Archive for October, 2007

“We Got the W”

I’m hoping we don’t have to hear that a lot this season. “Well, we got the W.” Essentially, when players or coaches say that, they are ignoring the fact that they have some deficiencies in their game/team, but are good enough to get by with those deficiencies staring them in the face. When you are playing a team like the Sixers, you should go in there thinking that you are going to kick some ass. If you want to win a championship, you have to not just be satisfied with a victory. You have to want to control the game. Not to compare the Raptors to the MJ Bulls, but the few times those guys would scrape by a team for a win, you didn’t see anybody celebrating.

Well, just because I like to harp on the negative stuff, let’s start with some of that tonight. I’m a little worried about Garbo. In just over 6 minutes, he looked bad. Guys blew around him, he didn’t look like he had any energy…I’m hoping that he is just a little out of shape, but then again, he did play at the world championships, so he should be fine…

Okay, let me put this out there first. Andrea Bargnani had a good game. BUT, there is no point putting on weight if when you take it to the rack, you are going to go in like a lightweight. I mean, Jose and TJ take it harder than Bargs did tonight. That block he had to endure down the middle of the lane was a) something everybody saw coming because there was no conviction in his eyes and b) embarrassing. At least when AP got blocked (and man, that was a nice block by Dalembert), he looked like he was going to crown somebody. Also, it does look like Bargnani put on some weight, but I’m not sure if all of that was muscle. Guy needs some toning. Looks like he may have been hanging out at Grano (with D-Mart) too much.

The amount of good looks that Korver had was disgusting. Here’s the problem: You know what Korver’s game is. As much as he works in the offseason at becoming better at putting the ball on the floor, his game is all D-Curry: catch and shoot. Is there anybody better in the league at it than him? Ray Allen? Jason Kapono? Who knows. Either way, when you have a guy like him on the perimeter, you can’t let him get good looks like that. He shot 43% from 3 last year and was 44% from the field. Make him beat you by putting the ball on the ground. If he shows you that his work in the off-season paid off and that he has another element to his game, then adjust. Until then, get out on him and don’t let him get hot. All it takes for a guy like him to change the face of a game is a couple of quick 3s.

Alright, now on to the good. Let’s count our blessings again for the pairing that is TJ and Jose. 27 total points, 16 assists, 2 turnovers and 2 steals. Find me a GM in the league who wouldn’t want that kind of production from his PG position. The thing that was strange tonight was that it was actually Calderon who was cutting to the basket more, while it looked like TJ was looking to pass first. Must be the Hallowe’en thing. Maybe they dressed up as each other. Seriously though, TJ looked under control and it did appear as if he was making a more conscious effort to find a nice passing lane 80% of the time down the court. I also liked that when the Raptors were reeling, he got back down court to grab a steal and get the momentum going in the Raptors favour, setting up Bargnani’s 4 point play. That was the key, TJ getting back into the play with sheer hustle. One minor question: what was up with Jose’s D tonight? Yikes! Still thought he should have seen a bit more court time though…

I liked Kapono’s game tonight. He didn’t force anything (well, other than that one shot he let go off of the Delfino pass, but he had no choice and it went in anyway), just took what was there. The part I found surprising was that he played a decent game defensively. It wasn’t astounding by any means, but it was certainly better than Delfino’s (other than that non-call…I mean, that was CLEARLY a charge…Delfino took a tough one). Delfino didn’t look like he knew where he was supposed to be and was always the first guy down the court after a basket against the Raps. Hey Delfino, get in position, make a stop and then get down the court.

Anyway, next up is Jersey and the Raptors had better not fall asleep for a while like they did tonight. Preview coming some time before game time.

Let’s Get This Started – Raptors vs. Sixers Preview…

Well, the Raptors couldn’t have asked for a better schedule off the start of the season. Open up against what is surely going to be a weak 76ers team, then go against the Nets (for some redemption) and then walk into apparently the best team in the history of basketball, the 2007-2008 Boston Celtics.

But let’s just start with the Sixers. This team has one big problem: depth. When you take a look at their starting five, it actually isn’t that bad. Andre Miller, Willie Green, Andre Iguodala, Reggie Evans and Samuel Dalembert isn’t a bad starting five as you get some good athleticism. Problem is, once you get past Korver off the bench, it’s not good. Let’s put it this way, when you sign Calvin Booth and actually have a role for him, times are tough.

