Dwane Casey was brought in to fix the Raptors awful defence. One Game in he seems to have made some significant progress in that. He also seems to have made some progress in making Andrea Bargnani pay attention on defence and on the glass. It all brings back memories of Kevin O'Neil and his one season with the Raptors. In which yes their defence was very good allowing the 6th fewest points in the league at 88.5 points per game. But the problem for that squad was the offence in which they averaged an NBA worst 85.4 points per game. Now Casey admits that there is still a lot of work yet to be done on the offence. Raptors did get stops yesterday but they also were in the Christmas spirit of giving with 21 turnovers. Celtics were without Paul Pierce and played their starters reduced minutes. All that being said based on the focus of training camp you have to say aside from not getting the win it was a success.
The Raptors got little to no production from Andrea Bargnani's old position at the 5 spot. Jamaal Magloire had zero points and played less than 10 minutes. Aaron Gray has only 2 points and 4 rebounds and Amir Johnson just 4 points, 5 rebounds and a block. This is a short term concern but in the long term people will point to the fact that Jonas Valanciunas is coming to fill that void next year.
Rasual Butler is still waiting to score his first basket as a Raptor. He was 0-4 and missed all three that he attempted from beyond the arc. Making a better first impression was Gary Forbes with 5 points, 4 assists, 2 boards and a steal in just under 15 minutes of floor time. Anthony Carter did not suit up in this game for the Raptors.
Raptors last two draft choices both had good starts to this shortened NBA Season with Demar DeRozan showing off his new found range he worked on in the off-season going a perfect 2 for 2 from three point range. He was 5-10 overall with 14 points and 3 rebounds. Ed Davis had a solid performance 10 points and 10 rebounds in 20 minutes of floor time.
While Bargnani was getting all kinds of praise for his new found commitment to rebounding nad defence it did come at a cost as he only shot 4-14 for 16 points but was 2-3 from the arc and got to the line 7 times making 6 of them for a team high 16 points. But the big bold number in the stat line was the 9 rebounds. Dwane Casey said the goal was to try and get Bargnani to average 2 rebounds a quarter. He manged to meet that goal in this one.
As for the point guard controversy that we are not going to have. Hard to pick a winner out of this one but if forced to make the call the edge would go to Calderon despite shooting just 2-8 he did have 6 assists and just 1 turnover with 7 points. Bayless was 4 for 10 netting him 10 points with 3 assists but 4 turnovers. If Bayless is ever going to take the job as starter he will have to do a better job taking care of the ball.
Back to the whole K.O Comparison. In that season the Raptors as a team shot 41.8% which was 28th in the league. Raptors shot just 38.4% yesterday. You can make the argument that team K.O had has more offensive punch than this Raptor team has. Vince Carter, Jalen Rose, Donyell Marshall, Morris Peterson and Alvin Williams. Even Vince struggled to get points that season with just 22.5 points per game. The question for the modern version of the Raptors is beyond Bargnani and DeRozan where are the points going to come from consistently. You also wonder if this new found Andrea Bargnani can still score to the level of the old one that thought defence and rebounding was for someone else to do.
This is all just a first impression though. Dwane Casey still has more offence to bring into the mix and there is going to be a period of adjustment. Not that anyone will admit it but some players are using up more energy on defence than they have in the past. It is going to take time for their bodies to adjust to this added work load. You have a lot more energy on offence if you are not going at full speed on defence. So let's see if the Raptors can improve the offence back to a level were use too without sacrificing the defence that we are not use too.
If that doesn't happen you could see a lot of nights like what we saw on Sunday afternoon where the Raptors can keep it close but ultimately not close the deal. Which for some is exactly what they would like to see. After all there is a good portion of Raptor fans that are already thinking about the NBA Lottery. Wins lose ping pong balls theory of life. But at least in the locker room that is not the goal. But to get more wins they not only have to pound the rock they need to shoot it a lot better.
Still if you did not think it was possible for Dwane Casey to get this team to play and buy into defence he at least one game in proved that he can make it happen. Keeping that going through what will be the grind of a unprecedented NBA Season will be the challenge.
So the Raptors fall 76-75 to Boston coming close but falling just short as DeRozan missed on a runner in the lane and Bargnani who actually got the rebound could not get it to fall on the putback.
Had a chance to catch up with Demar DeRozan and Jerryd Bayless prior to this game and you can catch the results of that in the next couple days in the DNB as the Raptors will take on this same Celtics team on Wednesday in Boston.