Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Playoff positioning + Jose’s Blog + Moon’s the favorite + the bad signing that is Kapono

Posted by Arsenalist on February 15, 2008

Meaningless Playoff Positioning

If the playoffs started today the Nets would grab the 7th seed while Philadelphia would round out the top 8. The Raptors would start their first round series in Cleveland. We’re 6 games ahead of New Jersey and 3.5 games back of Orlando which is in 3rd spot, the difference between the 3rd and 6th seed inclusive is 7 games. By doing some simple math and throwing some probability in there it’s not hard to see that the Raptors are destined to finish somewhere between 3rd and 6th by season’s end. Catching Orlando is possible, but unlikely, the Magic haven’t showed any signs of letting up and even if we take advantage of our relatively easy schedule, Orlando can counter by taking care of business on their own end, long road trips or tough stretches evade the Magic too and they’re playing 16 of their remaining 28 games at home.

Barring major injury or a severe drop off, the Raptors aren’t going to fall 6 games in their remaining 31 games. Although New Jersey is only 2.5 games behind Washington (who get Arenas back soon), they won’t be going north in the standings. All this is coming back to the likely scenario that we’ll face either Washington, Cleveland or Orlando in a first round playoff matchup. As the team stands right now, the Raptors will be underdogs in any of the three matchups and the chance of pulling off a playoff upset remains equal in all cases. Orlando and Cleveland provide a rebounding challenge with a touch of star power while Washington presents an athletic, quick and explosive team that will be hard to contain.

So even if the Raptors play exceedingly well and manage to equal their 47 win mark (which would entail going 19-12), we’ll end up avoiding a matchup against a team we could realistically beat, i.e.: New Jersey, Philadelphia, Atlanta or even Chicago assuming the previous two make it. My point? Our next truly worthwhile game will be in April. The rest of the regular season is simply about earning a little respect, padding the win total and trying to get home-court advantage (which might not be as great as it sounds given the Raptors home performances).

The age-old phrase “jockeying for playoff positioning” doesn’t really apply here because there isn’t a significant advantage to be gained by moving up or down between the 3rd and 6th spots. The X-Factor in any playoff matchup will be the availability of Jorge Garbajosa. Garbajosa who’s often looked at as the missing ingredient that’s caused our rebounding and defense shame might be able to provide what many are asking in a trade. I’m not one of those people. He provides some grit and is an excellent team defender, but his 4.7 rebounds a game and inconsistent outside stroke doesn’t excite me.

Jose Calderon’s Blog

You have to love Jose Calderon for what he’s done for this team this year. There’s nothing I can write that’ll do his play justice so I’ll just quote his blog entry where he’s thankful for even being considered for an all-star birth:

“I started the season as a substitute and it was absolutely unthinkable that as a reserve for a team like the Raptors and with an average of less than twenty minutes playing time per game, I could aspire to be in the NBA All Star team. But it has gone like this, you cannot imagine the number of supporting messages I received on my web-page and there have been many articles published in Spain, Canada, and the USA also rooting for me. The truth is that I am very proud of this and I understand that there are other players who have performed as well as or better than me to be there.”

Much better than this snide little cunt.

Jamario Moon in the Dunk Contest

For what it’s worth, I have a feeling Jamario Moon’s going to win the dunk contest. And this prediction isn’t even based on his taking off from well beyond the FT line, it has more to do with the sheer confidence he seems to have. Watching his interview at halftime of the Nets conquest, the man seemed ready to bet his first-born on it and looks to have some tricks up his sleeve. Plus, he’s got the backing of Reggie Miller and Ernie Johnson.

The reason it’s hard to watch the dunk contest is because winning it doesn’t mean that you’re the “best” dunker in the league anymore. That title belongs to Vince Carter who if he wanted could’ve won it for 7 years straight. Some great dunkers that should find their way into the competition include Kenyon Martin, Kobe Bryant and Baron Davis. The NBA’s half thought-out rule of having players with limited amount of experience is one of the main reasons why interest in the competition is low. For all of the NBA’s emphasis on fan participation, I’m surprised nobody’s thought of having the fans vote the dunk participants in, that way you’ll generate the interest it deserves.

