Archive for December, 2006

I Would Like to Say It’s All Psychological, but…

A special thanks to TJ Ford, after having me defend his abilities, he coughs up 7 of the Raps 19 turnovers.

This really was a winnable game, with the Raps having a chance to go into the half with a lead, but with about 6 minutes left in the half, the atmosphere was summed up by Swirsk, who asked “What are the Raptors running here Jack?”, to which Coach replied, “NOTHING.” Yep, I think we have all had that little dialogue running in our heads all season. No plays, just passing around the exterior and then a jump shot. Just because the Raptors have won a few games, doesn’t mean I think Sam should be around for another season. This happens too many times for it to be anything other than poor coaching.

The Bulls shot a season high 59.7% against the Raps, which will pretty much do you in and apparently somebody forgot to tell Toronto (and Luol Deng) that Deng’s wrist was injured, as he shot the lights out in the second half. I don’t understand how when a player has a well publicized injury, he doesn’t get bumped around a bit on the court. Not saying you go out and try to injure him even further, but at least make him uncomfortable.

It was good to see Joey Graham going to the net and using his body like he should. If only Sam could get him to do that on a consistent basis. He’s still a little slow on D, but I guess you can’t ask for everything.

PJ Tucker was a DNP-CD tonight, which once again baffles me. I don’t know what this guy did to Sam to get the treatment he does, especially when Hump is consistently putting up 0’s when he’s on the floor. Tonight’s line for Humphries: just over 5 minutes, 2 rebounds, 1 turnover. You’re telling me PJ wouldn’t be able to do better than that? Why not develop your draft picks? The Raptors obviously thought enough of him to draft him…why not get him a few minutes?

Alright, not much more to tonight than that. A good note that Chuck pointed out regarding a possible nickname for Garbo: The Mechanic - because he looks like one. Not bad. But until he fixes his inconsistent game, the nickname may not be one he’ll like too much.

Jose vs. TJ? Come on.

Recently, a friend of mine suggested that Jose Calderon should start ahead of TJ Ford. I know, it’s a completely ridiculous proposition, but one I keep hearing every once in a while. Aside from making comments about how TJ is quicker, has better ball distribution and is essentially a better all-round player, I mentioned that Jose also isn’t a good enough shooter. This is where my friend started making a big stand for Jose (what is he, his agent?) and then sent me the Raptor stats (yeah, thanks, like I didn’t know where to get them) citing Jose as having the Raps 2nd best FG%.

True, Jose’s FG% is at .490, behind only Rasho, who is at .507. TJ is at .455. Now, one might say, “See, Jose is a better shooter” until you realize that with not even half as many attempts (143 compared to 385), you don’t have a valid comparison. When Jose has seen extended periods of play, we have seen his shooting percentages drop. Let’s also look at the 3pt%, where TJ comes in at .385 compared to .174 for Jose. I don’t care how many attempts you have, if you’re doing anything in sports at a .174 clip, that’s not good. But just to humour my friend, TJ has taken 26 3-pointers, while Jose has taken (gasp) 23. TJ averages 32.4 minutes per game, while Jose averages 17.1.

This isn’t a shakedown on Jose, he’s great coming off the bench and the tandem between TJ and Jose works perfectly. I have also given Jose credit in the past for what appears to be a quicker first step than he gets credit for, as we have seen him drive by many unsuspecting defenders for easy lay-ins.

So to wrap this up, Jose is a quality guard, but he shouldn’t be starting ahead of TJ and TJ is still a better overall shooter (and clutch…).

As for tonight…maybe the rallying cry can be, “Nobody, but nobody beats the Raps 15 times in a row. Nobody.”

Tonight: Raps vs. Bulls

After a disappointing loss to the Seattle Supersonics, and a killer crossover by TJ Ford that defined the win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, Raptors fans are cautiously optimistic heading into tonight’s game against the Bulls. And why not? In the last 14 games versus the Raptors, the Bulls have won quite frankly, all of them.

