Raptors 120, Grizzlies 106

Like a lot of pre-season games over the last couple of nights, Friday’s Raptors/Grizzlies contest wasn’t televised in either team’s city, and the only way you could actually follow this game live outside of being there was on Memphis radio, so it’s kind of like a Raptors fan’s equivalent of the whole “if a tree falls in the forest with no one around” shtick.

It’s nice to see the Raptors pull out a road win to end the exhibition schedule, but the truth is that they dug themselves another early hole and failed to get off to a good start in any of their seven pre-season games. If that carries over to the regular season, when three of their first four games are against the Pacers, Nets and Thunder (the other game is against a banged up but pesky TWolves squad), things could get ugly.

I should also add that while none of the Raptors’ starting five played more than 25 minutes (okay, Lowry played 25:04), the Grizzlies only played one of their starters at all (Tony Allen), with Mike Conley, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol all sitting this one out.

If you’re wondering, Valanciunas took a dunk in the face from Marreese Speights, picked up five fouls and committed four turnovers in just 20:36 of action, which is a bit concerning considering the Grizzlies’ “B” team was his competition, but Jonas also finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and a block.

Jerryd Bayless, surely out to prove a point, finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists in just over 19 minutes.

Lastly in my piling on of pessimism, the 6-1 record looks good, but I’m forced to remind you that five of those games were played in Canada, and that the Raptors’ wins came against a Euroleague team, the Pistons, the Wizards, the Bucks and the Grizzlies’ reserves, with a win against the Knicks in Montreal being the lone impressive W of the pre-season.

Having said all of that, you can only beat who they throw in front of you, and to their credit, the Raptors found a way to get the job done six out of seven times. I’ll always maintain that the only thing a really good pre-season record tells me is that a team is deep, and probably got wins because their bench and third string guys are better than the other team’s bench and third string guys. I think it’s safe to say that was the story of this stretch for Toronto.

In any event, here’s an interesting stat tweeted by NBA writer John Schuhmann. Make with it what you will.

(Schuhmann didn’t include 2011 pre-season numbers because teams only played two games each in the condensed schedule)

To me, the most important part of the pre-season is the fact that the Raptors got through it relatively healthy, with only minor bumps and short term scares along the way, and that for the most part, Jonas Valanciunas more than held his own against a few legit NBA big men.

Other positives were the overall play of the three-deep point guard rotation, DeMar DeRozan’s willingness to take smaller wings into the post and the fact that Andrea Bargnani’s offence seemed to finally start clicking in the last few games. Also, while his lack of three-point prowess and shooting in general is starting to concern me (he finished the pre-season 1-of-8 from behind the arc and 40% from the floor), Landry Fields still found a way to be useful within the offence, moving exceptionally well off of the ball to create spacing, and even proving to be a little craftier in getting to the rim than I thought he was.

In reality though, we’ll probably forget most of what we saw or thought we learned in the pre-season once we’re knee deep in the regular season, as we should.

Now we get less than a week of waiting before the real fun begins.

I don’t know if we’ll have anything else for you this weekend, and I assume the team will have a day off to attend a pasta party at “Mr. Primo’s” crib, but we’ll have plenty of content for you next week to ring in our version of the New Year, including some preview and prediction posts, as well as a special season preview episode of RaptorBlog Radio, featuring an interview with Dwane Casey.

Until then…

Comments (10)

  1. I’m surprised you don’t have more to say about Bayless

    • Scott and I were both very vocal (both in written form and audio form) that we hoped Bayless would be retained, and I spent a ton of words on him last season. I wanted to keep this as short as possible since we all want to just get the pre-season over with and get on to the real stuff, but I imagine somewhere along the line this season, I’ll find words for him, especially if he gets off to a good start or torches the Raptors.

  2. this preseason has me terribly excited for going to the raptors/nets game on saturday next weekend

  3. I’m going to take a moment to appreciate this time of optimism. Not that I think it’s bound to be snuffed out, but, well, past years don’t engender confidence.

    It’s great to go into a season with the team having legitimate strengths. Our point guard play will be superior most of the time, defense should be as well, which is a minor miracle based on club history. If Derozan can score efficiently and Fields finds his 3 pt shot, I’m going to talk myself into thinking they’re playoff bound. Oh, preseason.

  4. Why so negative with your blog?? When I was reading this I felt like your just waiting for them to lose. Why don’t you be a little more optimistic like Jays of Thunder and start writing more positive. I’m really hoping for a 500% record(or better) and a 8th or 7th place playoff spot…Raptors Fan For Life

    • Yes to this. Amazing how so many of these so called fan blogs regularly use their space to drip out sardonic comments like they’re oh so bored of it all. Wanna have some fun? Mention how good Bargnani is and watch the fireworks. They’ll crawl out of the woodwork to lambaste him like he stole their first born. No wonder with all the Raptors fans out there, there are only five comments posted here.

      • I hope you come back for the regular season, NY Raptors fan. I will enjoy watching you rile up some of the regular commenters, as well as being riled up yourself any time I have to be a little critical of the team.

        • Not riled! But I’m yelling my go-nads off at my boys on behalf of YOUR Raptors team and y’all don’t help a fella out all too much. knicks fans bitch to each the other about this player and that one but they don’t go on like you lot do. frankly. I don’t wanna make anyone mad and I never heard many bad things said about Raptors fans but you boys sure do spray the venom on things that dont’ right make sense to some of us. (I’m trashed by the way. My apologies.) I know there are good ones up there, heard y’all yelling plenty at Vi Carter a few times and Im a transplanted Mavericks fan and still love the Mavs, I moved here from Dallas before he went there so I don’t much care about that. anyway, but HATE the Knicks and now, for my own reasons I love or at least really like the Raptors. And some Knicks fans really like your team and think there better than theie own team is. Got to go. Good luck. And BE NIC E TO YOUR TEAM. Y’all take care now.

          • If you hate, sorry, “HATE” the Knicks, you are indeed a friend of ours.

    • Don’t know what you mean about me being “negative.” I’m being realistic about the pre-season. Exhibition records are little more than a sign about your team’s depth, and even the most optimistic fan has to recognize the poor starts and the turnovers, as well as recognizing that the Raps didn’t exactly beat any impressive teams (again, the Grizz only played one starter). I’m actually pretty optimistic about the direction of this team, and have been expressing that, for the most part, throughout the off-season and pre-season.

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