putting the ball on the floor and looking to get inside; 2) He is getting on the boards. He picked up another 7 rebounds against the Bucks, showing that he isn’t afraid to get in there when he has to.
Anyway, nice that the Raptors were able to put an exclamation point on the win over the Celtics by following it up against the Bucks. That’s what you have to do to move up in the standings. Win the games you are supposed to.