clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Tip In, Raptors' Post Game: Pocket Full of Posey

The Hornets are sure glad to have Posey on their side...

The Hornets are sure glad to have Posey on their side...

Why does it that these Sunday start times seem like they're all over the place?

I can never figure out if I've gotta eat lunch first, wait for halftime, or delay my dinner. One day, I hope NBA schedule makers figure it out.

However, in a poor shooting performance, it was maybe the Raptors that were in dire need of sustenance.

In what can be categorized as a learning game, the Raptors tested themselves against one of the top teams of the Western Conference and found themselves not entirely outclassed. In fact, if the Raptors could have shot a higher percentage than their fairly terrible 41% from the floor, they probably could have come out with the win. What was most encouraging to me, however, was that the Raptors kept themselves in the game despite the fact that the Hornets threatened to break the game open at several points in time. And defensively, the Raptors remained steadfast in their resolve to protect the paint for most of the afternoon.

They just did it against the wrong team.

With a slow start on the offense, the defense of the Raptors seemed to get energized thanks to some good rebounding from Jamario Moon. Throughout the game, Moon was active on the glass despite having a poor shooting night and losing his man at times on the perimeter. Switches and containment of Chris Paul seemed to be extremely effective for most of the game until the final few minutes. The Raptors started to figure out that going to the inside against the Hornets seemed like the proper course of attack in the first quarter. Jermaine O'Neal got touches in the post and got to the free throw line as a result. Balanced scoring from the Raptors seemed to be the order of the day as well, as all the starters got their hands on the ball and threatened to score, making life extremely difficult for the Hornets. With Calderon picking up two quick fouls, Roko Ukic entered the game with a purpose to push and make the quick smart pass before New Orleans could set their defense. Chris Bosh also brought some much needed hustle by saving a couple out-of-bounds balls.

2nd chance points started to become a factor for the Raptors, but for once, it worked FOR them, rather than against them. Thanks to those hustle plays by Chris Bosh, the Raptors were able to stay with the Hornets despite some awful shooting that saw them lose an eight point lead. As the Raptors continued to struggle from the floor, they began to go away from their inside game, which would prove to be deadly. However, the Raptors continued to make the Hornets take shots deep in the shot clock, and for a while it worked. An 11-0 run sparked by that sharp defense and some aggressive help defense in the post allowed the Raptors to pull the momentum back from the Hornets. By continually pushing the ball up the floor, the Raptors continued to get mismatches for players like Bosh that they could exploit.

However, Parker Posey woke up and started exposing the Raptors from beyond the arc.

One of the concerns with the Raptors bent on clogging the paint is that if they ran into a team that could hoist up 3 pointers and make them consistently, something Howland discussed on Friday, Toronto would need to adjust from protecting the paint to closing out on shooters. Against the Pacers and the Nets, the Raptors didn't truly face a team with multiple outside scoring threats. New Orleans, however, has Posey, Butler, and Stojakovic. All of these players have the ability to punish teams who sag on defense. Against the best 3-point shooting team in the NBA, the Raptors just couldn't adjust their defense properly while continuing to remain sharp on the offensive end.

The droughts on the offensive end started to mount and players like Kapono just could not stick open shots. On the other side, the Hornets continued to make even contested shots and the question would be whether the Raptors could weather the storm in time to win this game, while tweaking their defensive scheme to compensate for the Hornets' ridiculous perimeter shooting. With Posey getting more open looks in the second half, the Raptors found it extremely hard to rally. However, players such as Parker and Kapono started to find Posey out on the perimeter, making the Hornets drive more into the paint.

It was here that we saw Jay go with a smaller lineup that included Graham at the PF position along with Parker and Moon to round out the Raptors lineup. While smaller, this lineup allowed the Raptors to have one of their most athletic lineups on the floor while not giving much up on the glass. With Bargnani unable to score, I thought Triano's usage of this lineup was key to keeping the Raptors within striking distance of pulling off a win against one the best of the West.

With just over seven minutes to go, the Raptors had to figure out how to keep exploiting the absence of Tyson Chandler on the interior but they they just couldn't keep it going. Bosh took his own fair share of perimeter shots and one particular ill-advised 3-pointer. With guys like Parker and Kapono unable to get hot, second chance opportunities thanks to rebounds by Moon and Calderon gave the Raptors a glimmer of hope as the game threatened to run away from them. Triano even tried to substitute out Calderon with Graham at the end of the game, leaving Moon on Chris Paul in attempt to put a better group of athletes on the floor to protect against the New Orleans' dribble-and-kick out offense. However, CP3 found a wide open Rasual Butler to put the final dagger into the Raptors as the clock wound down.

Nevertheless, the Raptors are starting to play more like a team on both ends of the floor, and I'm starting to feel that magic that I haven't felt for two years. That feeling that the Raptors don't have players that necessarily stand out every night, but have a team that is incredibly difficult to play against because it's five players playing as one. For most of the game, the Raptors remained competitive without ever needing to battle back from a completely insurmountable odds. If players like Kapono and even Bosh could have hit from their regular percentage, perhaps I'd be writing a very different recap. Calderon, of course, was on fire, but even with the rest of the team's shooting difficulties, I'd have to say that we saw lots of interesting and encouraging signs from this loss.

The Raptors can be fairly proud of the effort. It just wasn't good enough against one of the best.

However, there's little time to dwell on the past. Or heck, it's better to dwell on happier times of the recent past, as in Friday, as the New Jersey Nets enter the ACC to play against the Raptors tomorrow. In order to pull out a win, we have to look for the Raptors to take care of these three keys:

1) Build on Friday -

Despite the feel-good of the trouncing the Raptors laid out on the Nets, Toronto will have to build on the defense that they've put together in their two recent wins, while starting to compensate for teams that start to use the 3-pointer to attack and break things down. Against the Nets, I just don't think that the Raptors have to worry about hot 3-point shooting from anyone other than Bobby Simmons, but with Lawrence Frank being one of the first coaches to be exposed to the Raptors' new defensive scheme, it'll be interesting to see what adjustments he makes tomorrow. Therefore, it'll be up to Triano to figure out from this Hornets loss what to do in the case that a team DOES start to get hot from the 3-point line.

Oh yeah, keep being physical with Carter and Harris please. It worked too well to not do again.

2) Brook Lopez -

If Hump makes it back, he couldn't have come at a better time. If not, we'll probably see just what Jake Voskhul can bring on the glass. With Brook Lopez undoubtedly becoming a larger factor every time the Raptors play the Nets, it'll be up to team rebounding to give guys like Bosh and O'Neal opportunities to tap loose balls out to friendly Raptor jerseys. Or, the Raptors could attempt to draw fouls on the big man, who has had his issues defensively due to his lack of experience.

3) Consistent Production -

Get to the rim, run, shoot open shots. The Raptors need to get back to that again tomorrow night, especially against a team I feel is inferior regardless of record. Yes, the Raptors have had a tougher schedule and are coming off a back to back night against the Hornets, but the Raptors simply cannot take any steps back at this point. Getting Kapono, Moon, and Graham back to their numbers in the past few games is important because the Raptors need to establish a benchmark and norm for their players to be hitting. Consistent production is the name of the game, which is the hallmark of all top tier NBA teams.

Vicious D