Andrea Bargnani and Rudy Gay posted 26 points apiece but the Raptors lost their 5th straight game, 125-118 to the Warriors.
Here are some thoughts on the game:
-It was an interesting decision by Dwane Casey to start Jonas Valanciunas and Andrea Bargnani in the frontcourt. In Andrea’s first game as a starter, JV went to the bench. On Monday night, Amir Johnson went to the bench. Bargs and JV are the worst frontcourt pairing (out of the 3 potential combinations) according to advanced metrics and although JV has improved steadily on defence throughout the season, he is not as polished as Amir.
-As we discussed on Monday’s podcast, Bargnani is likely in the starting lineup for three reasons: 1. To inflate his trade value as much as possible before the offseason. 2. Because this offence was designed to have him in the high post. 3. Because the bench needs more ball movement and a quality big man to play defence.
-Andrea responded with his best game (or second best after the Pistons game in which he scored 34) of the season, finishing with 26 points and seven rebounds. He made an effort to contest more shots than usual, his effort on the glass was good (for his standards) and his jump shot was on target (5-7 3PT FG). The only reason this is a positive, is because it will help his trade value. It’s not good news for the development of other players, but expect this Bargnani showcase to continue for the rest of the season.
-Jonas Valanciunas had his shot blocked twice in the first three minutes and only scored three points, but hauled in five rebounds in just 16 minutes. It appears as though his playing time will suffer in order to get Andrea his minutes. The return in any future Bargnani trade will determine whether or not this was a good decision.
-Another byproduct of Andrea being re-inserted into the starting lineup is DeMar DeRozan being pushed back to the third option in the offence. DeMar has been in a tremendous groove ever since the Rudy Gay trade but his rhythm has been thrown off in the last two games.
-It doesn’t matter if Amir Johnson is starting or coming off the bench. His game has reached a level of consistency where there is never any doubt as to what kind of results he will produce. He recorded his team-leading 11th double-double of the season, which included a career-high 12 offensive rebounds on Monday. Oh yeah, and he went 10-of-10 from the field.
-Rudy Gay returned to the lineup after missing Saturday’s game against Milwaukee with back spasms. He managed 26 points but he needed 22 shots to reach that mark. This has been a major criticism of Gay since he arrived in Toronto, as he is not an efficient scorer. One of the major questions heading into this off-season is whether or not Rudy can improve his effective field goal percentage. It’s reasonable to assume that a full off-season with the Raptors and potentially a whole new offence designed around him will help Rudy’s percentages.
-Kyle Lowry will not have many shots in the offence when he is the fourth option. The good news is Lowry always finds ways to contribute even when he isn’t taking shots. Monday night was no exception, as he finished with 11 rebounds, nine assists, two steals and a block. The most impressive part of Kyle’s game on Monday was his ability to limit Stephen Curry. Over the past two weeks, Curry has been shooting the lights out and despite his 26 points tonight, Lowry did an admirable job of shadowing Steph. We talked on today’s pod about how Lowry could stand to lose weight, so the fact that he was able to chase Curry around screens all night was a testament to his speed and fitness, despite his weight.
-Toronto’s defence left a lot to be desired, giving up 62 first half points, 42 fourth quarter points and allowing Golden State to shoot 57 per cent for the game. This was largely a result of the pace that Golden State plays at, but there were some individual culprits too. Bargnani’s lack of help was definitely a factor. John Lucas allowed Steph Curry to get hot. DeMar DeRozan had a hard time following Klay Thompson and Jarrett Jack around screens. This is going to be something to monitor with DeMar going forward. The NBA is going to smaller and smaller lineups which means that at 6’7, DeMar is fairly tall to play the two-guard. Can he stay with the smaller twos around the NBA?
Raptors Player Of the Game: Amir Johnson – 23 Pts (10-10 FG, 3-7 FT), 15 Reb, 2 Blk, 1 TO in 31:47
Warriors Player Of the Game: David Lee – 29 Pts (12-21 FG, 5-5 FT), 11 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 TO in 35:58