I'm not going to discuss the game in detail because it was awful. Plain and simple. The Raptors didn't come out ready to play (contrary to what I expected given the game's importance), and gave a confident team reason to believe they could steal the game, and that's exactly what they did. The offensive toughness wasn't there, and the defense lapsed in critical moments (Amir Johnson on a pick and roll late in the game to name one). There were very few hard screens set all night, and anyone not named DeMar DeRozan made no effort to get into the lane with the hopes of creating some desperately needed offense.
That being said, while DeRozan's offensive game has improved after regressing last year, especially after the Rudy Gay trade, his defense still leaves a lot to be desired. You don't have to look much further than last night's game, when his rookie matchup (I know, he's talented) scored 20 points on 8 of 13 shooting. Did I mention Beal kept his team relevant in last week's contest against the Dinos, when he scored a game high 25 points? The fact is, it's not that DerRzan wasn't aware of his counterparts abilities, because everyone knows what Beal's been up to recently. It's the fact that he just doesn't have the ability to guard versatile wing players. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect DeMar to be a lock down defender, because he simply doesn't have the lateral quickness. What I do expect is for him to be more aware mentally. He has to put in the effort to fight through screens, and contest jumpers. And I'm not just talking about pick and rolls, but off the ball screens as well. He's been caught too many times where he's late in reacting to a screen, resulting in an open look for the opponent. Defense does require some skill and instinct, which DeMar isn't gifted with naturally, but he has enough strength and length to make him a decent defender. The Raptors shouldn't experience a drop in practically all of the simple and advanced defensive statistics when he's on the court. But they do. Hopefully Dwane Casey can get through to DeRozan sooner rather than later, as the Raptors playoff hopes can take a devastating hit in the next three games.
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