40% vs 32%. If there’s no more accurate summation for the “rust” that both teams felt, that static should be the most prevalent. In what turned out to be a battle of the team that kept turning the ball over and had a ton of injuries vs. the team that kept trying to make it from the outside, the Raptors should be thankful to come out with a win. That’s not to say that the game wasn’t amusing or exciting as Gregg Popovich getting ejected and then the subsequent interview after the game was plenty amusement, but you’re not going to goad teams into making 7 more turnovers than they usually make. Certainly, the Raptors won’t play seriously injured teams for the rest of the year, and scoring 83 points won’t cut it most nights.
Nevertheless, there are some positives to take from this game. For one thing, Bargnani seems to be slowly picking up the fact that he should drive all the way to the hoop instead of taking a short dribble into a long range jumper. Making all four of his free throws, he also showed that should he get around the basket, he can make fouls happen while scoring efficiently from the line. This just might be the turning point for Bargnani (he showed flashes of this in the Phoenix loss as well) and if he can keep it up for a few games, we might see another scoring presence besides Bosh to rely on in crunch time.
We should also thank our lucky stars that we signed Kapono and got Humphries into the game. As our two most efficient scorers on the floor for the night, they probably made the biggest difference in making sure that we weren’t completely stifled by the Spurs’ own defense. With Kapono being his usual deadly self from the outside and Humphries taking it to the Spurs in the middle, the Raptors managed to get away with a makeshift inside-outside presence.
Nevertheless, the Raptors have to do better than this if they really hope to string together a long streak of wins. The Spurs without Ginobili or Brent Barry are not exactly a hugely threatening team, and taking such huge players out of your lineup is bound to make offensive adjustments that much more difficult. The Raptors do need to be given credit for really sticking to it though, and not allowing a banged up team to stay in the game (a la the Clippers game), but for me, I expect that kind of effort out of this team. These are supposed to be the defending Atlantic Division champions, and they better start playing like it. The Raptors were so effective last year because they made sure that bad teams got beaten, and good teams were challenged. With the easier January schedule coming up, closing off the rest of this West Coast swing at .500 (they’re at 2-3 right) would be a real feather in their cap, and would position them for a similar run as the one we saw last year.
Next Game: Toronto @ Houston