Toronto Raptors: Three Questions for Game 3


Toronto Raptors: Three Questions for Game 3

As we get ready for Game 3 of the Toronto Raptors first round series against the Washington Wizards, we take a look at three questions surrounding tonight’s game.

1) Will Kyle Lowry change his approach?

Midway through the second quarter in Game 2, Lowry had as many fouls as he did points in the series, which would be exactly nine. Since that low point, Lowry’s numbers have not improved much, though, as he still hovers around the even mark for points-to-fouls, posting 13 points and 10 fouls through two games.

We all know Lowry’s aggressiveness is a big reason why he averaged three fouls per game this season, but to chalk up his recent frenzy of fouls to aggressive play would be foolish. He’s flat-out gambling this series and coming up snake eyes almost every time.

Zarar Siddiqi of Raptors Republic did a great job of emphasizing Lowry’s mistakes in a recent post that showcased how the majority of Lowry’s mistakes are mental breakdowns.

Take this foul here for example:

(H/T Raptors Republic for the clip)

In today’s NBA, forcing a player baseline and putting a body him will earn you foul every single time. Certainly, this is something Lowry is aware of, since him and Wall both use their speed to regularly draw fouls. But for some reason, Lowry keeps getting baited into easy foul calls like the one above.

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Following these fouls, Lowry’s emotions have gotten the better of him time-and-time again this series. Look, we all know Lowry is an emotional player. But controlling his emotion and using it lead and inspire his teammates is something he has done very well all season. Right now, his emotions are going towards barking at the referees and taking ill-advised chances.

Once Lowry puts on the tape of Game 1 and 2, I’m sure he’ll find a couple of things to adjust in his game because so far, Wall and Beal have been much more prepared for Lowry, than Lowry has been for them.

If the Raptors are going to have any chance at making a comeback in this series, it starts with their all-star point guard. Unfortunately for the Raptors, Lowry has been anything but that so far.

So which Kyle Lowry will show up tonight? The all-star point guard? Or the frustrated, inept player we’ve witnessed through Games 1 and 2?

2) Will the Raptors finally crash the glass?

Raptors’ fans are probably sick of hearing this one, but the Wizards have out-rebounded the Raptors 61-48 in Game 1 and 45-28 in Game 2. Overall, the Wizards have dominated the glass in this series, out-rebounding the Raptors 106-76, including a 29-15 advantage on the offensive glass.

No matter which way you frame it, the Raptors have been


pathetic on the glass.

The easy answer to this problem is effort, something the Raps chose to selectively display in Game 2. However, there is much more to the Raptors rebounding woes than just effort.

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  • For starters, Dwane Casey’s decision to play three guards throughout most of this series has not worked out as he planned. Granted, Kyle Lowry’s foul trouble has had an impact on that. But in a broad scope, the decision to play three guards has not favoured the Raptors at all this series. More often than not, the trio of Vasquez, Williams and DeRozan has been taken to the woodshed by the duo of Wall and Beal, while Amir Johnson and Patrick Patterson are left to pick up the pieces down low.

    How is a lineup of Vasquez, Williams, DeRozan, Johnson and Patterson going to out-rebound the likes of Wall, Beal, Porter, Pierce and Nene? As we’ve seen thus far, they can’t.

    X’s and O’s wise there is a lot more going on that attributes to the Raptors rebounding struggles, but for the most part, simple things like matchup adjustments, pace and cutting down the frequent iso offence usage would make a huge difference.

    If there was ever a game to emphasize the importance of rebounding, in particular offensive rebounding, it was last night’s Warriors/Pelicans game. The Warriors dominated the offensive glass in the second half, and their hard work paid off late in the fourth quarter when Steph Curry missed a three to tie, but Marreese Speights was their to grab the board and give Curry a second chance at tying the game. Of course, to the surprise of nobody, Curry nailed a ridiculously clutch corner three to send the game to overtime.

    Point is that if the Raptors watched any bit of the miraculous Golden State comeback last night, they’ll notice that dominating the glass down the stretch was a big reason why the Warriors came back and won. Hopefully the Raps can mimic that tonight.

    3) Will Dwane Casey make the necessary in-game adjustments?

    I hate to stress the obvious here, but coach Casey’s three-guard experiment has been anything but successful. Especially when the trio is composed of Vasquez, Williams and DeRozan. With those three on the court together, we’re exposed defensively, we’re smaller on the glass, and we run a horrendous half court offence that has a tendency to produce a ton of iso sets.

    Apr 18, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) controls the ball against Toronto Raptors guard Greivis Vasquez (21) in game one of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Air Canada Centre. Washington defeated Toronto 93-86. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

    I understand that during the regular season, this trio posted some success together offensively. But let’s face it already, Wall, Beal and Porter have feasted on this trio, combining to score 58.9 percent of the Wizards total points last game.

    So the question becomes, do we see this lineup again tonight? Or, does Casey throw some wrinkle into the second unit, whether it be James Johnson, Tyler Hansbrough or Terrence Ross?

    Another question with Casey is in-game adjustments. How many times do we have to see Wall blow by his defender on the first step, or watch Pierce lure a defender to the perimeter to create spacing without a Raptor adjusting.

    Seriously, would it kill the Raptors to throw a different look at the Wizards defensively every once in a while? Aside from Beal — and occasionally Pierce — the Wizards do not have a ton of knock down jump shooters on their roster. Perhaps a zone would every once in a while would be effective against Washington?

    I have a hard time believing that Randy Wittman is this much of a better coach than Casey. But through two games, it’s not even close. Wittman continues to zero in on the Raptors guards by attacking them with high pick and roll plays and double teams on defence. Meanwhile, Casey doesn’t adjust by working the ball down low, or using high pick and rolls to help negate the pressure from the Wizards double teams. Nope, we’re going to stick to our iso offence and perimeter swing.

    If the Raptors are going to climb back into this series, Casey must adjust his approach on both ends of the floor tonight, or else we can more than likely expect much of the same results wise.

    Next: Toronto Raptors Must Dig Deep or Continue Obscurity