As much as there was to be happy about with their season opening win over Philadelphia, Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell knows a similar performance against a superior opponent to the Philadelphia 76ers likely won't end on such a happy note.
Mitchell was quick to praise his offence yesterday as they turned their attention from Philadelphia to a tougher foe in the New Jersey Nets, who they will face tonight. But hot on the heels of that praise were his concerns which in order of importance are -- rebounding, attention to defence and the need to get to the charity stripe and get some easy points.
For long stretches of Wednesday's game the Raptors were lacking in all three areas.
"We just didn't put bodies on people on the rebounds," Mitchell said of the prior "and we left Korver" he said of the defensive letdown referring to the 76ers three-point bomber Kyle Korver, who finished the night with 20 points coming off the Philly bench.
As for getting to the free-throw line, the final tally -- 17 attempts -- masked a real deficiency in this area for the better part of the first half.
The Raptors didn't make their first free-throw attempt until midway through the second quarter.
"We'd like to go a lot more than that but you're going to have to win some games like that," Mitchell said. "We talked about it. We have to get to the free-throw line more and we have to rebound better."
Mitchell cautioned though what Philadelphia did on Wednesday night isn't something many other teams in the NBA can do.
"You can't really get a true gauge because they went so small," Mitchell said. When the Sixers went on a 15-0 run at the end of the third and into the fourth quarter to cut a 21-point lead to just six, it was with Andre Iguodala at the power forward position and 6-foot-8 Reggie Evans at centre.
"It took us out of a lot of things we wanted to do," Mitchell said adding he couldn't put both Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani out there together against such an athletic lineup.
Anthony Parker, who wound up sharing the team lead in rebounds with Carlos Delfino with six each, said each and every Raptor is going to have to make his own concerted effort to go after rebounds to overcome their lack of natural rebounding abilities.
"It's certainly something we can get better at," Parker said.
Also factoring into a poor night on the boards was the play of their leading rebounder, Bosh. Bosh clearly is not in peak condition yet following a knee injury during the pre-season.
"When Chris starts double-pumping, he's tired," Mitchell said.
That fatigue had to play a role in his output of just four rebounds, five less than his career average.