Archive by Author

Thriller’s Around the NBA Daily - 09/10 EC Preview

*The follow season preview is courtesy of one of the original RaptorsForum members thriller92.*

I’m going to do this edition like I did 2 years ago because I havent been this excited for an NBA season since my favorite player, KG, finally got some help in Minnesota some 5 yrs ago.

The team previews will be short and sweet but will give some insight on what the teams did in the offseason, and where they should be going this year. In my second post I’ll also preview day 1 of the 2009/2010 NBA season. Hope you enjoy. So without further ado, here is the Southeast Division in the

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

Southeast Division

ATLANTA HAWKS

Starters: Mike Bibby, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, Al Horford
Rotation Players: Jamal Crawford, Mo Evans, Joe Smith, Zaza Pachuilia

Key Additions - Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague, Joe Smith

OUTLOOK: The Hawks are coming off a successful 08/09 season by making it to the 2nd round of the playoffs. They are coming back with essentially the same team, hoping that internal improvement can carry them into the 2nd round and beyond again this year. They have added a solid prospect in Teague, and a wildcard in Crawford. Crawford has still yet to make the playoffs in his NBA career, but it should be his first trip there this year. He should be a better fit then Flip Murray was due to the fact that he can shoot from Range and create a bit more off the dribble, but the downside like always with Jamal is he is the worst defender in the NBA and often takes questionable shots.

If Mike Woodson can get him in a mindset where if he doesnt play hard on D and doesnt take good shots then Teague will steal his minutes, then he’ll have something very good on his hands because Crawford is an explosive player. I dont think Crawford can really hurt this team as they really needed scoring off the bench and he will provide that.

SEEDING: 4TH IN EAST

ORLANDO MAGIC

Starters: Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter, Matt Barnes, Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard
Rotation players: Anthony Johnson, Mickael Pietrus, Brandon Bass, Marcin Gortat

Key Additions - Vince Carter, Matt Barnes, Brandon Bass, Ryan Anderson

OUTLOOK: The Magic arguably made the best offseason moves to shore up their roster in the NBA. They added an upgrade on the offensive side of the ball with their primary ballhandler in the offence now being Vince Carter who can create his own shot and create for others better than Turkoglu, and they’ve added toughness and depth with their additions of Bass and Barnes. From what Ive heard they will start Bass on certain nights vs the bigger teams like the Lakers, but vs most teams they will start their unconventional lineup with Lewis at the 4 to really give opposing teams an impossible task of guarding this team.

When you look at this team as a whole, they may be the deepest team in the NBA from 1-12 with a guy like Ryan Anderson likely not even being in the mix and a guy like Gortat who will likely only be playing 10-15 mpg. The re signing of Gortat was likely to have him as a trading chip later on, I see him being moved at the deadline for a Battier type SF to round out their starting 5 come the trade deadline.

The Magic have a big FOUR with Nelson, VC, Shard and Dwight, and really, Dwight has no excuse not to win it all this year with the supporting cast that they have. If hes improved his post game theyre going to be even tougher to stop than last year.

SEEDING:1ST IN EAST

CHARLOTTE BOBCATS

Starters: Raymond Felton, Raja Bell, Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, Tyson Chandler
Rotation players: DJ Augustin, Ronald Murray, Vladimir Radmanovic, Desagana Diop

Key Additions - Ronald Murray, Gerald Henderson, Tyson Chandler

OUTLOOK: The Bobcats are coming off of a lackluster season, and have looked to have improved in the offseason with the addition of Chandler. Although hes not as good as Okafor in my opinion, he provides them with more length along the frontline and I think theyll be better defensively with a taller lineup. DJ Augustin is likely to take the starting reigns from Felton before this season ends, as I expect Felton to either be dealt come the trade deadline or moved in the offseason as I think people will come to find out DJ is a starting caliber PG in the NBA.

The main problem with the Bobcats is they have no go to guy, as most teams have at least 1 guy and that hurts them in late game situations and when theyre in scoring droughts which happens often. They have a lot of good complimentary guys but no one that teams gameplan their defences against, and that again will keep them out of the playoffs this year unless Augustin has a HUGE 2nd year which still may not be enough.

SEEDING: 10TH IN EAST

WASHINGTON WIZARDS

Starters: Gilbert Arenas, Mike Miller, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood
Rotation players: Randy Foye, Nick Young, Dominic McGuire, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee.

Key Additions - Mike Miller, Randy Foye

OUTLOOK: The Washington Wizards improved their balance and bench by adding Mike Miller and Randy Foye. Miller is one of the better role players and shooters in the NBA and should fit in their starting lineup beautifully, and Foye is in his ideal role as a scorer off the bench.

But all of that doesnt matter if the Wizards dont stay healthy. If Gilbert Arenas doesnt play 70+ games this team is going nowhere again. Reports indicate hes back to full health, and if he is back in his 2005 form they could be a really tough team to beat come playoff time with their superb depth, and scoring punch. Theyre easily the most dangerous team in the East come playoff time, if healthy, outside of the big 3.

SEEDING: 5th in East

MIAMI HEAT

Starters:Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, Michael Beasley, Udonis Haslem, Jermaine O’neal
Rotation players: Carlos Arroyo or Chris Quinn, Daequan Cook, Quintin Richardson, Joel Anthony

Key Additions - NONE

OUTLOOK: The Heat really didnt do anything in the offseason unless you count adding Quintin Richardson, who is a scrub now.

They’re relying on DWade to come up with another superhero performance, hoping he doesnt get hurt, and for Beasley to break out. Their bench could be the worst in basketball, but I think DWade is too good, and the East at the lower part of the standings isnt good enough to keep Miami out of the playoffs if Wade stays healthy.

SEEDING: 8th in EAST

Central Division:

CHICAGO BULLS

Starters: Derrick Rose, John Salmons, Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas, Joakim Noah
Rotation players: Kirk Hinrich, Jannero Pargo, James Johnson, Brad Miller

Key Additions - Jannero Pargo, James Johnson

OUTLOOK: The Bulls are coming off of a solid season where they nearly edged out the Boston Celtics to get into the 2nd round. Derrick Rose showed that he has the potential to become the best PG in the NBA in the playoffs, and you can expect him to be in the running for most improved player with more of the offensive load on hi shoulders with Gordon now in Detroit. Joakim Noah has also made huge strides in becoming one of the better young centers in the league.

The main question with Chicago is whether theyll have enough scoring around Rose, and if they can improve their defence to become more respectable on that side of the ball. I think once Chicago gets a bigman who can score with Rose the Bulls will really take off, but at this point I see them stuck around the bottom of the playoff seedings again to lose to one of the top seeds in a quicker first round series.

SEEDING: 7th IN EAST

DETROIT PISTONS

Starters: Rodney Stuckey, Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Chris Wilcox, Kwame Brown
Rotation players: Will Bynum, Ben Gordon, Austin Daye, Charlie Villanueva, Ben Wallace

Key Additions - Chris Wilcox, Austin Daye, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva

OUTLOOK: Detroit is a really disjointed team and their new coach admittedly doesnt have a set starting 5 right now. Either way they have no balance in the back or frontcourt. They have 2 guys off the bench who like to score a lot and need minutes to do so, but their starters need the minutes as well. I think the Rip/BG thing will blow up in Dumars face and he’ll have to move Rip very very soon. Their frontcourt is not good at all, as you either put in defence, or you put in straight offence. Theres no real combo that works there.

I just dont like the makeup of their team, and I have no idea what Dumars was thinking getting a 20+ PPG guy at a position he was already set at unless he IS planning for a big move. Its going to cause a lot of problems because IMO they cant even really play together either. Detroits fans arent in for a fun time this season.

SEEDING: 11th IN EAST

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Starters: Maurice Williams, Anthony Parker, Lebron James, Anderson Varajao, Shaquille Oneal
Rotation players: Daniel Gibson, Delonte West, Jamario Moon, Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Key Additions - Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon, Shaquille Oneal, Leon Powe

OUTLOOK: The Cavaliers on paper definately upgraded, but the season really comes down to how Shaq fits in with the team. They want him to be up top a lot of the time setting screens and I really dont think that is going to work in the long haul. Theyre lucky they have the luxury of Z as his backup because Shaq is bound to miss his usual 10-20 games.

