The Toronto Raptors dropped their second consecutive game last night against the Philadelphia 76ers. The HQ takes a look at the Raptors' struggles, including some areas where the Raptors are going to have to improve if they hope to survive their next stretch of games.
We knew things were going to get more challenging for the Toronto Raptors when they embarked on a 7 games in 9 nights stretch that started Friday night against the Cavs. Despite how daunting the next week of the schedule looks, i am not sure we expected things to turn out quite so bad, so quickly. The Raptors are only two games into that stretch and are already 0-2; loosing by a combined 47 points in those first two games.
This was certainly not the start to a challenging stretch that the Raptors would have hoped for, yet with the nature of the schedule, performances such as the one we witnessed last night are perhaps, to be expected.
Last night the Toronto Raptors got outplayed in almost every facet of the game by the Philadelphia 76ers in a contest that ultimately will stand as 97-62 pummeling of the Dinos.
For the second consecutive game the Toronto Raptors flat out struggled to shoot the ball. The Dino's shot 32% from the floor and a miserable 8% from three-point territory.
The struggles for Toronto were much of the same we have seen thus far this season. Toronto lost the turnover battle; coughing up the ball 17 times and forcing just 8 76er turnovers. The offense was again plagued by a lack of movement and dribble penetration which lead bad shot choice and the inevitably poor shooting percentage that goes along with it.
The free throw disparity was again an issue for the Raptors and is becoming a trademark for the 2011-2012 Toronto Raptor club. The 76ers made 20-27 free throws, while the Raptors made it to the line only 12 times, making 7 of them. Half of Toronto's free throw attempts were made by Andrea Bargnani.
The Raptors also failed to get any meaningful contribution from their bench. The Raptors bench was outscored 45 to 14, a truly insurmountable deficit for any team to overcome. The poor bench performance was
highlighted low-lighted by another bad game for Leandro Barbosa--his 3 point, 13 minute performance was as awful to watch during the game as it is to look at in the box score.
The Raptors worked hard, and actually competed in the first half; trailing by just 7 at halftime. The Raptors opened the second half with a run that brought them to within 4, however that was closest they would come. The 76ers answered with a 30-8 run that pushed this game out of reach, where it would stay for the remainder of the tilt.
The two biggest positives for the Dinos, in a game where there weren't many, were the play of Andrea Bargnani and Amir Johnson. Bargnani's offensive output was a tad inefficient, yet his 21 points was a team high as he was the only Raptor to answer the call offensively. Andrea's 11 rebounds were the more impressive statistic as he tallied his first double-double of the season and looked extremely active on both the offensive and defensive boards
Amir Johnson played outstanding, grabbing a game high 14 rebounds and was the only Raptors besides Andrea Bargnani to score in double figures. Johnson was impressive defensively and gave the Raptors another option on offense with Derozan and Calderon struggling.
The game was a match-up of very different Atlantic Divisional foes, that appear to be headed in opposite directions.
The contrast between the two teams is was an interesting one, and it showed why the 76ers are 5-2 and atop the Atlantic division and the Raptors are 3-4 and second from the bottom. The 76ers biggest strength, their depth, was on full display against the Raps; the Sixers had 5 players score in double figures, and two others that came close with 9. Conversely, the Raptors had just two double figure scorers with the next closest scorer being Derozan, who had only 8.
Philadelphia's great start this season has been due in large part to that depth, and it will continue to be an asset as they attempt to navigate their way through the grueling 66 game schedule.
The Raptors, on the flip side, showed a glaring lack of depth last night-a problem that has plagued the team during each of their losses this season. With the schedule the way it is, there are going to be nights when the starters cannot find their legs, and struggle to get their shots to fall. On those nights, the bench is going to have to show some life, otherwise the Dinos will not stand a chance when their schedule get's more compact in the coming days.
The Raptors will have only one day off before they take on the Timberwolves Monday night at the ACC. That game marks the beginning of the Raptors' only back-to-back-to-back of the season. If the Raptors are going to have any success against Kevin Love and the T'Wolves they are going to have to show the ability to put these past two games behind them and come out with some energy on Monday night.