Zan for Three
Finish it up
The Raptors have had all kinds of trouble finishing teams off. They`ve blown a number of large leads to Washington and Brooklyn before figuring it out in overtime. It`s great to get wins in the end, but this is not efficient basketball and certainly has to be a concern as we move closer to the playoffs. More concerning are losses to teams that they should be beating.
If this team is good enough to take an 18 point lead into the fourth quarter they can certainly figure out how to hold on to that lead. The Raptors haven`t quite developed that killer instinct yet. They need to step on the throat of their opponents and not give them an opportunity to build momentum. What will end up happening in the future will look more like it did last night than the victory against Washington. Never let your opponent back into a game.
The Raptors have become incredibly dependent on the three-point shot over the last week or so and are moving away from what made them so successful to start off the season. They need to drive the net and get to the free throw line if they hope to remain near the top of the Eastern Conference. The free throw numbers have plummeted over the last few weeks and, not surprisingly, so has the 3-pt FG %. Everyone loves a good three ball, the fans love it when one of those falls in, but it is not efficient basketball. The raps need to get the ball into the paint and take the hit if they have to. It might not be the prettiest way to win, but it is the Raptors best shot most nights and is what got them to where they are.
DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross and Lou Williams have to make getting to the foul line more a part of their game plan. The three-point shots should come off of kickouts and extra passes, it shouldn`t be what they look for on every trip down the floor, especially early in the shot clock. The wing players on this team have historically been very good at getting to the line, especially DeRozan, and they need to get back to what they know.
It`s been hinted at in previous posts, but is there something going on between Jonas Valanciunas and head coach Dwane Casey ?
Jonas`s playing time seems to have been limited the last few games and he certainly isn`t getting the ball inside as much as he should. Obviously Jonas still has a lot of work to do as a professional basketball player, especially on the defensive end, his help defense is simply not good and his offensive rebounding numbers aren`t as high as they should be. The question remains though, can Casey really justify not playing Jonas at key moments of the game when he is an efficient offensive weapon?
Neither the player nor the coach will admit it, but there seems to be a problem between these two. In veiled post game comments Casey has been calling out the defensive effort of his players and often praises Patrick Patterson and Tyler Hansborough over Jonas. Jonas sits for large stretches during the fourth quarter no matter how his game is going and is brought back into the game at strange times. Jonas often looks frustrated sitting on the bench, especially in games where he is productive.
No matter if there is an issue or not, the Raptors need to lean a little more on their big man and take better advantage of his matchups inside.
The NBA season is now nearing the unofficial halfway point and teams are jockeying for playoff position. The Raptors are right in the thick of the race atop the Eastern Conference and need to start showing playoff intensity.
The Raptors won six games in a row, but looked really shaky holding on to the leads they had. They’ve now lost two in a row, but more importantly lost two games against teams (Milwaukee and Brooklyn) that they should have beat.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier in the near future with match-ups against the Spurs, Clippers, Hawks and Wizards on the horizon. The Raptors are in danger of heading into the playoffs on the wrong note.
This team needs to get this ship pointed in the right direction and they need to do it in a hurry or it could be a very cold month of February.
Flagrant 2The whispers about Terrence Ross are getting louder and louder and it is not surprising that many are beginning to question his place in the organization going forward.
Ross has been just plain awful on both sides of the court. He is forcing shots on the offensive side of the ball and can’t get the stops on the defensive side either.
After a series of awful games he has finally been moved to the bench and for the most part the move is working. Ross is playing more in the flow of the offense and seems to relish the lack of pressure in the second unit.
Hopefully he can get things figured out soon because his ability to spread the floor and hit the open three ball made him a valuable part of the team last year. As we move closer to the playoffs we are going to need Ross firing on all cylinders.
Zan Tabak Herald