Former head coach Butch Carter believes that the Toronto Raptors are better without Andrea Bargnani in the line-up, at least for the time being.
Carter, who was a guest on Prime Time Sports on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Tuesday, explained how the Raptors have stepped up their game as of late.
“Clearly they are a lot better in two areas. Defensive field goal percentage — they are immensely better with the group that is playing now — and they also seem to have less turnovers which has allowed them to have enough of a cushion to win games and not be at risk in the fourth quarter,” Carter said.
“I think they are clearly better. It looks like just a great effort by guys,” Carter explained. “They have got guys playing multiple positions and defending from multiple positions and defending from all of the positions. It’s commendable what they have done the last couple of games.”
Carter, who spoke prior to the Raptors win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, said he thinks that Raptors coach Dwane Casey has also been sharper over the past couple of contests as well.
“I believe that Casey has to do a better job of coaching and not get so much input from his lieutenants,” Carter said. “I think clearly that has happened, at least the last two games.”
Bargnani is not the only player who has been absent due to injury of late. The Raptors have also been without prized offseason acquisition Kyle Lowry as well. In his absence, Jose Calderon has stepped up as the Raptors are 5-5 without Lowry and 2-14 with him. So why are they performing better without Lowry in the lineup?
“All year (Calderon) has made shots when he is not fatigued and he does not turn the basketball over and when you don’t turn the ball over from the point guard spot, teams do not score a bunch of fast-break (points),” Carter explained. “Just look at the Houston game. Jose does not turn the ball over, Houston cannot get into transition and so Jose gives his team a great chance to win.”
Another question that has been asked since the Raptors made the deal to acquire Lowry is whether or not he can play together with Calderon.
“My personal belief is that you have to have three guards that can play: a point guard, a combo guard and a two,” Carter said. “My personal experience is that there is not enough time in the game for the fourth guy.”
Carter pointed to the backcourt rotations of some of the great teams of the ’80s (the Lakers and Pistons) to show the importance of three quality guards.
“So If those (Calderon and Lowry) are your best guys then at some point they have to be able to play with each other to cause stress on the other team,” Carter said. “Lowry may not have the message but clearly I think Dwane understands that he has got to get the message across and hopefully he’s fortunate in doing that because none of us like watching the Raps being not so good.”
The former Raptors coach was asked if the team should still move considering Calderon if the team continues to perform better without him in the lineup.
“The issue at the end of the day is I think you are going to have to find out how much it is going to cost to extend (Calderon),” Carter explained. “If he says he will do three years at a reasonable number then all of that has to be weighed. They’ve got smart people to do that, the most important thing is that your assets improve in value so that someone will call. Jose has definitely helped them through this whole period and he’s been an unbelievable professional about handling everything.
“The issue at the end of the day is that people should not lose their head over everything that’s going on, let’s look at the next 20 games and then you will have a lot better decision to make after the next 20 games.”