Come playoff time, once they play ORL or BOS I cant see them winning vs either because Moon isnt a good enough swing guy to play meaningful minutes and Shaq isnt good enough anymore to dominate games. The lane will be clogged with him and Varajao down there and they will have a tough time scoring vs a smart defence. Unless they go out and get a Troy murphy or a stretch 4 as some people like to call it, I cant see this season ending in a title for the Cavs. Even if they did somehow get out of the East they have a ton of matchup problems vs the Spurs and the Lakers.

SEEDING: 3rd IN EAST

MILWAUKEE BUCKS

Starters: Brandon Jennings, Michael Redd, Carlos Delfino, Luc Mbah A Moute, Andrew Bogut
Rotation players: Luke Ridnour, Charlie Bell, Hakim Warrick, Dan Gadzuric

Key Additions - Brandon Jennings, Carlos Delfino, Hakim Warrick

OUTLOOK: Bucks fans should buy NBA League Pass to avoid the horror that is ahead. Redd is one of the most loyal players in the league staying in Milwaukee, but you have to wonder how long he can take what is going to be a terrible season for this team before you start hearing that he wants out. Jennings is obviously the player to watch on this team, but there isnt much else to see here besides their fans talking lotto in early November.

SEEDING: 15th IN EAST

INDIANA PACERS

Starters: TJ Ford, Brandon Rush, Danny Granger, Troy Murphy, Roy Hibbert
Rotation players: Earl Watson, Dahntay Jones, Tyler Hansbrough, Jeff Foster

Key Additions - Earl Watson, Tyler Hansbrough, Dahntay Jones

OUTLOOK: I didnt have a clue in the world what Bird was doing this offseason until 2 days ago when I read the headline: “Bird likely to resign from position next offseason”. Hes pulling an Isiah! Building an awful team and then leaving the franchise in a mess for the next GM to clean up. They rival Miami for the worst bench in the NBA. There is potentially some bright spots for this team with Rush Granger and Hibbert, but realistically this team is awful and their only chance of winning ballgames is hitting a bunch of 3s. Theyre a more well rounded Knicks team.

SEEDING: 12th IN EAST

Atlantic Division:

BOSTON CELTICS

Starters: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins
Rotation players: Eddie House, Marquis Daniels, Glen Davis, Rasheed Wallace

Key Additions - Marquis Daniels, Rasheed Wallace

OUTLOOK: The green machine is back and better then ever. KG looks great and Marquis has fit in like a glove. Sheed has looked a bit slow in pre season but he doesnt look all that interested as of yet so its hard to judge on that front. I think the battle for the East comes down to ORL and them, and if healthy I have no doubt in my mind Boston is going to win it all. Theyve improved their bench bigtime adding Quis who can handle the ball so House doesnt have to, and that will also cut down PP and RA’s minutes during the regular season, and the Celtics probably have the best backup bigmen situation in the NBA with Davis and Sheed. The only way ORL beats them is if, again, Dwight has improved his offensive game a ton, because as it stands right now, BOS only has to play him with single coverage which in turn hurts ORLs outside game which is what they thrive on, since theyll have no open looks from Dwights presence with Perkins showing he can handle him the last 2 seasons and Sheed in previous seasons as well.

SEEDING: 2nd IN EAST

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

Starters: Louis Williams, Andre Iguodala, Thaddeus Young, Elton Brand, Samuel Dalembert
Rotation players: Willie Green, Jason Kapono, Marreese Speights, Jason Smith

Key Additions - Jason Kapono

OUTLOOK: They lost their floor leader and fast break starter in Andre Miller and have replaced him with their lightning quick young PG Williams who likes to score on his own. I really dont like their floor balance as they have a hard enough time already scoring in the halfcourt, its going to be even tough if Williams is running his own number a lot more of the time than Miller did. They have no consistant shooting in the starting lineup so again that will hurt Brands opportunities in the low post as teams can easily sag on him. Their bench is pretty weak especially at the wing with 2 shooter types in Green and Kapono, though Speights looks for a breakout year in the frontcourt.

Overall I just dont like the direction this team is going. They seem to not want to make a decision on whether to keep Iggy or Young which WILL be the ultimate decision for this team going forward because of the lack of shooting and both of them essentially playing the same way and same position. Them losing a lot of their fastbreak game combined with the disjointed lineup and weak bench I dont like their chances in making the playoffs, and if they do, its 1 and out again.

SEEDING: 9TH SEED IN EAST

NEW YORK KNICKS

Starters: Chris Duhon, Wilson Chandler, Jared Jeffries, Al Harrington, David Lee
Rotation players: Nate Robinson, Danilo Gallinari, Darko Milicic

Key Additions - Jordan Hill

OUTLOOK: The worst team to watch in the NBA. They put basketball, and Dantoni ball, to shame with their selfish and wreckless style of play of jacking up contested shots off of one or two passes when theyre not even close to being open. Another season of boos will come down at the garden, and the Knick fans deserve better. Theyre all waiting until next offseason anyway where they probably wont end up getting anyone and their team will be in purgatory forever.

SEEDING: 13TH IN EAST

TORONTO RAPTORS

Starters: Jose Calderon, Demar Derozan, Hedo Turkoglu, Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani
Rotation players: Jarrett Jack, Marco Belinelli, Antoine Wright, Amir Johnson

Key Additions - Everyone I just named besides Jose Chris and Andrea

OUTLOOK: Probably the hardest team in the league to predict since they only brought back 3 rotation players from last season. Hedo should bring what Jose cant to this offence, an aggressive penetrating style off of the pick and roll, which is most of our offence. Hedo should create a ton of opportunities for others and Bosh should get a few extra gimmies with him on the floor.

But our season will be won and lost at the defensive end, particularly with our help defence. Will Bosh and Andrea step up and use their height and length in the frontcourt, or will it be another season of watching a layup line for opposing guards and bigmen? Can Triano create a defensive system where players actually look like they know where the hell theyre supposed to rotate to cut off open opportunities? Or will we all be frustrated again in the 15th season of a franchise which has esssentially accomplished nothing? Its time for Bosh, Andrea, and Triano to step up on defence, because offence wont be a problem.

SEEDING: 6TH IN EAST

NEW JERSEY NETS

Starters: Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, Bobby Simmons, Yi Jianlian, Brook Lopez
Rotation players: Rafer Alston, Chris Douglas Roberts, Terrence Williams, Josh Boone

Key Additions - Courtney Lee, Rafer Alston, Terrence Williams

OUTLOOK: A young up and coming team with some good pieces to build around. Lee and Lopez’ numbers are likely to go way up with more touches and minutes, but this team as a whole isnt very good. Besides their young players, the only other thing to look out for is the Rafer Alston situation as it appears he wants out and they have a better backup PG behind him right now in Dooling. Rafer is likely to be traded before the deadline, but besides those two things, not much else to see here besides empty seats.

SEEDING: 14th IN EAST

Helping POB & The Raptors Foundation

People out there that use Twitter, if you haven’t “followed” Patrick O’Bryant yet, do so now for a great cause. Scott the owner of Altraps Blog and POB are using Twitter for great cause in the Raptors Foundation.

If POB gets 2500 followers by Oct. 31st Altraps will donate $500 of his own dollars to the Raptors Foundation. POB originally agreed to matching it making it a total of $1000. But since then because of the overwhelming response, POB has since decided to retract that initial $500 donation and will now match the entire donations which at 2pm eastern time is currently at $3525. Doesn’t seem like much to some, but this will definitely help various charities in the Toronto area which the Raptors Foundation help support.

Kudos to Altraps and POB for doing this and all the other great Raptors fans out there who are opening their wallets to help this great cause.

So, its pretty simple. All you have to do is go to Pat’s Twitter page (http://twitter.com/13POB13) and click the “Follow” tab and do your part towards a rewarding cause.

Follow POB for a good cause

The $50 Million Dollar Man Andrea Bargnani

2008/09: 15.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.2 BPG, 31.5 MPG
Career: 12.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 0.9 BPG, 26.9 MPG
2009/10 Salary: $6,527,490
Contract Status: Signed through 2014/15

Claim to Fame: Eats downtown pasta during the day, makes other team eat downtown threes at night.

As if the expectations that come with being the first overall pick weren’t enough, he’s now a $50+ million dollar man. With great money comes great responsibility (yes, that’s a knock off from the “power” line). Whether or not he’s ready to take that next step is entirely up to him as he, along with Chris Bosh, is now surrounded with enough talent to contend.

Strengths:

You can’t talk about Bargnani without talking about his shooting ability for a big man. It’s why he was taken first overall and it’s why he was given a five-year extension this summer. His ability to hit the long range jumper brings defenders outside the paint and is key to the Raptors offense as it allows Bosh to set up down-low when they are on the court at the same time.

