It was the Toronto Raptors‘ game to lose- and they lost it. Surprising, huh?
Typically, being outscored 33-18 isn’t going to win you the game, and tonight was no exception, as the Raptors fell to the Philadelphia 76ers 106-98. They controlled the whole game, until yet another fourth quarter meltdown, and it appears to be deja vu once again.
Kyle Lowry‘s return was a breath of fresh air, but wasn’t at his best considering he hadn’t played for a couple weeks. He ended with 13-7-7, but missed free throws down the stretch that played a factor in the loss will leave a sour taste in his mouth.
While the lack of a closer continues to hurt, the number one culprit continues to be Dwane Casey in this one. Once again, his questionable rotations sunk the Raptors down the stretch, as the 76ers exploited their match-up advantages. Jonas Valanciunas was the best big man for the Raps tonight, posting a double double of 11 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks, and was dominating down low, yet this resulting in him being glued to the bench when his team needed him the most in the fourth.
Another thing that Casey seems to love is playing two point guards at once. The most puzzling moment of the game had to be when John Lucas III entered the game to play alongside Kyle Lowry, leaving Terrence Ross on the bench. Ross once again finished with 0 minutes played, because apparently using two point guards is better than using Ross and a point guard. Down the stretch, Philly took full advantage of this, outsizing, outrebounding, and attacking the Raps.
While 3-8 isn’t exactly something the Raptors can’t dig themselves out of, it’s not the start they wanted at all. Smarter rotations and better play down the stretch could have the Raps sitting at around .500 right now, but that’s not the case. It should get easier for the Raps, and Lowry returning is huge. However, they need to get their act together as a team and fast because these are the games they have to win. You have to wonder when Dwane Casey will realize his rotations aren’t working out; as they are a huge part of the continuous fourth quarter meltdowns.
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