DeMar DeRozan transformed himself into an absolute beast last night, finishing the 121-119 victory over the Detroit Pistons with scoring 42 points (31 in second half + OT) along with 6 assists and 4 rebounds.
In the final seconds of both regulation and overtime, DeRozan streamed the ball up the court, aimed directly towards the basket and nearly forced the ball down the net. In clutch times like this, I’ve never seen DeRozan do these kinds of plays however, the ‘Mamba Mentality’ was clearly visible in him.
The Toronto Raptors are now the first NBA team this year to clinch an NBA Playoffs spot. Sitting with 47-17 means that the Raptors, Rockets, and Warriors are on pace to finish with 60 wins each. The last time we had 3 teams win at least 60 games was in 2008-09 (Cleveland, LA, and Boston).
One of the key components to the Raptors success is their bench. By the numbers, they have developed the best bench in the NBA this season. This allows Toronto to keep their minutes down for their starters, while giving head coach Dwane Casey a multitude of options for how he chooses to close games.
The problem with this main strategy is that come Playoffs, most teams shorten their rotations to give more play time to their best players, being the starters. If the Raptors have the balls to go against conventional wisdom and continue to rely on their depth, the team will either reap the advantage of opponent’s fatigue or get those bench-on-bench stretches the teams thrived on all season.
Catch you Monday.