So this was a frustrating weekend to be a Raptors fan. One game they gave away, and another game where they just couldn't get over the hump. I wanted to hold off on commenting about the Memphis game until I saw them against Orlando, but now after back to back L's, I am very disappointed.
The Grizzlies' game hurts the most in my opinion. Coughing up a 8 point 4th quarter lead is indefensible. Given the Raptors level of talent, they should have been able to control the end of the game, and close out what would have been a very nice comeback on the road. Instead, we have multiple turnovers on offense that led to multiple OJ Mayo step back 3's, which ended any chance the Raptors had at the W.
Orlando hit 17 three pointers, many of which were wide open and uncontested. No team in the NBA can win when they give up that many treys. I did find the fact that the Raptors battled back to get the game to 5 somewhat encouraging, but giving up 25 to JJ "the frat boy" Redick is even more discouraging.
So what did I learn about this Raptors squad this weekend?
1) Bosh, Andrea and Hedo are good for at least 68 pts a game. They are the offensive bedrock of this Raptors team, and I think they have proven that they can get their points.
2) Jose's 3 point stroke is MIA. This was a HUGE problem on Sunday against the Majic as Jose had multiple opportunities to close the game to 1 possession if he had knocked down wide open 3 point looks. This has to change. Am I confident that Jose will start to shoot the ball better? Yes, but he needs to find his stroke immediately.
3) The Raptors' inablity to guard the 3 point line is killing them. This problem is completely related to Jose's inablility to keep the opposing PG out of the lane. Right now, in both of the Raptors' losses, dribble penetration by the opposing PG has been the key to breaking down their defense. This was surprisingly less of a problem against Cleveland since Wright was about to slowdown LeBron.
I think finding a solution to point 3 will be key to the Raptors season, and here is what I think is the best way going forward.
I am about to link to something I thought I would never do since I hate Dave Feschuk more than anything else in the world, but he brings up a very valid point. The Raptors need to seriously consider starting Jarrett Jack (http://www.thestar.com/sports/basketball/nba/raptors/article/720221--feschuk-solution-to-raptors-weak-defence-start-jack).
From my vantage point in the ACC on Sunday, it was clear that Jose had no hope of stopping Jameer. However, Jameer was compeltely unable to stop Jose offensively as well, so its not like Jose is untalented offensively. I think Triano has a very important adjustment to make, and that is to play Jose and Jack together. Jack's ability to stop dribble penetration will prevent the complete defensive breakdowns that we are seeing. Jose is about 6'3, but I think he has the size to slow down opposing 2 guards. Having Jose's ability to shoot the ball, and drive it to the basket is a perfect fit at the 2, and his defensive short comings guarding quicker PGs would be somewhat hidden. Jack's defensive ability against other 1's should take the pressure off of the Raptors interior defense, and restore balance to the overall defense.
I am defintitely interested to see if Jay makes this adjustment, even if he just implements it in the 4th quarter.
I think Raptors fans need to chill out a bit since we are only 3 games into the season. All is not lost (yet), and this squad still has a lot of talent and potential!
Next up: the Pistons.