The acquisition of wingman Rudy Gay plays into the Toronto Raptors' strengths.
That was evident when the Raptors dominated the Los Angeles Clippers in Gay's first game with the team on February 1.
Not only did Gay erupt for 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting in the 98-73 win in Toronto; his new teammates responded in kind. Shooting guard DeMar DeRozan posted 19 points and seven assists on 8-of-17 shooting. Power forward Amir Johnson, who has been strong as a starter for Toronto, racked up 19 points and 16 rebounds.
The acquisition of Gay - which saw the Raptors give up point guard Jose Calderon, power forward Ed Davis and a second-round pick - also could kick-start stretch-four Andrea Bargnani, who has struggled this season. Bargnani is a 36-percent shooter from downtown for his career, but he's only shooting 32 percent from beyond the arc this season.
Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said as much talking to Henry Abbott of TrueHoop.com and ESPN.com on Wednesday. He noted that not only does having a stretch-four like Bargnani help space the floor for slashers like Gay and DeRozan; it opens up good looks for Bargnani on the outside.
It's going to be interesting how the Raptors look moving forward with Bargnani returning to the floor on Wednesday against the Boston Celtics. Gay was outstanding in his first two games with the Raptors, scoring a combined 49 points on 19-of-39 shooting against the Clippers and Miami Heat.
Casey also talked to Abbott about creating fast-break opportunities by being disruptive on defense. Gay combined four steals and two blocks in his first two games with the team and the Raptors had 14 fast-break points against the Clippers.
While 14 fast-break points in a game is about the average this season (12 teams average at least 14)in the NBA, when you consider the Raptors are averaging 8.9 fast-break points (29th in the NBA, per TeamRankings.com) it puts a different perspective on the statistic.
When Gay was with the Memphis Grizzlies when he slashed, he had two big bodies in front of him. I'm not talking about the defense. I'm talking about former teammates Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
But, in Toronto, Gay has free reign to slash into the paint and that very well could make him more effective. Gay's move to Toronto not only works for the Raptors, it works for Gay.
His acquisition by the Raptors has led to a symbiotic relationship that benefits both him and teammates.
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