Going for the first game in a home-and-home series, the Toronto Raptors pulled out an overwhelming victory against an injury-riddle Detroit Pistons team. There's a lot to like and Vicious D breaks it down.
Ok, so a convincing win against a Detroit team that was completely decimated by injuries.
If the Raptors wanted to talk and follow a plan, they seemed to do it against the Detroit Pistons. With no Ben Gordon, Tayshaun Prince, or Rip Hamilton, and a recovering injured Charlie Villanueva, the Pistons just didn't have the firepower or defensive will power to stop the oncoming Raptor train.
There's a lot to like about how this team played yesterday. The Raptors seemed to start out low key and then just kept ratcheting up the intensity as their bench came in and Detroit just couldn't match up against them.
Earlier this year, this kind of game may have been a prime candidate for a major upset loss. Against teams like Memphis and an injury-laden San Antonio team, the Raptors simply came out flat, let their opponents gain some traction before allowing themselves to get surprisingly outmatched by their opponents.
However, the Raptors seem to have figured out how to put away bad opponents with this recent stretch of games.
Bringing the total win streak to three, the Raptors have continued along their plan during this "easy patch". They've taken care of business and taken advantage of a lull in their schedule to start improving on their position in the division (now sixth) and their win-loss record. Being able to beat this sub .500 teams is the foundation by which a 43+ win season is built on.
In a game like yesterday's game, the Raptors seemed to execute their game plan without a hitch. Andrea Bargnani lead all scorers and scored over 20 points for the first time since the beginning of December. With a sweet reverse slam to punctuate his night, Bargnani left his mark on the game with some adequate one-on-one defense, some timely baskets and a couple of blocked shots. In fact, Bargnani currently leads the team in blocked shots. Turkoglu as well has continued his imitation of a hot knife cutting through the sub .500 teams the Raptors are playing. With the ball getting to his hands earlier in the shot clock and Jarrett Jack continuing to hit the corner three, Turkoglu is starting to be settled into a groove. He is hitting his fellow Raptors with precise passes. Registering 11 assists for the evening, Turkoglu was the top assist man for the Raptors and out assisted Detroit all by himself.
Of course, it was the bench that once again changed the tempo and extended the lead.
The Raptors and media have started to talk about the "young guns" on the Raptors team, but the great thing about them is that they really don't do much gunning. The brilliant part of Sonny Weems, Amir Johnson, and Marco Belinelli's games are that they all are guys who can take it to the basket and have athleticism that they're willing to use in other areas of their game other than dunking.
For example, in yesterday's game, Weems brilliantly saved an out-of-bounds ball and made a perfect pass to Bargnani who drilled it from about five feet from the basket. Amir Johnson used his athleticism to shore up the Raptors' weaknesses and came into the game when Bargnani started off the game slow. Johnson ended up establishing the Raptors' defensive and rebounding presence in the game and the Raptors never looked back. Belinelli's contributions were a little bit more subtle. Bumping some of Detroit's smaller players while still being able to match them for their speed, Belinelli did a good job on defense while still being a play maker on offense. After all, it was his pass which led to Bargnani's sweet reverse jam.
So celebrating their third win in a row, we at the HQ are glad that this team is putting away those "easy wins" and are starting to show signs of a winning pattern. Rotations are getting locked, and Jay Triano is starting to do whatever he can with his substitutions to maximize his team's potential.
For now, let's just rest easy and enjoy the holidays.
Happy Holidays everyone.
Drink responsibly and enjoy the time with your loved ones.