Toronto Raptors v Cleveland Cavaliers

The Raptors’ starters jumped out to a big lead in Cleveland, watched the second unit piss it away, then failed to recover the lead the rest of they way, as Toronto’s season may very well have come to an end with a disappointing loss on Wednesday night.

Cavaliers 103, Raptors 92

- I mentioned in the Game Thread that with the Cavs on the second night of a back-to-back without Kyrie Irving, the Raptors should look to put the game away early. Well they jumped out to a 23-9 lead and had held Cleveland to 1-of-14 shooting to start the game, but they were far from putting the game away.

- While there is plenty of blame to go around, the bulk of it should fall squarely on the shoulders of Toronto’s second unit. After quickly blowing that aforementioned 14-point lead in the latter stages of the first quarter and early stages of the second, the Raptors’ bench did absolutely nothing to atone for that lapse later in the game. Six different Raptors came off the bench in Cleveland to play between 4 and 16 minutes and all of them finished with a rating of at least -7, with Alan Anderson actually finishing a ridiculous -27 in less than 14 minutes of action. Just let that sink in for a bit. Overall, the Raptors’ bench was outscored 39-8 by a cast of Cavs reserves that included Luke Walton, CJ Miles, Wayne Ellington and Marreese Speights.

I did like that Sebastian Telfair took John Lucas‘ minutes in the second half, however, as Lucas proved once again that when his shot isn’t falling, he’s a major liability on the floor because he doesn’t move the ball enough and isn’t big enough to defend in the NBA. How many times in the last two games have we seen other guards easily shoot over Lucas even with JL3′s arms extended? Telfair isn’t a game changer by any stretch and didn’t contribute to this game statistically outside of taking four fouls in seven minutes, but again, it’s hard to be worse than Lucas when John’s not shooting well.

- Blame the bench for digging the Raptors a hole, but the starters weren’t exactly great either after building that early lead. Much like Monday’s loss to the Wizards, the Raptors quickly and easily cut into their deficit with just a couple of minutes of good play from time to time, which speaks to the low level of competition their last two opponents should have provided. Unfortunately, the Raps weren’t able to play with desperation for much longer than a couple of minutes at a time, and that’s pretty pathetic considering the stakes for Toronto in these last two games.

- If you thought Andrea Bargnani logging fourth quarter minutes when he didn’t deserve it was a thing of the past, think again. Despite playing with no spark or energy off of the bench in the first half and not touching the floor in the third quarter, Bargnani played the final 10:11 of this game and finished scoreless, with a rebound, an assist and a block to his name in nearly 16 total minutes of action. Meanwhile, Jonas Valanciunas, who was once again a noticeable presence inside (on both ends of the floor) to start the game was left to ride the pine for the entire fourth quarter. Valanciunas finished with five points, eight rebounds and three blocks and was a +14 in 24 minutes, but Dwane Casey obviously thought Bargnani was the better choice down the stretch.

And I know some will point to the fact that the Cavs went small in the fourth quarter, but you’re playing a severely inferior team in terms of talent. You’re not supposed to try to match up with them, especially when that means playing your own inferior talent (Bargnani). You should be trying to force them to match up with you. In addition, the small frontcourt of Bargnani and Rudy Gay was a defensive disaster in the second quarter, so the fact that Casey was willing to roll the dice again with that combination in the fourth quarter, even for just a few minutes, was mind-numbing to say the least.

- The Raptors were ice cold from behind the arc tonight, going 2-of-20 from three-point range. Gay and Kyle Lowry, especially, struggled from deep, as the pair combined to shoot 2-of-11. The timing of a few of Lowry’s threes was certainly questionable, but overall, I can live with a 40% three-point shooter hoisting six long range shots in a game where his team needed a spark. I can’t live with a 26% three-point shooter (Rudy) chucking five. Gay was actually pretty good overall tonight, but his decision to take those threes made little sense.

- The one positive in this game for the Raptors was DeMar DeRozan, who followed up his 25-point performance on Monday with 34 points on 10-of-19 shooting on Wednesday in Cleveland, which included an impressive 14-of-15 from the free throw line. Over his last two games, DeRozan has scored 59 points on nearly 53 per cent shooting while going to the line 24 times. That aggressive approach isn’t something that’s just popped up this week, either, as DeRozan has actually averaged more than 7.4 trips to the line over his last 14 games, including seven straight games with at least six free throw attempts.

DeMar has been sensational in these last two contests, it’s just a shame that very few other Raptors are playing with the same sense of urgency.

