Let the good times roll! The Raptors have won three straight games in rather convincing fashion while using an undermanned rotation. The group that has played these last four games in no way resembles the team that played the first 22 games. This group plays like a team – they move the ball quickly on offence, they pass up good shots for great shots, they hustle back on defence, and they communicate and trust each other to make the proper rotations. It’s very cliched, but everyone who stepped on the floor tonight for Toronto was playing “team” basketball.

Here are some thoughts on the game:

Raptors 113, Cavaliers 99

-When Jose Calderon is the starting point guard, it’s crucial that he makes one or two screen-and-roll jump shots in the first quarter. If the defence is constantly going under the screen and Jose can’t make them pay, he becomes very ineffective and the offence stalls. Late in the second quarter, Calderon recorded his 5,000th career point (5th most in team history). He continued to give Cleveland fits all night off the screen-and-roll, finishing the game with 23 pts on 10-of-15 shooting, and that shooting opened up everything else for his teammates.

-There is no question Calderon is bringing a higher level of intensity as the starter than he did as a reserve, especially on the defensive end. Against Houston, he did a fantastic job defending Jeremy Lin and tonight he gave a complete effort defending Kyrie Irving. Calderon still doesn’t have the foot speed to defend most point guards, so giving 100 per cent effort is a must. When he returns to his bench role, it will be his defence that determines how much playing time Dwane Casey can give the two-point-guard lineup.

- Calderon’s deficiencies on offence can be summed up in one play. With the shot clock winding down in the middle of the third quarter, he fired a jump pass to DeRozan with six seconds left. Calderon can’t create his own shot without a screen and that means he often has to dish off to DeRozan or another player with little time on the shot clock. This puts said player in a very low percentage situation.

-Yes, the Alan Anderson era is officially upon us! In the fourth quarter, when John Lucas was struggling to defend Kyrie Irving, Coach Casey decided to put Anderson on Irving. This kind of versatility on defence is extremely valuable. Anderson had a fantastic all around game, leading bench scorers with 18 poits. There is no major flaw in his game and the 3-1 4-1 record when he plays 20+ minutes is no coincidence.

- There isn’t a lot of logic in keeping Mickael Pietrus in the starting lineup at this point when Anderson is proving to be a far superior talent. Ideally, I would like to see a three-man wing rotation of DeRozan, Anderson and Terrence Ross.

-This makes sense, considering Anderson and Amir are two of the most well-rounded players on the team. Both guys make quick rotations on defence and both guys have the ability to score in a variety of ways.

- Amir Johnson woke up in the fourth quarter for the second game in a row. He made two fantastic decisions to drive the ball as opposed to settling for a mid-range jump shot. Both decisions resulted in three-point plays at the rim. Now that teams are respecting Amir’s mid-range, he should be putting the ball on the floor more frequently.

- Anderson Varejao made several hard drives to the basket in the first quarter and I LOVED how Toronto responded with two hard fouls in the second quarter. When the opposition is going to the basket at will, the fastest and easiest way to stop that from happening is to put someone on their ass. Even though the second foul on Amir was a flagrant, it was worth while. Varejao finished the game with a career-high 16 free throw attempts, but most of those came in the first half.

- DeMar DeRozan had two very aggressive drives in the first quarter. His handle is finally tight enough to beat a lot of 2-guards off the dribble. If/when he moves to the small forward spot to accommodate Terrence Ross in the starting lineup, DeMar will have an even easier time getting to the hoop.

-Terrence Ross has incredible foot speed. He is three or four inches taller than Dion Waiters – who has a very good handle – and yet Waiters had no chance to beat him off the dribble.

- Jonas Valanciunas played very well in limited action, finishing with eight points and seven rebounds in 19 minutes. Casey has used a very small lineup down the stretch in the last two games, which has left JV on the bench. The small lineup has worked well and it’s by no means an indictment of JV’s play.

- The Cavs beat up Toronto on the offensive glass in the first half, but this really didn’t concern me once I thought about how much worse it would be if Andrea Bargnani was playing.

- The ball movement in the last two games has been something of a revelation. Interior passing between the big man and “hockey assists” have been a regular occurrence. It’s hard to believe that Bargnani’s ball-stopping tendencies are not responsible for the lack of ball movement when he’s in the lineup.

- Interesting debate as to whether Toronto is a better team when Andrea Bargnani doesn’t see the floor. Although I absolutely believe they are better with Ed Davis in the starting lineup, I can’t say they are a better team with Bargs not playing until I see him in a bench role. I don’t necessarily believe he will be inspired by a bench role, but there is no way to tell for sure until he’s placed in that position.

