With 2 pre-season games under their belt, what have we learned so far about this season’s Toronto Raptors? Let’s summarize the matches, then mull over the issues uncovered.
On Monday, the Toronto Raptors took a short flight from their training camp in Halifax to Boston, where they defeated the Celtics 97-89. The game was tight until late in the fourth quarter, as the Raps kept turning over the ball, allowing an inferior Boston team to hang around. But even 25 turnovers against the Celtics’ 14 couldn’t hold off the Raps and their balanced scoring. Rudy Gay and the surprising Tyler Hansbrough led with 17 points apiece, while DeMar DeRozan, Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross all cracked double figures. For Boston, veteran Gerald Wallace led the way with 16, while second-year man Jared Sullinger (who’s poised for a big season, in my view) scored 14.
Home court didn’t help the Raps against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night, as the visitors pulled away in the second half for a 101-89 victory. The Raps’ offense could only muster a total of 30 points following intermission, which was particularly disappointing considering the team poured in 37 in Q2. DeMar DeRozan led the scoring with 17, but Rudy Gay could only muster 11, and no one else even managed double figures. The Raps had handily won the boards battle in Boston 46-26, but lost it against Minny 41-35.
Observations & Questions
- The Raps need to find their 3-point shooting, tout suite. They are a sad 8 of 33 so far, with only Steve Novak (3 of 5 against Minny after not playing versus Boston) looking like someone who has a clue. A team without several significant scoring threats from deep will struggle mightily (less obliquely…they will lose a lot more games than they will win) in today’s NBA.
- No one from the scrubs has emerged as a pleasant surprise yet. Dwight Buycks has at least got some playing time, but was donut on five 3-point tries against the T’Wolves. I’m surprised Dwane Casey let him take so many.
- Quincy Acy, whom I hadn’t considered a scrub, is the only Rap with no playing time. What’s that about?
- Landry Fields is minus-23 so far, and has scored 8 points. In other words, there’s no reason to believe he’s arrested his career downward spiral.
- Where’s the offensive rebounding? Jonas Valanciunas had 2 in Boston, but none in Toronto. Amir Johnson has one, which is the same number as he has in made 3-balls. Tyler Hansbrough [20 second timeout: We need to find a decent nickname for this guy. "Psycho-T" doesn't work for me at all. Suggestions welcome.] had 6 against the Celtics, and won’t have any trouble making the floor if he continues like that.
- Kyle Lowry’s assist to turnover count is a truly crummy 9:5. FWIW: D.J. Augustin is 6:2.
- The Raps have had twice as many shots blocked as they have blocked (14-7). We don’t have any Serge Ibakas or Bill Russells on this squad, so we’re not going to be a shot-blocking force. But we’ll need to do better than 2 to 1 against.
The boo-birds will be out in force tonight at the Air Canada Centre. The New York Knicks are in town, and Andrea Bargnani best have wax in his ears. However, the Raps have a lot more to worry about than their former giant disappointment, as they are not ready to start the season by any stretch. It’s a good thing the team has a bunch more pre-season games left in order to work through their myriad issues.
Brian Boake is Senior Editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.
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