There are some good things and some bad things that come from playing an elite team back-to-back to start the preseason after such a long layoff.
We will be addressing issues the team had during these two games. We will also outline what we saw in the first two preseason games and where improvement is needed.
The Raptors have only given up 76 and 81 points, however, they have only scored 75 and 73, respectively.
Obviously there is rust around the league, so it is hard to suggest that their defence has greatly improved, but at the same time holding the Celtics to 39.1 percent shooting is still an improvement.
Consistency is the name of the game on D.
After a solid first game which showed a real change in Andrea Bargnani’s defensive efforts (nine rebounds and one block) he reverted back to his old ways securing only four rebounds in 31 minutes in the second game.
That is unacceptable even with 20 points. He must continue to show consistency on the glass and make a very conscious effort to improve defensively.
This game saw Jerryd Bayless and Aaron Gray start over Jose Calderon and Jamaal Magloire.
Although the lineup will be in a constant state of flux all season with DeMar DeRozan and probably Bargnani as the only surefire starters,
Casey is using these games to see how players work together and if he can catch a spark somehow. I don’t think DeRozan and Bayless going 8-of-29 from the field is the spark he was looking for.
Johnson was very inconsistent last season, posting three 20-12 games, 14 10-plus rebounding games, yet also posting 10 4-4 games as well.
He needs to assert himself on the offensive glass in order to be successful. He had four points and five rebounds in his first game, and four points and four rebounds in the second.
For the Raptors to have any success they need him to really attack the glass and be a force.
The new acquisitions (Anthony Carter, Jamaal Magloire, Rasual Butler and Coach Dwane Casey) were largely brought in to help teach the young core how to become real "pros."
Hopefully their impact on the young Raptors will show in further consistency, teamwork and defensive effort. I think the impact of these players will be hard to evaluate, but it is something that is desperately needed nonetheless—think Darrick Martin 2.0.
Demar DeRozan (DDR) had the following lines in the first two preseason games:
Game 1: 14 points, three rebounds, two assists and two turnovers on 5-of-10 shooting
Game 2: 16 points, 10 rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block on 4-of-13 shooting
Although his lines don’t look terrible, they are very inefficient. Scoring 14 points on 10 shots and 16 on 13 isn’t very consistent for someone like DDR who can get to the glass so easily.
Again, it is only two games and clearly he has some rust to his game, but he really needs to assert himself as a 20 PPG guy who is a feared wing player.
Davis has been a bright spot for the Raps in the first two games, posting lines of 10-10 and 9-8. Hopefully this will continue his improvement, and he can show that a double-double is an attainable average throughout the season.
This is where Magloire and Carter can really help Davis mature and keep him consistent throughout the season.
Happy Holidays to all.
Get at me on Twitter @the__ste (double underscore).