It’s been a great little run the Raptors have been on, but it was bound to end sometime and it made sense that Atlanta came back to exact some revenge on the raps after Toronto surprised them in Atlanta a night ago.
The Raptors looked pretty good for three quarters but simply ran out of gas against a better opponent.
Still on the positive side it was nice to see Demar Derozan, once again, rise to the challenge of being a number one option and it was great to see Solomon Alabi playing meaningful minutes and contributing in some way.
This is the Raptor squad we were expecting these last few games. A tough, competitive bunch that finds itself overmatched in most games. Despite the loss, the Raptors battled and had lots of positive to take away.
Zan for Three
The Terrible Ivan
So Ivan Johnson is a really scary looking dude. He’s also a huge pain in the butt for defenders under the basket. Many times on Monday he was able to steal rebounds away from Raptor forwards and turn them into second chances or points. He intimidates out there and plays the game fiercely.
The Hawks are going to need his toughness as they head into the playoffs without a proven big man. Horford is out and they’ve also likely lost Zaza Pachulia for their first round matchup. They are going to need someone strong to take on the likes of Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett in the first round of the playoffs.
Ivan Johnson is their only hope. He’s as tough as they come but he lacks the height. Garnett and Bass will take advantage of that, but if Ivan plays with the toughness he did on Monday night he may give the Celtics front court more than they can handle.
James Johnson Back on Course
For a few weeks it seemed like whatever beef Dwane Casey and James Johnson had with each other was going to derail Johnson’s strong start to the season. He wasn’t getting minutes and when he was he wasn’t very productive. He looked lost and like he no longer belonged in the Raptors plans.
The last two night against Atlanta, Johnson has found his old form. He’s filling up all areas of the stat sheet and contributing on both ends of the floor.
Early in the season it looked like Johnson might be a nice piece for the Raptors to hold on to as they look to the future and now it appears that way again. Johnson is versatile, can play many positions and defends the ball very well. He contributes with points, assists, rebounds and blocks. He’s a multi faceted player and seems to be putting his name back into the off-season conversation.
Tonight we finally got to see what happens when you release Alabi from the bench. The results were as expected; mixed. Alabi looked lost out there at times but occasionally found his way. He was active in the paint and threw down a couple of nice dunks. In the end he finished with 8 points and 9 rebounds. Not a bad statline for someone who’s been getting only garbage time minutes all year.
Zan of the Night
Active inside, defensive pain and ultimately the biggest difference in the game. He worked the Raptors inside so that his more offensively gifted teammates could be open on the outside. The Raptors had no answers to Ivan, he was simply too tough underneath the basket.
Not Zan of the Night
Yes he was quite effective in his limited minutes and hd a pretty decent shooting night off the bench, but I just hate him so. And apparently I’m not the only one who has never forgiven Mr. McGrady for leaving Toronto just before team embarked on its greatest run. McGrady could have been part of a Raptor dynasty. Instead he left and now boos rain down on him every time he plays in the city. One would’ve thought the fans would be over it. Not likely ever to happen.
The Zan Tabak Herald