It was a strange game for the Raptors on Monday afternoon. It was close on the scoreboard and yet never really felt all that close. The Atlanta Hawks took it to the Raptors early and were able to hang on down the stretch despite the fact that the undermanned Raptors hung around all four quarters.
The Raptors were really missing Andrea Bargnani who was out once again with a strained calf. The offense was stagnant without him. Demar Derozan could not get anything going and became a jump shooter that failed to get to the line once.
Still the effort was there.
This may be a phrase that Raptor fans are tired of hearing already. It seems they are always on the short end of the stick despite the fight. The truth of the matter is that they lack their number one guy right now and don’t have anyone who seems ready to step up.
Without that number one option this team is dead in the water night in and night out. If this effort is going to start being rewarded with victories someone (Demar Derozan) is going to have to show up for all 4 quarters.
The Raptors saw improved play from Ed Davis and solid point play from Jose Calderon, but the Hawks were able to abuse the Raptors both inside and out. They got to the line 31 times and took full advantage of their opportunities. Josh Smith was an absolute beast scoring, seemingly, at will and controlling the boards on both ends of the floor.
Atlanta is one of those teams that you can’t quite figure out. Are they a contender in the East? or are they a treadmill team fooling themselves into thinking they have a chance? On Monday they looked like both.
Unfortunately both teams were better than the Raptors.
Zan for Three
Man, are the Raptors missing Andrea Bargnani right now.
The scoring has not been there and Dwane Casey has got to try to find scoring from somewhere. I’m not sure that the place to find the scoring is Rasual Butler.
I’m not a hater. I don’t think he should be banished from the team, or nailed to the bench but he certainly should not be playing 30 minutes a game. Especially when Linas Kleiza, arguably the better player, gets ten minutes.
The rotation has been über tight the last little while with Andrea and James Johnson out but when those two come back I would like to see minutes go to players that actually have a future here.
That being said, I am liking the way Casey has been increasing Ed Davis’s minutes and I am very intrigued by the way Gary Forbes has been used. Hopefully these are things we continue to see for the Raps whether we win or lose.
The Barbosa Factor
So Leandro Barbosa has quietly turned into our most potent scoring threat. With Andrea out and Demar unable to create his own offense Barbosa has been the most consistent scorer on the team.
Normally I would be in staunch opposition to this, except for the fact that Barbosa stands to fetch a nice price at the trade deadline from a contender if he keeps this up.
Barbosa isn’t part of the core moving forward. He could be dealt any day really, but his resurgance isn’t taking any time away from our young players really. When Bayless comes back I expect the Barbosa trade rumours to grow. Right now he is playing himself into a better return.
That’s a good thing for the Raptors.
So Gary Forbes really is an enigma wrapped in a conundrum for the Raptors. He did not look very good at all in the opening moments of this NBA season, but he is now proving himself to be a much more versatile player.
The Jarryd Bayless point guard experiment seems to be on hold even when he returns from injury and in its place the Raptors have begun a Forbes experiment. So far the experiment is, at least, intriguing.
He’s playing the point, moving the ball well and once his shot starts to fall he could be an interesting project for the Raptors coaching staff.
I like the way he played on Thursday for the Raptors and I have enjoyed how the team has played when he is on the floor. If nothing else, having another ball handler is a luxury the Raptors can certainly take advantage of.
Plus the foul…
Not enough love is given to Jose Calderon. Until Rasual Butler came along, Jose was the favourite whipping boy of chat rooms and twitter feeds. His defense is as infamous around these parts as a Shaq free throw attempt. This year he is quietly having an outstanding year.
Once again he will be near the top of the league in assists and assist to Turnover ratio. He has a fantastic shooting percentage and he is careful with the ball.
Tonight; another quiet double-double.
We’ve become so accustomed to the consistent play that Calderon exhibits that we often don’t give it enough credit.
He is a good player. A solid point guard and a good leader and floor general for this young team.
Zan of the Night
Early in the game he went right at Amir and Ed. He got to the line at will and shot the ball very well. Not only that but he was very active on defense and the boards despite giving up some size to the Toronto front court. The Raptors didn’t have an answer for Smith inside and he took full advantage of it.
Not Zan of the Game
I’m still hoping this is just an extended slump, but Demar is not coming up big when we need him to. Without Andrea, Demar is the number one option. But he is not playing like the team’s number one.
He isn’t even doing the things he used to be great at. His mid range shot is not falling, he isn’t getting to the line and his shot selection has gone completely to hell.
Toronto needs Demar to step up and step up soon. Not only in order to give the team a chance to win, but to give the Raptor faithful some hope for the future.
The Zan Tabak Herald
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