The Toronto Raptors blew a seven-point lead heading into the final quarter and ending up losing by eight to the Philadelphia 76ers. In case math isn't your strong subject, that means they were outscored by 15 in the final quarter.
Watching the fourth quarter proved to be very disappointing especially since the Raptors played a complete game in the first three quarters. Granted, the Sixers got hot scoring 33 in the frame, but it was helped along by poor play by the Raptors.
Let us discuss the glaring issues that surfaced in the fourth period:
NOTE: The five biggest issues will be outlined in bold throughout the piece
Calderon, Lowry alignment allowed Nick Young/Jrue Holiday to go off
Although I am a fan of the dual point guard alignment, sometimes your offence comes at the price of your defence and this was clearly on display in the fourth.
Jrue Holiday finished the game with 19 points, eight rebounds, 12 assists and three steals. A very complete game. His backcourt companion also had a menacing fourth quarter.
Young finished the quarter with 10 points but was much more impactful than those points. He scored when the Sixers needed it and provided a very difficult matchup in the backcourt at 6'7" for either Lowry (graciously listed at six feet) or Calderon (6'3" inches).
So how were Holiday and Young so impactful in the fourth? Because when they would cruise past their covers it forced too much help D needed leaving corner threes open.
Jason Richardson shot four wide open three-pointers in the last seven minutes. Why did this happen? Calderon would get beaten, forcing either Amir Johnson or Andrea Bargnani to pick up the driving guard, which thus rotates the defence and leaves one of the power forwards open in the corner for a three.
Yes, you heard correctly, Richardson was essentially playing the four.
So why were Johnson and Bargnani both on the court at the same time? Your guess is as good as mine as Casey did not match Collins' small-ball lineup. As a result, the Sixers had two bigs on while Richardson played the 4 and Young played centre.
Young finished with 10 points in the quarter and six of them in the last three-plus minutes. That proved to be one of the differences as Bargnani could do nothing against the lanky Young, and Johnson was outmatched on the perimeter against Richardson.
Another issue that arose was that the Raptors did not take advantage of the bonus. They were in the bonus as of the 8:12 mark in the quarter. From that point forward, the Raptors only attempted four free throws. When you have that advantage, you must cash in at the free-throw line to get some easy points late in the game.
Lastly, what happened to Valanciunas' minutes in the fourth quarter? After being a key part of the success in the first three quarters, Valanciunas played a total of ZERO minutes in the fourth quarter. Was it potentially because he isn't a great free-throw shooter? Doubtful, especially since he was five-for-six in the game at that point. Was he in foul trouble? Nope. He had zero fouls in the game.
With the energy that JV brings he could have made the difference and also done a better job defensively versus Young, especially over Bargnani. For a player who had a double-double in three quarters (11,11) to go along with three assists and three blocks, it was a mistake to keep him on the bench in the fourth.
At the end of the day I believe Casey got outcoached by Doug Collins. He did not matchup well against the small lineup, did not play Valanciunas at all and did not cool down the notoriously streaky Nick Young.
Fun game to watch though...for the most part.
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