Good things from the Raptors; not so much from Brees
Overall, not a bad night for the fans and the lads, right?
Good defence against a bad team, very good offence compared to what we’ve been seeing in the pre-season and a road win’s always a good thing.
Biggest surprise had to be how well the offence worked (again the Cavs had a little bit to do with that); biggest disappointment, if there was one, was the continued lack of offensive production out of the small forward spot but that’s nitpicking.
And here we go …
A quick glimpse?
Got a first look at what kind of thing Dwane Casey might draw up in big situations and it was a good one.
He’s got two big weapons – Bargnani and DeRozan – and one of them are going to get the ball for sure, right?
Well, Jose dribbles down the clock, there’s a meanlngless handoff to kill some time, and there goes DeRozan around a Bargnani screen, heads to the rim, Jose hits him with a perfect lob and a dunk ends the half.
And if the defender had gone with DeRozan and taken away the lob, Bargnani simply pops to the top and probably gets an open look.
Of course, every scout in the NBA will have that play diagrammed for their teams by about noon today but it was a good one I’m sure we’ll see again.
Two big ones
Yes, Amir Johnson had a very good game, 13 points, 13 rebounds, three blocked shots in his first start and, yes, he was quite bouncy.
But he also made two big plays that few might have noticed but were precisely what was needed.
Final minute, game’s probably over but you can’t be sure and not once, but twice, Johnson gets offensive rebounds, the second on a really nice tap-back of miss, that seal the win.
That’s the kind of extra effort that should be rewarded, and noticed.
Fire the big guns
So, do you like the Casey “this is not a democracy” idea that’s prominent in the game story I’m sure you’ve all read and loved?
I do. Just hope it keeps up.
There is no doubt that, last night notwithstanding, there will be times when the offence isn’t as good as it was and this team struggles to score.
With the coach more than willing to clearly define roles, everyone will know where to look and who’ll get the touches and the shots and as long as the other Raptors know it, accept it and work at it, everyone should be fine with it.
Of course, there will be nights when both of them are cold, and Toronto will likely lose those nights, but having those two guys imbued with the confidence that they’ll get their chance has to help.
And now, a digression or two and more hoops …
Look, we all like Drew Brees, right? The New Orleans Saints quarterback is hugely talented, a nice self-effacing young man, having a season for the ages and just a good story all around; we can all agree on that.
But the thing last night? The chasing of Dan Marino’s single-season passing yardage record in the second-to-last regular season game? It stunk.
No one seemed at all up in arms about – probably because the home fans loved and it was a nice story and, well, Brees is Brees but, really?
Leaving guy in during a rout, letting him keep throwing meaningless passes to run up the score when the game was decided, including a totally meaningless TD that set the new mark?
Disrespectful. A nice little running up of the score and rubbing the noses of an opponents in the dirt that we’d be decrying if it wasn’t Brees and these circumstances.
Yes, I know. Good story, great record, helluva guy, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Let him get the record at the start of next week’s game, when that game is still in doubt and means something.’
It was nice to see and a wonderful accomplishment; how it was achieved kind of left a bad taste in the mouth.
So, Tristan Thompson?
As advertised. Active, long, quick, good rebounder, raw rookie, work-in-progress and really, really offensively challenged.
But there’s a lot of promise there, the Brampton kid sure looked like a keeper in his first game and when the season really goes south for the Cavs – and it will – I can’t see why he wouldn’t supplant Antawn Jamison, 84, in the starting lineup.
If they’re going to play Irving a lot to see what they’ve got, they may as well throw Thompson out there for 30 minutes a night instead of 18.
Although, I must say, a frontcourt of Thompson and Anderson Varejao may be retina-burning for its offensive abilities more than four feet from the basket.
I cannot believe I didn’t use this either yesterday morning or during the IGBT last night. Dopey me.
Speaking of the IGBT, we do have a lot of fun most nights. Read through it here and make it destination reading for the rest of the games.
Been travelling to Cleveland to cover games for something like 17 years now and saw two things this trip that I’ve never seen before:
A post-game spot that peddles Samuel L. Smith products (try the pale ale, you won’t be disappointed) and construction on a downtown building.
Teen pucks win?
They won’t be dancing in the street when I get back this afternoon, will they?
Seems Dwane’s been channeling, um, me with this quote:
“It was good that we had this opportunity to get our offence kicking a little bit, it’s still a process. We don’t want to get happy on the farm, it’s one game. We just have to continue to execute.
“Again, I like what I saw; it’s a process. I don’t want to get too excited on wins and I don’t want to get too upset with losses. There’s 65 more game.”
Long drive back, lots of work to do when it's over; if I'm a tad late on comments, don't get upset, promise I'll get to 'em.