I came into Saturday’s game thinking the Raptors could take two from Philly and Utah to temporarily right the ship and stem off the early panic. I came out of this game thinking this team is a loss against Utah on Monday away from cementing the beginning of a disastrous season, though I do understand how short sighted that seems.

Here are some thoughts on yet another frustrating loss:

76ers 93, Raptors 83

- The defensive focus and overall effort from the Raptors to start the game had me encouraged, as the team built a quick 22-12 lead, and still looked fine up by six at the end of the quarter. As anyone who watched this game or looked at the boxscore will know by now, an absolutely atrocious second quarter doomed Toronto tonight. In what will likely go down as one of the worst quarters I’ll ever see at home, the Raptors went 2-of-20 from the field, seemed content to die by the long jump shot without crashing the boards, and then subsequently let that lack of offence translate into a poor defensive effort. The final result: a 32-7 second quarter advantage for the Sixers (which included a 16-6 advantage on the boards) to send the Raps into the half down 19.

- Dwane Casey’s rotations in the last two games have been both puzzling and disturbing. On Wednesday, he stuck with an anemic lineup of John Lucas III, Alan Anderson, Dominic McGuire, Quincy Acy and Amir Johnson for too long while the Raptors were fighting to get back in the game in Dallas. On Saturday, his insistence on rolling a complete five man bench unit to start the second quarter, especially when tonight’s starters already included two usual bench guys, played a part in the Raptors digging themselves a hole in that second frame.

The loose rotations in games that are becoming more important with each passing loss are even more puzzling when you consider that Casey originally mentioned that his ideal rotation would consist of only eight or nine players. Also, while the “he was just trying to find a combination that worked” argument is valid on some nights, it wasn’t valid in this game, where the starters were clearly working well together to start both halves.

If Casey had a two-game stretch like this last season when it came to his rotation, I honestly would have believed that he was under pressure to tank, but that obviously can’t be the case this season, so what gives, coach? We’ve all seen Casey work defensive wonders and get every ounce out of a much worse team, and most of us have faith in the guy as a very good NBA coach, which only makes his decisions in the past two games even more confusing.

- No decision on playing time hurt the team more tonight than the lack of Jonas Valanciunas, who was probably the team’s best player when he was on the court. Valanciunas’ energy, effort on the boards and overall presence inside were major factors in the Raptors getting out to a good start, but Casey stayed away from him for far too long. Jonas was pulled midway through the first quarter and didn’t get back out on the floor until midway through the second quarter. Then in the second half, JV played the first eight minutes of the third quarter without touching the floor again after that. Even worse, Valanciunas saw this limited action while only picking up two fouls, so there was really no reason to keep him off the floor unless he was hurt.

Valanciunas finished with eight points, eight rebounds and a block in 20 minutes of hard nosed interior basketball. Amir Johnson, who replaced JV, played nearly the same amount of time (18:41 compared to JV’s 20:18) while only contributing two points, four rebounds and two blocks while also picking up five fouls. There have been nights this season, and there will be going forward, where Johnson or another bench big is needed to come in and spell a struggling Valanciunas or a Valanciunas in foul trouble, but tonight was definitely not one of those nights, and the lack of Jonas in this game went a long way in helping Philly build an insurmountable lead.

- This buzzer beating alleyoop from Calderon to Johnson, which cut the deficit down to seven heading into the fourth quarter, gave the sell out crowd some reason to believe

Unfortunately, every time the Raptors made a run to close the gap to seven or eight, they’d commit a foolish turnover or try to force an unnecessary shot. As much as they dug themselves a hole in the first half, they did plenty of shooting themselves in the foot in the second half.

- Alan Anderson, who made a couple of those aforementioned poor decisions in the second half, left the game with what the team is calling a sprained left foot. With Landry Fields already nursing an unknown issue with his shooting hand and Terrence Ross slowly starting to look more comfortable on an NBA court, I’m hoping the rookie can earn some more minutes in the near future.

- DeMar DeRozan’s final numbers weren’t bad (19 points, six rebounds), but his zero assists speak to his reluctance to move the ball tonight and his forcing up some tough shots in the second half, even more disheartening since we were lauding his impressive seven assists and surprising offensive awareness just a few nights ago.

- Linas Kleiza marked his return to the lineup with a sparkling performance of 0 points on 0-of-1 shooting to go along with two rebounds, 0 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks and a +/- of -20 in just 12 minutes of action. Welcome back, Linas.

- Perhaps nothing summed up this game quite like the in-arena contest featured during one of the TV timeouts. The fan contestant had to predict what vacation destination could be spelled out with the following hints: _ _ S _ _ G _ _

The obvious answer, even without every fan in attendance yelling it, was “Las Vegas,” but I at least could’ve accepted “Los Angeles” if the guy just didn’t count the amount of letters properly. Instead, he went with the ridiculous answer of “Seattle,” and was mercilessly booed off of the court, just as the Raptors themselves were in the second quarter.

Raptors Player of the Game: Jose Calderon – 14 Pts, 5/11 FG, 4/7 3PT, 11 Ast, 3 Reb, 1 Blk, 4 TO in 38:24 (Valanciunas would have been the pick with a few extra minutes)

76ers Player of the Game: Spencer Hawes – 12 Pts, 5/10 FG, 2/4 FT, 11 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 TO in 23:24

Right now this team just hasn’t looked capable of putting together 48 minutes of full effort basketball, particularly on the defensive end, which you know has to have Dwane Casey concerned. They’ll need their best effort of the young season on Monday against the Jazz, because again, heading out to Indiana and Boston with a 1-6 record on the heels of four straight losses and two straight at home is a recipe for disaster.