But a lot can be said about home court advantage, the holiday spirit, and Colangelo’s magic pixie dust that has been filling the stat sheets and the stands in Toronto. Chicago may be without Luol Deng tonight, who have only been able to notch 4 games on the road. And with morale high on the Raptor squad, and new found confidence in their floor general TJ Ford, tonight’s match will prove to be an exciting game to help the Raptors end the year first atop their division.

Happy holidays, indeed.

Standing 15 count

I saw this t-shirt idea over at RealGM and found it quite amusing. Props to scobes for his creativity. Now if only we could get these into mass production, I could see this selling out at the ACC for the holiday season.

Raps playing exciting ball

You can’t say the Portland Trailblazers didn’t have enough chances. In what proved to be arguably the most thrilling game of the season, Andrea Bargnani books the game winner in a game that was so great, it had to be won twice. And Sam Mitchell had reason to dance on the sidelines again as the Toronto Raptors take sole possession of first place in the division that no one seems interested in winning.

The schedule has been horrible. You need to look no further than the four games slotted in the last five nights, but let’s shine some light on where the Raptors sit today heading into Seattle. Toronto’s harrowing road trips have been well documented this year, but it’s often overlooked that Toronto has played 17 of their games against .500+ teams. That’s more than any other team in the entire conference. It should be noted that Toronto is only second to Golden State in the league for teams that give up the most rebounds to opposing teams. Imagine what happens when Bargnani learns to box out opponents and Rasho learns to leave his tip toes.

The Raptors have a legitimate shot of winning the next 3 out of 4 games. Chicago is the only team with a winning percentage, and let’s face it - the Bulls have had Toronto’s number since Jordan retired. If Toronto can post victories against Seattle, Minnesota (expect this game to be exciting with the return of MINE James), and Memphis, the Raptors will be sitting just a game under .500.

A Raptors moment to make you smile

This clip is priceless. Keep an eye out for Sam twirling and Chuck Swirsky pumping his fist. Absolutely golden.

Okay, breathe

Overall, you’d have to say that last night’s win was impressive. The Raps are hurting, but they pulled through and managed to find a win on the road after getting waxed by Phoenix. A nice performance (finally) by Fred Jones, and TJ’s buzzer beater was definitely clutch. All that being said, what was going on with the rotation at some points last night?

Okay, it may seem like we’re really turning into PJ lovers here, but honestly, when a guy has shown good numbers in limited time and then comes in and brings down 5 boards and 3 assists in less than 10 minutes, wouldn’t that be reason enough to give him some additional minutes? To add weight to this argument, after PJ was taken out, the Clip went on a run, which cannot be solely attributed to PJ’s removal from the lineup, but it was a factor. The Raps were suddenly getting beaten on the boards and their lead was quickly evaporating. Wouldn’t that serve as a warning that maybe you should put the kid back in, see what he can stir up? Nope. Not in Sam’s world. PJ was stapled to the bench. Done for the night. Was PJ injured? Not from what I have been able to find out. Why did he sit the rest of the game?

Another note: Coming down to the end of the game, the Raps need a stop and Sam brings Joey Graham off the bench while MoPete, arguably your best defender, is sitting on the bench. Sure enough, the next play sees Joey bolting down to the Clippers’ end with numbers. He decides to keep and is summarily REJECTED. Result: The Clip march right back down the floor and hit a jumper…2 the other way. Inexcusable. THAT’S why you go with MoPete ahead of Joey in that situation. MoPete is either going to dish it or just look for contact. He’s not going to give up numbers going the other way.

A bonus for the Raptors last night. Does anybody know what Cuttino Mobley was doing in the Clip’s last possession? Dribble, dribble, dribble….dribble some more…dribble…tick, tick, tick…If he had tried to finish that sequence with a floater in the lane, I would have mistaken him for Rafer…and that’s not a good thing.

Next!