For more Moon love and bagfulls of free shoes, check out Dave Feschuk’s article in The Star.

Jason Kapono and some thoughts on the 3-point shoot out

Kapono’s primary threat in this event might come from Peja Stojakovic and Steve Nash who are two pure shooters that don’t need to be set in any sort of way to unleash their threes. But knowing Kapono and how much he values shit like this, I’m guessing he’s practicing right now. I’ll be surprised if he loses and so will everybody else. His soft uniform release is ideal for a competition which puts premium on quickness and rhythm.

If you had to assign a grade to Kapono’s play, it would probably hover somewhere between a C- and C+. He’s been neutralized as a perimeter threat and the original assumption that he’d open space for Bosh by spreading the floor have been all rendered untrue. Teams are still able to double Bosh successfully by helping off of people other than Kapono – usually Calderon who’s taken good advantage. If I had to pick one area where the coaching staff has failed us, it’s been in getting Kapono off. When a great who happens to be your GM’s chief off-season signing only takes 98 threes (1.92 a game), it’s either a bad signing or some bad coaching. You decide.

Till another day. If you’re using an RSS reader (don’t know why you wouldn’t), latch on the feed.

11 Responses to “Playoff positioning + Jose’s Blog + Moon’s the favorite + the bad signing that is Kapono”

  1. cuzzy said

    Great blurg from Jose, the guy is all class and acts like everyday is the best day in the NBA.

    Moon has something special to show and I know he has some globetrotter goods tucked up his sleeve.

    I agree about the NBA needed to have the best dunkers going head to head. Remember MJ vs. Nique….amazing.

    I am going to side with the Raptors not learning how to get Kapono going. That being said I can see him hitting some big shots in the playoffs.

    Raps will finish 4th or 5th and sadly probably play Cleveland. The NBA will tell the refs to put away the whistles and let King James do whatever he wants.

    I can see a series average of 40, 12, 10

    scary.

    Have a great weekend.

  2. Sam is COY said

    cuzzy > “The NBA will tell the refs to put away the whistles and let King James do whatever he wants.”

    That’s about every game for the Raps, and about sums up the NBA. F’n Celtics getting Garnett for who? Lakers getting Gasol for what?
    Yet I still watch the games. Stupid really. What with the NHL dying a slow death in North America(gah!!), I don’t see why they don’t push the damned NBA more. Can’t sell a game in Charlotte? Atlanta? Move the damn teams. I’d like to see British Columbia get a 2nd chance.

  3. cuzzy, kapono will get even less shots in the playoffs, especially if they get the cavs in the first round. if you think people are zoning in on the raptors defensively, just wait till the playoffs hit, it will be last season all over again.

    in all fairness, the celtics gave up the future garnett for the current one. that was the most talent given up for an all-star all year.

  4. PapiJulio said

    The Raps will continue to improve without making a moving this year. TJ & Barganai should have a nice rythem by playoff time. The team should be comfortable enough to know what plays work with the current roster and what Sam expects. Our rebounds will improve with a solid rotation and Barganai grabing more and Moon and Humphries hopefully chipping in. Our lack of toughness and ability to defensivly lock down other teams in the 3rd & 4th quarter will be our major down fall and stop us from advancing past the 3rd round at best.

    BC will re-evaluate the team after the playoff run. The playing ability of Garbo and TJ will probably be a big focus. Also he’ll
    wait for Calderon to come back to planet earth so he can decide what to doing with TJ, Calderon and the 6’4″ European PG slated to come next season (I think??).

    Unless a blockbuster deal is made, which isn’t going to happen, our best hope is 3rd round.

    The big postive is next season. A team that has gel in the past couple years. Gain two years experience of getting spanked in the playoffs. Plus Sam should have a couple more tricks up his coaching sleeve.

    It will still be exciting to cheer on the Raptors no matter how far they go this year.

    !!GO RAPTORS GO!!

  5. arsenalist said

    3rd round Papi?!? You know that implies we beat one of Detroit or Boston in a 7-game series?? I think we’ll struggle to get out of the first round if we play any of Cavs/Wiz/Orl. We have some serious matchup issues in all three cases. If (and that’s a big if) we manage to beat them, we definitely can’t beat Boston or Detroit no matter who we acquire.

