Archive for January, 2009

Game 43: Raps vs. Hawks - Post-game

When you have the ball in Jamario Moon’s hands with the game on the line, you’re in trouble. I really try not to take personal shots at guys, because you never know what it’s like until you are there in their shoes, but I don’t know how a guy shooting 33% from behind the arc who has shown no ability to make clutch 3’s this season feels the need to take a 3 while the team is down by 1 with half a minute left. It just doesn’t make sense at all. None.

There were some key defensive lapses on Jamario’s end too and he was called out quite clearly by Chris Bosh, but let’s also take a step back and look at Bosh’s criticism here. I’ve said in our message board that the key to being a leader is knowing how to pick your spots. Should Bosh have called out Jamario? Yes. BUT, he should have called out Jamario a long time ago. You can’t expect to have a big impact on Jamario now after he has been doing this all season. We have all witnessed Jamario continually take 3’s and long range jumpers, ignoring his leaping ability. We have seen him take ill-advised shots all season, so to come to him now and call him out seems like a whole lot of nothing and a whole lot too late. When Jamario tries to defend his shot by saying, “I guess everybody’s upset, but it was an open shot…anybody can miss an open shot”, he’s just confirming my suspicion.

But let’s not pin this loss just on Jamario. When you come out and shoot 25% in the third quarter and blow another double digit lead, there is plenty of blame to go around. When you don’t realize that your opponent is missing some key players, the kind who actually provide a defensive presence and you go 2-18 from behind the arc, you have to start wondering if players are listening to their coach, because I can guarantee you that wasn’t in JT’s game plan. And while I know that Kapono is not completely well, I don’t know if I can remember a time when I saw him look this terrible shooting the ball. It looks like he is shooting medicine balls right now, like he’s shot-putting the ball. I don’t know if it is physical or mental, but I know it’s not right.

So now on to Detroit on Wednesday. Yikes.

Game 43: Raps vs. Hawks - Pre-game

The Raptors started the season looking great and winning games, but with the way the season has gone from there, it’s not a surprise that they have started the second half of the season with an L, their 5th straight loss. Now with games against the Hawks, Pistons and Bulls coming up, it’s not getting a whole lot easier for them.

The Raptors are not only having problems executing on the floor, now they are working with an even shorter bench than they had at the start of the season, as Calderon is out with a hamstring injury, Kapono has the flu (wuss…suck it up, your team is short players, put on a uni), JO apparently now doesn’t play in back-to-back games according to the team (not because he’s on the trade block…not a chance), the list goes on.

All things considered, you have to appreciate what JT has been doing with a roster that doesn’t really provide inspiration, if that is what you are looking for. Some people have said that JT doesn’t have the chops to coach at the NBA level, which is pure nonsense and the fact that he has even decided to start AP at PG while Jose is out shows that he is doing the best with what he has on hand. I can’t say I thought Joey at the 2 was going to work, but that did too. Yes, the Raptors are in emergency as far as the lineup goes, I don’t know if you really want AP running the point on an extended basis, but if he is able to continue performing as a competent PG right now for the Raptors, hopefully that can inspire the rest of the team to step up.

The Raptors are going to need to come out with some energy, which may be tough considering they just had a game on Sunday afternoon and now have to play a 2:00 against the Hawks due to MLK day. I don’t know if the Raptors are going to have the energy to keep up with the Hawks. Fatigue may be the biggest factor going into this game.

The Raptors will need a big game from their bigs. Bargs has played well, but might be a little worn out from dealing with Shaq Sunday afternoon. Bosh will need to continue to go to the basket, but he might need to show a few different parts of his arsenal in order for the Raptors to pull this one out. He is averaging 28 points against the Hawks this season and the Raptors will need him to continue that production to get a win.

What works in the Raptors favour is that Horford will be on the bench. Horford is one of those young athletic players who typically give the Raptors problems. Then again, Bibby has been a Raptor killer and he’s no spring chicken. If the Raptors are going to have AP starting at the point again, it may actually help them on the defensive end as Bibby isn’t the fastest guy and AP should be able to handle him. Bibby’s a pro and he will pose a challenge for AP, but I’ll take AP’s D against Bibby over Solomon’s or Ukic’s.

3 in the Key

1. Energy. If the Raptors play tired, they will get exposed.

2. Transition D. The Raptors showed some lack of effort on the defensive end against the Suns and didn’t look like they were in a hurry to get back down the court. That can’t happen again.

