As I'm sure many of you already know, last night's game was not televised by either team and thus footage of the game was rather difficult to come by. With this in mind, I have decided to provide some scattered thoughts on the game based on the information about it that i could muster up, in place of a traditional recap.
Opening Quarter Woes Continue:
The Raptors have struggled mightily in first quarters during this preseason, and last night was no exception. The Dinos gave up 36 first quarter points which is the most they had given up in a single quarter in any of their 7 preseason matches.
Clearly the defence isn't where Dwane Casey wants, or needs it to be at this point. I would anticipate a few days worth of tough, defensive centric practices on the horizon for the Raptors.
Second Unit Comes Up Big. Again.
Last night, the second unit was again called upon to dig the team out of an early hole that the starters had put themselves in. As discussed above, this is a huge issue the team needs to rectify fast, yet on the flip side of that issue, the second unit has performed extremely well, which it must continue to do if this team is going to be competitive this season.
Amir Johnson and Jose Calderon both continued their solid play off of the pine. Johnson had another impressive offensive game, scoring 15 points in 14 minutes and Jose Calderon had 11 points to go along with 7 assists.
Bargnani's Offense is Coming Along
Andrea Bargnani saved his best offensive performance of the preseason for last. Bargnani lead all scorers with 21 points, hitting on 6 of his 12 shot attempts from the floor, including 3 of 4 from beyond the three-point arc. All of this came in just 18 minutes of work.
Efficiency has not been Bargnani's M.O over the course of the preseason--and in generally really--but the in the last two preseason games, he has shot and scored the ball in a much more efficient manner. That is going to be absolutely huge for him given his lack of production in other areas of the game
Valanciunas Continues to Impress
Jonas Valanciunas had another strong outing, finishing with 15 points, 7 rebounds and a blocked shot. Although Valanciunas was not going up agains Marc Gasol or Zach Randolph--Lional Hollins opted to sit his starting frontcourt--JV's numbers were strong and he once again proved that, despite being a rookie, he will not be pushed around in the NBA this season.
A Former Raptor Steps Up
Jerryd Bayless, now a Member of the Grizzlies, played like he had something to prove against his former squad. Bayless led his team in scoring with 17 points and added 7 rebounds and 5 assists in only 19 minutes of work. He also reportedly engaged in some spirited conversation with Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry throughout the game.
At the end of the day, the Raptors came away with their sixth win of the preseason. However, it is important to keep that win in context. Both teams relied heavily on their respective benches and the Grizzlies sat almost their entire starting lineup for the whole game.
Although the Raptors did show off some of their biggest strengths, it is evident they still have a number of things to work on, with their defence being perhaps their biggest issue.
For now, the 6-1 record will look nice on paper and will be encouraging for a fan base hoping to see some early improvement from this team. But, ultimately, that record means very little and the team still has a great deal to prove heading into October 31st.