- That lack of urgency looks to have cost the Raptors any outside chance they had left for themselves to get back into the playoff picture, as while they were laying eggs and losing to the Wizards and Cavs, the eighth place Bucks were beating Dallas and Houston on the road to extend their cushion over the now 10th placed Raptors to a very comfortable six games. Even if the Raptors beat the Pacers at home on Friday (which I don’t expect) and then beat the Bucks in Milwaukee on Saturday, they’ll still go into next week 4.5 games out of a playoff spot with just 22 games remaining. The lackadaisical effort over these last two games has certainly taken much of the excitement out of Saturday’s matchup with the Bucks, that’s for sure.

If you recall during Monday’s podcast, I mentioned that this was by far the biggest week of the season for Toronto and also mentioned that the Raptors of old would drop one of the winnable games early in the week, whereas an actual playoff contender would go 3-1 this week to make another statement and inch closer to that eighth spot. I guess we now know which side of that dividing line these Raptors fall on, huh?

Raptors Player Of the Game: DeMar DeRozan – 34 Pts, 10/19 FG, 0/2 3PT, 14/15 FT, 5 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 TO in 43:42

Cavaliers Player Of the Game: Dion Waiters – 23 Pts, 7/16 FG, 2/3 3PT, 7/8 FT, 1 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk, 3 TO in 35:19

Comments (37)

  1. She’s all over boys.
    Just like years ago, the Jalen Rose/Donyell Marshall trade looked great for a while.
    Hire me to run the team, at half the price of BC, and I promise I’ll match his record.
    Booing Bargs will intensify, but won’t help.

  2. Something is going to have to be done to address the derozan/gay pairing long term. They both scored a TON tonight but the team still lost. Im all for trading derozan for a pf upgrade if possible. Raps need a sg than can actually shoot 3s but drive to the rim also. However, Im not sure ross is the answer there either despite what many overly optimistic ross fans may think. Also, bench is awful. Before the raps got gay, the talent level on the starters and bench was fairly similiar. Now, since gay is inserted in the starting lineup, a wide talent gap is created, which is very evident. The drop off from landry fields to aa is not as significant as say, rudy to fields or aa.

    Lastly rotations aside, casey is a good coach. Problem is, rotations are a big part of his job and he fails miserably at it. Got to say though, how many fanbases are satisfied with their head coach when their team sucks? Very very few if any at all. Most of the blame should fall on BC for building a flawed roster with several flawed (one dimensional) players. Im sure BC has something to do with the primo minutes, im sure of it.

    • perhaps pairing bargs with ross in the summer is the answer?

    • It’s kinda ironic that the only player you named that you’d want traded is Derozan. Ironic considering in the most crucial stretch of games, he’s the one of the only guys who has stepped up to the plate and actually cares to play hard enough to get this team into the playoffs.

      • Well, who do you trade then to improve? Gay and derozan are too similiar and they are not going to trade gay. Unless derozan significantly improves his 3 pt shooting im not sure how its going to work. They both jack up way too many inefficient mid-long range jumpers. They need a reliable low post scorer to go to when those shots arent falling. Id trade ross and bargs in a heartbeat. I just have no idea who in their right mind would want primo on their team.

        • What the hell are you talking about?? Derozan has been shooting the lights out. I’d say he’s been very efficient from mid to long range this season.

          • Not necessarily. Tonight he was on fire but not every game. He settles for those shots a lot and so does gay and id rather them get more shots closer to the rim and/or have someone on the wing that can knock down 3s with some accuracy (Sorry AA, you suck).

          • @HST, what are you talking about DeRozan’s been “shooting the lights out”?

            DeMar has only shot 43% since the trade, and only 44% on the year.

          • how is 44% bad for a shooting guard? Have you looked at other players stats recently? He is right on par with most players. There is nothing wrong with the DD / RG combo. What is needed now is a proper bench. Bargnani has had the chance to become a great 6th man but he is horrible. I love our starting five, just need to get a few bench guys going and we’ll be good. The bench has no consistency. It’s killing us.

          • @ DB

            When did I say that 43% was bad for a shooting guard? It’s not great, but it’s not bad either. And it’s certainly not “lights out” like HST suggested.

            Actually, if you look at his EFG% and TS% among G’s and G-F’s, he’s actually fairly low compared to them. Ranked 98th and 95th.

  3. its sad to see Tross has stopped getting minutes. Between him and anderson its a toss up and tross could have been the spark we needed tonight

  4. Now that our season is pooched and the playoff hope is gone, can we at last play Jonas, Ross and Acy big minutes? And bench Bargnani? No, of course not, that would make far too much sense.

    #FireBC. #FireCasey (yeah, he’s lost me, too). Bring in some people who know how to run a team.