3. With a 2:00 start and no holiday in Canada, at least if the Raptors stink one out, there won’t be a big audience to see it.

Game 42: Raps vs. Suns - Post-game

Considering the short bench the Raptors had today (more on that later), losing by four to the Suns isn’t that horrible of a thing. When you shoot 54% from the floor with 47% from 3 and hit your free throws, you would think it would result in a win. But there isn’t an “effort” column in league stats, so this just goes down as another loss in what is quickly becoming a short season.

At times, this game sort of resembled an All-Star game…just er…minus the All-Stars. What I mean is that there wasn’t a whole lot of defence being played out there today, although there were a few good defensive performances. You have to give it up for Bargs today, who had the unenviable position of being up against Shaq. I don’t care if Shaq has slowed down over the years, that size hasn’t gone anywhere and when he starts backing down on guys, he will always be a tough guy to guard. That’s why I was impressed with how Bargs actually played him pretty tough. He didn’t back down, kept an arm on his back and pressured him into trying to make a few shots from a little further out than he is used to. What I also liked about Bargs tonight was that when he realized he was in a situation where he was not going to be able to make a play on Shaq, he didn’t take a stupid “swat” foul. By realizing when he was beaten on a play, Bargs was able to stay out of foul trouble and Shaq only ended up playing 25 total minutes before fouling out.

You also have to like the consistent play from Joey Graham. Joey has shown steady progress since JT has taken over and he once again showed some fire tonight. Early in the game, when it looked like Shaq was going to go in for an uncontested dunk, we saw Joey get back and knock it out of Shaq’s hands. A lot of players would have been afraid to get in there in that situation, but Joey showed no fear and that’s the kind of mentality he has to have if he is going to succeed. It was also impressive to see Joey taking a good chunk of time at SG and effectively play the position. I don’t think “versatility” is a word that anybody typically would have applied to Joey, but there you go, he showed some versatility today.

So now onto the JO trade situation. From various accounts, this deal is apparently near completion (the Marion-JO deal). I don’t have any inside knowledge of any trades, so for me to speculate on anything is just that, speculation. That being said, when JO sits (supposedly because the Raptors don’t want him to play in a back-to-back right now) and Marion sits on the same day, things start to have a little smell to them. From Miami’s end, I don’t know why they would do this deal right now, seeing that JO has just come back from a knee injury, looked rusty in his first game back and hasn’t shown much durability in the past few years. They would also be adding some years onto their current salary situation. I know it comes down to need, but I think this one would probably lean a bit more in the Raptors favour.

So now it’s on to Atlanta to face the Hawks, followed by the Pistons and the Bulls. Well, good to see that the second half of the year has started out with no challenges…

Game 42: Raps vs. Suns - Pre-game

Sometimes the best thing you can have happen when you have fallen into a rut (another one) is to face a club that you haven’t beaten in a long time. It poses even more of a challenge than just getting a win poses on most days for your organization, causing the team to try to find something deep down. For the Raptors, that something is going to have to come from deep, deep, down, because they haven’t beaten the Suns in 5 years.

After an impressive loss (yeah, that’s right) to Boston, the Raptors have since come out and laid down for the Bulls and the Pacers, with the Pacers loss actually much worse than the final result made it appear. While you have to appreciate that the Raptors were almost able to pull off the franchise’s greatest comeback ever, it still shouldn’t overshadow the fact that the Raptors were absolutely miserable in the first three quarters of the game. When you have to go to Anthony Parker as your PG, you have officially said, “This team needs help.” When AP runs the point better than either of the two PGs you have on the bench, you officially have team issues.

So here come the Suns, who aren’t quite what they used to be, but are still a quality team. You wouldn’t know it if you had seen the Suns team who lost to Minny on Friday night, with Nash going 3-8 from the floor and the Suns looking out of synch, but it’s not like they are going to have to be running on all cylinders to get a win at the ACC.

The Suns are starting a 6-game road trip, which means that this is the game that they are going to want in order to get off on the right foot. The first trip of a road trip is always the most important no matter who you are playing, luckily for the Suns right now, the Raptors are first up. Then again, maybe the Suns aren’t so lucky having to face the Raptors first…

If you are the Suns and you are coming off a loss to Minny at home, then you walk into the ACC to start a road trip and the Raptors are able to upset you without their starting PG (because the Raptors absolutely by no means should put Calderon back in the lineup yet), you might start questioning the team’s heart, their dedication to winning.