Who knows what is going on with Dalembert’s foot. If they were smart, the Sixers would take it nice and slow with that injury, but then again, the last thing they want to do is fall behind early in the season.

The Raptors should be able to work the ball around and get a lot of open looks with the Sixers D being what it is, but they have to make sure that they are ready to get back in transition, because Miller can move the ball down the floor when he wants to.

It will also be interesting to see how much playing time Bosh logs. Hopefully if the Raptors are able to get ahead early, they can sit him down near the end of the first quarter and let him rest until halfway through the second. This is a great game for Bosh as he can get in some real game work, but he won’t have to destroy himself. You hate to look ahead on the schedule, especially so early in the season, but with those games against the Nets and the WORLD CHAMPION CELTICS (oh sorry, it just slipped out), it would be nice to have him healthy.

This could be a game where we see Bargnani have a serious impact, as the Sixers are going to have some trouble matching up with him down the middle.

Anyway, let’s get this season started already!

Sam is in Mid-Season Form

I hope you all had a chance to catch at least a little snip of Sam in the media scrum last night, it was a thing of beauty. With the season just around the corner, the Raptors still don’t have a definite guy starting at the 3, a problem pretty much every Raptor fan saw coming. The beauty was that in the media scrum, this was the topic of conversation and it started to focus on Carlos Delfino. Sam tried to skirt around it, saying that when he was ready to make a decision, he would make a decision (tick, tick, tick), but the Toronto media wouldn’t let up, finally getting Sam to concede that yes, he needs Delfino to do more, to step up and show that he wants the position. Yes Sam, way to be tough! Actually, you need Delfino to step up, Kapono to step up, Gatorade Graham to step up…

Wow. We haven’t even started the season and we are already in need of somebody to step their game up. What happened to Kapono? I thought he was supposed to walk in here and the the guy. What about Gatorade Graham? If you ever thought there was something that would light a fire under a guy, you would think that it would be your team signing a couple of guys who can play your position. That position is starting to make me a little nervous.

Speaking of being nervous, Chris Bosh will be getting back into the swing of things this Thursday against the Cavs and then (hopefully) again against the Wiz on Friday. Dear Sam: Don’t be stupid and wear him out over the course of two games. Test him out against the Cavs, but make sure he gets his rest. Against the Wiz, give him a few more minutes, but other than that, let’s just get him into good shape for next Wednesday.

Starting to get excited…putting the MGD on ice…

I’m Going to Talk About this Every Season Until it Changes

Okay, so the Raptors have always done pretty well with attendance, but as any executive in the NBA will tell you, it never hurts to expand your market (er…hello Buffalo Bills?). I would assume that is why the NBA puts teams to play all over the world in the preseason, bringing the game to a wider market, which in the end brings in more revenue.

So once again, I have to ask, why do the Raptors charge full pop for fans to actually go to the ACC to watch preseason games? It just doesn’t make any sense to me. For instance, last week, the Raptors played Zalgiris Kaunas (a team from Lithuania) down at the ACC. Now, outside of the Lithuanian community in Toronto and the hardcore Raptor fans, who is really going to want to head down to the ACC for this game, especially at full pop? I find it strange that official attendance numbers were not released…then again, maybe I don’t. The game against the Bulls the other night only drew just over 14,000.

So why not put a big discount on preseason games, at least for the upper bowl? While the whole point of the preseason is for teams to work out new players, try new plays, pretty much just check out the team and get guys in shape, it should also be a time to expand your fan base. Why settle for 14,000 at the ACC when you could have 19,800 with maybe 3,000 of that population being new to the Raptors (maybe even new to basketball)? If they are exposed to an exciting style of game (which the Raptors play), then they will be more than likely to come out during the season, allowing the team to sell out more games (especially those ones where teams like the Hawks are in town…although they are getting better). Beyond that, with the attendance comes the merchandise, Raptors TV, etc.

It just doesn’t seem like the Raptors organization is thinking about the big picture here. I tend to save more of my money for regular season tickets, but will occasionally drop in on a preseason game, but only up top. Seems like they are missing an opportunity to grow the game and the team.

Wow, I Guess the Raptors Just Shouldn’t Show Up This Season

Well, that’s it. Pack it in. Season hasn’t even started, but after the Celtics took the Knicks to the woodshed the other night, every media outlet had them going to the NBA finals this season. At least Wilbon and Kornheiser on Pardon the Interruption (um, let me know if there is a better show on TV than this) took the under saying that the Celtics won’t win more than 50 games this year. I do take offense though, when Wilbon listed all of the top teams in the East and he left out the Raps. Wilbon, what’s up? I thought Bosh was your boy!!!

