The Toronto Raptors somehow pulled it out on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks with a 92-89 win. This game was ugly from top to bottom and it most certainly won’t make ESPN classics. The game ended on a total blown defensive assignment allowing for an ocean-like open look for Brandon Knight, of which he would miss.
The offence seemed to be clicking for the Raptors in the first half, putting up 53 points on a very healthy shooting percentage. The script would completely flip however, coming out of the locker room as the team put up an abysmal 15 points, at one point reaching 1-12 shooting. The shooting woes would continue into the fourth as the team would finish the game shooting 40% from the field and 25% from deep. The team’s saving grace was their cagey defensive effort, holding the Bucks to 44.7% from the floor and just under 28% from three.
One of the major stories was Dwane Casey’s… let’s just say interesting rotations. After rising star centre Jonas Valanciunas put up a double double in the first half on 5/8 shooting. After turning the ball over five times in the game, Casey gave Valaciunas the night off, benching him for the entire fourth quarter. Valanciunas would have been a welcome dimension to the fourth quarter unit as the team’s guard play and perimeter shooting were being largely ineffective. Such a trend has been a constant source of frustration for Raptors fans, though it seems to be a trend that will not soon change.
Another interesting development in the game was the healthy scratch of James Johnson. While the Raptors made a significant lineup change by starting Greivis Vasquez and moving struggling young guard Terrence Ross to the second unit, it’s still baffling that the Raptors’ best wing defender by a mile and a legitimate slasher in Johnson received the coach DNP. Of course there is the history of clashes between Casey and Johnson and character concerns in his other NBA stops, but saying the two are related is purely speculation at this point, Stay tuned.
Let’s go to the report card.
As stated earlier, the Raptors’ offence tonight was nothing short of putrid. The team shot terribly from the field along with an extremely frustrating 58% from the charity stripe. It seemed to be one of those nights where there was a lid on the rim. Especially disappointing was the performance of returning All-Star DeMar Derozan. Derozan put up likely one of the worst games of his professional career putting up 0 points on 0-9 shooting. After putting up 20 plus in his first two games back, it seemed Derozan’s rust and lack of conditioning caught up with him on this second night of a back to back.
Yeah, you read it right, the Raptors owned the Bucks on the defensive end in this game. The Raptors turned the Bucks over 17 times leading to 13 points. Perhaps the Bucks were just flat out bad offensively but the team’s play tonight on their end of the court should hopefully provide much needed momentum for the Raptors recently lethargic defence.
Led by Patrick Patterson’s surprising 13 rebounds, the Raptors dominated on the glass with 54 total boards. Also the team was able to pull down 20 rebounds on the offensive end which certainly helped the team hold on to the little momentum they had. Of course it could be attributed to the large amount of missed shots, but that’s neither here nor there.
Game Ball: Terrence Ross
Nope, not a typo. Just 24 hours ago many Raptors fans were ready to drive Ross to Pearson Airport. Coach Dwane Casey made the decision prior to tip off to move the guard to the bench. The move looked to work wonders for his game. Ross put up 16 points on 7-12 shooting along with five rebounds. He also showed a noticeable renewed energy and swagger on the court. Of course it’s still early but we should expect to see more of him in a reverse role.