Speaking of dedication to winning, one has to think that a deal will be coming soon from the Raptors. While I still don’t think the Raptors should be too trigger happy, if something is going to happen, it should probably happen sooner rather than later. If the Raptors are serious about this season, then the Marion trade will probably go down, but from my perspective, I just can’t see that trade happening soon with JO recently coming off of an extended injury layoff. The Raptors still might be better off just playing this season out and then going into the offseason looking to change things up a bit.

3 in the Key

1. The turnovers can’t happen. The Suns don’t quite run like they used to, but they are still quick enough and are able to finish effectively, so any Raptor turnovers are going to turn into points.

2. Keep it close early. If the Suns are able to get out and control the game early, Nash will effectively shut things down by managing the clock and his team in the second half.

3. Swing the ball. The Raptors need to get a little more ball movement going to create some open looks for their shooters. A few more open looks could be the key to getting a few more wins.

Game 41: Raps vs. Pacers - Pre-game

The first time these two teams met this season, it didn’t turn into the TJ vs. Calderon or JO vs. Former Team game that everybody had hoped it would. The Raptors took it easily, TJ wasn’t really a factor and while JO came just short of a double-double, it wasn’t exactly what you would call an inspiring night from him.

But this time, coming into the game against the Pacers, it’s a little bit different scenario. There is not going to be any TJ/Calderon matchup and JO may or may not play. I guess if you had to look for a silver lining to the situation, the Raptors are coming into the game against the Pacers losers of three in a row, whereas last time, they were losers of 5 in a row before heading to Indiana. It’s a stretch, but it’s what I have to work with right now.

TJ was back to his old self the other night, scoring 23 points along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists…and that was off the bench. Could it be that TJ was getting himself warmed up for his second engagement with the Raptors? Let’s hope not. The good thing is that Jose won’t be on the floor, because the last thing the Raptors need right now is Jose trying to guard TJ on a bum leg. One cut and we would all hear Jose’s hammy pop. I have been impressed with the play of Roko, not only on the offensive end, but on the defensive. Sometimes he looks a little lost, but he has been good at moving his feet and staying with his man. The quick looks over his shoulder occasionally result in him getting beaten to the lane, but he’ll learn.

The Raptors are going to have to pull down some rebounds in this game, because the Pacers do have some guys who can crash the boards. The rebounding problem reared its ugly head again against the Bulls (who beat the Cavs tonight) and if the Raptors have those same kind of problems, you can chalk up another L. You can only shoot the lights out so much before you have to get on the glass.

3 in the Key

1. Don’t let the Pacers’ big men dominate. Get on the glass and push them away from the basket.

2. Feed your horses. Andrea has been playing solid ball lately, so don’t wait too long to get him some touches.

3. Stay out of foul trouble. Andrea will need to keep his hands to himself and keep his feet moving. If he is on the bench early, there could be trouble.

Game 40: Raps vs. Bulls: Pre-game

You might not think so, but there are a lot of positives for the Raptors heading into tonight’s game with the Bulls. The first is that the Bulls just stink on the road. They’re 4-15 on the road this season, which bodes well for the Raptors, who have been playing decent ball at home lately. Coming off of a “strong loss” at the hands of the Celtics on Monday night, the Raptors have plenty to be pleased with as far as the quality of their play goes. They didn’t show much energy in game 1 versus the Celtics, but in the span of one night, they were able to turn things around and get it together, eventually losing to the Celtics in overtime.

The interesting comparison between these two teams is that while they have similar records, the Bulls have players coming back to the lineup whereas the Raptors have been playing without JO and Jose for a while now (other than that ill-advised game against the Celtics where Jose tried to come back). This should be a promising sign for the Bulls, but there is going to be a lot of rust on Hinrich. I also have to question the toughness of Deng. Who misses 8 games with a sprained ankle? Sometimes guys want to be moved and they don’t have to say anything to get their point across.

The Bulls have some interesting “bigs” who are able to effectively maximize their size based on their positioning. Guys like Drew Gooden may seem to take a play or two off, but he is also able to bring double-double talent to the court on almost every night.

The Bulls have enough athletes on the team that they can use speed to beat you back down the court, so the Raptors will have to watch for somebody leaking out in order to cut the pass off.

3 in the Key

1. If the Raptors are going to run and gun with the Bulls, they will have to make sure that this means both ways on the court.

2. Hold a lead. If the Raptors do manage to get up in this game, they need to do whatever they can to finish the game off.

