Sorry I’m late, had a lovely time at a speaking engagement up at Harold M. Brathwaite Secondary School in Brampton early this morning and it was crazy early.
But this is done now, the lads had themselves a very nice if unexpected triumph coming from 17 in arrears to beat the Grizzlies last night and this kind of wraps it up.
And, no, I’m not sure where the Naismith Cup is, last I heard it was on a desk somewhere being used as a candy container.
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The Grizzlies did a fine job of negating Kawhi Leonard for most of the night by doing what the Raptors are going to have done to them a lot as the season progresses:
Sending a second defender.
Any time Leonard got the ball below the free throw line extended, a second guy came to help or at least shade to help and Leonard didn’t handle it particularly well early the game.
On one play he did: Seeing the double, kicking the ball out to Serge Ibaka and he quickly moved it on to Danny Green, who made his second three-pointer of the game, a relatively wide open shot.
They’ll see more of that, I’m sure, because the Raptors – last night’s torrid fourth quarter notwithstanding – aren’t the best three-point shooting team and Leonard is a bully with the ball down low.
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Extending the time
I’m not exactly sure how many possessions the Raptors played a zone defence in that second half but it was far, far, far more than usual and it worked entirely to their benefit.
Good teams can quickly figure out how to beat zones and many have so many good passers the only reason to play the trick defence is to gain the element of surprise every now and then.
But as Nick Nurse said after the game, necessity became the mother of invention.
“I was getting tired of not guarding them so I thought I’d try a little zone, and it got them a little [out of rhythm], that’s what you use it for, the nights where you try to get them out of rhythm a little bit. Fortunately, it worked. We kind of put it on and put it off a little bit, and it kind of got us to a good stretch in the third.”
Riding the top guns
Another bit of a change from the usual in that third quarter.
The Raptors ran all five starters for the first 9 ½ minutes, far longer than they’d usually got without at least making one substitution.
It, too, worked and Nurse was able to massage the rotation in the fourth quarter so that no one really had to play too many minutes.
Lowry and Leonard had 37, Ibaka 35 and Siakam 31; all a bit more than normal but nothing stupid.
Nurse’s in-game adjustments – rotations and play calls and minor strategic changes, continues to impress.
Was this a Siakim Spin, Times Two?
Looks kind like it, no?
Vince, doing things
“We had a gut-check in the second half” – Nick Nurse, under-stating.
“Obviously, we all know I haven’t been shooting the ball well so to get back on track is always fun. To come from behind, I mean it takes so much out of you to climb out a hole like that you are going to show some emotion but that’s probably as much as you will see from me. It was a big shot and a big moment in the game.” – Fred VanVleet
“They were attacking the paint kicking it and finding guys. Swing, swing and OG (Anunoby) hits a three. Swing, swing and Delon (Wright) hits a three. Freddy hits a three and now it’s a tie ball game.” – Danny Green on that hot fourth quarter.
Okay, we should probably get to some mail requests, no?
Didn’t get a lot yesterday, there’s always room for more anyway and all you’ve got to do is click on firstname.lastname@example.org and type your brains out.
It’ll feel good.