It certainly was a night of emotion and drama, wasn’t it?
The reaction to Dwane Casey was as expected, the video tribute was touching and well done and well received.
Great excitement down the stretch with enough good plays and bad ones to dissect for the rest of today.
Three missed Raptors free throws were big, the Pistons executed two out of bounds plays in the last two seconds that were as good as you’ll see all season and, the outcome notwithstanding for you fans, it was one of those regular season games you’re going to remember for quite a while.
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And that’s about all you can ask, isn’t it?
Looking back, there was this:
Some work to do
As Nick Nurse mentioned right off the bat after the game, the loss was achieved because the Raptors took a collective nap with the 19-point lead but, still, the execution in the final few seconds left a bit to be desired.
Now, Kawhi Leonard dribbling the ball off his foot and out of bounds was a bit of a fluke – he got the clearout he needed and was just about at his sweet spot when it got away from him – but other than that, it looked like a team in a spot it’d hadn’t been in this season.
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They needed a marvelous play by Siakam to bust up Detroit’s first last play because they lost track of a back cut to the rim and then Bullock got way too open for the game-winner and they need to tighten up those kinds of situations is acute.
No one’s suggesting it’s going to be a chronic situation, one time is one time and there will be lots of time to work on it but they certainly weren’t crisp with the game on the line in the dying seconds.
But signs are there …
There was some really nice ball movement at times in the game, one noticeable moment coming in the first couple of minutes.
Leonard drove, kicked to an open Lowry in the corner but as the close-out was coming, Lowry made a nifty quick one-touch pass to Valanciunas in the post that turned into a basket.
We’ve seen them go drive-and-kick and awful lot and the bigs are becoming proficient and taking a pass on a roll and finding shooters in the corner, this going inside-outside-inside is a bit new and a solid add to the awareness level of where everyone is on the court.
A bit more of that would be nice, not the second swing pass out from the corner to another three-point shooter but a quick hit inside.
If only they were combined
Pascal Siakam wasn’t strong enough to guard Blake Griffin in the post – or on the nail at the middle of the free throw line – and the Raptors collectively weren’t quick enough to get out and guard him on pick and pop stuff that gave him repeated open three-point looks.
Kind of a troubling combination, no?
The absence of Serge Ibaka – Nick Nurse said it was a one-game thing – certainly didn’t help and while Greg Monroe was really good, Toronto’s lack of size and strength became a continuing issue.
The Raptors did do a good job on the boards, out-rebounding the Pistons 49-41, but there were issues with the bigs that let Detroit do pretty much want it wanted to offensively, especially in the second half.
But OG did do this, which was pretty impressive.
And a bit reminiscent of this, no?
By some numbers
45, 20: Three-point attempts from Monday vs. New Orleans, a season high, and Wednesday vs. Detroit, a season low. Making only four of them was a problem, too.
16: Fourth quarter points for the Raptors and that pretty much sums up the night, a discombobulated offence.
“Yeah, I mean, we know that. It’s not like we just discovered this today. We put in plays like that all the time in practice. He demands execution and we executed. Maybe to Toronto fans or to their GM, maybe it was a surprise, but not to us.” == Blake Griffin on Dwane Casey’s late-game play calls.
“I think just talking, man. Communication. Open your mouth. We’ve gotta speak, we’ve gotta talk, you’ve gotta say something. Can’t play if you can’t say nothing” – Kyle Lowry on late-game execution.
“They were pulling for me. I appreciate that tremendously. Again, it’s a player’s league. It’s about the players, it’s not about coaching. It’s about players. It’s about human beings. Those human beings, they felt for me. I was trying to deflect it as much as we could. Blake was the first one. ‘This is a great win for you coach.’ That means something when your star player comes to you and tells you that and other players join” Dwane Casey on the emotion his players showed.
All right, got to get going and figure out what Nothing But Net might be this week and then dream up some story for the Saturday paper because we’ve got crazy deadlines to deal with.
But need to make the usual plea for questions because there’s very little in the mailbag at the moment so go on over to email@example.com and unburden yourselves.
But not too many “why didn’t they do this against the Pistons or Pelicans” questions, okay? Don’t forget there are two more games before Sunday’s mail is up and you don’t want to get too caught up in the past.
Have a good day.