Archive for the ‘Golden State Warriors’ Category

Kyle Lowry blowing by Steve Nash is something we hope to see at the ACC on January 20

In one of the more anticipated days of the summer for basketball junkies, the NBA announced its’ 2012-2013 schedule on Thursday, and as usual, there are some games that obviously stand out from the rest.

While I doubt the Raptors are featured in many, if any, of those games for the casual NBA fan, we’re here to cater to Raptors fans. And with that, here are the games we think you should circle on the calendar:

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The races at the top of the conferences and battles for playoff positioning haven’t left us with much to get excited about on the final day of the lockout-shortened 2011-2012 NBA regular season.

But for fans in New Orleans, Sacramento, Cleveland, New Jersey Brooklyn, Golden State and Toronto, what happens on the final day of the regular season could shape the future of each franchise.

Heading into Thursday’s slate of 13 games, the Bobcats and their potentially worst record of all time have locked up the NBA’s 30th seed, and a 25 per cent chance of winning the Draft Anthony Davis lottery. The Wizards, meanwhile, are locked into the 29th spot, and a 19.9 per cent chance of winning the Unibrow sweepstakes.

Where it gets interesting is that the Hornets, Kings, Cavaliers, Raptors and Nets are separated by just one total game between third-worst and seventh-worst in the league standings. In terms of lottery percentages, that’s the difference between a 15.6 per cent chance and a 4.3 per cent chance.

The Raps, Nets and Warriors are separated by just one game between sixth-worst and eighth-worst, which would be the difference between a 6.3 per cent chance of winning the lottery and a 2.8 per cent chance.

From a Toronto perspective, the Raptors and Nets head into their season finale matchup tied at 22-43. Whichever team wins that game will either finish seventh-worst or in a tie with the Warriors for seventh and eighth-worst. The losing team, on the other hand, would still have an outside chance at a four-way tie for the league’s third-worst record.

If you’re wondering, in the event of a tie in the “lottery standings,” the tied teams would share the total number of combinations that the positions take up. So, for example, if the third-worst team gets 156 combinations, the fourth-worst gets 119 combinations, the fifth-worst gets 88 and the sixth-worst gets 63 combinations, that’s 426 total combos to be shared among four teams (106.5 each).

However, according to the NBA Draft Lottery’s wiki page, “Should the average number not be an integer, a coin flip is then used to determine which team or teams receive the extra combination(s). The result of the coin flip is also used to determine who receives the earlier pick in the event that neither of the tied teams wins one of the first three picks via the lottery.

Based on how confusing some of this can become, the fact that certain slottings may come down to a coin flip, and the fact that we don’t really know which combination will come up on lottery night, I’m not going to come out and start talking about how this is a “must-lose” game for the Raptors (or Nets).

Example, imagine the Raptors win tonight, finish with the seventh-worst record, but then end up with some lottery luck and snag a top-three pick. Well anything outside of a top-three pick means New Jersey’s pick goes to Portland (because of the Gerald Wallace deadline day trade), so the Nets would then be left to think about how a win in game no. 82 actually would have saved their pick.

The point being that while I obviously want the Raptors to finish with the best possible chance at winning the lottery, or at the very least moving up, I’m just as worried about being careful what I wish for when at the end of the day, we’re dealing with a lottery.

Here’s how the schedule looks for the teams Raptors fans should be keeping an eye on tonight:

Nets @ Raptors (22 wins each) 7 p.m.

Hornets: 21 wins, @ Houston 8 p.m.

Kings: 21 wins, hosting the Lakers 10:30 p.m.

Cavs: 21 wins, @ Chicago 8:00 p.m.

Warriors: 23 wins, hosting the Spurs 10:30 p.m.

And here’s the breakdown of the lottery percentages for the positions the Raptors can finish in:

3rd-worst: 156 combinations, 15.6% chance

4th-worst: 119 combinations, 11.9% chance

5th-worst: 88 combinations, 8.8% chance

6th-worst: 63 combinations, 6.3% chance

7th-worst: 43 combinations, 4.3% chance

8th-worst: 28 combinations, 2.8% chance

Best case scenario, if the Raptors lose to the Nets and get wins from New Orleans, Sacramento and Cleveland, they’ll end up with a 10.65 % chance to win the lottery.

