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Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Living in a van down by the river
Daily Raptor Dish - 12.01.11
Raptors' Weems close to returning
Raptors tipoff: Hawks up next
When he met with the media following Tuesday’s gathering, Weems said he felt good .
“My conditioning is fine,’’ he said. “It’s just a matter of working hard and getting back. I certainly have a lot of confidence in myself.”
Whether it’s Wednesday against the Hawks or Friday against the Detroit Pistons or during the team’s upcoming road trip, it’s just a matter of time before Weems is back on the court.
What isn’t sure is just how many minutes Weems is able to get, just how many touches he’ll merit on a team that’s been forced to tighten its rotation in the wake of mounting injuries.
Jose Calderon has found a groove playing with DeRozan and Leandro Barbosa, three guys who were on the floor together when the Raptors finally took control of Sunday’s game in the fourth quarter.
Julian Wright has shown flashes and now Weems is ready to come back.
Weems, who is not known for his three-point shot, nailed a game-winning three-ball in Orlando earlier this season.
He has appeared in 25 games, starting in 18, but there are no guarantees of any minutes when Weems does get back.
“A lot will depend on the guys playing infront of him,’’ head coach Jay Triano said. “If they play well and remain injury-free, it’ll be hard (to find Weems minutes).”
At least a healthy Weems gives Triano an option when he looks down the bench.
Maybe Weems is called upon to provide some offence or perhaps a stop is required.
Both Weems and Wright are long and athletic.
The key for each is making the right decision with the ball and being in the right spot defensively.
Barbosa and snow don't mix
The Raptors can use any break, but they caught a bad break with Tuesday’s postponement of the scheduled Tuesday night tip in Atlanta featuring the Bucks. Instead of playing the back end of a back-to-back set, the Hawks will be well rested, ready to initiate their free-flowing, uptempo game against a Toronto team not exactly known for its defence. One through five, the Hawks are quick and can go off at any time. When Joe Johnson is making shots, when Smith is exercising good shot selection, so much of the floor gets opened, which allows the likes of Al Horford and Mike Bibby to flourish. Marvin Williams is no slouch at small forward and Jamal Crawford is more than capable of lighting it up coming off the bench.
Barbosa rounding into form for Raptors
The irony certainly wasn’t lost on Leandro Barbosa, who doesn’t have many peers when it comes to quicks on the court.
For reasons that are as obvious as the Raptors’ inability to defend, Barbosa, a native of Brazil, earned the Brazilian Blur moniker as a member of the Phoenix Suns for his ability to blow by opponents in the open floor or in the half court.
Put him behind the wheel of a car when the weather isn’t exactly comparable to Arizona and Barbosa is as slow as any first-time driver.
“It was crazy,’’ began Barbosa of his ordeal driving through Toronto’s streets during a recent snow storm. “It was the first time I saw snow while driving and it was crazy.
“I was going so slow that everybody was passing me. All I kept saying was: ‘Oh my gosh.’ I had to be very patient.”
Other than his adventure behind the wheel, Barbosa admits he doesn’t spend much time outside.
“It’s too cold,’’ he said of Toronto’s weather. “I never bought any winter clothes because all I do is go from the arena to the garage to my apartment.”
Playing opportunities appear dim as Weems prepares for return
If a team comes along and makes Colangelo an offer he simply can’t refuse, then he simply must trade Barbosa.
At no point has Barbosa’s stock been this high, a player who is getting better even though his troublesome wrist hasn’t.
Incredibly, Barbosa had no clue the ligaments in his wrist were damaged when a cyst was surgically removed last season, a procedure that allowed him to play for the Suns as Phoenix made its run to the Western final.
He became more aware of the condition this off-season when the Raptors wrapped up their pre-season slate in Montreal against the New York Knicks in a game that saw Barbosa aggravate his wrist.
When he makes an awkward move while sleeping, when he catches the ball to make a play or attempt a shot, there’s pain and a constant reminder that surgery awaits Barbosa.
“If I have surgery, I’ll be out four months,’’ Barbosa conceded. “Just knowing that allows me to go out there and forget about the pain, but it’s there.”
