Washington Wizards v Toronto Raptors

The Wizards have now won three straight and seven of their last nine after Monday’s win in Toronto. They came into this game fresh off wins over Denver and Houston so there was no reason for any Raptors player to be taking this team lightly. Unfortunately, Toronto’s best player had a very indifferent approach to this game and as a result…

Wizards 90, Raptors 84

-Rudy Gay had a nonchalant attitude in this game from the opening whistle. He wasn’t looking for his own shot, he only turned the corner on one screen in the entire first half (resulted in free throws), he threw very lazy passes and he didn’t look focused at all on defence. One play that really irritated me happened midway through the second quarter – Rudy turned over the ball and started jogging back towards his own basket. Amir Johnson was a good 5 feet behind Rudy when both turned to get back on defence. When Amir reached Toronto’s basket, Rudy was 10 feet behind him. Trevor Ariza (Rudy’s check) finished the play with a layup. Only turning it on for the 2nd half/4th quarter, is not a recipe for becoming a great NBA player. Rudy’s lone field goal – a dunk early in the fourth quarter – just served as a reminder of how easy the game CAN be for him.

-There are a number of things I like about the Amir-Jonas frontcourt but primarily I appreciate the fact that you know what you’re getting from them every night and every quarter. There are no questions about what kind of effort or intensity they are bringing. (Yes, this is an indirect shot at Rudy Gay).

-Andrea Bargnani responded to the boos from previous games the way you would want him to respond – he played with intensity at both ends of the floor. The fact that a first overall pick, who is in his 7th season needs to be commended for playing with intensity is a disgrace, but that’s the point we’ve reached with AB.

-Kyle Lowry is fighting himself – he’s looking for the right balance between scoring and passing. This a dilemma for every point guard but with the addition of Rudy Gay and changing roles, Lowry still hasn’t figured out when he needs to take over the offence. In my opinion, Lowry is the second most talented scorer on this team (behind Rudy) and therefore he shouldn’t be worried if he finishes a game with 12-15 shots.

-I feel bad for John Lucas because he’s shooting the lights out over the last month but that’s not what the second unit needs. They need a distributor who will help the other bench players find their rhythm. Other reserves aren’t getting consistent, quality shots when Lucas is out there. Perhaps the best way to solve this problem without benching Lucas, is to play JL3 and Telfair together (at the expense of Anderson’s minutes). There are still major questions about Lucas’ ability to defend, as AJ Price shot over him with ease all night.

-DeMar DeRozan was hands-down the best player on the floor for Toronto. I liked that he started the game by driving to the rim and looking for easy shots. Once he was in a rhythm, he started taking some more difficult fade-away shots.

-We talked about this on today’s podcast – Dwane Casey needs to tweak/re-design his offence. Tonight’s game made this brutally obvious. This system was built around Andrea Bargnani and he is no longer the focus for this team. They need to have multiple post-up plays for Rudy and DeMar and ideally there should be 3-4 picks set on every offensive possession. The offence that we saw tonight looked like 5 guys who just met each other at the YMCA.

-Toronto’s team defence was good but it could have been better. Blown defensive rotations on screen-and-rolls led to 3 of Washington’s 7 first quarter field goals. Transition defence was a bigger problem than Washington’s 17 fast break points would indicate.

Raptors player of the game: DeMar DeRozan – 25 Pts (9/17 FG, 7/9 FT), 4 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 2 TO in 39 mins

Wizards player of the game: Bradley Beal – 20 Pts (8/13 FG, 2/3 3PT FG, 2/2 FT), 6 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO in 39 mins

No time to hang their heads, as every game from here on out becomes more important for Toronto. Wednesday in Cleveland will be a stern test and I look forward to seeing how Rudy Gay responds.

Also, ICYMI – here’s Toronto’s version of the Harlem Shake. I would find this far more entertaining if they hadn’t just lost to the 18-37 Wizards.

Comments (26)

  1. Toronto has played a whole lot of ugly basketball since the Gay trade. Not that they played beautiful ball before … it’s like a new kind of ugly. You are totally right about Casey needing to fix his offensive sets.