Worst case scenario, if the Raps win and the Warriors lose to the Spurs, they’ll end up with a 3.55 % chance.

I heard History Television may televise these games tonight instead of running an episode of Greatest Tank Battles.

Game No. 37: Raptors 83, Warriors 75

A matchup between the Raptors and Warriors used to mean a high scoring, throw caution to the wind type of ball game. This matchup was anything but, as the two teams combined to shoot under 37 per cent (58-of-158 from the field) while still finding a way to give an impressive crowd of 18,056 an entertaining basketball game.

In the end, it was the Raptors’ defence which reigned supreme, handing Toronto its 12th win of the season and sixth at home.

Now here are some thoughts of the game.

1- How ’bout that Raptors’ defence? The Warriors came into this game averaging over 97 points per game while shooting over 45 per cent, both top-10 ranks in the NBA. After managing to put up 47 points in the first half en route to building a nine point halftime lead, Golden State was held to just 28 second half points and finished the game shooting 29-of-80 from the floor (36.3%), including an anemic 28 points in the paint. Toronto’s defence was absolutely smothering in the second half, and this performance was yet another notch on the belt for the defensive development of Dwane Casey’s group.

2- Johnson and Johnson. James Johnson came out aggressive on both ends of the floor from the opening tip, and his high motor kept the Raptors in the game early on. Amir Johnson didn’t get off to the greatest start, but came on like gangbusters down the stretch to really help spark the Raptors’ second half surge. By the time the game was over, both Johnsons had put together impressive double-doubles, with the pair combining for 23 points, 25 rebounds, five assists, two steals and four blocks in 30 and 32 minutes, respectively.

3- While his final numbers may not have been as impressive (two points, 12 rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block in 22 minutes), Ed Davis’ hustle, especially in the second half, should not go unmentioned. Davis seemed to be doing all the little things right defensively, was very vocal on his own end of the court and made three consecutive all out hustle plays to save possessions for the Raptors near the end of the third quarter. Ed’s high motor on Sunday night and his defensive presence were major contributing factors to Toronto’s 12th win of the season. It was also nice to see him energetic on the bench, standing up and cheering his teammates on even when he wasn’t on the floor.

4- Of course, if we’re going to talk about individual performances in this game, we have to mention DeMar DeRozan, who scored a game-high 25 points on an efficient nine-of-17 shooting. I liked that DeRozan started the game with three straight aggressive drives to the basket and continued to attack the basket for much of the night, despite only getting to the free throw line six times. DeMar threw in an honest effort on the defensive end and even got his teammates involved with some nice finds on the offensive end. It was one of his more complete efforts of the season. Here’s to more of that as we continue the second half in this season of development.

5- Some thoughts on the Warriors. Golden State is one of the most confusing teams in the league to me. It’s hard to get a grasp on whether they are a team on the rise or a team stuck in a forever rebuild. On one hand, they have an incredibly talented, potent and young back court with Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis. They have a consistent big man in David Lee, a young coach in Mark Jackson who is doing a fine job with the team right now and a decent amount of cap space over the next few years. But you could just as easily look at the same situation and say half that back court is injury prone and the other half is inefficient and unpredictable. Their consistent big man is a defensive liability who has never contributed to a winning team in the NBA. Their young coach is also an unproven coach, and their cap space has rarely seen them land a marquee free agent. If you ask me, they’re just as close to the forever rebuild, if not closer, than they are to legitimate, sustained playoff contention.

6- Don’t fret, Tank Nation. While some may see a victory over a fellow lottery team as an actual loss, it’s important to keep in mind that the Nets, who will likely be fighting for one of the same draft spots as the Raptors, also picked up a W on Sunday. More importantly, it’s tough to find negatives when a victory comes as a result of the contributions of young players like DeRozan, Davis and the two Johnsons.

***

The Raptors will be back at it on Monday night when they host Dwight Howard and the Magic to conclude just the 10th set of two home games in two nights in franchise history.