His mobility for a big man cannot be understated as while it is his shooting that brings defenders outside of their comfort zone, it’s his mobility that keeps them on their toes. If he wasn’t as mobile as he is for a big man they’d just be able to get up in his face. But, because he possesses these two strengths they are always on their toes trying to anticipate his move.

A strength that goes unnoticed is his ability to think the game a couple seconds faster than other players. Remember that pass he made to Chris Bosh in a January 5th, 2007 game against the Atlanta Hawks? If Bosh had managed to dunk it, it would’ve made every highlight reel in North America (could not find a clip). It’s his basketball IQ that separates him from other big men, and it’s one of those rare skills that cannot be taught, either you got it or you don’t.

Weaknesses:

He’s not a bad rebounder, and now that I said that I know I’m going to get killed for it on every social network out there, but it’s something he can still work on for sure. Look, at the end of the day, you’re not going to count on him to be a double-double player in his career. Yes, he has the height and the mobility, but it’s not his game. He improved his traffic rebounding in his third season, but he stills plays too far away from the basket to be counted upon getting rebounds in the “dirty areas” on the court.

Over the course of his third season in the NBA he seemed to understand what constituted as a foul and what was a “play on.” I’m glad of this fact, maybe now he can explain it to the rest of us …or at least me. It’s definitely something he improved after the interim-hiring of Jay Triano, so it’s probably the fact that Triano allowed him to play through foul trouble that really helped him out. This season he needs to work on cutting down on the fouls that there is no need to commit: the hand checks and over the backs. If he can work on that, it’ll only help him as it means he can stay on the court longer.

Andrea Bargnani

2009/10 Expectations:

18 PPG, 6 RPG, 34 MPG
He’s been compared to Dirk Nowitzki in the past due to his potential, the fact that he’s an international player and because they play a similar game. This should be the season where he gets compared to Dirk Nowitzki because of his skill level and maturity as an NBA player.

By giving Bargnani a $50+ million extension, the Raptors believe that they have locked up a core piece of their future for the long-term. It’s clear that this is Bosh’s team for at least one more season, beyond that no one knows. He’s just a core piece now, this time next season he may be looked to as the franchise.

This is part one of a five part series analyzing the Raptors starters and bench players. Follow Gagan Gandhi on Twitter (@gagangandhi) and join his group on Facebook. He writes for RealGM.com and can be reached at: gaganhoops@gmail.com with any comments, concerns or requests.

Friday Night in the Swamp

Courtesy of Raptors Forum Member takman_777

Friday night in the Swamp, the Raptors faced the Nets in a game where both teams had something to prove. The Nets were looking to build on a 7 – 3 in the last 10 games and still enjoying the OT win in Toronto after being down 18 points for most of the game. The Raptors were looking to show that their defensive improvements over the past 3 games critical in the win over the Pacers Wednesday night in which they held Danny Granger pretty much out of the game though he finished with 22 points, he was held to 9 – 25. The Raptors were looking to re-establish the interior defense that they had in the 3 – 0 start of the season, but lost before the change of coaches. On a night when the Nets were still without Eduardo Najera and Josh Boone was playing his first game after missing 14 games, the Raptors were looking to exploit that thin front line.

As the game unfolded, it was easy to see that the Raptors commitment to defense had taken hold. At one point early the Nets were held to 4 points in the paint and it stayed that way as Vince Carter made 0 shots in the first half making his first FT with 8:21 left in the 3rd quarter ending with 3 points and 4 rebounds and 3 assists. He was frustrated all night as Jamario Moon would not let him have any open looks and when he drove, the defense was there with the proper rotation forcing him to pass and often, that pass was contested and the ensuing shooter was contested. It was great to watch the Raptors hustle for loose balls and attack the perimeter making the Nets take low percentage shots or creating turnovers. The Nets ended the game with 18 turnovers. When the 4th quarter started, Vince was planted firmly on the bench and the Nets were 27% or so as a team shooting. They ended up at 31.3% as the benches played out the 4th which the Raptors started with a 71 – 53 lead. At a couple places in the 4th, the Raptors were up 30 points and had a 31 point lead at one point as the Nets bench scored 26 points in the 4th to keep the numbers from being more lop-sided than they already were.

For the Nets, Devin Harris and Vince Carter came into the game averaging 47.7 points per game as a tandem, one of the most prolific duos in the league this season. Raptors concern was that this would not be contained. With Jose Calderon and Jamario Moon playing against them most of the night with help from Joey Graham on Vince, they were held to 17 points on 4 – 23 shooting Vince being held to 0 field goals. Both Jose and Jamario have had points in the season where they have been called lousy defenders and liabilities, but Friday night they broke down the Nets back court all night long with Jamario Moon ending the night with 5 steals and 1 block. Last game, Brook Lopez scored 14 points inside and was a huge reason why the Nets were able to come back as he was an active threat on the glass and created a lot of room for Devin Harris and Vince Carter to take over the game. Friday night he was pretty much held in check by Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal as they both were up to the task of keeping the pressure on anyone who ventured into the paint. Lopez scored 6 Friday but was able to grab 8 rebounds which kept the Nets in this game for the first 3 quarters. Yi Jianlian was guarded by Chris Bosh most of the night and was relegated to a perimeter player most of the night as he had no room underneath and was frustrated by Chris Bosh all night ending up with 5 fouls taking him out of his slashing game. Bobby Simmons and Trenton Hassell had 12 and 10 points. As a group, the Nets starters were held to 15 – 54 for a dismal 27.7% shooting. That speaks of them taking plenty of low percentage shots and having a terrible night shooting overall.

Let me review my 4 keys to the game and highlight some good play by the Raptors as a group.

1) Turnovers – we will not be able to turn the ball over 20+ times against this quick back court or we will pay a huge price for it. Jose and Roko Ukic or Will Solomon will have to work hard at making the right pass and keep the turnovers under 15.

The Raptors ended the night with 11 turnovers to the Nets 18 with 8 steals and 8 blocks 4 by Andrea Bargnani. The Raptors held the Nets to 7 points off of turnovers as they recovered well while scoring 24 off of Nets turnovers. Jose Calderon had 0 turnovers and 3 assists and 3 rebounds and 13 points, but played so well on defense which was the first priority for him last night. Roko Ukic again played a very solid game attacking the rim and pushing the ball up the floor. He ended the night with 10 points and 5 assists and 4 rebounds and only 1 turnover. He has grown immensely in the past few games under Jay Triano as he finds himself getting more and more minutes and handling himself very well. Chris Bosh had 4 turnovers, usually making bad passes in the post or just losing the handle. He is not usually this awkward with the ball, but he is drawing more attention from weak side help again, but last night that was exploited with great success.

2) Rebound on both ends – the Raptors will not get away with a soft night on the glass at this point. Teams know this Raptors team has no desire to get after balls and will gladly do the work it takes to control the ball and the pace of the game.

Again, the Raptors were out rebounded on the offensive glass 20 – 5! 50 – 37 over all so they were collecting the ball on defense. Most games, I would be saying that this stat alone is one that will beat them most nights, but on a night when the Nets MISSED 57 shots, we got the ball back 56% of the time. The Nets ended with only 19 second chance points on 20 offensive boards! To me, that tells me that the Raptors were very good at recovering and actively pursuing the ball which is something they had not been doing as they were in the nasty habit of watching the rebounder just put the ball back in the net. I think it was Jermaine O’Neal who blocked at least 1 ball that was pretty much in the cylinder, but more on that later. Do the Raptors need to work harder on offensive rebounding? Yes, but when a team settles for long shots, they usually get long rebounds and that was how it went last night which is why they had so few second chance points. For their 5 offensive boards, the Raptors had 9 second chance points. I can live with that effort, but would love to see that balance itself out.

3) Balanced offense – 6 players in double digits is a good sign for this team. When the ball movement is there, Chris Bosh has his room to do what he does and take the ball to the hole and get to the line. Another double double from Jose would look great as well.

