In their continued look at Basketball Prospectus' simulated season, the HQ breaks down Toronto's Saturday night loss to Minny...
Ultimatums, ass-hattery and fractured teams on both sides of the table marked yesterday's latest round of NBA labour-market talks.
The sides met on Saturday evening and the eventual outcome was an ultimatum issued by NBA owners, one that can't sit well with the players' union.
SB Nation's Tom ZIller described David Stern as "Godzilla" in his post on the matter and based on the reports from the latest round of CBA talks, it's not hard to see why.
In the meantime, here at the HQ, we're going to pretend as if the season continues on by examining Basketball Prospectus' latest simulation of Raptors action from Saturday night's slew of games. At times these "SIM stats" don't get until later in the day so apologies for the lack of a recap yesterday.
The Saturday night match in any event would have been an interesting one to watch as it featured two of the youngest teams in the league, and two clubs that have been spending a good deal of time in the NBA basement that last while. The Raps were fresh off a win over the Cavs Friday night, and a match this early in the year versus the Wolves would have given them a chance to potentially grab another W before the schedule got too tough.
Unfortunately, based on Basketball Prospectus' report, it was not to be.
From the BP write-up:
TIMBERWOLVES 107, RAPTORS 97: I lauded the young Timberwolves in yesterday's post and with Toronto visiting the Target Center, Minnesota had a golden opportunity to move over .500 on the young season. The game was tied at the half, with neither squad able to get more than a six-point lead. Four points was the biggest advantage in the third quarter, which ended onWayne Ellington three-pointer that left Minnesota up 77-76 entering the final period. That started a 14-4 Wolves run that finally gave them some breathing room. Toronto closed within four on Jose Calderon's free throws at the 2:34 mark, but Minnesota socred the last six points of the game and improved to 2-1. Ricky Rubio came off the bench for the first time as a pro, but scored nine points and had 11 assists in 25 minutes. Andrea Bargnani scored 29 points for Toronto but the Raptors sent just 3-of-18 from downtown.
Yep, Andrea was killing it point-wise again but he was only 12 of 26 from the floor and had but one assist, hardly getting his teammates very involved.
Scoring-wise he got some help from a number of sources including Jerryd Bayless and Jose Calderon, but the team, as noted above, was horrific from long-range, and that's what did them in.
Minny on the other side had big games from Michael Beasley and Kevin Love, and got decent production pretty much up and down the roster.
As usual though, our take on the outcome:
Three reasons this outcome makes sense:
1. The past two games on paper made sense to a large extent. This one? Hard to say. I'd argue the T-Wolves minus trades and free agency do have the slight edge talent-wise on the Raps, but it's pretty damn close. So it's hard to say this one looks like a complete lock. However the Raps haven't exactly dominated Minny of late either, so I could easily see the team losing this one, and then winning their home contest later in the year to split the season series...
2. ...especially if the Raps shoot only 17 per cent from downtown. This was one of the major issues with the Dinos last year, and a box score like the one from this game doesn't seem to be a very big stretch.
3. Individually too, numbers from guys like Barbosa (2 of 7) work. Toronto has a number of players of this ilk that can win games when they're on, but kill the club with bricks when not. This game seemed to offer more of the latter and with little in terms of low-post production, it's not hard to see why TO kept firing them up.
Main reasons this outcome seems questionable:
1. Linas Kleiza with 10 points in 15 minutes of action? Really? Can't they just cut Kleiza from the roster and run their simulations, at least until Jan or so when we think he might be healthy enough to contribute regularly?
The first two simulations I was a ok with.
How do I feel about this outcome in the end?
Not as good.
I'm not saying this should have been an easy win for Toronto, hell, as fans we saw the team lose WAY too many of those "sure things" last year.
But it's also hard to look at this match and not think Toronto had a pretty good shot on paper to win it.
I'm going to let this one pass, but unless the club goes into mega tank mode as the year goes on, I expect the Raps to win their home match against Minny, later this season.
1 and 2 it is.