3. Continue going to the basket. It showed that it can work when it is used as a viable option (in game 2).

Call “Ball” and Drive

Remember the great basketball movies of previous generations?  OK - so it’s not like there is a ton worth mentioning.  We’re certainly due for another one, and I’m hoping David Lynch takes an interest.  The Toronto Raptors couldn’t be better as his main subject matter.  Just looking at the real team today, and how they are perceived by their fans, provides for the perfect Lynchian fodder.  

The few games I’ve attended this season have all seemed to blur into the kind of dream sequences that Lynch loves to capture.  I would like to bring him along to a few of the games up in the nosebleed seats (cue nosebleed in the film version) and allow him to take in some of the bizarreness surrounding this team, and then to expand upon it in his own inimitable way.  Is this team more like the innocent and lustrous Betty, or the compromised and gritty Diane?  Like in the Lynch film, they two are in fact one in the same. They’ve tried to reach glamorous new heights, but have been grounded by some ugly realities, and where hopes intertwine with shortcomings lie all kinds of mysteries of the subconscious variety.

I was at the home opener on Halloween night.  The entire Smurf family sat three rows in front of me.  Every game I’ve been to since featured teams which themselves looked like Smurfs as they took their shots in their warm-up gear. The Hornets, Denver, and then the Grizzlies with lighter-colored warmups than the darker blue uniforms underneath.  Light blue from head to foot is not something that any human should be adorned by.  But there is something beautiful in how it is able to offset the conscious mind. Now give Mr. Lynch a few cups of strong coffee half full of sugar and let him absorb some of this kind of atmosphere, and we’re talking about some potential for a basketball epic that will make us all forget about Gabe Kaplan in Fast Break.

I only wish he could have set up some cameras inside my eyes for that Memphis game panning across a half-filled arena with idle chatter bouncing around as phones are pulled out and glanced at every few seconds.  There are a few awkward and sometimes irrational crowd responses within an overall din reflecting a complete lack of any sense of importance.  Two young women sit down next to me and proceed to shriek like four-year-olds, with no apparent pattern, but with the loosely-defined purpose of matching up their decibel output for maximum ear-piercing effect.  The game is incredibly dull, slow and filled with foul calls.  Andrea Bargnani and Chris Bosh carry the action.  Every other Raptor on the floor could be out of the league within two years for one reason or another, which makes their small contributions a little bit heroic for the time being.  Bargnani heats up and scores on consecutive drives.  On the second play he is fouled and makes the basket as well.  A guy in the very last row in the corner of the building says “trade him”.  He doesn’t yell it, or emote at all, but projects the words enough for them to be heard clearly within the drone of the chatter.  Bargnani converts on his free throw and again, in the same deadpan tone - “trade him”.

[cut to Maurizio Gheradini standing next to Bryan Colangelo in the runway approaching courtside...a dwarf in a red silk shirt pulls on Maurizio's pant leg...Maurizio bends over as the dwarf whispers into his ear...the dwarf walks down the runway and exits the arena...Maurizio relays his message]

Maurizio: We need to trade aerdnA - er - I mean Andrea.

Bryan: It’s time?

Maurizio: It is time.

[cut to my seats up in the nosebleeds...yes - there is a drop of blood that has fallen from my nose as expected]

I reach for an old napkin in my coat pocket, find it rumpled up and quickly bring it to my nose.  Two minutes remain before the first half comes to a close. The shrieking woman nearest to me turns and asks, “is this Memphis?”.

[cut to Matt Devlin off-mike during the half-time break]

Devlin: No way!  No fucking way!  Bargnani has to stay!  What have I got without him?  He’s everything to me.  I’m sunk without him.  I gotta be able to roll that “Arrrrgh” like a pirate when he dials up a three.  Barrrrrgh-nani hits another trey! That’s just beautiful.  I gotta have that.  And then my whole “Do You Like Me Now” thing when he heats up like he has been lately.  I can milk that for a full year.  I mean I can tell that people are already sick of the Rockin’ Roko schtick.  I gotta fuckin’ have the Bargnani!

[Jack sits next to him, his eyebrows shaved, smiling excitedly]

Jack: HELLO!

[cut to Lara, microphone in hand, standing next to a half-time contestant]

Lara: Hey Fans!  It’s time to play A Raptor Erred!  I’m here with Jasmine and she’s going to say “a Raptor Erred” as fast as she can five times in a row.

