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Another slow start for the Raptors, but ultimately, another pre-season victory.

Here are some thoughts on the game:

Raptors 104, Bucks 95

- As mentioned above, the Raptors got off to another slow start in this one. It’s been a constant theme throughout the pre-season, and while I don’t necessarily believe that it means the pattern will continue once the regular season begins, I would still like to see the team get off to a more encouraging start in the pre-season finale on Friday in Memphis.

- Another thing that shouldn’t sit well with Dwane Casey after this game are the 18 turnovers, especially after the Raptors coughed the ball up another 17 times just three nights ago in Montreal. Kyle Lowry alone had six of tonight’s 18 turnovers.

- Considering he committed six turnovers and four fouls, this obviously wasn’t Lowry’s best performance, but he still managed to post 15 points on 50 per cent shooting to go along with eight trips to the free throw line, six assists and five rebounds. Through three games so far (all Raptors wins), I’m pretty excited about what we’ve seen from Kyle as he transitions into the leader of this team.

As for Jose Calderon and John Lucas III, who played together for a stretch of this game, the backups combined for 12 points (on 5-of-10 shooting), nine assists and seven rebounds in about 36 total minutes, as the three-deep point guard rotation continued to roll.

Lucas also did this:

- Daily Valanciunas check-in: The guy just keeps finding a way to get it done. With two turnovers on his first two touches tonight, I thought we might finally see a game where JV struggles, especially after getting into a bit of foul trouble the last two games. Instead, Valanciunas adjusted as usual, didn’t commit another turnover, got to the free throw line 10 times, finished with only two fouls in just under 28 minutes of action, and put up 10 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. I mentioned it after Friday’s game against the Knicks, but one thing I’ve been impressed with is how quickly Valanciunas adjusts and adapts mid-game.

- Andrea Bargnani looks like he’s finally getting closer to game shape on the offensive end. After looking lost offensively and out of rhythm during the first few pre-season games, Bargnani flashed some encouraging signs against the Knicks on Friday before posting 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting against the Bucks. His shot seems to be slowly returning to him, and while he still hasn’t been efficient in getting his offence, he’s been much more aggressive on that end of the floor over the last two games. In addition, Bargnani’s been solid on the defensive end for the majority of the pre-season and is developing some chemistry with the aforementioned Lowry.

Before you get too excited, though, I must note the four rebounds in 28 minutes.

- DeMar DeRozan got to the free throw line 10 times, finished with 21 points on 16 field goal attempts and is getting much better at understanding when and how to take smaller defenders into the post, but there are still too many plays that end with forced DeRozan jumpers instead of DeMar making the extra pass.

- Terrence Ross missed the game with flu-like symptoms, and between that and a sore knee, has only played about five minutes over the last three games combined. I’m hoping he can get a ton of minutes against the Grizzlies on Friday so as to head into his first regular season with at least some type of a rhythm.

Ed Davis returned to the lineup, but played less than 13 minutes, collecting five rebounds and scoring two points. I doubt it will make much of a difference, if any, in the long run, but I do wonder how Davis and Ross’ inability to get on the court much this week will impact Dwane Casey’s early decisions with respect to the team’s rotation.

- Quincy Acy finally got a little more burn tonight, recording three points and three rebounds to go along with two fouls and two turnovers in about nine minutes of action. I assume Acy will see some development time in the D-League once the regular season rolls around.

- While the slow starts and turnovers haven’t been pretty the last couple of games, the three-point shooting has been. By going 9-of-20 from long range against the Bucks, the Raptors make it 21-of-46 over their last two contests, good for over 45 per cent.

- The Raptors will finish either 6-1 or 5-2 in the pre-season, and while I don’t believe that record means much, I do believe that pre-season performance can be an indication of team depth, since teams end up giving players who won’t see much time in the regular season some pre-season burn. And I think we can all agree that on paper, this is the deepest (not best, deepest) Raptors team in years.

- Speaking of depth, the Raptors have released Jerel McNeal and Chris Wright to cut the roster down to 16 players. Jamaal Magloire is still around, and I wonder if the team will keep him around a little while longer to give Valanciunas and the other young bigs a veteran presence to bang against in practice.

Comments (1)

  1. Bargnani’s 4 rebounds contributed to the Rap’s outrebounding the Bucks’s 49-40, no problem, with his 17 points and defense, rounding into form, for the season.

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