After yesterday's loss to New Orleans you could say the Raptors season had hit the low point. But then, it seemed as if the team might continue to sink for most of tonight's contest against the Bucks in Milwaukee.
Despite the team shooting an underwhelming 40 percent from the field, an inexplicable 58 percent from the free throw line, and DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry shooting a combined 8-for-34 from the field, the Raps somehow found a way to steal a win on the road. On the second night of a back to back nonetheless.
Before diving into the game, the absence of James Johnson from the floor tonight was odd, considering he's arguably been the most consistent player during this team wide slump. When asked after the game, Casey said there was no prime reason for his DNP:
Casey: "Nothing James Johnson did wrong. Those three guys played well. I wish I could play 15 guys."— Ryan Wolstat (@WolstatSun) January 20, 2015
With Terrence Ross coming off the bench for now, hopefully this doesn't cut into JJ's run, as most Raps fans I'm sure would agree we'd much rather see James Johnson getting minutes at the three with DeMar at the two. As it was, Greivis Vasquez got the start (and apparently JJ's minutes).
In terms of the offence tonight, still much of what we've seen during the past couple weeks remained prevalent. Many possessions remain far too iso-heavy ending in contested, long twos. This is especially the situation when Lou Willams is on the floor with the bench unit, as he becomes the ultimate black hole while trying to draw fouls. Also the complete lack of competence when it comes to either designing or executing inbounds plays needs to be addressed on both the coaching and player level, as the team looks lost when trying to get the ball in play during crunch time.
The defence was at least average tonight, as the Raps managed to out-rebound the Bucks and keep them off the offensive glass. In addition, the defensive rotations were there, albeit against a Milwaukee team that doesn't exactly have a prolific offence.
It was fitting that tonight Terrence Ross, who has been playing at the equivalent of a dumpster fire recently, hit the dagger late on a baseline jumper further continuing the enigmatic saga that is Terrence Ross' 2014-15 season. By far the decision on his future will be the toughest facing Raptors' GM Masai Ujiri into the off-season.
Enjoy this win Raps fans, and hope the team can move forward back towards their full strength as they head into what will be a battle in Memphis on Wednesday night.