Jasmine: A-Raptor-erred-aRaptor-erred-araptorerrd-arapterrd-arapterd

Lara:Hahaha!  You just said “a wrapped turd” Jasmine!  That’s funny.  But you know what!  Speaking of a wrapped turd - you have a chance to win a year’s supply of Snicker’s bars.  To win you just need a Raptor player to make a mistake.  Today’s challenge is for Jose Calderon to miss a free throw shot.  Now he hasn’t missed all season, but who knows Jasmine - this could be your lucky day!

[cut to Jose at the line, standing with the ball, eyeing the basket and shooting.  The ball goes through the hoop.  The fans boo and the soundsystem blasts sounds of crazed laughter followed by an elongated buzzer sound.]

The team comes out for the second half wearing brown and red colors and with “Snickers” emblazoned across the front of their jerseys.  In hushed tones, coach Triano reminds his team to be sure to run plays and to be aggressive even if they don’t like being aggressive.

The Raptors take a fourteen point lead, but Will Solomon coughs up the ball a couple of times and the crowd grows restless. Solomon decides to take a log-range jump shot the next time down and the crowd boos him relentlessly.  A rotund, elderly Gavin McLeod walks onto the court in a cameo appearance, wearing a white suite.   He pulls a small handgun from inside his lapel pocket, and while grinning madly, holds it up against Solomon’s head and pulls the trigger. 

[At the exact moment that the shot is heard, cut to the two young women next to me shrieking for a full thirty seconds, gradually fading out the screams and fading in spooky string music composed by Angelo Badalamenti.]

[cut to close-up of blood splatter pattern on McLeod's suit jacket]

[cut to Centre Court, where the spotlight beaming down from the scoreboard grows in intensity until it completely whites out the Raptor claw logo on the floor.  The light becomes almost liquid-like in its intensity - a milky lava of a beam.  Chris Bosh walks into the hot spotlight, dressed in his cowboy outfit and with a long blond wig beneath his cowboy hat.  He swivels his hips and the french version of the Blondie song "The Tide is High" plays through the sound system.  Bosh lip-syncs along with Deborah Harry's singing, perfectly mouthing the french words.  The dancepack, dressed as unwrapped Snickers bars, dance in the glow behind him. The Raptor mascot circles around the scene, removes his head and reveals a bunny head underneath it.  Holding the Raptor head, he reaches inside it's opening and pulls out a large purple key.  He hands the key to Bosh who stops lip-syncing as the music carries on. His blond wig grows in length until it covers him entirely.]

[cut to Devlin looking manic]

Devlin: And we’re not even half way through this season yet!

[Cut to a shot of an aging Fanny Flag leaning out of a private box.] 

Fanny Flag: Silencio!

mascot_wallpaper21

Game 39: Raps vs. Celtics - Post-game

Well, that was a little more like it. Even though the Raptors weren’t able to pull out a win tonight and blew another double digit lead, the effort and energy necessary to win was there tonight, it was just upended by a few key turnovers in the end.

You have to think that after witnessing Rajon Rondo carve up an injured Jose Calderon the other night, things would be a little different tonight and they were with Roko and Solomon in the lineup. Rondo wasn’t able to have the same kind of dribble penetration, which didn’t allow the Celtics shooters (Ray Allen) to get the same kind of open looks that they had in the first game of the home and home. By getting healthy PGs into the lineup, the Raptors were able to shut down a big part of the Celtics game and that was what allowed them to take an early lead.

I’m not sure what is stuck in Joey’s craw, but I’ll be damned if he isn’t playing like an angry man right now. Joey is mixing it up, getting rebounds, fighting for loose balls, he’s essentially playing like we always thought he would. That’s not saying that we always thought he would play this well, but now he is playing the kind of tough basketball that we always thought his body was built for. You have to like that with the game on the line and an opportunity to go right up, Joey didn’t hesitate with KG near the basket. He took it up strong and KG just got all ball. You can’t fault a guy who goes up strong like that and just has a good play made on him. That’s the kind of stuff that you are okay with. It’s a different story if you back out of that to take a jumper. Good on Joey for stepping up and being the grit this team needs.

What can we say about Il Mago? Not the greatest game last night, but he bounced right back tonight with another solid effort. You have to like the ice in the veins as he fired up the game tying three with a second left. No hesitation, just got the ball and let it fly. The confidence in his game at both ends of the court right now is astonishing. I think this is what we should pretty much expect from Bargs on a nightly basis. If he’s getting around 20 and 10 each night and Bosh has at least a decent game, the Raptors are going to see a lot of good things happen.

