Raptors down Real Madrid 102-96 in Pre-Season opener

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

The Raptors have started their "culture of change" by taking out Real Madrid in a rematch of their loss 5 years ago. Kinnon Yee breaks it down

It wasn't pretty, but it got the results done.

And heck, we're going to get good headlines in two countries across TWO continents.

Yes, we're just as good as the Memphis Grizzlies.

In a game that no one will remember as an instant classic, the Raptors have already begun to show what many fear in their first pre-season win.

First, our starters are not very good. They COULD be, but they're far outpaced by our secondary team.

You can chalk it up to effort, you can chalk it up to the level of competition, or you can chalk it up to being Game 1 of Pre-Season, but the starting lineup of Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Landry Fields, Andrea Bargnani, and Aaron Gray really stunk it up.

Jose Calderon looked like a point guard who probably has been practicing with the second unit as he was unable to find a good rhythm or chemistry with this similar starting unit that he was in charge of last year. DeRozan, while being the highest scorer on the Raptors and showing some new rebounding skills, still required a jump start from his teammates to get going. Landry Fields, while in no way is going to be mistaken for Shane Battier, may become a very serviceable Anthony Parker/Carlos Delfino replacement that we've been looking for. Aaron Gray will be as Aaron Gray needs to be on this team. Not too spectacular, but can fill the role that has been left vacant since Eric Montross broke his foot.

And after not wanting to talk about Bargnani in the Ed Davis thread the other day, the big Italian forces my hand here.

I keep telling myself that it's merely one game, but the fact is, Andrea rushed himself out of what could and should have been a reveal party that indicated he's back to the way he was for the first 13 games last year.

He rushed himself out of making easy post moves. He rushed himself out of consistently posting up and getting some rebounds. He rushed himself back to the three point line which is precisely where we don't need him. I'm not even going to start on his positioning. I'm just hoping that he finds that form again sooner rather than later. Heck, Dwane Casey may just need to tell him that we need at least 6 rebounds per game from him again.

The second unit, as predicted, saved the first unit with their tenacity and energy. With Amir Johnson and Ed Davis on the floor playing along with Terrence Ross, John Lucas, and Linas Kleiza, the Raptors came back and found players willing to initiate the style that Dwane Casey wants to run.

Upon insertion, Amir showed he has chemistry both with Calderon and Lucas and provided an argument as to why he needs to be the first big off the bench on this team. In fact, he played so well that Dwane Casey decided to start the second half with Amir instead of Aaron Gray, just to inject some energy into the starting unit. Ed Davis did his best to be around and even managed to force some surprise turnovers out of Real Madrid. John Lucas was a steadying hand with "Jarret Jack" apt-timed-shots. Linas showed that he can be effective if he drives it to the paint, and Terrence Ross...

If Terrence Ross continues what we saw the other day, he could very well be the second coming of Mo Pete. He's a tenacious defender who has decent handles but can fill it up from just about anywhere on the floor. Coming up with timely threes and mid-range jump shots, Ross also showed us that he can take charges and anticipate passes with the best of them.

Which is why, during the game, it just made me angrier and angrier to see Bargnani camped out at the line.

Ok, ok. Linas Kleiza was out there too.

But here's my point. Ross is the one who should be taking and making those shots. We now have a team where there are some good, if at least better than average 3-point shooters. With Ross, Fields, Lucas, Anderson and Lowry, the Raptors have more than a few shooters who can potentially shoot over 37 percent.

There's no need anymore for guys like Kleiza and Bargnani to waste possessions in a game and be out of position for rebounds. The sooner both understand that, the better off we'll be.

One last thing before I go.

Free Throws.

This team better get better at them, or I want the Raptors to make them shoot 100 of them a day, cause this game shouldn't even have been close.

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