How long until hopeful fans start referencing the start to the 2006-07 season as comfort?

Comments (26)

  1. Uh….

    At least the pick is top 3 protected.

    • The only way we get a top 3 is with a lucky bounce from the Ping Pong balls – look at some of the other teams.
      6 games in bro

      • I understand, but nothing they are doing on the court is worth hanging my hat on at the moment.

        I just want them to get through this 22 game stretch without falling too far behind but it’s tough to see them being consistently competitive until Lowry gets back.

  2. This team could really use another top 3 pick.

  3. Keep Lowry off the floor for the rest of the year. He’s too good to let the team be as terrible as we need them to be. Yet again.

  4. What is tucking run with this team now?

  5. Building a team around Bargnani is certainly a failure. Why not Trade Bargnani or bring him off the bench! Its time out team takes some responsibility and Colangelo needs to go. Derozan has never shown that he’s different than Sonny Weems. The points he puts in aren’t that great. We should have traded for Harden when we had a chance. We still can’t play defense and our offense only minded players can’t play offense. Its true that this team is cursed. That quarter was the worst quarter ever. How do you only score 7 points, that’s including one 3-pointer?

    • Honestly, let’s not pretend we actually had a real chance at Harden. As far as I remember it was a rumor with no solid source but I keep reading people making it out to be like the trade was a about to go down but BC decided to shoot it down. I also can’t see JV with no other draft picks enticing enough for OKC.

      Also, given BC’s history of trades, you think he would not jump on a trade like that?

      Other than that I mostly agree with everything.

      • Harden for demar, bargnani and first round pick! :) I believe okc wanted bargnani in any deal but colangelo won’t give him up. Bargs is his legacy. I want to know what the stats was on how many fans left the game after that quarter?

        I’m watching this second quarter for the second time. We just had such bad luck. Philly mad every turnover count. Wow such a bad quarter

        • OKC did not want Bargnani, I’m positive of that.

          OKC wanted JV in the deal, and probably also wanted DeRozan and/or Davis included with him.

          While I don’t think Colangelo is wrong to not want to give up JV, I just hope it wasn’t because Colangelo wasn’t willing to negotiate with OKC at all. I would have liked to see him trade anyone except for Lowry and JV to get a deal done for Harden.

          • and the chance that Harden leaves at the end of the year
            Toronto was never in the equation

          • Are you saying Harden would have left Toronto at the end of the season? Doubt it, he was in it for the money.

          • Great tax situation in Texas, TO not so good.

            Would of been a huge gamble.

          • I’m not suggesting that the Raptors would trade with the hopes that he resigns – there would have to be some sort of agreement prior to the trade.

            Since the Raptors would have been able to give Harden the max contract he wanted, there’s probably no question he would have stayed.

  6. The Raptors played hard and kept it close with Philly despite allowing the Sixers to shoot 47% from the field while the Raptors shot 39%. Despite their second quarter collapse, it should be noted that Toronto kept in striking distance for the entire game and never gave up, especially on the defensive end. One thing for certain, however: Jonas needs to play more minutes. Casey not playing him does not help the raptors, Val or himself.

  7. Here is the sad part for me. Well, two sad parts, but they are related. First off, the dipshit broadcaster of the game last night that thought ANY college sport should take precedence over a professional sport. Missed the first 18 minutes of the broadcast because of some crap college game (going late or whatever).

    Secondly, the sad part, it must have been mentioned in the missing part of the broadcast as to why Landry Fields wasn’t playing. However, I didn’t even notice his absence until it was mentioned again until the very end of the third quarter.

    That is what it has come to Landry. So, here is what you need to do. Get your GF to slap you hard everyday until you pull yourself out of this funk and start playing like we know you are capable of as you showed in your first year in the league.

    Otherwise, you’ll continue to be an out of sight, out of mind, end of bench player for this team.

    PS, I still have no idea why you weren’t around last night.

  8. Bring back Gray!

  9. How about Bargs showing some outward frustration after an Alan Anderson turnover on the offensive end and then a vicious slap to the stanchion after the resulting and-1 the other way. For a few seconds it looked as if Bargs actually cared.

    • That’s the standard Bargnani game — great and active for one quarter, so-so for one quarter, miserable for another quarter (and 12 minutes of rest).

  10. Step by step for derozan… He’s at least rebounding at a much better clip than last year. All you can ask that is he is improving…. improvements = hope.

    • Agreed – complaining about DD right now is just plain stupid. He’s far from complete, but he’s also making clear progress in developing his game.

      Even with the Bargs complaints, I don’t understand why this team’s defence has been so poor so often this year. Given the coach and the personnel, they should be better on D.

  11. the more and more i watch bargs has got to go. He is extremely 1 dimentional in his offence often settle for out side shots instead of putting it on the floor to put pressure on the D. Also i really like demar’s aggression at the hoop. Him and anderson seemed like they were the only people willing to get to the rim. Demar stopped dishing the ball last night because he rarely gets his touches. Jose failed to push the ball and give it to Demar on the run. Demar is out biggest offensive threat and its about time casey makes him one of the focal points in our offence.

  12. This is a good high school team..that’s it. They can’t play with men. Who in their right mind would pay good money to watch them play live? Sad to say, only a Trawnaonian.
    Your hard earned money deposited right into rich shareholders pockets…
    WAKE UP and boycott this silliness.
    I love bball, but the Rap’s are not bball.

  13. though there are injuries now, even before that Casey’s rotations were frustrating and confusing to me. i like the guy but someone needs to take his “depth” away

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