Friday night, Chris Bosh scored 18 points, had 5 rebounds and 3 assists and 1 steal. He was 6 – 8 from the field and 6 – 7 from the line. His 4 turnovers were a big reason why his numbers were down and the fact he sat the 4th quarter showed the effort the team gave last night. This is the second win in a row and the second game in a row he has not hit his season average in points. It is also the second game in a row that we have had 6 players in double digits with Chris Bosh, Jason Kapono with 16 on 4 – 9 from 3 point range, Andrea Bargnani with 11 and 7 rebounds, Joey Graham and another very solid game all over the floor with 16 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists and some hard work defensively let him finish the game with 30 minutes of playing time. It is nice to see him improving every game. Roko Ukic again had 10 points and 5 assists and 4 rebounds and Jose Calderon had 13 points. That type of balance from the Raptors starters and bench will give the team more opportunity to win close games as the season rolls on. Will Solomon and Hassan Adams also played with Will adding 2 points.

4) Protect the paint – we can’t continue to give up 40+ points in the paint and expect to win many games. NOT IN MY HOUSE has to become the mantra on defense of this team.

Coming into the game, the Raptors had been giving up 47 points in the paint as teams attacked them and collected uncontested put back baskets at will. As I watched the game, I was quite impressed by the new attitude this team has begun to develop in such a short time under Jay Triano. The Nets were only able to score 34 points in the paint last night. Loose balls are now attacked and fought for, more than a few times there were 3 Raptors on the floor after the ball, including Chris Bosh. That is a great thing to see as that is an internal thing, an instinct and a desire to win, not just play the game. You see that attitude in guys like Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade, Amar’e Stoudemire, Kobe Bryant, Chauncey Billups and guys that are willing to go all out every play to win. I am pleased to say that this was missing for the first part of the season, and should this continue, this team will soon gain the heart to compete at a very high level, and the past 2 weeks will be a distant memory as the new year begins.

Some random thoughts from Friday night’s game.

Chris Bosh looked very much more at peace and relaxed in the new look Raptors. He tried to force a couple passes and had the ball hacked out of his hands a few times, but I believe that he is much happier in the role of being AN option on offense as opposed to being the ONLY option on offense. I think that he will return to his 20+ games, but they will be in the context of the balance that we have seen the past 3 games. The 2 shots he missed last night were both tough no calls, but he was attacking the net again and that is a very good thing to see. Jason Kapono has scored 41 points in the past 2 games and is 17 – 31 from the field and 7 – 16 from outside the arc. Not only that, he is working harder on defense and contributing rebounds and assists that fit very well in the flow of this offense. He is a very valuable asset when he plays the game he can and doesn’t force his game. With 13 boards in the past two games, he has found other ways to contribute as well and his defensive play has improved immensely. Jermaine O’Neal scored only 7 points to go with his 2 rebounds, but added 3 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks providing a solid support inside that contributed to the Nets having no desire to attack the rim at all. He needs to contribute more rebounding nightly, but his defense alone was enough to set the tone for this game. Andrea Bargnani scored 11 points and collected 7 rebounds including 2 offensive rebounds. He also had 4 blocks and 1 assist on a night when his shooting was off he played a solid game on the glass and keeping the Nets out of the paint.

Sunday will be another tough game as the Hornets visit, then Monday the Nets return to the ACC, then Wednesday, the Mavericks visit as the Raptors have a 3 game home stand, but they have 5 games in the next 7 days with the Thunder and the Spurs next weekend. I hope we are up to the challenge.

Takman’s Post Game Rap-up vs. Pacers

Courtesy of Raptors Forum Member takman_777

Wednesday night, the Raptors and Jermaine O’Neal hosted the Pacers with T.J. Ford and Rasho Nesterovic in their return to the ACC. Emotions were running high on both sides of the floor as the Raptors had come into the game with a 4 game losing streak looking for the first win as a head coach for Jay Triano, while the Pacers were on a 3 game losing streak after beating the Lakers with 2 losses to the Celtics and 1 to the Cavaliers! As a Raptors fan, I thought we had a tough schedule, but we are second behind the Pacers in that regard. With games against the Lakers, the Nuggets, the Jazz, the Cavaliers and the Nets, these two teams have played a lot of very difficult games in the past 2 weeks so both were looking to this game to help readjust their outlook to some winning ways.

On most nights, the Raptors rely on Chris Bosh to carry this team and the past week he has looked tired and out of sorts and his struggles on both ends of the floor have contributed to the tough 2 weeks they have endured. Not to say there are not a lot of other reasons for the struggles, but one could see the weight of the losses mounting on him as he became a jump shooter and working his game away from the inside game that has made him an effective weapon all season. Tonight, he was able to score 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, the most critical of which came in the 4th quarter as he grabbed a couple huge offensive boards to keep the ball out of the Pacers hands and keep the pressure on them to stop us as we pulled away down the stretch. Tonight, the game was not about Chris Bosh and his rise to the top 5 players in the league, it was about the Raptors playing as a team and working through their poor defensive play to work as a group at both ends of the floor.

The game started slowly with both teams forcing the game and their will upon the other with little success. Then the Raptors looked to Jason Kapono who started the game hot and continued his solid play throughout. With Anthony Parker hurt, the starting line up included Jamario Moon at the SG position and Jason Kapono at the SF position. Both responded with spirited play on defense as a combined 42 points between them with Jason scoring 25 in the game. Jamario Moon grabbed 2 offensive boards, one a flying put back that rocked the building ending with 8 rebounds and Jason Kapono had 8 as well. Andrea Bargnani had a poor game offensively with 0 points, but he had a couple huge rebounds defensively as the Raptors looked to seal the game down the stretch. He ended with 4 rebounds. Jamario provided some very solid minutes defensively as he hounded Danny Granger all night and was 7 – 22 shooting at one point ending with 22 points, but was not much of a factor in the second half as Jamario Moon and Joey Graham held him in check. Joey Graham played one of his best games defensively Wednesday night and was a pest offensively posting up his man and attacking the rim collecting 12 points off the bench. Roko Ukic provided solid minutes again running the ball and attacking the rim scoring 5 points and handing out 2 assists but did much more to allow Jose Calderon valuable time to rest. He has begun to become a solid guard and with Jay Triano able to coach him from a guard’s perspective, I look forward to see the improvement of all our guards at both ends of the floor. Jermaine O’Neal picked up two very quick fouls and looked early like it was going to be a long night for him. From that point, he worked hard on defense and found himself getting the ball inside against Rasho Nesterovic, he went to work and ended up with 10 points and 9 rebounds including 2 offensive boards. Over all, a solid game for him as he faced his old team and looked very comfortable as the 3rd or 4th option on offense.

The night was heralded as the T.J. Ford Jose Calderon battle part 1. What we saw was a game that featured Jose as a pass first guard playing a slashing PG who couldn’t find his game. T.J. Ford struggled early shooting 2/4 in the first half and went 0/4 in the second as Jose and Jamario chased him down and gave him little room to pass as well. Jose Calderon ended the night with 11 points and 14 assists and only 2 turnovers while Ford ended up with 2 turnovers and 4 assists. Round 1? Jose refused to say this game was about them, and I agree. He showed a lot of class as he has done his time with the Raptors. Tonight was about the Raptors coming together as a team, not about getting in the face of the team you came from. Well done both guys who refused to let it become about them.

A couple points I wish to leave here. The Raptors held the Pacers to 34.7% FG and only 28% from 3 points range. The difference tonight was that the Raptors had a man on the shooter most of the night and the Pacers had few open looks. It was a good job by the Raptors to work hard at finding the shooter and staying with him through the rotation. Marquis Daniels had 21 points and was 7 – 19 but 7 – 7 from the line. He seemed to be the only Pacers player early who was hitting shots as the Raptors found their place in the new defensive rotations. He moved well with out the ball and eventually the Raptors found him and made him take tougher shots as the game moved on. Troy Murphy led the Pacers with a 20 point, 20 rebound game and was the only consistent threat from outside as he shot 4/8 from outside.

Again, the Raptors were outrebounded 52 to 47 which is a much better performance on the glass for the Raptors, but ending up -9 on the offensive glass was a huge reason the game was still close into the 4th. It would be easy to criticize this Raptors team for not getting after the ball in order to limit the offensive boards, but they will correct that issue as Jay continues to work his systems into this group. They were able to grab the ball when needed to control the game down the stretch, and that fact alone shows a huge step in the development of this team from last week. 7 blocks were huge as Jermaine O’Neal and Jamario Moon each had 3 and they seemed to be huge as they came late in the 4th and helped ice the game.

It was great to see 6 Raptors end up with double digits points and Jose and Chris had double doubles and 4 players had 8 or more rebounds. Balanced scoring and balanced effort on the glass has got to become the hallmark of this team and let’s hope tonight is the first step.