Raptors Player Of the Game: Alan Anderson – 18 Pts, 6/12 FG, 5/7 3PT, 1/2 FT, 6 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl in 32 mins

Cavaliers Player Of the Game: Luke Walton…kidding! Anderson Varejao – 22 Pts, 5/12 FG, 12/16 FT, 10 Reb, 2 Ast in 39 mins

No time to enjoy this victory, as the Raptors host Detroit on Wednesday night at the ACC. Given their current form, the Pistons game is absolutely one Toronto should win. Brandon Knight might give Jose Calderon some problems at the point of attack, but the Raptors – despite their injuries – have a much deeper team. A Friday night date with Orlando is giving Raptors fans visions of a five-game winning streak. Finally, there is reason for optimism.

Comments (44)

  1. I don’t know about you, Oliver, but I am dreaming about how good this team will be when Bargnani returns.

    Raptors in 4 is my Finals prediction.

    • Baby steps, baby steps
      First dream of him coming off the bench.

      Any dreams of getting our first rounder back in exchange of Lowry?

  2. Raptors just needed some new AA batteries

  3. Terrence Ross has incredible foot speed. He is 3 or 4 inches taller than Dion Waiters – who has very good handle – and yet Waiters had no chance to beat him off the dribble.

    Umm..except for the huge dunk by Waiters

    Also, despite Calderon’s offensive “deficiencies”, anyone who has watched the past few games knows that the offense has looked MUCH better with Calderon than it has with Lowry. I understand that Lowry is new, but sometimes Raps fans take what Calderon can do for granted. Watching the Brooklyn/Raps game the other week online, I got to listen to the Nets broadcasters rave about how they love calderon, calling him aggressive and a competitor. Not saying he’s a perfect player, and I agree that he has that “deficiency”, but he makes up for it in a lot of ways because I’m sure he himself is aware of his own limitations, unlike some players.

    • I share your sentiment very much. Don’t get me wrong, I like Lowry and his passionate play, but a lot of the time it seems that he is much more concerned for creating for himself rather than the team. We said that he was a pass first PG before coming here but now I start to doubt that.

    • Well said. How many “back-up” PGs get triple doubles? He’s not Chris Paul but he’s a solid player. Even when he has a good game his “deficiencies” get brought up. I personally hope he leaves and goes to a good team so Rap fans can see what the offense looks like with Lowry and Lucas running it.

    • “…sometimes Raps fans take what Calderon can do for granted. ”

      I would say it’s more than sometimes. I can’t believe how much flak Calderon gets until someone replaces him, and then when he returns everyone can’t believe how much better the offense looks. It happens year after year.

      • The flak is not coming from problems on the offensive side of the ball.

        It’s his defence and I know some will say that Calderon is not the worst defender or he’s gotten better and that Nash is just as poor a defender , but Jose doesn’t fight through screens or get his body into anyone really.

        Good teams stop or at least slow down dribble penetration. You can’t win if you can’t stop dribble penetration and that’s where all of my concerns are with him.

  4. Bargnani’s return doesn’t matter, as the Raptors will finish their existence on Friday with a win against Orlando. The Mayan Apocalypse doesn’t care that the ‘final’ standings will show an incomplete season, so in the end, this little winning streak will be largely moot.

  5. You guys are nit picking now in regards to Calderon. The guy is playing some of his best ball of his career, can’t hate on that

  6. When Bargnani returns, I really hope he comes off the bench and shows his scoring is. The raptors are much more exciting with the ball movement. I couldn’t stand when bosh/bargnani just hold the ball for 8 seconds doing nothing. I’ve always loved Calderon, but his defense is pretty bad. But again everyone has their weaknesses. It was great to see Davis and others helping Calderon double team Irving. If they keep this up the raptors will be able to plug any holes that Calderon has. Good stuff guys. I agree the streak may just stop at 4 but I’m hoping for 5.

    • dont diss bosh he is the second best raptor ever

    • Bosh was incredibly efficient, that chucker Bargnani doesn’t belong in the same universe as him.

    • You might try watching the other Raptors on D. I haven’t seen one of them not get blow by. As Anderson said that in this league anyone can get beaten one on one. D has to be a team effort. So all of this shitting on Jose’s D is BS. I have watched him over the years and do not see what all of the whining is about. If he is weak on D compared to other PGs then he more than makes up for it running the O. As far as your comment on Bosh that is just ridiculous. As far as I’m concerned he was the best Raptor all time. For years he carried the team and did nothing but get better every year. Gave it everything he had every night and I know the Heat have appreciated him because when Wade and James aren’t playing well he has stepped up and given the team the missing points.

      • Bosh was horrible. He was horrible on defense. Couldn’t rebound and still can’t. Still too soft. For a guy who was ‘leading’ our team he wasn’t a leader in the lockerroom nor on the floor.