    • The funny thing is that people like you thought there was playoff hope before this 2 game losing streak.

    • whether we make (and get chucked 1st round) or miss the playoffs is irrelevent. what are we trying to do? manufacture a non-existant trade value for bargnani for the 50th time? develop alan anderson all the way to his ceiling which is a thicker skulled version of anthony parker? #fuckno #playtherooks

  5. Fire BC and ban ad from ever commenting again.

  6. A couple of blogs a go some one wrote on here that Calderon was doing pretty crappy in Detroit and he wasn’t a winner and thankfully the Raps got rid of him.

    Well at least he and BC agree on that..

  7. @Hope Caper

    I wrote that and thanks for posting your link, it helps prove my point! The Pistons were on a roll (Including a 4 game win streak), JC enters and they are 4 WINS and 7 LOSES before last nights game….Yeaaaah! JC got 18 assists, so what!!!!! his team is still under .500, 5-7 now. Your theory is, keep JC so we can have those 1 out of 5 good games!!!! THINK, man….I know your a huge JC supporter, I read your comments on here – but explain how laying up 18 assists on a bottom feeding team with a record below .500 (since his arrival) is a winner???
    Oh by the way JC has had 4 games where he has had 4 t/o’s per game since being traded to the Pistons – so once again A WINNER is some who is mostly consistent (which JC proves he is not) and they have played and contributed to winning teams….does this sound like Calderon?…. now or even when he was with the Raps?…Didn’t think so – one game doesn’t make Calderon a winner! thanks for trying though – if you venture back to Doug Smiths “flog” you can sunbath in Calderon love – the only blog in Canada that doesn’t allow you to disagree with the author!

    • This blog needs a LIKE button, because your right bro. Jose is a DECENT player, but he is not a winner. We have given him the world and he hasnt produced. Time to move on.

  8. Give Ross plus Val all the starting minutes now what’s there too lose?

  9. @Hope Caper

    Correction – the Pistons were not on a 4 game winning streak before Calderon got there – but they were playing over .500 ball for the month of Jan and making a push!

    I thought this would be fun to share with you. To help make my “he is not a winner” point or my “he is not as good as some T.O fans think” point – here is Calderon’s average over the past five games: 10.4 pts/5.2 assists/2.8 rebs/1.8 t/o’s/0.2 steals AND the team is 1-4…sound like a winner?…my point was and is; he shows up 1 out of every 5 games – and when he does, it’s people like you who suddenly come out the woods to announce it…where were the other night when JC laid this line 12/1/1/0/0?????….I know, you were hoping we would all forget hat game!..JC fans have a tendency of forgetting the previous 4 bad games like they didn’t exists right after he has 1 good game. Can’t take you seriously until you drop your man love for JC and see him at what he really is – serviceable (some times) above average back up PG.
    Here are Lowry’s numbers the past five games: 13.6/5/4.6/1.8/0.8 – NOTE: Calderon and Lowry average the same amount of t/o’s…..for all those people who slag Lowry for not playing more like Calderon or that Calderon is better – let the numbers show, your player evaluations are off!

    • Im concerned how you get so worked up over Calderon even though he has been gone for almost a month now. Your obsessed with knocking him… separation anxiety.. detachment issues?… maybe?? Its ok man….just let him go. Calderon will haunt you no more!

      By the way if we are losing to Washington and a bunch of NBDLrs in Cleveland it plainly shows that Lowry and Gay will not take this team anywhere…. i think the honeymoon is over. Derozan and Gay are the same player and BCs created a log jam that is costing T-ross minutes. Lowry is a good point guard… but thats it… just good. He will lead us to a strong 9th place finish and give you all the stats you want lol

      • @Cool Moe D

        Just replying to Hope Caper and his endless blather and man love about Calderon – He doesn’t post Bull shit 1st – I don’t reply showing and pointing out how much Bull shit his reply’s really are…Ka-peesh!

  10. Well, that was depressing, but I suppose not entirely unexpected.

    When you have a second unit that has a former first unit player in Bargnani rapidly turning into a pumpkin, a one dimensional chucker in Anderson looking to pad his stats for a larger paycheque next year, a knower of all but master of none in Fields, the non-factor that is Gray, and a new second unit point guard in Telfair who is trying to make sense of Casey’s questionable coaching ability, all the ingredients add up to some serious second unit problems. Not even the ghost of John Wooden would be able to make sense of that mess.

