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Toronto Raptors: Patterson Set To Return, Ross On Defense

The Toronto Raptors are back in the NBA playoffs after a five year absence, clinching their spot in the postseason by defeating the Boston Celtics at the Air Canada Centre on Friday night. Lost in the jubilation was some pregame news about the injured Patrick Patterson from Head Coach Dwane Casey and a few in-game observations about the Raptors rapidly developing sophomore Terrence Ross.

“(Patterson will return) probably sometime this weekend,” Casey said. “(He is) still a little sore, but making huge progress with it, but probably sometime this weekend.

“It is difficult for him – more so than anything else – getting his timing, his rhythm, speed of the game, physicality because a lot of the stuff he is doing now is 3-on-3, 4-on-4 which is not the same as you are going to see in the game, so that is very difficult. He hasn’t missed a lot of stuff we are doing, he’s been paying attention, so he’s not missing anything as far as new sets, new schemes or anything like that which is a good thing.

“Expectations as far as conditioning are he will be a step behind a little bit. He is not going to be where he was before he stepped away. That’s why we got to get him back into rhythm and with a lack of practice time, it’s going to have to be in a game situation.”

The Raptors have essentially been a .500 team since Patterson had to rest his elbow. They miss his three-point shooting and his defense in the second unit and his play against opposition lineups that employ a stretch 4 or stretch 5. His return is greatly anticipated.

Ever since Casey inserted Ross into the starting lineup, the sophomore wing’s game has been growing by leaps and bounds, although not necessarily in a straight line. Casey has always talked about Ross’ natural shooting ability and Ross has made his own statements about playing above the rim, but it’s his defense that has been the biggest surprise.

Celtics Avery Bradley has developed a reputation as a very good defensive guard and this season, he is having a breakout year scoring the ball. No one would have put Ross ahead of Bradley in terms of ability at either end of the court in October. However, in the Raptors win over the Celtics on Friday, Ross looked like the veteran taking advantage of a rookie as Bradley’s passes were picked off twice by Ross and Ross caused deflections and other problems for his more experienced opponent.

In the fourth quarter, Ross saw a long rebound heading towards a Celtics player and quite literally judged the distance and flight of the ball to swoop in from about 4 steps behind Phil Pressey to snatch the ball out of the air mere inches from the guard’s fingers. There have been glimpses and moments where Ross has shown the ability to read what was about to happen and be in the right place at the right time, but not as consistently or as often as he did it on Friday night.

“You always have to have your head on a swivel and be conscious of everything going on around (you),” Ross said. “Just try to be as active as you can and come up with little things like that.

“I saw (the rebound) getting tipped out at the three-point line. Phil Pressey was still trying to run it down, but his arms were literally not long enough to get the ball, so I just ran out there and tried to tip it out and I just grabbed it and held on to it.

“You just have to go out there and try to make things happen.”

Ross has been making good things happen more and more often this season.


Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.


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Toronto Raptors Terrence Ross Is Blossoming On Defense
“I try to play at both ends of the (court), offense and defense,” Ross said. “Once you get the opportunity, you have a chance to prove to people what you can do. I just needed the chance to play, that’s it.”

Toronto Raptors Patrick Patterson Credits Kentucky Wildcats Coach John Calipari
“Being taller than everybody, I was forced to play the 5,” Patterson said. “In college my first 2 years, I was a center at 6’8, so to that I credit my post defense and (Coach) Calipari, he came in my junior year, he introduced me to the perimeter game. He allowed me to shoot the ball, put the ball on the floor and that allowed me to transition to the NBA.”