It's difficult to pinch yourself and start analyzing a game like that rationally. That one hurts. Forget the fact that it was a game nationally televised in the US; it was a terrible representation of the kind of basketball that has the Raptors sitting in 3rd in the East. If the first quarter was anything to go by, this should have been a walk in the park. The Hawks had no answer for the interior play of Jonas Valanciunas, and the Raptors were able to extend the lead to 13 at one point. However, without Patrick Patterson, the bench fell apart once again in the 2nd quarter. The Hawks peppered the Raptors with a 3 point barrage to flip the script. In fact, the Raptors needed a little run at the end of the half to even tie the game up 49-49 into the break.
The second half was much of the same. With JV sidelined for the remainder of the game due a lower back injury, and Amir Johnson battling foul trouble, the Hawks really took control of the game. Dennis Schroder and Jeff Teague were getting into the paint at will, and the collapsing defense really opened up the perimeter game for Atlanta. At that point, it was surprising that the Raptors were even staying in the game since the Hawks seemed to have the Raptors' number in every facet of play. The back and forth play continued all the way through to the end of regulation. After a comical final 2 minutes of fouls/non-fouls/calls/no-calls, Kyle Lowry tied the game up with a nice runner to send the game to OT.
From there, aside from a 3 pointer from John Salmons, the Raptors came out ice-cold. The offense went into iso-mode, with Lowry and Derozan both missing multiple jumpers. Fittingly, the game was sealed on an off the ball foul by Terrence Ross that gave the Hawks an extra free throw to extend the lead beyond Toronto's reach. The result really puts a dent inToronto's chances of hanging on to the third seed.
- Jonas Valanciunas: Being more decisive with the jump shot has been critical to JV's improvement as of late. He clearly has the ability to stick it from 10-15 feet, and as he continues to do so, his favourite pump fakes will become that much more effective. He was really the main reason the Raptors had the lead in the early going, and his absence was why they were unable to reclaim it. Get well soon, JV. 16 and 5 in 20 minutes.
- Dwane Casey: Recency bias be damned, I think that was Casey's worst coaching performance of the season. With the injury to Patrick Patterson, he's been lacking the creativity to get some effective minutes from his bench. While he can't be blamed for shots not going down, missed assignments on defense, etc, we CAN expect him to be proactive with putting the right players in the game. Hansbrough should have been in the game much earlier than he was once we say Chuck Hayes' ineffectiveness. If Salmons isn't giving you anything from the perimeter, there's no reason to let Landry Fields continue to rot on the bench. Unless you're actively using Steve Novak on offense, there's no reason to let him see any court time.
- The Bench: How much do you miss Patrick Patterson? No flow, no versatility and no results from the bench without PPat. They were minuses across the board in his absence, and Casey's going to have to find a way to mix and match with his starters, so as to not let games get out of hand. Five-man bench units aren't going to cut it and it shouldn't have taken tonight to realize that.
- Terrence Ross: I'm a believer in the ability and talent of Terrence Ross. However, tonight was a good example of why the advanced metrics still aren't kind to him on the defensive end. He was torched by Teague on multiple drives, and went dancing on screens aimed to get Kyle Korver open for three. If Korver had hit open shots like we expect him to, this game would have been over much sooner.
- Those Stands: How is that arena empty for an over-achieving 8th seed? The Hawks deserve more support.
Not his fault