The Raptors have the Nets with Vince Carter and Devin Harris who scored 32 in a loss to the Knicks Wednesday. Then they face the Hornets and Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler on Sunday. Let’s hope this gives the guys a much needed boost mentally and as a group. The schedule doesn’t get easier as the season goes on!

This Week According to Takman - Week 7 Preview

Courtesy of Raptors Forum Member takman_777

Raps

The Raptors this week have 3 tough games again with the Cavaliers, the Pacers and the Nets. So far this season the Raptors have the second toughest schedule in the NBA with the Pacers being the toughest.

Cavs

First up, the Cavaliers host the struggling Raptors tonight and bring a 17 – 3 record to the game which has them 2 games behind the Celtics who are first over-all in the league, putting them 2nd in the East and 3rd overall behind the Lakers who are 17 – 2 at this point. Center Zydrunas Ilgauskas needs four rebounds to break former center Brad Daugherty’s record (5,227, 1986-94) and become the Cavs’ all- time leading rebounder. LeBron James sits second overall in scoring average behind the Heats Dwyane Wade and just ahead of Chris Bosh with 26.5 points per game. Bosh sits at 25.7 despite a poor week of play. The Cavaliers are 11 – 0 at home and are 1 of only 2 teams to be undefeated at home, the Trail Blazers are 7 – 0 at home as well. The Cavs’ bring an 8 game winning streak to the game tonight and are 9 – 1 in their last 10 games with their only loss going to the Pistons having beaten teams like the Hawks, the Nets, the Nuggets, the Jazz and the Knicks twice. Aside from LBJ, the Cavaliers have one of the most balanced teams they have seen in the LeBron era with Z and Anderson Varejao and Ben Wallace up front. Delonte West and Mo Williams, Daniel Gibson and Wally Szczerbiak in the back court, this team has a lot of energy guys on the bench and no longer can teams wait until LBJ sits to take advantage of the weak bench. The starters as a group are averaging 28+ rebounds a game so they are working hard as a group and have been rewarded for the attention to the glass so far this season. The way the Raptors front court has been, I can’t see tonight being any different than the past 4 games as the Raptors will have to wait until another night to get their first win for Jay.

Pacers

Next up the Indiana Pacers, and the return of T.J. Ford and Rasho Nesterovic. Both of whom are enjoying good seasons with this young team. As I mentioned, this team has not enjoyed the toughest schedule in the NBA as they are 7 – 13 at this point. They do have some good talent on this team and with T.J. coming back to Toronto, they should have an emotional lift and play a spirited game. Danny Granger, Marquis Daniels, and Troy Murphy round out the starters who as a group are all at or above 10 points per game with Granger averaging 23.1 points per game. This is a game that the Raptors should win, but they will need to correct a few things first. They can not let Danny Granger roam free and attack from all parts of the floor. They have to contain the break and they have to get solid interior defense from the front line.

Nets

Friday we head to New Jersey to play Vince Carter and his Nets. Devin Harris has quickly developed into a top level guard in this league and the Nets are enjoying his development with 2 wins in a row and a 7 – 3 record in the last 10 games. With Brook Lopez developing into a solid front line player, the Nets are not just Vince Carter any more. Yi Jianlian and Keyon Dooling bring energy and solid rebounding to this team that has been thin up front with Eduardo Najera and Josh Boone out. Any game between the Raptors and the Nets has a sideshow atmosphere and I look for more of the same.

Triano

As I see this week developing, the Raptors will be hard pressed to beat the Pacers in what could be their only realistic shot at a victory. Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon are going to have to develop some defense very quickly, Jermaine O’Neal will have to continue to score, but more importantly, provide this team some offensive rebounds, which they are 30th in the league. Andrea Bargnani had a great game against them last time and I look for him to continue his solid play on defense, but I would love to see him scoring at a 15 – 20 per game pace. Anthony Parker was burned the last sequence by Rudy Fernandez as he stood and watched the Trail Blazers grab offensive boards and find Steve Blake to kill us. That kind of effort won’t do! I think that Joey Graham should be given a shot at starting, but I suspect we won’t see a change any time soon as this team has such a thin bench as Jason Kapono and Jamario Moon are flying way under the radar. Unless this team suddenly finds some character, it will be a long week.

The Week That Was - Week 6 Review

Courtesy of Raptors Forum Member takman_777

I am a regular blogger on cbs and this weekly review was quite long, so i hope you don’t mind i started a separate thread for it. Please enjoy it and let me know if you agree or disagree or have thoughts to add. I have learned a lot on this forum and love others express their thoughts. Enjoy!!

This past week in the Raptors schedule saw the end of an era, the beginning of a new one, and 4 games this team will need to quickly forget to begin to build some sort of success with the rest of this season. Here is the week in review as I saw it!

After wins against the Bobcats and the Hawks, the Raptors embarked on a road trip which had stops against the Lakers, the Nuggets and the Jazz who are all at or near the top of the western conference and at or near the top of their game. Though they were coming off two wins, the Raptors had begun to develop nasty habits on both offense and defense that teams had begun to exploit. Defensively, the team was struggling to maintain leads and maintain any sort of consistent effort in the area of perimeter defense. Heading into games that feature some of the premier perimeter players in the league right now, the Raptors needed to find someone to step up and take that role to heart or find a way to play better team defense. With Jermaine O’Neal still nursing his sore ankle, prospects heading west were ominous at best. With the inconsistent play, it was clear that Sam Mitchell’s job was hanging by a very thin wire and he was on a very short leash at this point.

Heading into Los Angeles the Raptors started the tough 3 game trek against the Lakers looking to see if they could elevate their game to a new level. The first quarter was exciting and with a shoot out looming, the quarter ended 34 – 29 for the Lakers. After that point, the Lakers pulled away and over powered the short handed Raptors leading 61 – 51 at the half. The Raptors showed a lot of heart outscoring the Lakers 30 – 29 in the third, but the Raptors were never really able to mount any kind of sustained scoring as the Lakers would create a turnover or grab a rebound and run the floor scoring lay up after layup on the slower Raptors. The Lakers score 18 fast break points to the Raptors 7 and with Kobe on the bench for the 4th quarter they pulled ahead for good with their bench out playing the Raptors all over the floor.

Lakers game stats

Kobe Bryant - 23 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists
Pau Gasol - 24 points, 8 rebounds
Andrew Bynum - 18 points, 10 rebounds
Trevor Ariza - 14 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists
Lamar Odom - 3 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals

47/92 - 51.1%
15 offensive boards - 54 total
34 assists
10 steals

Team Rebounds - 10
Defensive 3-second violations - 1
Points Off Turnovers - 13
Fastbreak Points - 18
Points In The Paint - 58
Second Chance Points – 30

Raptors game stats

Chris Bosh - 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 turnovers
Andrea Bargnani - 14 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks
Jose Calderon - 12 points, 6 rebounds, 12 assists
Anthony Parker - 19 points, 2 assists
Jamario Moon - 11 points, 3 assists, 3 steals
Jason Kapono - 11 points
Joey Graham - 7 points, 4 rebounds - 3 offensive
Roko Ukic - 7 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal
Kris Humphries - 3 rebounds, 3 steals

34/88 - 38.6% - 11/25 - 44% 3 points
36 rebounds - 11 offensive
23 assists
13 turnovers
11 steals
6 blocks

Team Rebounds - 7
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 17
Fastbreak Points - 7
Points In The Paint - 32
Second Chance Points – 10

As we can see, this game was lost on the glass with the Raptors ending up -18 for the night but a more telling -4 on the offensive glass. We were -11 in assists, and -26 on points in the paint. The Lakers ran the ball at will and scored on open shot after open shot in transition. This game was a good effort, but it was very obvious to most observers that this Raptors team had no clue defensively both in transition and on the perimeter. It was too much to ask our thin front line to compete with the solid and deep Lakers squad who seemed to play as hard as they needed to until they got up a few in the 3rd, then let the very talented bench take over and finish this game.

Next up for the Raptors, the Nuggets were waiting. With Jermaine O’Neal set to return, this game offered a hope that the Raptors would have some strength inside again. Though he provided 12 points, it was no where near enough to slow down the Nuggets and this game was over very early and was the last game in the Sam Mitchell era for the Raptors organization. Here are the game stats.

