Raptors benching Jonas Valanciunas during 4th quarters
The Raptors have barely been using center Jonas Valanciunas in 4th quarters lately. Also, many NBA center this season have been playing further from the basket than before. Coincidence? Probably not. As for the Raptors, here's the Toronto Star reporting:
It was the third straight game Valanciunas hadn’t played in the fourth quarter. It was the third straight game he had played fewer than six minutes in the third quarter. And it was part of an early-season trend that doesn’t bode well for his place in the Toronto rotation.
Heading into Friday’s game against the Pacers, the big Lithuanian was averaging about 21 minutes a game, a career low for a player who averaged about 26 minutes a night in each of the past three seasons. In five of the previous six games, he had played fewer than 20 minutes.
“Frustrated,” Valancinuas said after Wednesday’s game, asked by a reporter to describe his state of mind. “It’s been tough, man. I’m just doing my job, using my opportunities. I get time, I play hard. If I don’t get time, I wait for the time to come to me.”
At Friday morning’s shootaround Toronto coach Dwane Casey was asked what sort of message he was conveying to Valanciunas in the wake of yet another late-game benching. Casey pointed out that Valanciunas wasn’t the only big man pulled early in Wednesday’s epically bad third quarter. Serge Ibaka suffered the same fate (although Ibaka, unlike Valanciunas, was reinserted to play all 12 minutes of the fourth).