Charlotte Bobcats v Toronto Raptors

The Raptors took down the worst team in the NBA on Friday night but there were some positives to note.

Here are some thoughts on the game: 

Raptors 92, Bobcats 78

-Watching a team that is eliminated from playoff contention can be fascinating at times because you see which players begin to coast and which players maintain their effort level through all 82 games. There is no question as to which category Amir Johnson falls under. The 25-year old pulled down a career-high 21 rebounds and brought the same flat out hustle that we’ve seen all season. This is a great stat to give you an indication of the impact Amir has had for Toronto this season…

-There is no question that Amir deserves to be the starting power forward for Toronto on opening day in 2013-14. The depth behind Amir and Jonas Valanciunas needs to be addressed. The Raptors would be wise to acquire a frontcourt player that can play the four or five spot.

-It was nice to see Rudy Gay have an efficient night shooting the basketball while fighting through back pain. He finished 11-of-16 from the field for a game-high 28 points. He was very assertive with his dribble which led to confident jump shots and finishes around the rim, though he did get a little casual when passing out of double teams, leading to a game-high six turnovers. However, Gay was engaged on the defensive end, highlighted by his big block on Bismack Biyombo early in the first quarter. The play of the game, though, was this monster dunk Rudy threw down all over Biyombo:

-It was a rough night for DeMar DeRozan, as Gerald Henderson got the best of him at both ends of the floor. DeMar had trouble beating Henderson off the dribble and had trouble containing Gerald on defence. However, DeRozan should be given credit for getting to the line eight times and not forcing his jump-shot (5 FG attempts), which was clearly off target. DeMar also contributed with four rebounds and four assists (including two great first quarter passes to Valanciunas and Gay).

-Terrence Ross had a very positive impact in 24 minutes of playing time. He finished an impressive drive early in the fourth quarter and his jump-shot was on point all evening. He also showed that he is more capable than DeRozan of guarding the smaller two-guards like Henderson and Ben Gordon. This is one factor that will really play in Ross’ favour if and when Toronto decides which shooting guard to move forward with.

-Kyle Lowry and Toronto’s offence in general ran far too many isolation plays. Even when using a small lineup, there can still be screen and rolls. They just become small-on-small screens which are often as effective because guards aren’t usually adept at being the second defender in a screen-and-roll.

-Sebastian Telfair came out looking for his own shot but he quickly realized it wasn’t going for him and started getting his teammates involved, finishing with a team-high five assists. Telafir may be making a case to be the backup point guard heading into next season.

-Jonas Valanciunas was very effective in his 21 minutes of action. He defended the paint, grabbed six rebounds and converted his opportunities around the basket to finish with 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting.

-The Raptors clearly cranked up the defensive intensity in the fourth quarter, holding the Bobcats to 10 points and 7% shooting from the field. When people discuss the future of this team, it’s easy to fall into the mistake of only looking at the offensive potential/fall backs. But there are some incredible athletes on this roster that could and should make Toronto a top-10 defensive squad in the future.

Raptors Player Of the Game: Amir Johnson – 12 Pts, 5/11 FG, 2/2 FT, 21 Reb, 2 Stl, 3 Blk, 6 TO in 44 minutes

Bobcats Player Of the Game: Gerald Henderson – 22 Pts, 8/17 FG, 5/6 FT, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 TO in 43 minutes

Comments (22)

  1. We really are the cream of the crop when it comes to teams that never make the playoffs. Would like to see Ross and Val getting closer to 30 minutes/game for the rest of the season or GTFO Casey.

    • You still have to earn your minutes, they shouldn’t be handed to you on a silver spoon. If they aren’t playing defence and are a mess out there they deserve to get their minutes cut. It doesn’t help them thinking they can miss rotations and make silly mistakes and have no consequences out there……

      • Why not now though? I don’t get this point of view if only for 2 reasons.
        1) the pattern’s been established already with Bargnani
        2) better to test the young guys out now when it doesn’t matter than when it might.

      • I disagree. They’re rookies. If you pull them every time they make a mistake it’s just gonna kill what confidence they have. Sure, if they’re slacking, making the same mistakes over and over then bench them but otherwise let them play! Watching them develop is the only reason to tune in for now.

      • Wait, so you’re saying Bargnani earned his minutes?

        • the rooks don’t get tons of minutes because of the grind of the NBA schedule… Jonas is young and is still growing… they don’t want to overdo it…

  2. I still think the team needs a strong veteran presence to keep the young team in line. Team still has a long way to go defensively. Ross might be slightly better with his 1 on 1 defence then DD but his help defence and rotations are still horrible. Not to say DD is amazing at that either. I still think DD contract actually was worth the money as he’s grown and improved a ton since last year. Last year, he’d be forcing up shots and woudn’t be trying to get to the line.

