In our continuing look at "what might have been," the HQ breaks down last night's "simulated" win over the Cleveland Cavaliers...
Today, NBA players and owners sit down at the bargaining table again, the threat of de-certification now looming large, along with the loss of an entire season if indeed fractures show on either side of the table.
If both sides can come to an agreement then we'll still have some portion of a 2011-12 season.
If not, our look at Basketball Prospectus' "Sim Season" continues...
Last night, the Toronto Raptors would have been in Cleveland to take on number one draft pick Kyrie Irving, and his Cavaliers.
Of course, thanks to the NBA lockout, this game never took place.
But had the game occurred, Basketball Prospectus calculates that Toronto would have won in a romp, 102 to 80.
Leading the way for Toronto again was Andrea Bargnani but unlike Toronto's fake loss against Philly, this was a vision of the Andrea Bargnani that fans have been hoping for for years.
37 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, as steal and a block.
He was a stellar plus 24 on the night, and shot 53 per cent from the field.
Helping Bargs out was DeMar DeRozan with 18 points and 5 rebounds, a double-double of 10 and 11 from Amir Johnson, and an explosive 16 points in only 22 minutes from Jerryd Bayless.
On the Cleveland side, Antawn Jamison led the way with 22, and Ramon Sessions, Baron Davis and Canadian rookie, Tristan Thompson, all hit double figures in points.
From the BP write-up:
RAPTORS 102, CAVALIERS 80: The Raptors jumped out to an early lead thanks to the crazy-hot shooting of Andrea Bargnani, who scored 19 points in the first period. He finished with 24 in the opening half as Toronto took a nine-point lead into the break. The long, tall Italian tacked on nine more in the third and the Raptors pushed the lead to 14, then breezed through a stress-free fourth quarter.
I don't know about the whole "long, tall" piece, but as we did last game, our take on the outcome:
Three reasons this outcome makes sense:
1. Again, on paper, taking potential free agency period moves out of the equation, Cleveland even with Thompson and Irving seems like the least talented team in the league. So at face value, Toronto should have the edge talent-wise, and Cavs's games might be some of the few matches this season that look like potential W's for Toronto.
2. One of the reasons Cleveland lost this simulated game is because they shot only 35 per cent from the field. Last year on average the team shot better, 43 per cent, but they were the second-worst field-goal shooting club in the league, something that wasn't likely to improve by leaps and bounds this season.
3. Again, the box scores for key players on both sides of the coin make a lot of sense. Andrea is quite capable of putting up games like this, he did it a number of times last season, just not consistently. (In fact one good indicator as to the reliability of BP's sim season is probably to see how Bargs performs in Toronto's next game.)
Main reasons this outcome seems questionable:
1. Besides the whole "Reggie and Linas getting major minutes" thing, it's hard to imagine a game like this one where Leandro Barbosa attempts only three shots in 22 minutes. He averaged over 11 per 24 last year, so that seems a bit odd to me.
Also on the Cleveland side, they hit a putrid 5 of 27 three-point shots taken. Those are more akin to Toronto numbers, as Cleveland wasn't that bad from long range last year.
Of course it is just a one game sample so over the season perhaps some of these quirks even out.
How do I feel about this outcome in the end?
I'm pretty good with this result as well and do feel that going into tonight's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Toronto Raptors would be 1 and 1.