A poor second half effort did the Raptors in against a very good Warriors team at the ACC.

Here are some thoughts on the game…

Warriors 114, Raptors 102

- I know a lot of people will simply look at this game as the Raptors losing to a better team, but Toronto’s effort and desperation levels were nowhere near where they needed to be to give themselves a chance in this game. When the Raptors lost to a bad Cavs team on Saturday night, I actually thought the effort was there, but the late game execution was not. Against a good Warriors team, the Raps just looked lazy on both ends of the floor and almost disinterested at the most crucial points of the game.

- On Saturday, the Raptors quickly blew an 11-point fourth quarter lead with Kyrie Irving resting on the bench. On Monday, after battling back from a double-digit deficit in the third quarter to actually take the lead, the Raptors then let the game slip away from them again with Stephen Curry out of the game (he left with an apparent foot injury) and David Lee, Klay Thompson and Andrew Bogut all sitting on the bench. By the time Golden State’s starters checked back in, the Warriors were in control and the Raptors showed little fight.

- A big chunk of that early fourth quarter lapse occurred while John Lucas ran the second unit (Kyle Lowry sat out due to back spasms). I obviously understand the need to rest your key players for the first few minutes of the fourth quarter, but Dwane Casey seems to wait way too long to bring his closing unit back in the game or to make key fourth quarter substitutions. Case in point, when Lucas checked in to start the fourth, I was thinking, “If JL3 can just give the Raptors three to four solid minutes at the most and keep things close until Calderon gets back in, the Raptors could be in good shape with Curry out.”

Well at the 9:00 mark, the Raptors were only down three, and Casey should have thought about bringing Calderon back in then. At the 8:00 mark, the hole had grown to seven with Lucas running a stagnant offence and Calderon should have definitely been back in the game. Instead, Casey waited until the 6:07 mark to make the change, and by that time, the deficit had grown to nine. It wasn’t an insurmountable hole by any stretch, but it still shouldn’t have taken half the fourth quarter – with the Raptors shooting 1-of-10 to open the final frame – to get Jose back in.

- Having said all of that, when Calderon finally did check back in, it was some of the most uninspired play from him I’ve seen all season. He was slowing things down to a crawl on offence despite the Raptors playing from behind and looked absolutely awful again on the defensive end, where Jarrett Jack dominated him in the fourth. It was just downright ugly.

- Aaron Gray put together a performance for the ages for a guy of Gray’s limited skillset. He finished with 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting to go with 10 rebounds, two steals and an assist in over 31 minutes of action. Gray did most of his damage by grabbing offensive rebounds and finishing putbacks, but hey, on a night when quite a few Raptors failed to show up, I’m not going to take anything away from him. He had a great game and that’s the end of it.

I do still believe this though.

- DeMar DeRozan’s passing, offensive reads with the ball in his hands and his overall court vision were all things we saw major improvements in during his impressive start to the season, but we also saw those improvements taper off through the first few weeks of January. Well it appears as though DeMar has taken that court vision to a new level, as DeRozan finished with a game-high nine assists compared to just one turnover and has now recorded 25 assists over his last four games. His own scoring remains inconsistent and he settled for too many jumpers tonight en route to a 7-of-18 performance from the field, but at least we’re starting to see that development again.

- The Warriors controlled the inside tonight, out-rebounding the Raptors 49-37 and outscoring them in the paint by a ridiculous margin of 62-34. Ouch.

- As mentioned in the pre-game thread, if Andrew Bogut can stay healthy in the middle and if Curry can stay upright, the Warriors look like a team that can make some noise and maybe even cause an upset again in the playoffs. A lot of people ripped him last season, but Mark Jackson deserves some serious Coach Of the Year consideration right now.

- It boggles my mind that some Raptors fans were talking playoffs again before this game because of the Rajon Rondo injury in Boston. You know who should be thinking playoffs? Philadelphia, the ninth-place team in the East that rallied from a 19-point second half deficit and a four-point deficit in the final nine seconds against the Raptors to win the season series. Raptors fans have no business scoreboard watching for the eighth seed right now, and I’ve maintained that since they blew huge leads to the then eighth-place Bucks and ninth-place Sixers in two losses that came five days apart. If by some outside chance the Raps begin to beat good teams while also taking care of weak teams to get back within 2-3 games, then we can talk, but I don’t understand why some fans I talk to just seem to assume Toronto will beat up on weaker teams to set up “big” games against the teams they’re chasing.

Is it impossible? No, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Raptors Player Of the Game: Aaron Gray – 22 Pts, 9/12 FG, 4/4 FT, 10 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 TO in 31:36

Warriors Player Of the Game: David Lee – 21 Pts, 10/17 FG, 1/2 FT, 12 Reb, 7 Ast, 3 TO in 44:05

Comments (6)

  1. I know I have criticized DD, but I have liked his passing over the last few games. He needs to play a complete game for him to grow as a player.

  2. Still waiting for any kind of change, hopefully a winless week will increase chances of one.

  3. well said – you pointed out so many things I was think when watching the game last night!

  4. I’m a big DD fan. I think his humbleness, desire to improve his game and what seems like his genuine love of the city is a nice change of pace to what us Raptor’s fans are used to. The raw potential and talent are definitely there, but I think what makes him so likeable to me is also what stands in his way of becoming a potential all-star.

    There was a point in the game last night where the Warriors turned the ball over and it left DD with the ball outside the three-point line with Gray under the hoop with Bogut. If DD had the killer instinct that a lot of players have he would’ve tried to throw down all over Bogut. Worst case scenario he doesn’t get the basket, but he’s probably fouled, or Gray gets the rebound. Instead DD tried to dish it off the Gray, who was then promptly blocked by Bogut.

    What makes this non-play more frustrating was seeing a guy like Harrison Barnes put Gray on a poster later in the game. Bottom line is I’ll continue to support DD, but I think I realized at that point that he just doesn’t have that killer instinct that he need’s to have to take his game to the next level.

  5. we have lost too many games because of Dwyane Casey’s poor late game management.
    I don’t blame Jose, it’s Very Difficult to come back from a 9 point game and if his composure was lackluster, its pretty understandable why.

    Dwayne Casey, is great at getting the most out of his players, but it is as though he isn’t very intelligent. The reason we are able to stay so close for the first 3 quarters for most games is because most coaches stick to some kinda regular season rotation. This allows players to find a rythm, and know where and when there minutes are coming. BUT, Come fourth quarter (WINNING TIME) that kind of stuff needs to go out the window. In the fourth quarter, decisions need to be made based on matchups, the timing of runs, injuries etc. Basically, Dwyane has to forget his rotations, if that means riding Jose hard while Kyle Lowry is out, so be it. We can’t watch just watch John Lucas run this team into the ground.

    I don’t know WHY Dwayne Casey is unable to see what i feel most of us clearly can agree on (subbing Jose earlier would have been the obvious solution), But he has to figure it out., this is when good game time coaching matters. Otherwise, I don’t see him being a permanent head coach anywhere in this league.

  6. WTF was Casey thinking by letting John Lucas stay in the game for so long in the fourth quarter? That decision single handedly cost us any chance of winning this game.

    Also, happy to see Aaron Gray have a good game. We really need him to look more for his shot when he’s on the court. Too many times I see him get the ball around the paint area and just look to dish it off immediately.

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