Odd result on Wednesday as the Raptors extend their win streak to three games for the first time since 2010 following a 99-78 win over the Sixers.
Tale of two halves: It went from a Philadelphia team that I’m still not convinced missed a shot in the first half to one that couldn’t find the ocean with a beach ball down the stretch.
The Sixers went from a team that dropped 31 points in the opening 12 minutes, to one that scored just 22 in final 24, which contributed to a floor record for least amount of points in a second half and franchise low in points for a Raptors opponent in one half. The numbers were even more skewed in the fourth quarter, where the Raptors allowed just seven points with the Sixers missing 13 straight field goal attempts in the final frame.
After the first two wins of this current win streak came against lottery teams where the defence looked porous at times, Wednesday’s win harkened back to this team’s better defensive play from earlier this season. To do that against a playoff team, albeit one that’s slumping at the moment, has to be encouraging for the Raptors.
Small Forward Thinking: The decision to start Alan Anderson was an interesting one by Dwane Casey, but the 10-day call up certainly delivered with 13 points (5-7 FGM-A), four rebounds and some solid defence in 31 minutes of work.
The Raptors need to make a decision on whether or not they want to retain Anderson by Thursday, so Wednesday’s longer look and even the start makes some sense. But James Johnson, the starter at the three for 38 games this season, didn’t just see his minutes reduced, he was benched entirely.
For a team that was already missing Gary Forbes, who didn’t travel with the Raptors due to a sore left knee, the absence was a little glaring and post-game reaction revealed that Johnson’s benching was a disciplinary move.
Both the coach and player weren’t willing to elaborate on what happened, but Johnson admitted he wasn’t aware just how long this discipline would be in effect.
“I don’t know. Like I said, it’s internal, so whatever he thinks that I deserve. I am a man to my word and I stand by myself and have to deal with it like a man,” he said post-game.
With Thursday a likely off-day coming off a back-to-back, we’ll undoubtedly hear more about Johnson’s status for Friday’s game against the Cavaliers at the morning shootaround.
Calderon Keeps Them In Stitches: The tendency to drift into hockey references is a little too easy for this site sometimes, but there was something very NHL playoff-like about the way Jose Calderon didn’t let a few stitches keep him out of Wednesday’s game.
An inadvertent second-quarter elbow from Elton Brand opened a major cut above Calderon’s right eye which sent him to the deck and then out of the game to get four stitches. Despite losing a little bit of vision to his left due to swelling around the eye, Calderon came back in the second half with five points (including a dagger three-pointer), six assists and a steal.
“Everything was perfect, it is just because I knew the swelling was there so it was a little bit worse than my right side,” said Calderon. “I told everybody to just go to the left.”
Life Without Leandro: It was brought to my attention on Twitter last night that the Pacers are now 8-3 with since their trade for Leandro Barbosa, who’s averaging 8.0 ppg for the Pacers since the move (down from just over 12 per game with Toronto).
But while the fan favourite is missed, it certainly hasn’t affected the Raptors offence significantly. The Raptors have now improved to 6-6 since trading their leading scorer off the bench and have posted and offensive rating of 105.9 (10th in the league) during that stretch — way up from their season ranking of 99.4 (24th).
The Raptors try to extend their season-long winning streak Friday against the Cavs, but here’s more of what you had to say about Wednesday’s big win.