At half time I was ready to write up an article on how the Toronto Raptors are pretty much the same, bottom feeding team without Kyle Lowry thus far. However, erasing a 16-point deficit to 5 against the Dallas Mavericks in the second half shows what the team is capable of when they click.
Yes, the Raps would have likely pulled this one out if Lowry was healthy, however, Dirk Nowitzki was out for the Mavs, so that’s not an excuse. The refs were absolutely awful this game though, and made multiple critically wrong calls down the stretch, such as a ‘foul’ on Dominic McGuire when the replay clearly showed a clean block. This benefit of the doubt towards better players and teams is absolutely killing the Raps this season, and it has to be frustrating on the squad.
Aside from the refs, a few things killed the Raps tonight. Early on, Toronto got killed on the glass and second chance points were a huge factor. A slow start on both ends of the court is always a bad sign as well, but the thing that killed the Raptors the most tonight was Dwane Casey’s rotations. I know I’ve said this before, but Casey cannot be this sporadic with his rotations. He played all 13 players that dressed, and constantly benched guys when they were producing. When you start to make a run, subbing in Quincy Acy and McGuire isn’t exactly a smart rotation to roll with. Casey seems to continuously keep Terrence Ross glued to the bench as well, which is unacceptable considering he’s proven to be a solid producer at a thin wing position.
On the bright side of things, I can’t remember the last time the Raps fought back from a near blowout and actually made it close. DeMar DeRozan was looking Kobe Bryant-esque out there, posting a 24-7-6 stat-line with some fantastic post play. Andrea Bargnani finally broke out with 25 points and 9 boards, and Amir Johnson posted a double double of 18-11. Once the offense started clicking, the game turned around.
Once the team starts to mesh, Casey fixes his rotations, and the defense gets in check; this team should be fine. The fact that is Lowry coming back will also do wonders, as the Raps hope to have him back Saturday against the Philadelphia 76ers. However, it is uncertain whether Lowry will be ready.
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