Twice before practice and after every workout, Barbosa heads to the trainers’ room, where he receives treatment that involves ice, steam, ultra-sound and lasers.
“Whatever they got to do to make the pain go down,’’ he said. “I do a lot of hand therapy.”
Imagine the impact Barbosa would have if he were completely healthy, capable of handling the ball and releasing his jumper without any discomfort.
Admittedly, Barbosa has been forced to adjust his release in the wake of the pain.
When you watch him heave a shot, it looks more like a shot put than a clinical release.
“My shot is all about the snap,’’ Barbosa added. “I’ve had to change my release and my form is not pretty.
“I’ve had to make changes to feel comfortable and sometimes they go in and sometimes they don’t. I just have to be patient.”
He’s only recently been rewarded for his patience.
Raptors Blog by Doug Smith
Even before his back woes came up, coach Jay Triano had decided to replace him in the starting lineup with Linas Kleiza and that move isn’t going to be undone simply because Weems is getting healthy.
Triano couldn’t even guarantee Weems will be in the regular rotation.
“A lot of it is going to depend on the guys playing in front of him,” said the coach. “If they play well and they remain injury-free, he’s going to have a hard time trying to crack it.
“Leandro (Barbosa) has been playing well, LK’s (Kleiza) been good. He and Julian will probably have to fight for what we need. Do we need something offensively (which Weems can provide) or do we need some energy at the defensive end (which is more Wright’s specialty)?”
Raptors prepare for glimpse of future selves
If Ed Davis doesn’t show some kind of improvement in his offensive range, it won’t be because he’s not getting very good coaching or putting in the work.
At the end of practice Tuesday, Davis put in a good long session with Alex English, working shooting little 15-foot jumpers rolling off screens.
Alex was showing him the right angles at which to set the screens to make sure he got open and Alvin Williams was playing some token defence so Davis had to make a move before getting off his shot.
We’ve seen first hand the improvement in Amir Johnson after spending a chunk of the summer and last season working with Alex and if that’s matched by the other young Raptors big man, everyone’s going to be pretty happy.
Raptors still in playoff
As long as snow doesn’t foil their plans, the Toronto Raptors could get a glimpse at their future on Wednesday when they face the surging Atlanta Hawks.
“They’ve put together athletic guys that have grown together,” Raptors head coach Jay Triano said of the Hawks on Tuesday. “Yeah, that’s what we’d like to do. We’ve become more athletic and we’d like to have these guys grow together and learn to play with each other.”
The Hawks (25-14) were scheduled to board a 9:45 flight to Toronto on Tuesday night after their game against the Milwaukee Bucks was postponed due to a snowstorm. So instead of playing their second of back-to-back games, the Hawks should have fresh legs when they face Toronto on Wednesday night.
“They’re a very tough team for us,” Triano said of the Hawks, now fifth in the Eastern Conference and seeking their fifth straight win. “They’re big, strong and athletic. We seem to struggle with that.”
Barbosa and DeRozan both point to success Toronto has had against some of the top teams — wins over Boston, Orlando, Dallas and Oklahoma City. But it is the standings that offer the most hope.
“That we are two games from the eighth spot,” Barbosa said, “that confirms … that we can definitely make the playoffs.”
Of course, that might not be the best news for fans focused on the long term. While it would be ironic to make the playoffs in the first year after Chris Bosh left for Miami, it would take away a chance for a high draft pick. And the reward for finishing seventh or eighth is likely either a first-round match up with either the Celtics or the Miami Heat.
Barbosa dismissed the notion a post-season trip would be doomed to be in vain.
“Playoffs is a totally different game,” he said. “It’s not first place or last place. It’s whoever’s done a better job in the game.”
Triano, too, seemed confident his team is capable of making a run, especially if and when it gets healthy. But he is still going to try and keep focused on much smaller goals for now.
“We know that we’re getting better and that the players are individually getting better, and we want to keep getting better as a team,” he said. “We can’t control the teams in our division. We can’t control anything but us getting ready.
“And the standings, they’ll play themselves out.”