Out-Manu-vered

Okay, sorry, horrible title for this post and you’ll have to excuse the spelling, but can somebody explain to me how nobody gets up close on Manu until the 4th quarter? Given, he did hit some amazing shots, but at the same time, you can also say that on his other releases, there was a lot of breathing room. Leo was right on the ball when he said that at some point you have to say, “Okay, he’s hot, I’m going to take my chances with him beating me on the dribble and then rely on getting some help.” You can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.

Outside of Manu’s amazing shooting night, if you ever wanted an example of how bad the Raptors’ rebounding situation is, all you have to do is try to understand how Manu managed to pick up 15 rebounds tonight. 15!!! This is a guy who averages about 5 a game (and I’m willing to guess that most of those are from him following his own shot). You have to be careful how much of a body you put on him, because you know he is going to flop, but there is no way Manu Ginobili should be picking up 15 rebounds on any night. Leo showed a good eye for explaining how the Raptors let the game slip away after Delfino leaked out, trying to get downcourt in the final seconds instead of staying with his man yo ensure the Raptors picked up the rebound. Delfino took off and nobody was on Manu. Rebound 15. Good night.

Is there a big man in the league who hates contact as much as Tim Duncan? I’m not saying that he shies away from it, because he doesn’t. He’ll knock you over if he has to, but I mean more on the defensive end. He hates when guys come right at him and attack the basket. He always thinks that every strong move is an offensive foul and gets away with more complaining to the ref than maybe any other player in the league (well, when Joey Crawford isn’t the ref). He’s also not the quickest guy around, so you can get around him for some lay-ins. Delfino showed this down the stretch.

Speaking of Delfino, he had a rough night shooting the rock (but then, most of the Raptors did), but what I liked was that he said to himself, “Well, this isn’t working, I might as well try to see what’s going on inside the paint.” Delfino started showing some holes in the Spurs’ D and that is how they started to bring the game back into contention. You have to like a guy who keeps himself in the game by trying to find something that works.

Boy, when Andrea’s shot is not on, it’s a laser show out there. Maybe it just seems more magnified when he misses shots, but there isn’t a lot of arch under those things. Don’t look for any gold at the end of those things, you’re more likely to get scalped than secure your finances. No legs into it, just a quick flick of the wrist and a liner Pete Rose would be proud of.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I like the Jose-Tj-on-the-floor-at-the-same-time combo. I like the speed it puts out there and the options it creates for the Raptors. I’m not sure if I would have TJ running the point and Jose shooting as Mike Evans did tonight, but you can’t really lose either way. The only drawback is that you are going to tire both of them out and then you have to rely more on your bench out of that position, which isn’t something the Raptors can really do. Anybody who saw that “what the…” pass that Juan Dixon threw in the middle of a Raptor comeback in the 4th had to have shuddered at the thought of him as a backup PG. It’s hard on the guy, because he’s not a PG, but damn, if the guy doesn’t prove it every time he’s out there…

Jose had another great night and you have to feel for the guy on him not being selected to the All-Star game. This is why I think fan voting needs to be banished. Here’s the thing: fans are just that. They are fans. They’re voting for the names and the jerseys they buy. They’re not doing actual assessments of players. Most fans don’t even see most of the games their teams play in, so why in God’s name would you leave the voting to the fans? The coaches have some spots for bringing guys on, but they are always put in a tough position, as there are only a couple of spots left for a lot of good players, some of whom could make legitimate claims to be there ahead of some of the guys who were voted in by fans (Hedo Turkoglu anyone?).

Anyway, a game that the Raptors could have won, but they were lucky to even get out of the first quarter with it as close as it was. They started dreadfully and really should have been put away. They should be able to build off the crowd excitement that will fill the ACC on Wednesday against the Nets. Well, let’s hope so.