Nuggets game stats

Carmelo Anthony - 23 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks
Chauncey Billups - 24 points, 14 assists
Nene - 19 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks
Kenyon Martin - 11 points, 4 rebounds
Linas Kleiza - 12 points, 4 rebounds
J.R. Smith - 14 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
Dahntay Jones - 5 assists, 9 points

49/82 - 59.8% including 13/24 or 54.2% from 3 point range
46 rebounds - 5 offensive
37 assists

Team Rebounds - 11
Defensive 3-second violations - 1
Points Off Turnovers - 16
Fastbreak Points - 27
Points In The Paint - 50
Second Chance Points – 10

Raptors game stats

Chris Bosh - 24 points, 12 rebounds - 5 offensive, 5 assists
Jose Calderon - 9 points, 7 assists
Jermaine O’Neal - 12 points, 3 rebounds
Roko Ukic - 13 points
Andrea Bargnani - 9 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals
Joey Graham - 10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 turnovers
Kris Humphries - 4 points, 8 rebounds - 3 offensive
Jason Kapono - 0 points

34/93 - 36.6% including 5/17 - 29.4% 3 point shots
39 rebounds - 12 offensive
21 Assists
10 turnovers
6 steals
4 blocks

Team Rebounds - 7
Defensive 3-second violations - 1
Points Off Turnovers - 8
Fastbreak Points - 17
Points In The Paint - 28
Second Chance Points – 9

The Raptors were outplayed all over the floor and the lack of both creativity and any defensive pressure at all cost Sam his job, signaling the beginning of the Jay Triano era. We did see a vast improvement in the play of Roko, but again, this Raptors team was out rebounded by 7, but on a night when the Nuggets shot almost 60%, they had no real need to rebound to control the game. This game was ugly early and most turned it off by half-time, I watched Amadeus!

Friday took us to Utah to take on the Jazz who were as vulnerable as they have been all season long. With Carlos Boozer out and Andrei Kirilenko recouping from an ankle injury, the Raptors had an opportunity to control the game inside. That never happened. Mehmet Okur showed why he is considered one of the best shooting Center in the game today. He scored from inside and from outside, short jumpers, fade away, off the dribble and off the break. Jermaine O’Neal had no ability to stop him as he had no help any where. When Bosh was on him, he had shots from 7 to 10 feet and very little pressure from the weakside. I guess defensive bad habits and bad attitudes take more than 1 or 2 practices to correct. Most of the time teams that have a coaching change seem to take to the floor with a bit more energy and a bit more focus in response to the firing. This was not the case for the Raptors. They looked listless and helpless all night long. Not the type of response Bryan Colangelo was looking for and I am sure Jay expected more from his guys, but I guess we can excuse them for not wanting to compete, but the effort they played with was awful. Here are the game stats.

Jazz game stats

Paul Millsap - 17 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks
Mehmet Okur - 21 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks
Deron Williams - 14 points, 5 assists, 2 steals
Ronnie Brewer - 10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals
Andrei Kirilenko - 7 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
Matt Harpring - 14 points, 7 rebounds including 4 offensive
Kostas Koufos - 10 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal

49/95 - 51.6%
13 offensive rebounds 52 overall
31 assists
12 steals
8 blocks

Team Rebounds - 6
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 25
Fastbreak Points - 9
Points In The Paint - 66
Second Chance Points – 15

Raptors game stats

Chris Bosh - 18 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 4 turnovers
Jose Calderon - 10 points, 8 assists, 2 steals
Joey Graham - 13 points, 5 rebounds
Jermaine O’Neal - 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks
Andrea Bargnani -7 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks
Roko Ukic - 7 points, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Jason Kapono - 5 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal
Jamario Moon - 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Will Solomon - 7 points
Anthony Parker - 8 points, 4 assists, 1 steal

36/82 - 43.9% - 4/17 for 23.5% from 3 pt range
38 rebounds - 3 offensive
23 assists
23 turnovers
8 steals
10 blocks

Team Rebounds - 3
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 15
Fastbreak Points - 16
Points In The Paint - 44
Second Chance Points – 2

Allowing 66 points in the paint is inexcusable at an NBA level. The Raptors were beaten by a very good team, and they looked unable to run simple plays out of an offensive set. The coaching staff has a lot of work to do.

Sunday, the Raptors hosted the young Trail Blazers featuring 2 players that Bryan Colangelo MIGHT have drafted rather than Andrea Bargnani. With both the 2nd overall pick after Andrea, LeMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy drafted 6th in the lineup, one can only wonder what might have been. Here we have yet another game that the Raptors opened up a 16 point lead only to see it disappear as yet another team exploits this teams inability to guard on the perimeter. Steve Blake looked like Steve Kerr out there and the Raptors had no way to hold on to the lead. This game will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many Raptors fans as we seem to be seeing the beginning of a Chris Bosh meltdown underway. During a very tight third quarter that saw the Raptors recover from a 10 point deficit to take a lead, we saw Chris Bosh decide that he was the best option from outside the arc with Jason Kapono open to his left. Jay Triano seemed to bench him after that selfish play and he was on the bench for the first 8 minutes of the 4th while Joey Graham and Jason Kapono and Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon and Jermaine O’Neal were able to build a 5 point lead with 3 minutes left. Chris Bosh came in and although he did manage a block late, he scored only 4 points in the second half, was blocked twice and turned the ball over and took fade away shots over a much smaller defender too many times to consider it coincidence. I have never seen him play for himself so much and on the final inbound pass, he tried to dribble from outside the arc with a wide open Jason Kapono and Jose Calderon in his line of sight, he threw up a horrible shot over LaMarcus, looking for a foul I guess. I have not often seen him play so poorly when the team needed him to compete. I hope that they can work things out as he is too valuable to this team to watch him play this way. I hope this is not an indication of any more unrest within the walls of this locker room. Here are the game stats

Trail Blazers game stats

Brandon Roy - 15 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists
LeMarcus Aldridge - 20 points, 8 rebounds including 6 offensive, 2 blocks
Steve Blake - 19 points including 5/8 3 point baskets, 7 rebounds, 4 assists
Greg Oden - 10 points, 10 rebounds - 5 Offensive, 2 blocks
Rudy Fernandez - 16 points, 8 rebounds - 3 Offensive

36/82 - 43.9% including 12/24 - 50% 3 point shots
48 rebounds including 18 offensive
19 assists
3 steals
5 blocks

Team Rebounds - 6
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 12
Fastbreak Points - 2
Points In The Paint - 24
Second Chance Points – 20

Raptors game stats

Jermaine O’Neal - 24 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 6 blocks
Chris Bosh - 19 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block
Jose Calderon - 15 points, 13 assists
Jason Kapono - 10 points, 2 rebounds
Joey Graham - 10 points, 2 rebounds
Anthony Parker - 8 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals
Andrea Bargnani - 5 points, 4 rebounds

38/77 - 49.4% including 8/17 - 47.1% from 3 point range
31 rebounds - 4 offensive
26 assists
8 turnovers
7 steals
8 blocks

Team Rebounds - 3
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 15
Fastbreak Points - 8
Points In The Paint - 34
Second Chance Points – 10

I think there were a few things that I really liked from this game and a few things that concern me greatly. Once again, the Raptors were -17 on the glass with only 4 offensive boards while giving up 18 offensive boards to a very active Trail Blazers team. Offensive boards reflect the heart of a team and the Raptors played this game with no desire to attack the offensive glass. That one fact alone keeps them in a very small window to grow as a team offensively as they could have sealed this game late with a couple of tough rebounds and a couple of loose ball plays that the Blazers seemed to be the only team wanting the ball most of the game. We gave up 12/24 or 50% from 3 point range to a team that is known as a good shooting team. Steve Blake, like Vince Carter, killed us with a huge 3 point shot on a very similar play that the Nets ran on us, maybe the Raptors are the only team that doesn’t dissect game film to figure opponents tendencies out before the game is played. Jay did a great job with the rotation after the team had lost the lead. They continued to work the ball around and a balanced offense was the result with 5 guys in double digits scoring. Watching the last 3 minutes and the meltdown of Chris Bosh as he was very much in the way the second half, was difficult after watching them battle hard to put themselves in a place to be one rebound away from beating this very good team. We did only have 8 turnovers which was great but our lack of perimeter defense killed us again.

As I started this by saying, it was a very difficult week for the Raptors and we played 4 very good teams and perhaps the western conference champion and we struggled in every aspect of the game. Some interesting facts I found this past week by the numbers.