        • I agree he is not a leader but by calling him horrible makes you an idiot.

          • That’s what you get from Bargnani apologists, they can’t even criticize how much he stagnates the offense without lumping someone else with him who was actually great.

            What a sad bunch.

          • The Toronto fans/organization definitely overrated Bosh as a player. Yes he got his points and rebounds (at his height, he should), but he was soft and couldn’t defend other true big men in the league. Not to mention the fact that he was almost a no-show in the clutch (more sloppy than anything), he was a poor leader (voiced by his own teammates) and not the type of player you build a team around. The guy is an all-star at best, but no superstar. Anyone true fans that have watched this team consistently over the last number of years should be able to realize all these things. Quite frankly, I’m glad he’s gone. The raptors need a superstar, and that might be the only way we could ever hope of contending.

        • Wasn’t Bosh averaging nearly 25 and 10 in his last year here? Name me a player who is a scorer, rebounder, can play D, and be a leader? Maybe Lebron James? That’s why he’s the MVP and one of the best to play the game. They don’t come around too often buddy. Chris Bosh keeps up this pace he’ll be in the HOF. More than you can say for any other Raptor.

          • He will be a HOFamer.

            One more ring and a few more healthy seasons and he gets in.

          • Oh please, he still wouldn’t have any rings if it weren’t for the fact he realized he wasn’t actually a superstar, and decided to ride the coattails of his buddies in Miami.

            There’s a reason why many commentators/ex-players refuse to acknowledge the presence of a ‘big 3′ on the heat. Bosh is the 3rd, probably even 4th best player on that team.

            Stop drinking the leftover kool-aid that was used to fool Raptor fans so many years ago.

        • dude he was the highest rebounding raptor of all time… and he averaged 11 rebounds a game at his hieght he was top 10 in the league for double doubles

          he was consistently shooting over 50% over 80% from free throws and could hit from the three point line so your must be taking something. People may call him soft but he still basically single handedly got us into the playoffs twice…. We just didn’t have any help for the guy to get us further than early first round exits.

          That is the end of feeding trolls

          • The Toronto fans/organization definitely overrated Bosh as a player. Yes he got his points and rebounds (at his height, he should), but he was soft and couldn’t defend other true big men in the league. Not to mention the fact that he was almost a no-show in the clutch (more sloppy than anything), he was a poor leader (voiced by his own teammates) and not the type of player you build a team around. The guy is an all-star at best, but no superstar. Any true fans that have watched this team consistently over the last number of years should be able to realize all these things. Quite frankly, I’m glad he’s gone. The raptors need a superstar, and that might be the only way we could ever hope to contend in this league.

          • I think most people realize the reality of what Bosh was and what this team was going to accomplish/not going to accomplish with him.

            However, not only was a pretty damn great bordering on elite offensive player for his position but Bargnani being forced into that lead scorer role and horribly falling flat on his face over the last 3 seasons has made me appreciate what Bosh did while he was here even more.

            Toronto fans are just weird, hate the guy for leaving but don’t try to change the reality of how good he was when he was here.

          • Preach, TTF

            Amen!

          • Oh please, he still wouldn’t have any rings if it weren’t for the fact he realized he wasn’t actually a superstar, and decided to ride the coattails of his buddies in Miami.

            There’s a reason why many commentators/ex-players refuse to acknowledge the presence of a ‘big 3′ on the heat. Bosh is the 3rd, probably even 4th best player on that team.

            Stop drinking the leftover kool-aid that was used to fool Raptor fans so many years ago.

      • GET OFF HIS BALL SACK YOU SOUND LIKE A FOOL! BOSH IS A 3RD OPTION

  7. I forgot to mention. If we trade calderon can we add long two linus with him? This way whomever takes Calderon’s expiring contract can take Linus’s idiotic one.

    • My “Long-two Linas” nickname has finally caught on! My work here is done…

      But in all seriousness, Kleiza only has a $4.6 million player option for next season and is one of the few Raptors whose contract is amnestyable, so I’m not saying, I’m just saying…

      • I remember when a “long two” shooter was known as having a good “mid-range” game. It was a positive, and the lack of it in recent years was cause for concern. It’s not as if Kleiza doesn’t shoot (and make) treys, so the nickname is a little misleading.

        • Long two’s are an incredibly inefficient shot and is an offense killer. A mid range shot is in and around the free throw line. Anything shot after that should be taken as a 3 for the extra point. Theory dictates that the closer you are to the basket, the easier it is to score. Settling for long two’s means doing double the work for less of a reward than a shot at the rim, where the player could get the and 1. Also long two’s lead to long rebounds, which leads to fastbreaks and easy baskets for the other team. Meaning long two’s affect both sides of the ball. Long two linas lives!