    The Heat’s streak started with Toronto and will end against Toronto. You’ll be surprised…….Raptors always play at the level of their competition!! (which is why they lose to garbage teams)

    • Actually, DD is getting to the line slightly less per 36 min as last year (5.4 last year, 5.2 this year). And his 3pt shooting, at 0.250, is down slightly. In fact, aside from a slight uptick in assists, he looks like the exact same player since his sophomore year — same PER, same rebounding rate, same turnover%, and his ORat is still 6 points worse than his DRat.

      • Hasn’t he had a bunch of no-calls for contact when he drives?
        I’d argue that his Ft attempts should be higher, and whatever that effect would have on PER should be taken into account. Otherwise, I noticed that too.

        • According to Matt Devlin, any time a Raptor has the ball inside there is “no call”. Of course, that’s the case with most of the rest of the league, as well.

    • LOL. The Heat streak started against Toronto because the Refs handed the Heat a game that they were unusually playing bad enough to lose. I seriously doubt the Heat will be as awful as last time, but also have no doubt the refs will be favouring them again.

      Guaranteed loss for the Raptors. Might as well give the rookies lots of burn. JV should get 33 minutes to match Amir. Give Amir a bit of a break. Per 44, they had similar stats. 21/13 for JV, 12/22 for Amir.



  3. Strongly disagree that amir should be the starting pf. If you want the raps to suck again, sure. Those +/- stats are useless. Look at the teams record. Furthermore, he had 21 rebs tonight, great. AGAINST THE FUCKING BOBCATS. So what? Amir is a solid player but on a good team hes the 3rd big. Amir can be a solid part of a winning team but fans are delusional if they think the raps can afford to have a player with his limited skill playing with the inefficient scorers they have in the starting lineup. Not to mention, he fouls A TON and fatigues with a lot of minutes. They need a reliable post up big. Ideally someone better than carl landry to take the next step to improve.

    • Yes, it should be Milsap! Oh wait, he doesn’t play here.

      OK, then it should be Amir! Or do you prefer a different Raptor to be your starting PF?

      Plus, Amir is necessary when you have Rudy and DeMar chucking long balls all the time. You need someone who can rebound those bombs and make something out of nothing. He is the perfect fit between them, well, short of Milsap, who could do what Amir does, and also set up those bombs with his passing ability.



    • I think the starting PF position is probably the least of the Raptors worries, right now. He’s the only Raptor who consistently plays hard and well at both ends of the court.

    • So, he fouls a lot and fatigues with a lot of minutes…

      About 4 fouls in 30 minutes is not that bad. I would be more worried if he wasn’t fouling since it at least shows he’s trying to contest shots.

      Most players will get tired when they play a lot of minutes. So, how can you use that against someone?

  4. I appreciate the positive blog entry!

  5. Heads up people… since the 4-19 start we are 22-21. and there’s still a lot to sort out…

    • This season has 3 phases to it.
      Healthy Bargs = Awful
      No Bargs, No Problem = 500 ball
      A Gay old Time = 500 ball

      It really demonstrates just what an awful GM BC is. The team only improved because his beloved vegetable lasagna was forced off the court. Then his big trade didn’t really improve the team.

    • So with a fairly easy schedule, they’re a .500 team. And they’ll be close to the luxury tax threshold next season. I’m not sure I fully understand the reason for optimism.

  6. Amir is the shit. Plays his ass off, his consistent college 3 range keeps the opposing big honest, passing skills are underrated(remember the amir-davis two man game? Thing of beauty.) and he gets you a double double every night. All without bringing any embarrassment to himself or his employer(the worst thing being his Xmas photo) and at the still tender age of 25. Every player has faults but I wouldn’t dare talk about those out of respect for how this performs night after night, regardless if his shot is falling or not. You are absolutely on point that if anyone has earned their spot next year, its that man. I don’t care if you bring in demarcus cousins(for example), amirs ass belongs in that starting five. Meanwhile Mr. Lowry needs to spend the summer working out with a real point guard. Too often he gets caught up in the one on one game. Both offensively and defensively, leading to ridiculous fouls 40 feet from the hoop and then blaming it on the refs. Haven’t watched this team in a long time but I hope he takes some time to relax and start trusting his teammates and just playing ball instead of going out every night trying to prove something. go raptors?

    • Amir is without question the MVP of the season for the Raps. He doesn’t deserve the hate

    • absolutely right about Amir, and lowry needs to develop a better pick n roll game with the 2 bigs, like my main Jose, Jose

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