  11. I hate to seem as one of those fans that just seems to want to fire people when things go wrong, but IMO even in some wins the calls Casey makes are mind boggling, I feel he is incredibly stubborn in some decisions, why is Ross still getting 0 minutes, bench was garbage all night, Ross and even acy a little are exciting players that can wake the team up and bring that spark we needed, not like the bench playing was doing good anyways so change it up or you lose games

    And the worst part is Jonas still isint playing in the 4th

  12. Casey is a bum .. He either is running barny on his own or has bc talking in his ear to give barny minutes . Either way casey needs to say NO to him playing . Do you think popovich would play barny ? Hell no he would be playing j.v in a heart beat . Casey robbed that kid of another great game he was having . Fuck gray fuck barny fuck anderson play ross acy and j.v . Amir is awsome and i feel bad for him he gets paired with barny in the 4th . While retard stands at the 3 point line amir has to battle two guys basically for boards and same on tthe defensive end its him vs two guys cause you know damn well barny aint gonna board or help defense . Keep casey as a assitant defence coach and bring in a high profile name head coach to run this shit train . I cant stand barny and he deserves to get boo’s every damn game

  13. Everyone’s complaining about Casey’s rotations. If he plays T Ross and JV too much, then the team risks losing important games because of inevitable rookie mistakes. Bargnani is a veteran on this team. They didn’t lose this game because of him. Blame Casey all you want. This is a business, so you’re highest paid guys/vets have to go out and do the job for you. He played the whole roster last night. Bargnani played the last ten minutes, big freakin’ deal. The blame is on Gay, and Lowry and the rest of the team just as much as it is on Bargs. The closer we get to the end of the season, the rookies will play more. Bargnani will be gone next year and JV will have a year under his belt, and play cruch time minutes from then on. This team is going nowhere this year whether they make the playoffs or not. Relax everyone, just relax.

    • I see the point you’re trying to make, but it’s a huge stretch to say that Lowry & Gay deserve as much of the blame as Bargnani.This guy shouldn’t even be on the court, I don’t care how much he makes. I’d rather see Acy getting his minutes and I don’t care that he’s undersized, he’ll do more in 5 minutes than Sowce can do in 20. Don’t care about ‘improving his trade value’ either cause it just won’t happen. Just fucking amnesty his pathetic ass in the offseason please.

    • Forgot to mention JV. He’s starting the games for us and has earned the right to play in the 4th quarter over sowce. I’d love to see a bigs rotation of Amir, JV & Acy. They’re not gonna score a ton of points but at least you know you’re getting guys that are gonna bust their ass on the court every time.

      • I agree Duke. But as long as Bargs is on this team he is going to get minutes. Say what you want about him, the guy improved his numbers every year (excluding this year of course). Last year he was on a tear before getting injured, and this year has just been an absolute mess. This team is no longer a good fit for him. That doesn’t mean he’s a bum or can’t play the game anymore. He’s just in a very bad situation right now. And he’s not playing well, don’t get me wrong.

    • @Sly

      man, you are off – so off! I’m laughin’ at you jus’ now, you’re that off.

  14. I don’t know why they can’t try Fields starting at SG and have DeRozan as the 6th man. I know DD is one of BC’s “guys”, but I think DD is the closest thing this team has to a consistent player that could come off the bench.

    A simple move like that improves the defense of the starting lineup while also giving you an impact player coming off of the bench.

    • @Sly
      HA! the worst blog in SPORT – Doug Smith – its not even a FULL Raptors blog its about him, his life, what he does, what he thinks – then 2/3rds down his blog he’ll mention the Raps (Unless they had a game the night before and he just replys everything)…However I encourage everyone to go and read it – you will get a laugh and see how much more QUALITY this blog is – hands down this blog is the best Raptors focused blog in North America. This blog allows opinion, different insights and views, it allows people to converse – fans to talk and JC hosts it!
      With Doug Smith and the Star…There is no depth, cleaver insight (although he tries, but fails), the way he controls opinion is pathetic (the ironic thing is, the Star blog and DS wouldn’t allow you to post the Raptorsblog link on his site – but RB allows you that luxury). DS is thinned skinned and often mouths off like a retired grouchy uncle to his commenters views, insights or facts especially if they don’t agree with him – it is so bad, you either feel sorry for him or you laugh at him…I choose to laugh at him. Doug Smith thinks he is bigger then the team he covers! But yeah folks, go check it out for yourselves, you will all see the difference this blog makes! IMO

      • I agree to a certain extent. I posted that link because I like Doug’s approach to writing about what happened last night. Calm, relaxed, and not pointing fingers and cutting up members of our team. This blog is great, that’s why I’m here. i just get annoyed with it sometimes when the team loses because it’s so dramatic. We’re talking about a team that’s building, not even close to a contender. So why freak out every night?

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