There were really only two possible outcomes for last night’s matchup between the shorthanded Toronto Raptors and the shorthanded Detroit Pistons: Either Kyle Lowry would drag the end of the Raptors’ roster to an inspiring win… or the team would lose in ugly, uninspiring fashion.
It was the latter, unfortunately. Let’s run through the thoughts as quickly as possible and get ready to do it all again tonight!
1. Broken Record Time
Stop me if you’ve heard these ones before:
- The Raptors struggled to defend the three-point line
- The Raptors gave up too many offensive rebounds
- Terence Davis played poorly
It’s the Raptors recipe for failure! And when you’re missing three starters, there’s not much you can do to alter the outcome in this case. Throw in a few “Gotta hit your open shots” and, well, here we are.
2. I’m Sorry, a Dwane Casey Team hit How Many Threes?
Twenty!? 20-for-41!? You gotta be kidding me, right?
Nope. The Pistons are just the latest team to light the Raptors up from downtown, led by our old nemesis Wayne Ellington, who shot 8-for-11 from distance (and didn’t even attempt a single two-pointer!).
It’s far cry from the pre-culture-reset days, when the Casey-led Raptors were pretty with their three-point attempt, isn’t it?
Also, what the heck is Ellington’s problem? This man could have come to Toronto in ’19 and won a title and instead he decided to jump aboard a .500, first-round exit Pistons team... and then jumped to the Knicks? And then came back to the Pistons!? You had your chance, Wayne. Leave us alone already.
3. Missed Opportunity
If there’s ever a bright side for teams playing with depleted rosters, it’s that the young, deep rotation guys have the chance to step up and show the world (and their coaches) what they got!
Last night, Terence Davis, Yuta Watanabe, Paul Watson Jr. and Matt Thomas… well, they all went the other way.
Davis, who along with Watanabe got the start last night, was objectively terrible, which should not come as a surprise to anyone who has watched him play a minute this season. Watanabe’s poor play was a greater disappointment, as he’s impressed so far in his limited minutes; last night he couldn’t hit a shot, and he was useless (along with everyone else) at closing out on Detroit’s three-point shooters. Watson seemed to be a little better on D, but finished 0-for-3 in 19 minutes. Thomas finally knocked down a couple shots in the second half, but I don’t think I have to tell you about his D.
In other words, no one earned a minute more of playing time by taking advantage of the extra minutes afforded them. Except, you know... they’ll have to play tonight regardless, for very wrong reasons which we’ll get into shortly.
4. Ugh, Stanley
Remember when Stanley Johnson had that run of games where he was money from the corner? Man, I miss those days.
Unfortunately we have to add Johnson to the list of guys who didn’t impress last night. He maybe wasn’t as big of a disappointment — he was solid on D — but he was also scoreless in 18 minutes. It looks like whatever it was that was powering his offensive game earlier this season has deserted him; he was 0-for-3 from the corners.
It’s a shame, because I was really happy when it looked like Stanley was turning things around, and as the Raptors trended smaller, it seemed like there was a frontcourt role for him as a small-ball five.
Now? I’m not so sure. And remember, Johnson thrived in these “depleted roster” games last year! Real bummer night for the Stanley hive.
5. F--k This Game
I know, you’ve heard it all before, complaining about the pandemic is yesterday’s news, yada yada. But it fucking sucks, man. By forcing the Raptors to play this game, rather than postponing it to the second half of the season that was specifically spread out to play make up games, the NBA caused this domino effect:
- Forced the Raptors to play shorthanded
- Forced the Raptors into an unscheduled back-to-back (again, shorthanded)
- Forced the Raptors to call up two G-League players who are now ineligible for the G-League Playoffs
And who knows what the outcome will be down the road? The Raptors 905 are now missing one of their best scorers and one of their best defenders for the playoff tourney. NBA-wise, tonight, the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks, both mired in the middle of the East standings with Toronto, both get the benefit of playing teams that played last night, shorthanded, neither of which should be happening. This whole scenario could cost the Raptors playoff seeding, including home court in the first round.
And why? The Washington Wizards and Memphis Grizzlies were given several games off in a row earlier in the season when their teams had COVID outbreaks. Why are the Raptors different?
How was any of this worth it, for one game, one of the worst basketball games you’ll see — to be followed tonight by another, surely terrible game? Who is tuning in to watch Wayne Ellington shoot threes and Terence Davis to toss up bricks, all from the quiet of an empty arena in fucking Tampa?
I just can’t believe this shitty game was truly worth whatever minuscule amount of advertising dollars the Raptors and Pistons’ local TV broadcasts generated.
All-in-all, I leave last night’s game feeling very underwhelmed about tonight’s. If the Raptors let the Pistons score 129 points, and lose by 24 while giving up 20 threes… how are they gonna compete against Boston!? On the bight side... at least it’s another early start and we can be put out of our misery before 9:30.