Today in Raptorland - 4/19/08
Old 04-19-2008, 09:51 AM   #1 (permalink)
convinced that Raptors fans are only happy when they're unhappy.

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Post Today in Raptorland - 4/19/08

Energy zapped out of Raps

"Do we wish we would have won a few more games? Yeah. Do we think we could have? Yes. But the reality of it is, over the next few weeks, we've got an opportunity to (advance); whatever happened in the regular season, you go into the playoffs and play well, nobody thinks about that."

That's true. A first-round victory over the Magic would eradicate any negative vibes around the team. And, despite the fact the Raptors went 1-2 against the Magic this season, this is a series the Raptors can win, based on the matchups, and the fact the Raptors have more depth off the bench.
Turkoglu's Magical season no surprise to Rasho

"I think he's just comfortable with his role now," Nesterovic said. "For me he has been one of their two best players all year and that makes him a leader. It also takes away the pressure that if you make a mistake, he's going to go out like before. I think the coach must have done a good job of explaining to him what is expected of him and no matter what happens he's going to be staying in the game."
Raps look to Delfino's versatility

But in a series fraught with matchup problems for the Raps -- many of them with Hedo Turkoglu in the role of chief headache maker -- Delfino's versatility may wind up earning him a lot more playing time than a guy coming off the bench would normally get.

His shooting too could wind up being a deciding factor. Delfino has shown at times an ability to carry a team offensively with his outside shooting. The downside is that if he is not on, he is not shy about firing away anyway.
Barney, bench mates could be key

But one has to wonder if Bargnani, whose regular-season numbers were down compared with his rookie year, is really up for the playoffs, given his rather blase demeanour after practice yesterday. He shrugged off his shooting problems, adding that he hasn't done anything special to turn it around.

"No. I always work on my shooting. I always take a lot of threes at the end of the practice. I didn't do nothing special, no," he said.

He also waved aside suggestions that he has anything to prove in the playoffs, given his average season.

"No, I don't think I have to redeem nothing," he said. "I play my best. I played a little bit less than last year."
How they match up


- Bosh continues to play out of his mind against the Magic. In five previous meetings, Bosh averaged 33.8 points and 9.8 rebounds. The franchise player struggled in his first taste of playoff action last season and must rebound against one of his favourite opponents.

- Point guard duo of T.J. Ford/Jose Calderon exploits its considerable skill advantage over Jameer Nelson, Carlos Arroyo and Keyon Dooling. Dooling is a solid defender, but Nelson and Arroyo aren't quick enough to keep up with Ford or Calderon.

Deeper bench led by Calderon, Andrea Bargnani and Carlos Delfino steps up.
Arenas shoots for the lip

"I'm an assassin. I get buckets," the Washington Wizards guard said after yesterday's practice. "I know I haven't played in a long time, but the shot is still there, so when I come off that bench, there is going to be some trouble."
A blow for Seattle

The messy split between Seattle and the SuperSonics lurched forward yesterday when NBA owners approved relocating the team to Oklahoma City -- a move legal wrangling might delay another two years.

Raptors' Calderon comes of age

Calderon is not that kid anymore. He's confident, willing and able to let his teammates know what he wants and how he feels, emerging as one of the on-court leaders of the team.

"Even if you're not knocking down shots, he's going to tell you, `Good shot.' He reiterates that it's a good shot even if you did miss three in a row. He just gives guys that confidence when they're shooting the ball," said Bosh.

"He's a positive guy, he's very enthusiastic. When some things aren't going the way we want them to, he's the main guy saying, `Let's go, that's a good shot, get back on defence.' Sometimes you just need that."
Knicks drop the hammer on Isiah

After a season of listless and dreadful basketball, a tawdry lawsuit and unending chants from fans demanding his dismissal, the New York Knicks fired Isiah Thomas yesterday.

Thomas, the coach for two seasons, will remain with the organization reporting directly to new president Donnie Walsh, a rapid fall for Thomas who also was team president a little more than two weeks ago.
If hard work counts, Kobe league best by far

The scene was a quiet high school gym. The team's daily practice was long done. Most of the rest of the multi-millionaires were long gone. Triano called it "incredible."

"He's not just going through the motions when he's shooting jump shots. They're game shots, at game speed," Triano said. "And the repetitions ... over and over and over. Like, three-point shots. There are a lot of (NBA) guys, you'll watch them make 25 from each spot. He's like, 100, 200 from the corner every night. And you'd think he'd be done and he's going on to the next spot. And he goes back and he shoots fadeaways and he shoots 'em off the bounce. I was just like, `Holy smoke.' You get tired throwing the ball back, let alone shooting it."
Bargnani may be key to lengthy playoff run

This may not be the most comforting of thoughts to a legion of fans, but the playoff fate of the Raptors could very well depend on the enigmatic Andrea Bargnani, the formerly smooth-shooting 7-footer who has had nights where he couldn't throw the proverbial ball in the ocean from a boat.


The first is the Magic led the NBA in three-pointers made, averaging 9.8 a game, while Toronto averaged seven triples a night. The other factor worth noting is the Raptors' three-point shooting is in free fall, from a high of 44.6 per cent in January to 30.7 per cent in April. The Magic are on a roll, averaging 39.1 per cent in April, after 42.5 and 42.3 in February and March.

And one other thought: Orlando defends the three-point line slightly better than the Raptors, allowing opponents to connect on 35.8 per cent of their attempts, compared with 36.8 per cent the Raptors allow. The Raptors will have to shoot threes better than they have recently and defend them better than they have all year.
Time for Bargnani, Raptors to deliver

And while it's unfair to say the sixth-seeded Raptors' opening-round NBA playoff series against the third-seeded Orlando Magic somehow rides on Bargnani's shoulders when it opens tomorrow, it is fair to suggest the playoffs are an examination of the current vision of the Raptors as a team on the rise and Bargnani's place with team.

Raptors victory just not likely

"The playoffs bring something different out of you, and we have a good matchup against this team," says Bosh, who torched Orlando for 66 points in two games. "Even when I wasn't playing, we were still in the game. We have a different scheme for 'em -- we're going to make their bigs guard. And as far as matchups are concerned, we have a really good matchup."
Moon handed a tough task in Turkoglu

Moon has a fairly uncomplicated three-pronged plan to shut down Turkoglu, or Rashard Lewis, should he have to guard him. First, make the player catch the ball away from the basket, as far off the three-point-line as possible. Second, make the player dribble, not allowing him to take a set shot. And third, make the player go away from his dominant hand.

"Basically, we just want to force him to go left, force him back to where all our help is going to be," Moon said. "That's the main thing. That's basically what we wanted to do in the past, but we're really emphasizing it now. Get on his right hand, and make him go left. Don't let him get back to the right."

5 keys to success for Orlando Magic

Key to this first-round series against Toronto is the play of the point guards. Jameer Nelson and Carlos Arroyo are average defenders. Keyon Dooling -- the biggest at 6 feet 3 -- might be the lone stopper. Opposing guards get inside with dribble-drive penetration, which brings out Howard, causing a chain reaction and undermining the defense.
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Old 04-19-2008, 12:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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