Toronto Raptors: What We Learned from Their First 2 Preseason Games

Stephen Brown@@the__ste (Double Underscore)Correspondent IIDecember 23, 2011

Toronto Raptors: What We Learned from Their First 2 Preseason Games

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    The Toronto Raptors had a tough task in their first two preseason games as they were both against the Boston Celtics.

    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 that the team has had during these two games. We will also outline what we saw in the first two preseason games and where improvement is needed.

Defence Is Improving, but Still Much Improvement Needed

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    The Raptors have only given up 76 and 81 points in the two games; 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.

Which Bargnani Is Coming to Play?

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    After a solid first game that showed a real change in Andrea Bargnani’s defensive efforts (9 REB, 1 BLK) he reverted back to his old ways by securing only four rebounds in 31 minutes.

    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.

What Lineup Will Casey Go With?

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    This game saw Jerryd Bayless and Aaron Gray start over Jose Calderon and Jamaal Magloire.

    The lineup will be in a constant state of flux all season, with DeMar DeRozan and probably Bargnani as the only surefire starters.

    Dwane 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.

Can Amir Johnson Improve After These Two Lousy Games?

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    Johnson was very inconsistent last season, posting three 20-point, 12-rebound games and 14 10-plus rebounding games, yet he also posted 10 separate 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.

Can the Wily Vets Help Reshape the Culture?

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    The new acquisitions (Anthony Carter, Jamaal Magloire, Rasual Butler and 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.

The Next Step for DDR

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    DeMar DeRozan (DDR) had the following lines in the first two preseason games:

    Game 1: 14 points 3 rebounds, two assists and two turnovers on 5-10 shooting

    Game 2: 16 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, steal and block on 4-13 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.

Will Ed Davis Average a Double-Double This Season?

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    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).

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