1) 49.5 – average number of points in the paint given up in the past 4 games. This means that over the past week we have given up a lot of very easy baskets. With the Raptors averaging only 34.5 points in the paint a game, that is a huge disparity and one of many reasons why we struggle so much from game to game.
2) 181/351 - 51.5% - the combined opposition field goal percentage. You can’t let teams light you up every night. Not only are the Raptors getting beat inside, our lack of solid perimeter defense is reflected in the high shooting percentage. For a team like the Raptors that struggles on offense, we can’t continue to let teams score 1 out of every 2 shots they take.
3) 50 rebounds given up per game with 12.75 Offensive boards per game allowed. We can not expect to succeed on any kind of consistent basis giving up those kinds of numbers on the glass. Rebounding reflects the heart of a team defensively, from the numbers shown here, we have a long way to go.

Though it was a tough week, I think that the move to Jay was a step in the right direction and the game Sunday showed that the team does have the talent to compete should they chose to, but I am afraid the tendency towards mediocrity this team has displayed so far this season has become systemic in nature and will be very tough to overcome from the top to the bottom of this roster.

This week we also saw a much improved Joey Graham begin to reveal some character and some heart. I think he is ready to start as what we have had just isn’t good enough and we have some very tough games coming quickly. Roko Ukic has begun to show us the skill he has and as a young guard, has provided some much needed rest for Jose. Anthony Parker and Jason Kapono had some good minutes scoring this week as did Jamario Moon. Here’s hoping that those guys continue their improvement on both sides of the floor. Andrea Bargnani is becoming a force defensively but has paid the price offensively. It is a very difficult thing to balance, but this team needs him to score as well as provide tough defense, but the improved defense will provide him opportunities to score in transition more as the tempo of this team improves offensively and in transition.

If you made it through this, thanks and I hope you enjoyed the read.

Turn Out The Lights, The Party’s Over

Courtesy of Raptors Forum Member takman_777

Turn out the lights, the party’s over! Jay Triano started his coaching era with the Raptors Friday night with a game against the Jazz. To say it wasn’t a good start is an understatement. The Raptors came into the game after losing to the Lakers and the Nuggets and then losing Sam Mitchell as coach on Wednesday. After a short practice day Friday, the Raptors had to quickly regroup and play the Jazz without Carlos Boozer. Usually when a coach is replaced, the team responds with some passion or emotion or some sort of spark for the new coach for whatever reason, but usually the players will respond and step up their play for at least 1 game. As has become the norm with this group of Raptors, there was no passion to be found anywhere.

On a night when we found out what a big baby Glenn Davis really is after Kevin Garnett called him out for playing lousy defense while his Celtics were UP 25, we watched a team fall deeper into a pit of mediocrity. After an opening play dunk by Andrea Bargnani, the guys looked good moving the ball up the floor looking for the break a few times, but after getting a 10 – 5 lead, the Jazz ended the quarter on a 28 – 13 run. Deron Williams scored 10 in the quarter running past Jose Calderon at will. Mehmet Okur used every trick in his vast array of tools to school both Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Bosh from the inside out ending the game with 21 points in only 29 minutes of playing time. The Jazz early attacked the basket and found absolutely no defense being offered up by our inside guys at all. Anthony Parker and Joey Graham offered a little bit of resistance, but it was no where near enough to stop any of the Jazz players. Paul Millsap ended the night with 17, D-Will ended with 14, Andrei Kirilenko had 7 off the bench, Matt Harpring dropped 14 and added 7 boards, Kosta Koufos had 10 as the Jazz offered their consistently balanced attack to which the Raptors could offer NO defense at all.

To a man, the Raptors looked emotionally drained and showed no emotion as the Jazz just kept taking shots in the key all night long. Whether it was a layup, or 7 footer, the Raptors just stood there helpless. What I saw last night has little to do with coaching. First, the few highlights for the Raptors. Joey Graham continues to show he deserves more time on the floor with a solid game and 13 points and 5 rebounds. He picked up 4 fouls, but at least he was engaged defensively and showed some intensity. If he continues his improvement and can cut down the fouls, he should keep the pressure on to put him on the starting lineup soon. Roko Ukic seems to grow with each passing minute on the floor. He looked more composed and very comfortable on the court and his 7 points point to his improvement as he scored most on layups or breaks. His bringing an up tempo style to this team will be critical as we look to over haul the team from the top to the bottom. Will Solomon added 7 and seems to have begun to control the ball with only 1 turnover. I am not saying he is ready to play heavy minutes yet, but I think he knows what it is he needs to do to play at the NBA level.

As for the starters, well that is another story. Chris Bosh has probably heard the last of his MVP calls this season as he has developed a nasty habit of not playing defense at all. He is considered the leader of this team and if that is the case, he needs to leave it on the court every minute he is on the floor. He is NOT a 3 point shooter. His game is taking the ball to the hole and creating mismatches and causing defenses to over rotate on him and kick the ball out. He has lost confidence in his team mates like Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono who look lost at both ends of the floor and have given up playing on the defensive end all together. Jamario was a shot blocker when he entered the league and with his talent and overall athleticism, he should be a much more able defender, but he has stopped attacking the hoop and has begun to stand around the 3 point line hoping the ball comes to him. The problem is, teams leave him alone because they know he offers no real threat anywhere on the floor in a set offense. He looked much better when the tempo was pushed and as that becomes more a part of our offense, I hope to see him return to form as he can be a real asset to this squad running the floor. Andrea Bargnani continued his solid play on defense and was truly the only real bright spot defensively with 4 blocks and 6 rebounds on a night when we got destroyed on the glass, again. We know he won’t have many 3 – 12 shooting nights so right now, I feel he is our most consistent player at both ends over all. Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon have decided that defense is no longer an aspect of the game they have any desire to contribute to and Jermaine O’Neal has become a sideshow on this team offering little on offense and not much on defense. IF he is hurt to that extent, then keep him off the floor and let the other guys figure out what to do without him. The problem is, he was brought here to provide that solution and he has not been able to perform at a level required to do so the past 3 weeks. The Raptors have struggled greatly since that Nets game and that horrible foul he suffered the injury on. Anthony Parker seems unable to defend anyone at this point and grabbed no rebounds and only 8 points against the Jazz. An over all terrible effort by him at both ends of the floor last night that can’t continue from here going forward.

So, what do we do now? Jay Triano and Bryan Colangelo have a huge amount of work to do with this team. It won’t be easy to fix without a major over haul and perhaps some player movements that won’t be popular. Right now, all of our resources were moved when we gave up Rasho Nasterovic and T.J. Ford to the Pacers for Jermaine. It is becoming clear that the plan has not and will not provide the solutions it was designed to bring. That leaves us very little resources to make any real trades with that don’t include what most would consider our “untouchables”. I will discuss this issue in my week in review to come later.

This Week According to Takman - Week 6 Preview

Courtesy of Raptors Forum Member takman_777

Kobe Strips Parker

This week sees the Raptors continue their western trek after a loss to the Lakers in L.A. Sunday night. From there, they head to Denver to take on the rejuvenated Chauncey Billups lead Nuggets. With Carmelo Anthony injured and questionable for the game, the Nuggets come into the game riding a 2 game winning streak with 4 wins in the last 5 games with a loss to the Hornets last week and victories over the Bulls, the Rockets, the Clippers and the Timberwolves. At 12 – 6, they trail only the Lakers in the west and are 5th over all in victories this season in the league with the Trail Blazers. Since trading Allen Iverson to the Pistons for Chauncey Billups, the Nuggets are 8 – 3 having lost only to the Lakers, the Hornets and the Cavaliers in that period.

Denver Nuggets

Without Carmelo Anthony, this Nuggets team will start the following lineup:

C- Nene
PF – Kenyon Martin
SF – Linus Kleiza
SG – Dahntay Jones
PG – Chauncey Billups

Toronto Raptors

While the Raptors will continue with the same lineup until Jermaine O’Neal returns, which we do not know at this time.

C – Andrea Bargnani
PF – Chris Bosh
SF – Jamario Moon
SG – Anthony Parker
PG – Jose Calderon

With some of the defensive strides the Raptors have made this past week, I see this game as very winnable at this point. I like the matchups in the front court and feel we have the rotation to attack at all three positions all night. With Anthony Parker not having a top 10 player to guard all night, I look to him to build on his 19 point game against Kobe Bryant and perhaps be the difference in the game at both ends of the floor as he should be able to help in rotation much easier not having a 30 point threat as a check all night. Up front, I look for Andrea to keep Nene busy all night both inside and out. He is a very good defender both on the block and quite able to guard Andrea outside as well. Another double double from Andrea would go a long way to make Chris Bosh have the room he didn’t have against Andrew Bynum. I am not sure that Kenyon Martin can keep up with Chris and I look for Chris to attack the hoop and make K-Mart stop him. I can see CB4 going to the line 15 times or more.