Leo at his worst

Just a quick note on last night’s game. Did Leo Rautins actually give props to Sherman Douglas last night? Chuck was making a point about Sherman Douglas and his relevance to last night’s game and Leo cut him off to say, “From where?” so Chuck would have to bring up Syracuse AGAIN.

Sherman Douglas. You have to be kidding me. Sure, he was great in college. Actually, a stud in college. But in the NBA…here are some career stats.

12 seasons. 11 ppg, 5.9 apg, 2 stl, 0.1 blk

Leo, you REALLY had to give props for that? REALLY?

Spread the Love

Last night was one of the worst nights I have ever had to endure as a basketball fan. No, not only because the Raptors were dismantled in simple fashion, but because of the love-in that was held for Steve Nash. Don’t get me wrong, I dig Nash, he’s a great player (obviously, 2-time MVP…possibly 3-time if he keeps going at this rate), but yesterday was out of control.

Driving home from work, I had to suffer listening to Leo Rautins being interviewed by Eric Smith, with Leo providing a million excuses on why Nash probably won’t play for team Canada. For example, he likes spending a lot of time with his kids (so, nobody else has kids?), he has a sore back, depends on how far the Suns go in the playoffs, etc. We also had to hear him gush about how great Nash is.

So on to the game (and yes, there was a game last night). Between Chuck and Leo, the amount of praise and love for Nash was inexcusable. WE KNOW HE’S CANADIAN. WE KNOW HE’S GOOD. ENOUGH ALREADY! At one point, Leo even suggested that Nash was the best point guard ever. EVER! What? EVER? Um, there are a few names I would like to put out there for consideration. Magic Johnson. Bob Cousy. Lenny Wilkens. Oscar Robertson. John Stockton. Isiah Thomas. Tiny Archibald. Walt Frazier. Jason Kidd. Would I put Nash up there with those names? No doubt. But to even suggest that Nash is better than Magic Johnson is completely ludicrous. The basketball Gods should reach down from the sky and smack anybody who says that.

So please, to all of the media outlets covering the Raptors, enough about Nash. We love him, he’s a great player. One of the best all-time. But when we tune into a Raptors broadcast, it’s to watch the game, not hear two guys go on about a player whom it seems they have a high school crush on.

Last night vs. Suns

Well, you can’t say you didn’t see it coming. There was a slight ray of hope, where the Suns would take the Raptors too lightly and somebody would come up with a monster game, but it was too much to ask, especially so many guys hurting.

Nash was Nash and Amare went off and that’s pretty much all there is to say about how the Suns won last night, it was decided early. It doesn’t help when you turn the ball over 11 times (I believe 8 of those were in the first half) and give up 28 fast break points, but that’s what the Suns do, they run. Given that the Raptors gave up on their new running style about a month ago, can we please stop the comparisons between the Suns and the Raptors, because it was quite apparent last night that there is no comparison. Not getting down on the Raps here, but their style of play is not the run and gun the Suns use (well, outside of TJ running and gunning, rest of the team be damned).

Once again, we saw a 16.7% range from 3, which didn’t stop the Raps from chucking up the ball. They managed to outscore the Suns in the paint, 48-44, which should have led to some insight as to where they should be going and how they should be executing plays, but I can’t say anything more about Sam and how plays are drawn up.

Speaking of in the paint, due to injuries and some angel that answered my prayers, PJ Tucker saw some action last night and guess what? He did what we here at RF knew he could do. He banged around and managed to pull down 9 rebounds and 12 points on 5-8 shooting from the field in just under 20 minutes. Okay, he obviously isn’t going to do that every game, but why is he buried on the bench every night? He’s one of those guys who is going to go out and at worst knock some people around and let them know he’s there. He’s not going to be the team’s saviour and isn’t starting material yet, but he should be getting more minutes than he does. If Sam can find space in the rotation for Humphries (who was a DNP last night), then surely some minutes can be found for PJ.

A final note: D-Mart special: Due to TJ’s injury, D-Mart fell into that 15-20 minute bracket with just over 17 minutes. His line? 3-8 from the field, 2 assists, 8 points.

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