What I liked in the interview with Roko at halftime today was that you could tell that he took it personally that people thought he couldn’t go to the basket with his left hand. So what did we see from him in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter? Roko attacking and converting with his left hand. It says a lot about a guy when he is able to look for the right opportunities to showcase his talent, using it to keep the game close. Sometimes, you will see some selfish play from guys who want to show that they can do different things, but Roko effectively went left tonight, blowing past Rondo on a couple of occasions.

So now the Raptors can head back to Toronto feeling a little better about their overall game. They might be facing a team with whom they could possibly be swiping a few players (if you believe the rumours), so it will be interesting to see what happens. First time up for the Raptors and the Bulls, but even though the Raps have lost two straight, you have to feel fairly confident about them after tonight’s loss.

Game 39: Raps vs. Celtics - Pre-game

There’s nothing worse than having a team playing poorly come into your building and stop your own home winning streak. It’s like having somebody you don’t like come over to your house for dinner, eat all your food, spill wine on the carpet, drop a bomb in the washroom and then walk out the door without saying thanks. When the Raptors lost to the Celtics in game one of a home and home, they essentially had their house vandalized.

Going into Boston to pull out a win isn’t going to be easy, I don’t care how poorly the Celtics have been playing. With their team back in the win column and three wins over the Raptors this season, they are going to be full of confidence.

It looks like Jose probably will not play in this game and that actually may be good news for the Raptors, who need Jose to get healthy and also need some speed to be able to handle Rondo. There is no way that Rajon Rondo should be throwing down dunks on anybody in this league. He is quick, that’s a fact. But when he is playing against an injured opponent, he is going to create that drive penetration all night and has the weapons necessary waiting for him to dish.

Chris Bosh is going to have to show that he isn’t afraid of going inside on KG and Big Baby, because in game one of the home and home, I’m sorry, I hate to say it, because I honestly do love Bosh, but he looked scared. Jump shot after jump shot just isn’t going to cut it, especially if you aren’t hitting it. Bosh will need to get to the basket first in order to open up that shot and he showed a few times in game one that he is quick enough to get by KG.

The Raptors are also going to have to figure out a way to stay energized. Whether it is going to their bench earlier or changing their offensive mindset, they have to do something to get out of these ruts where they just seem to disappear. Joey brought some definite energy to the game and say what you want about Jake “All Six” Voskuhl, but at least he made it clear that there weren’t going to be any easy points. The Raptors will have to have some energy to win in Boston.

3 in the Key

1. Energy. Simple as that. You can’t sleep against the Celtics.

2. Support on the defensive end. If the PG is beaten off the dribble, some support needs to slide in. Also, can somebody please CALL OUT A PICK so somebody like Jamario doesn’t get killed? Help your teammates!

3. Work inside. The Raptors have the tools to play inside and they need to do it here to win.

Game 38: Raps vs. Celtics - Post-game

There is a certain lack of energy, of urgency that often concerns me when watching the Raptors. Today was one of those games. It’s not that the Raptors go out and mail in games, because overall, that is pretty rare with this team. But there are stretches, sometimes even whole quarters where the Raptors seem to start standing around watching teams make plays or stand around waiting for a play to magically happen on the offensive end, only to arrive at the same result: defeat.

The 14-0 Celtic run in the first quarter and some absolutely atrocious shooting in the third quarter sealed this game for the Raptors. Even though the Celtics have been playing some poor basketball lately, they are still the champs and when you have long stretches of poor play, championship teams are going to capitalize. By the time the Raptors were able to get things sorted, it was that old refrain: too little, too late.

I had a feeling it was going to happen, that the Raptors were going to throw Jose back into the lineup and just to take a guess, Jose probably had a good bit of input into that decision. After the jawing that previously went on with KG, it was only natural that Jose would want to get out there and help his team defeat the Celtics. But as I have said before, hamstring injuries and groin injuries are the worst kind in any sport where you have to make a lot of quick starts and stops and you just can’t rush back from those injuries. It’s a fact. You can’t come back quickly without reaggravating things. With the way the Raptors backup guards have been playing and the poor play of the Celtics lately, the Raptors should have kept Jose shelved. He was continually beaten off the dribble by Rondo, which not only led to Rondo scoring, but was a main factor in creating a lot of open looks for Ray Allen, who was solely responsible for the Celtics early lead.

Good to see Joey come out with a little bit of passion, showing that you can’t just walk down the lane and score at will. You also have to like that when Scalabrini was angry that Joey took him down and got up in Joey’s face, he didn’t budge. Now if only some of that grit could rub off on some of his teammates.

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