1) Will we see James Johnson in Game 2? And if so, for how long?
It's been talked to death already by every pundit and analyst across every platform imaginable, but I'm here to ask it again. Will James Johnson get some run in Game 2? And what kind of over/under line can we set on his minutes? Is 19.5 to high?
After being (fairly) criticized for not playing Johnson at all in Game 1, coach Dwane Casey stuck by his guns in saying that Johnson is a "matchup" player. He said that while JJ has a place in this series, it's still being worked out what exactly that place is. (Cut to every Raptors fan screaming: his place is at the 4 to cover Paul Pierce! But I digress.)
In truth, Johnson is just one piece of the Toronto win puzzle. He's not going to solve every problem the team currently faces in their shooting woes and lack of rebounding. But, with Tyler Hansbrough out-matched on the perimeter, and Terrence Ross being largely ineffective (to say nothing of Greivis Vasquez' general invisibility save for a shimmy or two), it feels like Johnson has to play at some point.
2) Is the three-guard lineup the best option?
Three of the top four lineups used in Game 1 featured some combination of Vasquez-Williams-Lowry-DeRozan. (The most used was that foursome minus Lowry at 15 minutes). Two of those lineups included the three guard combination of Lowry-Vasquez-Williams. Since we're talking about an extremely small sample size here, let's look to the regular season to make sense of that trio.
In 17 games for a total of 52 minutes, the GV-KL-LW got out there and put up a defensive rating of 112.6 versus an offensive rating of 99.5. Yes, I know, this is still a small sample size but even anecdotally I think most of us are confident that a Vasquez-Williams combo is going to have trouble with defense. The surprise is that the offensive rating, unlike last year's Vasquez-Lowry pairing that blew teams away, is not exactly a fire starter.
So, do we see this lineup again in Game 2? Or with, presumably, James Johnson getting some minutes, do we look for more traditional lineups? Which one is more reasonable?
3) Can Kyle Lowry bounce back?
Through the absence of James Johnson, the rebounding issues, the coaching decisions, the crowd, the expectations, through everything, this - this - remains the biggest question for the Raptors.
Lowry's Game 1 was reckless and unproductive - he shot 2-for-10 from the field (including a big goose egg from 3) for a meagre seven points and four assists. Lowry looked like he was pressing the action as much as possible, right up until he fouled out of the game in frustration. Had it not been for similarly poor shooting games from John Wall and Bradley Beal, we'd be talking about this performance as a much larger catastrophe. If there's a bright spot in the game for Lowry, it was his rebounding, an area in which the team can obviously use all the help it can get. Lowry grabbed eight boards (including a monster one over the massive Nene that sticks in my memory). But really, that's complimenting the front door after the house has collapsed.
For the Raptors to take command of this series, they need Lowry. They need him at those November-December levels when he was driving hard for the All-Star game and winning Player of the Month. I suppose the question isn't can Lowry bounce back but is he even able to?
Game 2 is tonight at 8pm. What do you guys think?