Once again, let me state how little preseason games mean. Remember last season when the Raptors were a juggernaut in the preseason? Then remember how they started the season? You could say, well sure, but look how they finished up. True, but if you seriously think that the team at the end of the season and the team in preseason had anything to do with each other, you should check your head.

Now that we have gone through that preamble, let’s also remember that this game was against THE KNICKS. Let’s just say that the Knicks have problems on and off the court. The Knicks are trying to find a combination, ANY combination that will work. They played 17 guys last night. 17!!! And I’m not talking garbage minutes, the guy with the least amount of time (Walker Russell…WHO?) had just over 5 minutes of PT. D-Mart would run over his own mother for that kind of floor action.

I’m not saying that the Celtics aren’t better than last year, obviously they are. But let’s just keep things in perspective. Let’s remember that this is a team that is relying on Rajon Rondo to run the offense. RAJON RONDO. Let’s just say the Celtics had worked out some sort of miracle deal where they had picked up Jose Calderon from the Raptors. THEN I would be very, very fearful. But of course, they didn’t, so I’m going to sleep.

Things Get Real Against Madrid

I’ve gotta say, I have never been a big supporter of pre-season games overseas. The whole concept just seems like a great way to tire out teams before the season starts. Keep in mind that not only are you playing games and running practices, you are also heading out to see some of the sights (and some of those sights might include the local talent if you know what I’m sayin’) and you will also have to deal with jet lag.

I also don’t know how beneficial it is for NBA teams to play the European teams when their style is completely different to what is played in the NBA. Let’s see, what can we can that style? Hmmm…how about “technically sound basketball”? Yeah, that seems to work. The refs in Europe are also really quick to get on the whistle, so if there is any kind of bumping going on down low, guys end up in early foul trouble. Half of the point of the pre-season for the Raptors is to get guys going hard to the boards, working on what was a definite weakness for them last year. When they are getting whistled so quickly for playing hard, it just doesn’t benefit them.

I actually managed to watch the game against Real Madrid, which at times was a little painful, especially without Bosh in the lineup (uh-oh…tell me this isn’t going to be a trend this year). How do the Raptors allow a 10-2 run to close out the first half? Tell me if this sounds familiar: Inability to rebound and poor shot selection. Er…yeah.

The thing that was great to see was the development of Bargnani, Calderon and Ford. Each of those guys looked like they picked up a lot of confidence from last season. Bargnani was making quick decisions, Ford was actually making some great passes and Jose did well pushing the ball up the court (but a couple of bad shots…heavy release). The most impressive part of the game was Bargnani picking up 7 boards. Okay, these aren’t NBA guys he was banging against, but 7 boards are 7 boards. It’s a step in the right direction. Wasn’t too happy seeing shot-happy Delfino jacking the ball around. 0-5 on some BRICKS. Still not too sure about that signing…Oh yeah, and Kapono was 3-10 with 1-5 from 3. Get it out now man, get it out now…

So in the end, the Raps lose by a point, which again leaves me wondering if this whole thing is really that beneficial. I think I would rather have the Raptors lose in North America against some NBA teams, learn a bit more and get used to what they are going to face during the season.

By the way, I’m all for pandering to the local crowds, but those Raptors “McDonald’s style” Spanish uniforms were dreadful. Yikes!

Raptors Top 10 Plays of 2006/2007 revamp

Well, it looks like the Raptors have finally gotten around to revising that train wreck that was known as their website. I mean, I wanted to give that website some Ritalin it used to be so all over the place. After trying to find anything on that site, my eyes used to feel like that one time I did an Australian Tequila Shot (snort the salt, down the tequila, jab the lemon in your eye…hey, we were dared by the rugby team…then they followed suit…good times).

The look isn’t 100% improved, I still think it is a bit busy, but at least I don’t have to take a Tylenol after I visit. Gone is the dark colour scheme, with a white and red setup (wonder how they came to that colour scheme?) replacing it.

It would be nice if there was a little bit more notice of them being the Atlantic division champions, I mean sure, you want to move on with the new season, but there should be a banner on there showing that they are the champs, then you should be able to click on that banner and go to some highlights from last season. Wouldn’t that be something worth having on your site?

Anyway, still a long way to go with that site, but at least it is moving in the right direction.