  2. it’s all one on one iso. no ball movement. I dont even remember the last time the ball got swung around the perimeter for an open three. My only memories are JL3 holding the ball for 15 seconds, passing to anderson with 5 seconds OTC and than anderson jacking up a shot hitting the rim and bouncing out. Terrible game.

  3. I have wondered lately if AB would be better suited (and the team for that matter) with him in the starting unit and Amir back on the bench. I prefer Amir in the starting line-up but with AB being the next “big” option off the bench, it just might make sense.
    and here’s why – IMO:
    AB has shown he won’t and can’t be the number 1 or 2 option on the floor w/o having a great night – those great nights come once and while. When the (post trade) second unit is on the floor they offer up on offense 3 “I want/need mine” shooters in AB, JL3 and AA while leaving a one true big and an undersized other big to rebound, rim protect, set picks and play defense – when one of those bigs are AB, you really only have 1 big on the floor at that time, and that player is usually undersized.
    Adding AB to the starting unit allows him to “hide” if you will, as the 4th maybe 3rd option – he will be playing with a guard that passes (instead of JL3) and this perhaps can get his confidence back. While the defense is focusing on Rudy, DD and Lowry using AB’s man to often double team or leave AB to help defense on those other 3 – Valancunis banging down low – AB would be left as the open man (and that is his bread and butter).
    His one on one defense is fine, he does add more length to the starting unit (even though he plays like he is 5’9) and adds more 3 point threat to cover up Rudy’s and DD’s horrible feeble 3 point shooting.
    By Adding Amir to second unit (but playing starter minutes) it allows the second unit more strength and size, post scoring and rebounding on the unit. I love Amir – he is a Champion, a Man, a warrior who you can play anywhere at any time and he produces!
    Once again just my opinion….that all being said, I would like to see a game or two with AB playing with Telfair ( amore natural PG and passer), maybe they will create a two-some similar to Jose and Amir!… maybe!??!

    • There is no longer ‘a bar’ for AB.

      You want to put him in the starting lineup again?

      What type of message would a move like that send?

      Its amazing to me that as long as Andrea gets on the court and doesn’t totally embarras himself we’re finding the silver linings in his performance. He shot 4-11 yesterday and I’m hearing how aggressive he was. lol. He manages to find a few rebounds and contest a shot or two and I hear how he played with defensive intensity. lol

      Is there no standard on which to judge him now? Are we all watching the same game? He’s the same player he was since coming into the league, which is the biggest testimony to his passion (or lack thereof) for the game.

      He’s a role player. No different than Alan Anderson. Why he continues to be the point of so much focus and conversation is beyond me. Colangelo propped him up and now fans expect much more from him than he cares to give..

      • @Truth be told
        You are preaching to the choir,man – I agree with everything you said. It’s just that the reality is he is here and the Raps are trying to play for a long distance PO spot. So, lets figure out ways to get him better – you can’t boo people in this “pussy town”, so then lets do it the “pussy’ peoples way” and some how think of ways to encourage and motivate (which shouldn’t have been done, but in AB’s case does) his flat uninspired play, his who cares attitude, his scared look on his face during game time – that’s all I’m sayin’!

  4. and on a side note – since we so happily said goodbye to Jose our team is 7-4, the Pistons 4-7 and they were on a 4 game winning streak just before Jose came and played (Jose AGAIN had 4 t/o’s last night, ZERO steals). The season isn’t over ans the Psiton could turn things around, but I mention this because of Bargnani…..he is not a winner like Jose. The Raptors (when Jose was here running or not running the show) the Raps had below .500 teams, except that one year. That one season when Bosh went down to injury during the end of the season at such a crucial time – Jose became the man and while our Raptors were in the play-off’s at the time of the injury, Jose’s ran team lost out of the play-offs and Jose wasn’t able to “be the man”….he has skills, but he also has equal inefficiencies and he doesn’t win – AB is the same nature of player.
    When AB is finally traded, it will be what is best for this team, no more “finding ways’ to get AB going – AB should get himself going (practice practice practice) till you start turning the corner physically and mentally. Just like how so many time we heard how Casey had to create defenses to “cover up” Jose’s non defense ability just to have him out there – it hurts the team. And the proof (so far) is in the record. I still don’t like how AB played last night – I honestly believe (IMO) that Acy would give us better minutes…more productive minutes especially the more he plays.