Chauncey Billups will be the biggest problem for us as Jose Calderon will have a lot of trouble with the bigger guard as he seems to always do. With Chauncey playing at a very high level right now, I see this as our biggest problem to deal with. It will require all of the defensive improvements we have seen the Raptors make to keep this team out of transition and make them work the half court game as much as possible. I look forward to a very good game by both teams but I think that we match up well against this Nuggets lineup and have a solid shot at picking up a victory, but it will require some solid rebounding and transition defense for that to happen.

Utah Jazz

From here we travel to meet the Utah Jazz who come into the week 11 – 7 over all after going 2 – 2 last week defeating the Kings and the Grizzlies but losing to the Bulls and the Nets as Devin Harris went off for 34 points.

Okur

They will play games against the Kings and the Heat back to back Tuesday and Wednesday before hosting the Raptors on Friday. With Carlos Boozer missing the last 6 games, the Jazz have struggled to a 3 – 3 record having lost to the Bulls, the Spurs and the Nets over that period. Having Deron Williams back has been a huge lift for them at a time when they needed a boost.

Portland Blazers

After this game, the Raptors are home to the Trail Blazers who are sitting at 12 – 6 having beaten the Pistons on Sunday night. They bring a 4 game win streak into this week and are tied for second over all in the west as of Monday’s writing. This game will be a huge test for the Raptors as they return home from a road trip against the other 3 top 4 teams in the west! The Trail Blazers have games against the Knicks, the Wizards and the Celtics before the visit Toronto as the fifth game of a five game swing through the eastern conference. With Brandon Roy averaging 21 points and LeMarcus Aldridge averaging 16, this team is young and very much on the rise in the west. Let’s hope by Sunday, they will have been worn out by the Celtics and Jermaine O’Neal has returned healthy.

So this week we play teams with a combined 35 – 19 record. 49 – 20 if you add the Lakers. Let’s just say that if we can keep getting better as the team looks like it has, then this road trip will have helped us achieve that goal. Can we win them all? Of course, most games are not won or lost on the floor, but before the game in the locker room. These games will test the heart of the Raptors and Sam Mitchell. Let’s hope we see the team continue to challenge and grow as a team.

Raptors Review - Week 5

Courtesy of Raptors Forum member: takman_777

Let’s call this week 5 review instead!

The last 7 days for the Raptors have been difficult to say the least. Physically and mentally they have been taken to both extremes. In a week where they played both of the top 2 teams in the league, the Raptors were looking to find out if they were ready to acquit themselves at the highest level of play in the league. Here is how I saw those games.

Sunday, November 23rd – Boston Celtics in Toronto.

The game started fast for the Celtics as they opened up with a 10 – 0 run from which they never recovered. Jermaine O’Neal tried to play but hobbled off the floor in obvious pain. Chris Bosh scored 24, Jose Calderon, Anthony Parker Kris Humphries and Andrea Bargnani were all in double digits. The Celtic scored 59 points in the first half and were never really threatened as Rajon Rondo ran the floor in transition as well as a solid half court game lead by Ray Allen with 21, Kevin Garnett with 15, Kendrick Perkins, Paul Pierce, Eddy House, Tony Allen and Rondo himself all scoring 10 or more. Overall, the Raptors looked slow and out of sync on offense and could do nothing to stop the Celtics ball movement at all.

Wednesday, November 26th – Charlotte Bobcats in Toronto.

The Raptors needed a win to stop a slump both mentally and as a group. With Jermaine on the bench, Chris Bosh put up 39 points on a night that he had little help. With Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani struggling on offense, Joey Graham came off the bench and scored 17 points as well as provided some much needed energy at both ends of the floor. With Jason Richardson still out of the lineup, Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor combined for 39 points and forced the Raptors to adjust several times on defense to contain them both in the lane and on the glass. A good win for the struggling Raptors, but should not have been as close as it was.

Friday, November 28th – Atlanta Hawks in Toronto.

After getting stuck in his condo’s elevator and arriving less than an hour before game time, Chris Bosh seemed on his game early and ended the night with 30 points as the Hawks and the Raptors played an exciting game with Jason Kapono nailing 2 free throws late to seal the win to finish with 16 points on the night. Jamario Moon added 10 as well as the bench provided the kind of support both offensively and defensively all night. Anthony Parker made Joe Johnson work very hard as he scored most of his 18 points in the second half, while Mike Bibby scored most of his 25 points in the first. He was very much a non-factor in the second half. A much needed 2nd win in a row by the Raptors as they prepared to hit the road west to visit the Lakers, the Nuggets and the Jazz.

Overall, a decent week for the Raptors as they nudged above .500% at 8 – 7 by weeks end, but then they played the Lakers

Sunday, November 30th – Los Angeles Lakers in L.A.

14 – 1. The Lakers are for real. Not that I was a doubter, but that team is so much more than Kobe Bryant and some other guys this season. From Phil Jackson on down, this Lakers team looks focused on winning and has depth at every position on the floor. I knew that Andrew Bynum would have made last year’s final against the Celtics very different, but watching him shut down Chris Bosh at almost every facet of his game shows me how good he is, and how much work the Raptors have left to do to make the playoffs this season. Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, Vladimir Radmanovic added to the starting 5 make this team strong up front and very active at both ends of the floor. But then, you bring in a very talented bench of Trevor Ariza, Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic, Lamar Odom and Luke Walton who is a very good passer in the low post, and this Lakers team will beat most teams as far as 10 deep most nights. I wonder if the Pistons feel fortunate to have caught them on an off night for their only loss.

The Raptors played hard for 3 quarters until Sam Mitchell surrendered and took his starters out, perhaps wanting the game to be over and looking to the Nuggets on Tuesday, he pulled them early in the 4th as Kobe didn’t play a minute in the 4th again. The Raptors several times pulled this game to within 4 points with solid ball movement and some well taken shots, but then the Lakers would grab a board and turn it into a transition bucket and be up 10 within 3 possessions. Jose Calderon and Derek Fisher went head to head and played hard nosed ball all night. It was good to see him play solid defense against a pretty good guard as he held Derek to 5 points and 4 assists while collecting 12 points and 12 assists himself. Andrea Bargnani, starting in place of still injured Jermaine O’Neal played a very good game on both ends of the floor with 14 points and 11 rebounds, but it was his play on defense that caught my attention. I counted 5 blocks for him though he only has 4 on record, but he was altering shots and rotating well all night. A very good game indeed by Andrea has given me some more to watch as he continues to grow at both ends of the floor. Anthony Parker looked much better last night as well scoring 19 points and not letting Kobe run free. Yes, Kobe scored 24 in 3 quarters, but Anthony actually did a good job making him take tough shots, but he is still Kobe and can make those shots. Parker had a nice rhythm on his stroke and hit a few critical 3’s. Chris Bosh was held in check all night as Andrew Bynum shut down any inside game the Raptors tried to establish forcing him outside where he is not as consistent. Bosh ended up with 12 points but was 4 – 13 on a night where near perfection would have been required for a victory. Yes, we miss Jermaine, but Chris at times looked like he was forcing his game too much and with no real consistent offensive rebounding, those misses usually resulted in transition baskets. The Lakers had 58 points in the paint to the Raptors 32. That, coupled with our poor rebounding game where we were -18 on the glass and – 4 on the offensive glass. That is just too much of an advantage to overcome shooting only 38% from the field.

Over all, the Raptors showed a lot of heart and played very good defense for most of the game. The fact is, this Lakers team is very good at all facets of the game and very deep on the bench. Although the Raptors shot 44% from outside on 11/25 shots, they had no ability to sustain any inside game to help the shooters. With 6 players in double digits, it was a well balanced offense as the ball movement looked great at times and good choices were made by the shooters most of the night. When Chris Bosh is taking that many shots from just inside the arc, you know it has been a long night for him. I hope that Jermaine returns 100% as this team needs to have him inside and Andrea starting on the wing. Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono played well, but I think this team is much better with 3 big front men, and I think Andrea has proven that his game is very close to what was anticipated.

© 2005-2014 RaptorsForum.com. All Rights Reserved.
RaptorsForum.com is in no way affiliated with the Toronto Raptors or the NBA.