10 things I saw from Raptors-Wizards (Nov. 5)

  1. What’s the excuse this time? Yet another slow start from a fully healthy Raptors team at home. They dug themselves into a massive hole early on by playing with the intensity of of a koala on tranquilizers. They woke up after the first quarter, but they could never recover. That’s on Dwane Casey and the veteran leaders.
  2. Boneheaded: The ever-ornery Kyle Lowry got himself kicked out early on for talking to the ref. Was it a quick ejection? Absolutely. He said “That’s a fucking foul” which should be one tech, not two. But this is Lowry’s MO each time he struggles: Lowry displaces his anger and picks a fight. That’s not leadership, that’s selfishness.
  3. How they cut it to four: Energy and defense. The Raptors have gotten by all season thanks to a strong and active defense — primarily from the bench — that leads the league in deflections. Strong defense stymied a Wizards team without John Wall (shoulder) and they got an unlikely boost.
  4. The Wave God appears: I gotta eat some of my criticism of Fred VanVleet, because when the games get tough, FVV keeps his cool and stays aggressive. He single-handedly carried the offense in the third and fourth quarter by driving and finishing at the rim, while also finding Pascal Siakam and Bebe Nogueira for assists.
  5. So why did they lose? Casey inexplicably put Jonas Valanciunas in at center and the Wizards immediately went on a 12–2 run. Valanciunas struggled all game when defending the high screen with Marcin Gortat, and that’s exactly where the Wizards went each time. First play: Jonas sags into the paint and lets Bradley Beal (38 points) rise for an open three. Next play: Jonas challenges Kelly Oubre but couldn’t stop the layup. Then it’s foul after foul on the perimeter to put the Wizards in the bonus.
  6. Every time: How many times in a row has Gortat sonned Jonas? And you know why this happens? It’s not because Gortat has more skills or more size, it’s because he is infinitely smarter than Jonas, who has always lacked basketball IQ.
  7. It’s not hindsight: Bebe needed some rest after putting in an energetic shift, so someone had to play center. The options were Jakob Poeltl (provides energy), Serge Ibaka (strong second half, credible rim protector), or Jonas (bad all game, slower than rush hour Gardiner traffic). Casey made the wrong move and lost this one.
  8. Positive signs: FVV was incredible and probably just saved his spot in the rotation … Norman Powell had a strong game especially when he attacked the basket … Siakam is starting to consistently change the game with his energy.
  9. Book is out: The Wizards straight up played zone for most of the game because they knew the Raptors couldn’t shoot. This problem only got worse once Lowry was ejected, especially since CJ Miles was still flu-ridden and looked lifeless. They hit 5–24 from deep. It was pathetic.
  10. Support my Patreon: You couldn’t pay me to watch this shit (well, you can).