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Three things from the Raptors loss to Cleveland

That wasn’t a bad one for early in the season, right?

Not particularly crisply played game, as expected for so early, but a three-pointer that came down to the last five seconds?

There probably won’t be too many all season that provide that kind of drama.

Anyway, here are a few thoughts in the clear light of day and, yeah, I thought I might get some mail done to add to this but that didn’t happen. So full mailbag in the morning – probably around the same time – and if you want to get into it, go to askdoug@thestar.ca and let me know what you think.

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Mixing and matching

There is no doubt the Cavaliers present matchup horrors when the flip LeBron from the three to the four and to the five as they did a bit last night.

Give Casey credit because he didn’t let things get out of control at any point and he was more than willing to experiment with groups.

At one point in the fourth quarter he had a group of Lowry, Joseph, DeRozan, Carroll and Patterson on the floor to counter a Cavalier frontcourt of James and Love and it worked fine.

There were moments at the start of the second quarter when he had Carroll taking a bit of a break covering Jefferson while Patterson took James and Patterson did an admirable job on the block.

Toss in the minutes they stole with Poeltl (there’s a bit on them in this game thing I wrote) and you can see that Casey’s got a lot of different combinations at his disposal and he’s not afraid to use them.

Didn’t work out perfectly last night because they didn’t win but some night it might

The little things

Not a game-changer because there were all kinds of other things that happened, too, but …

Late second quarter, Carroll has a nice close-out to contest a Richard Jefferson three-pointer in the corner.

He forces the miss and the thing to do then is to lock up Jefferson somehow to take him out of the play but Carroll decided to leak out way, way too early.

What happens? The only thing the could. The ball bounces right back to a completely unguarded Jefferson who ends up getting to the free throw line while Carroll’s in no-man’s land running a fast break that never happened.

It’s an attention to detail thing we hear so much about. And that’s why coaches harp on it.

Timing is everything

DeMar DeRozan’s off to the best start of his career, albeit only in two games, and to nitpick makes little sense.

But little sense is what we do here every now and then so …

The play the run when he comes off that weak-side screen curls to the three-point line at the elbow can be lethal. He gets around his man off the dribble or gets some help from a second screen that puts him in his mid-range wheelhouse.

But …

What if he had a nice little step-back three-pointer off that play, a wrinkle that would keep defences honest, they couldn’t play off him as much, which makes everything better.

I know he’s been working on it and it’s silly to suggest he hasn’t been very, very good in the first two games but in that circumstance, it’d be excellent evolution to his game.

Okay, off to putter on mail, watch my Spurs and get into the day.


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