After the Toronto Raptors win last night, I didn’t feel excited. All I felt was slight relief.
Game 1 had my head spinning, emotions churning, and made me question my loyalty to this franchise, and sports in general. It felt like it was happening all over again. But, last night, the Raptors played like they should, taking down the Indiana Pacers 98-87.
At this point, there are a lot of random thoughts I have been having on the series and the Raptors in general. I thought I would share them:
The Raptors and their inferiority complex
I don’t know what it is. This team is the 2nd seed, finished the season with 56 damn wins, and are up against a team that is really not that good. And yet, they are playing scared, as if they aren’t equipped to take on the challenge. Raptors fans seem to share this inferiority complex, as if a first round loss should be the expectation, and anything further would be unbelievable. Hell, I read one Raptors fan say that after tonight’s win, the Raptors now ‘have a chance’ in the series. This is the second best team in the Eastern conference. It’s time to grow a pair and start playing like it.
DeMar DeRozan’s struggles
Raptors all-star DeMar DeRozan has shot 10-37 in the first two games of the series thus far. People do need to realize that Paul George is one of the best two-way players in the NBA right now, with elite defense that has smothered DeRozan. But, there was a difference in game 1 and 2. Game 1 saw DeRozan struggle. But game 2 saw him trying to change his game. He didn’t really try to attack the rim as much, forced even more tough mid-range jumpers, and didn’t look confident whatsoever. This was not a positive development.
I’m confident that he will get it going at some point – it not as if he’s a poor playoff performer historically. Dwane Casey needs to ensure George is guarded by someone else to conserve DeRozan’s energy, and try to move him into the line-up when George is on the bench to get him cooking. Expect a much better performance in game 3 from the all-star.
Sea of camo… or purple?
I don’t know what is going on with the MLSE game ops crew, but in my mind they have failed twice already. The crowd energy has been great thus far, but appearance-wise, the ACC has been weak. The camo blend just looked awful – no unity whatsoever. The purple admittedly looked kind of cool, but didn’t match the arena design or Raptors jerseys at all, so what was the point of that? Plus, the colour looked similar to the Pacers jerseys.
Just stick to a red sea. Not much looks better than that.
Jonas Valanciunas “breaking out”
Welcome to the Jonas Valanciunas bandwagon. It’s puzzling to me that the Raptors have waited until their backs were against the wall in the playoffs to finally experiment running the offense through the skilled big man. In my mind, Valanciunas has had the potential to have games he had last night on a regular basis – he simply needs to get more touches. Anyway, hopefully this means the Raptors’ most efficient player will get the ball in his hands more often, even after this series.
The Luis Scola dilemma
Luis Scola has started at power forward for most of the year. At times, he’s shown his veteran savviness, but for the most part he’s not been his old self. He’s a step slow defensively, lacks athleticism to dominate the glass, and hasn’t given a whole lot of offense. As we know, Dwane Casey does not really like adjusting. This is why we have a dilemma.
I would propose starting Jason Thompson, who has the length and athleticism to terrorize the Pacers frontcourt alongside JV. That would create some serious issues for Indiana’s big men. Unfortunately, I doubt Casey makes the change.
Bonus: DeMarre Carroll’s defense
From ESPN: DeMarre Carroll, inserted into the starting lineup in favor of rookie Norman Powell, held George to 2-for-5 shooting and two turnovers on nine half-court plays, according to ESPN Stats & Information data.
So, while Carroll has been useless offensively, his defense is starting to come around. Expect him to continue to get better as he gets up to game speed.