Raptors Player of the Game: DeMar DeRozan – 46 Min, 25 Pts, 9-17 FG, 1-1 3PT, 6-6 FT, 3 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 TO

Warriors Player of the Game: David Lee – 39 Min, 22 Pts, 9-13 FG, 4-5 FT, 12 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO

Start time: 6:00 PM ET
Channel: Sportsnet One
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Amir Johnson, Aaron Gray
Golden State: Monta Ellis, Dorell Wright, Dominic McGuire, David Lee, Andris Biedrins

Injury report

Toronto: Andrea Bargnani’s return date is still a mystery.

Golden State: Stephen Curry is questionable for today’s game.

I just spent about three hours researching and writing this post about Kobe, LeBron and clutch shooting, so I’m going to mail this post in. If Stephen Curry sits out this one, as expected, the Raptors might stumble into a win here unless Dwane Casey sends out a clutch-time lineup of Carter, Forbes, Butler, Magloire and Gray — which wouldn’t even surprise me, at this point.

For what it’s worth, the Warriors have a pretty good track record against the Raptors — they’ve won 10 of the last 12 meetings between the teams. Don’t be surprised if this is one of those games where Monta Ellis goes berserk and drops 40-plus on his helpless opponents.

Getty Images

As Scott alluded to today in his game thread, an entertaining game was expected between two young teams that can score with the best of them and don’t really like to play defence.

Without Amir Johnson or Reggie Evans, the Raptors were fighting an uphill battle before the opening tip. It also didn’t help that something or someone stripped the team of its collective pride and heart before the game started.

It was evident in the early minutes that defence would be an after-thought in this one, as both teams ran at a break-neck pace on the offensive end in the first quarter. James Johnson and DeMar DeRozan had the Raptors in the ball game early on, but it didn’t last long.

Golden State hung a Raptors franchise record 45 first quarter points on Toronto and showed no signs of slowing down in the second quarter.

Of course, the Raptors also did nothing to slow the Warriors down, rolling out the red carpet and practically begging the Warriors to drive the ball through the paint and down their throats.

By the time the buzzer sounded to bring the first half to a close, four Warriors were already in double figures, the Raptors were already down by 26 and had given up a franchise record 84 first half points.

For anyone associated with the team, as a coach, trainer, management team member, fan, or otherwise, it might have been the most embarrassing 24 minutes of basketball they will ever witness. It just didn’t seem as bad at the time because their 20-52 team hasn’t played a meaningful game in months.

Are the Warriors a better basketball team than the Raptors? Absolutely. Do the Raptors have a sub-par defensive roster? You betcha. But believe me, this had nothing to do with skill, youth, injuries (Calderon left the game early with a hamstring injury) or defensive ability. The Raptors simply didn’t feel the need to put in an honest effort or an honest day’s work on Friday night. They showed up without heart and left without pride.

For all intents and purposes, they quit early in the second quarter.

There’s nothing to really say about the second half at this point. The Raptors “settled things down” on defence, allowing just 54 points in the second half and stopping the Warriors at 138. If you’re wondering, Golden State shot 61 per cent from the field…in the game, not just in one quarter or one half.

I won’t waste any more words or any more of your time on this game, because if you’ve read this far or unfortunately actually watched the game, it means you’ve already expended more energy than the team you follow did tonight. And they get paid a lot more than you do to use that energy.

The Raptors don’t have to win on Saturday night against the Clippers to prove a point, but they do need to come out with one of their better efforts of the season just to prove that they haven’t checked out early and won’t simply play out the string.

Raptors fans should be thinking ahead to the draft and next year. But the players should still be focused on doing their jobs.

Raptors Player of the Game: James Johnson – 36 Min, 14 Pts, 6-11 FG, 0-1 3Pt, 2-4 FT, 5 Reb, 4 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 Blk (I really considered leaving this space empty, but Johnson seemed to be the only Raptor who gave a crap tonight)

Warriors Player of the Game: Monta Ellis – 42 Min, 27 Pts, 9-17 FG, 3-5 3Pt, 6-6 FT, 4 Reb, 10 Ast, 4 Stl

Goat of the Game: Andrea Bargnani – 27 Min, 7 Pts, 2-10 FG, 3-4 FT, 5 Ast (That’s right, ZERO rebounds in 27 minutes for a seven-footer)