Raptors Rocket Past Houston for Back-to-Back Wins

Posted on December 17, 2012 | 2 Comments

I haven’t done any post-game summaries, yet this year, mostly because I simply haven’t had the time, and also because I DVR the games and watch the game after everyone’s in bed. I had a few thoughts about this one I wanted to share. I’m not going to go too in depth, but make a few points I thought were worth noting.

- Back when Bryan Colangelo traded for Kyle Lowry, I’d say I was in the clear minority of my criticism of the trade. While my big sticking point was the pick the Raptors gave up for Lowry (something that has become a cause for concern with the Raptors poor record), one of the reasons I wasn’t a fan of the trade was because I simply didn’t feel Lowry was all that much of an upgrade over Calderon.

While Calderon obviously isn’t going to play every game as well as he did in the game against Houston, that game is a perfect example of the importance of a pass-first point guard who understands how to run an offense. A pass first PG helps everyone get shots. A shoot first PG helps himself get shots.

- Jack Armstrong touched on something I want to expand on. A lot of people have said that Jonas Valanciunas and  Ed Davis wouldn’t work well together because both score inside, and you need a big man to stretch the defense.

Bullshit.

The idea of a stretch 4 is a relatively recent one. For a long time, in the NBA, both big men toiled under the basket without a problem. While it’s nice to have a big man who can pop out and hit the long jumper, it’s not imperative. Especially when both big men can move well without the basket, which Valanciunas, Davis and Amir Johnson do. As Jack said, though, you need a PG who can pass the ball.

- I had a discussion with a buddy yesterday about small ball in the NBA. Historically, small ball has done fine in the regular season, but in the playoffs, when the defense tightens, it doesn’t fair so well. He mentioned someone like Charles Barkley (I believe) saying that it can now succeed in the playoffs because the game has changed so much.

I agree, but only to a point.

The game hasn’t actually changed, just the players. Currently, the NBA has two great centers who can score in the post, and one might not even play this season. Teams can play small ball because there are so few big men in the league to punish them for doing so.

That brings me to the game, and my point. While it’s hard to argue with the results, I would have liked to have seen Dwane Casey put Ed Davis in for the final 5 minutes, and make Houston adjust, rather than simply following Houston’s lead. Considering how well both Davis and Amir were playing in the game, especially on defense, I would like to have seen if Houston would have been able to stay small with those two on the floor. Especially with Davis scoring so well lately, down low.

- Terrence Ross got some important minutes, despite not having a great shooting night, partially because he played such good defense, but one thing I really liked seeing was his efforts to drive to the hoop when no one else on the team was. Jack and Matt criticized him for doing too much on one play (he ended up getting his own rebound and scoring), but at that point, the Raptors so desperately needed to stop taking jumpshots, and he was the only one who got that.

- The fact that Jeremy Lin is 3rd among guards in the Western Conference in All Star voting is yet more evidence that it’s a joke. Last year? Sure. But this year, the game he had against the Raptors wasn’t all that uncommon. He’s having real trouble adjusting to playing with a SG who dominates the ball, like Harden. And right now he doesn’t even look like a starting NBA point guard, let alone an All Star.

- I’m torn about whether Valanciunas should be getting more minutes. I think he looks like he’s hit a bit of a rookie wall, but it’s not as if he’s playing badly. I’d actually like to see him come off the bench, and that way he doesn’t have to face the league’s starting centers every night. I think he’d gain more confidence and play better.

- Something I’ve always stressed is that offense can come from anywhere, but defense has to come from everyone. That’s why the Raptors have not missed Andrea Bargnani and Kyle Lowry nearly as much as some might have thought. Yes, both score a lot of points, but neither have been good defensively this year. And having a front line that works hard on both ends of the court can have a huge impact. More than this nonsense about needing Bargnani to stretch the defense to allow the guards to penetrate.

Is the team better without them?

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Comments

  • http://twitter.com/NomadCreatives Fred Galang

    For the life of me, I don’t recall a “stretch 4″ that mattered in the NBA. Nope, they’re not in the hall of fame either.

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

    There were certainly guys like Laimbeer and Rasheed Wallace, who could hit the three and were a big part of why their team won a Championship, but I really don’t understand this obsession the Raptors organization has with this idea of a stretch four. I”m certainly not against it, as long as they also defend and play defense, because there’s a hell of a lot more evidence that suggests you need your big men to defend and play defense than be able to step out and hit the jump shot. And, unfortunately, that’s been a big problem with the Raptors until the last 5 or 6 games.

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