    • Kleiza is horrible and i feel sick everytime I see him check into a game

  8. Watching the ball move on offence the last few games has been a thing of beauty. Really reminds me of the offence the 06/07 raptors team played. When the ball moves on offence I find this team plays harder on defence. Please Casey make sure you stick by your word this time and play players who play team ball even when Lowry and bargnani come back. PLEASE!!! If Colangelo tells you to do otherwise tell him to fuck off!

    • I remember when Oakley used to do those long two pointers. Him and Keon. I always felt it was a useless shot. Take a couple steps back and get a 3 pointer.

  9. That is so funny. You are waiting to see how Bargs does off the bench but you wonder how Jose does when he goes back to a bench role. If the Raps put Jose back on the bench for anybody except Nash then they aren’t trying to win. While Jose is playing exceptional personal ball you should be able to see what happened to the assist to FG ratio. It’s up. Way up.That is not Jose playing better personally that is Jose running this team the way he can. If Lowry can’t come off the bench then just trade him for a first round draft pick. I hear he’s worth that.
    As far as Bargs goes he will do just fine with someone to feed him the ball and once Casey gets him off the 3 point line. They had him playing centre and it’s a big adjustment to go to open court shooter with little post up in his game. Something he worked hard on to develop. This is his first year to regress and I don’t think it’s a coincidence as he learns to play with a new PG who doesn’t know him. I really put this on Casey because a coach has to be able to see that.

  10. a very convincing win so far this season…the pace we play and the 12-2 run in 4th is much more than what i expected from my road expectation.

    tell you what…put Bargnani in DNP when he is back because ED is 100 times better right now, especially in offensive end as he create so many space either by drawing 2 defender or passing the ball to VAL,looking in 3rd quarter as ED is really bring the entire starting unit in a productive offensive flow.

    i really like the front court with VAL and ED pair each other and please,please don’t let Bargnani rain this when he is back(i would rather he completely out of this season)

  11. We will have won as many games this season with a win tonight as we have all year with both Bargnani and Lowry on court. Lowry is not working out. I think the best trade option, and a deal that makes sense for both teams is:

    Collison, Carter and Dallas’s 1st round draft pick
    for Bargnani and Lowry

    Lowry and Collison are interchangable players (Collison though averages 1 more assist per game). Bargnani has more potential currently than Carter and is younger, with Dirk perhaps he’ll finally bloom. Carter can end his playing career in Toronto, as a key bench player for the team. Plus we get a first round draft pick.

    I think it is a great deal for both teams.

    Comments? Please forward to GM Colangelo. Let’s get it done already!

  12. team is playing better when holding opponents to less than 100 points. HOw did the D improve so much??

  13. I’m a little shocked there were no comments on the horrible ref job last night.

    On the other hand, I suppose it is more shocking to people that the Raps have won three in a row.

    I’m still loving the Alan Anderson Experience. I hope he is allowed to keep doing what he does so well. Jose going one on one vs anybody is still an open invitation to blow by him – as long as you can stand the clapping. That said, if we are able to keep him as a $5M/yr backup for a couple more years… I’d do it. His substitute starter play has always forced the best out of the number one point guards in the past. I’m sure it would keep Lowry giving 100% as well. Plus, Lowry might learn a thing or two about passing and trusting your team mates.

    DD got a lot of stealth points last night. His stat line surprised me. Well done DD.

    Well, it looks like we’ve decided to toss the shot at a top 3 pick, so Go Raps Go! Win the rest of the games this year! I doubt you’ll make the playoffs, but I want to enjoy watching you grow and improve together.

  14. One thing I’d like to add is people want the raptors to essentially dump the team and start completely from scratch. It’s not that easy You need to factor in salaries. You also need to factor in development time.I think that if you start from scratch you will effectively be looking forward to watching worse basketball than we have during that long 7 game losing stretch. At least this team has shown that it is very capable of winning. A team of all rookies wouldn’t be the best idea. I feel like if you want to build this team the best way to do it is to establish a culture and acquire assets.

    There is all this talk of being a treadmill team. Guess what we aren’t one yet when we are consistently making the playoffs and then dropping out maybe we can have a discussion on whether or not we should start over again but we haven’t gotten there yet. We have Bargs for better or for worse probably at least until the end of the season. Realistically they will trade him leaving us with a “Core” of Demar, Davis, JV, and Lowry (hopefully jose stays). That core group isn’t bad JV is showing he is capable and will be NOAH good in 2 more years. Two more years and Demar will in theory continue his evolution. Two more years and Davis will be a solid starting contributor at least the primary and only back up PF on this team. Just wait and see.

  15. Not trying to overreacted – love him as a player on a good team, but what could we get for lowry?
    Ship him to the Kngs for Isiah Thomas and their first rounder?

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