  5. opps – I meant “he (AB) is not a winner and neither is Jose”.

  6. is it just me or was the best offensive game by the raptors with RG was his first game against the clippers where it was just free flowing and RG didn’t know any of the plays? it’s almost as if the raptors offensive sets are handcuffing them these past few games.

    • Watching a lot of european basketball I’m not sure I understand what we call “sets” in the NBA. Because from where I’m sitting, in the last few games 4th quarters are always only DIY plays (1on1 ISO) – DD doing it, Rudy doing it, Kyle doing it and so on. The best thing that we expect is a pick from a big, and then just rush to the basket or even better – a turn around long 2 jumper.

      I want truly set plays where DD or Rudy receive the ball when they are freed from the defender after a pick, I want true pick’n'roll with a pass going to AJ or JV after the pick, I want the ball moving along the perimeter for an open 3 (how many open 3s, not in transition did we have over the last 10 games?). While JL3 is killing me with his 15s “look-the-opponent-in-the-eyes-while-dribbling-dramatically” style of offence, Lowry is not that much better, he just gives the ball to Gay sooner. But that is not a “set” or a “play”.

      • i use that term rather loosely.

        • I replied to your comment even though it was meant to be a general observation. So no offence given and I agree with your thoughts.

          • It bothers me that post-Calderon, the bigs virtually never get a pass while diving to the basket after setting a screen. JV dives hard every time and no one ever gives him the ball – the guard using the screen is too busy dribbling between his legs against double coverage. It still boggles my mind when professional athletes can’t execute basic plays that are foundational to their sport.

          • +10000 totally agree….

  7. Thoughts on the Game

    What a crapper

  8. LeBron always shows more intensity than Gay showed last night. He needs to step it up and earn his contract. Keep the fans behind you Rudy!

    • ya Rudy! you won’t like what happens once we turn on you. what’s that? oh. you DO know. well… just make sure you don’t give us a reason to give YOU that treatment. got it? good. and say hi to bargs for us.

  9. It would be great to know what the current “plan” is on offense, because it certainly isn’t that imaginative; one on one play with on the ball screens.

    It was an ugly game from both sides in terms of execution, with the difference being that Washington could hit their 3s.

  10. I think we need to use acy more, he’s is hungry and wants to play. the times he has played, hes gotten at least 4 points, a couple of steals and rebounds all under 5 minutes of play. I see more intensity from him in 5 minutes then AB in 30 minutes.

    • I have to say I don’t remember the last time Acy touched the floor but I do remember he drew 2-3 charges in short span. Would love to see him get some burn but he is certainly not going to be a huge difference maker.

      This game was a disgrace. 32 points in the first half. Says it all. Raps let the Wiz dictate the first half of the game and when they tried to turn it on, it was too late. Shitty loss.

  11. In all fairness to Casey, the roster turnover (between injuries and trades) has been absolutely ridiculous. Go look at some team stats and see how many different players have started this season. It’s virtually impossible to re-write your offense after change both your starting point guard and your primary offensive option, never mind changing all the complimentary pieces as well.

    I think it’s one more argument for a longer term perspective. This team should be getting ready for next year (which includes giving Ross more minutes and allowing him to play through mistakes).

  12. This team needs to start playing like a team. Move the ball around and find the open man. Enough about Bargnani. He’s a guy who’s been a starter his whole career. Now he’s coming off the bench and playing with a pg who can’t pass or create, and everything he does now is under a microscope. And the fact that the media and fans still feel the need to point out that he can’t rebound or defend or hustle is a “disgrace”. He is what he is, move on already. .

  13. I’m sure most of you know who Andrew Wiggins is by now, and I’m surprised TheScore hasn’t posted this in the ‘Buzz’ section…but you guys gotta see this dunk. Watch & enjoy:


    And props to Joseph or Olicer if they can get this in the Buzz section cause this is a ridiculous dunk!

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  16. I personally think calderon would he a better fit with gay coming to t.o . He looks for others way more and is a way better 3 point shooter . I like lowry but he isnt doing what we brought him here to do . Drive to the net and break defences down and make guys collapse for open looks . Only problem i have with him

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