    That’s what I’ve been saying winning a playoff round equals a successful season. Anything short means there’s been no progress from last year.

  6. coach said

    the dunk competition failed to attract bonafide stars ‘coz it’ll be embarrassing for the likes of kobe et. al should they fail to win or even to qualify in the final round. there’s the risk of injury too.
    it’s a lot easier for the likes of kobe to participate in the skills or 3 pt. contests is as much as these contests as not exactly their ‘territories’. no shame in losing.
    maybe , the nba could ask lbj , kobe , vc and real superstars to compete once every 5 years at the same time and up the ‘paltry’ prize money ($ 35 k) a lot more or maybe even ask their shoe sponsors to include participation in their contracts.

  7. PapiJulio said

    Come on Arsenalist….not calling us Champs….3rd Round is the absoule best.

    1st Round
    Raps vs Wiz <—- If we don’t beat these guys then I blame Sam for not getting the job done. This team is very beatable. Barganai has to keep Haywood at bay & the rest of the starter just have to match production. Our bench will easily beat theirs.

    2nd ROund
    Raps Vs Boston <—- Our starter have to answer all big plays by
    Boston’s magic 3. If we can keep it close then our bench once again need to out score theirs by at least 10-15points. Boston is a shallow team. Hopefully our deep team can tire them out a bit. If Garnett goes down, there defense goes down.

    3rd Round
    Raps vs Detroit <— We have to pretty much have a perfect run to have a chance of making it here. BUT no matter what we do Detroit will make us feel like a bunch of ‘newbies’ in the playoff and destroy us.

    This is the BEST senerio for the Raps this season, I think. I’m within the relm of possibilities. This isn’t witch craft I’m proposing. It’s a possible reality. Our Starter have to play big, but our bench is the key to advancement.

  8. jjdynomite said

    Hey Arse, been out-of-the-loop for a bit after suffering a nasty spill on ice (think Garbo, I’m going in for surgery next week). At least I have Internet access on my couch, and both my wrists work.

    Comments:

    1. I do have to say that your post-game write-ups are getting better and better. You tell it like it is but with style and grace, unlike certain pretentious pricks like “Messiah”, who unfortunately has managed to climb out of the RealGM shitbox and find this resource.

    There is one thing to commend Jose on his phenomenal offensive play, grace and selflessness, as yet-again-reflected in his latest magnanimous response to Arenas’ trashtalking: (http://www.josemanuelcalderon.com/docs/080214_ben.pdf) but it’s another to use Jose’s excellence as a club to beat TJ over the head, for not playing the “Euro” way, or for playing the (African)American way, or whatever. The kid is just coming back from a potentially career-threatening injury and “Messiah” has no issue with monitoring his facial expressions as a demonstration of lack-of-team-play.

    So his Euro poster boys, Bargs and Calderon, get let off the hook for their inadequate rebounding and defensive coverage, respectively (since they are good character guys and only improving, like TJ can’t keep improving after his numerous physical setbacks). But then “Messiah” wants to bring in Darko, who not only humiliated his entire country at the Euros last summer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ci3j363HWQM) but didn’t do shit in Detroit for 3 seasons!?! Give me his Motor City replacement, Maxiell, any day over a disruptive headcase who has played on 3 teams in 5 seasons. But I guess Maxiell plays the (African)American style, so that won’t work for “Messiah”, given his not-so-subtlly RACIST perspective. Yup, I’m calling it like I see it. One more thing, Messiah, tell me again, how good is Memphis’ defence? Oh, wait, 2nd last in the league in points allowed? Yup, Darko’s the answer in the middle, all right.

    2. As for the All-Star Saturday night, I’ve figured it out. I think Colangelo has been influenced too much by Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and has grown too excited by seeing multiple posters of Mats Sundin on the ACC walls. Because why else would he have signed Kapono for a gazillion dollars under the assumption that, if there was a tie game, he could send Kapono out to dominate the (3-point-) shoot-out, er shooting contest?

    As for Jamario, I guess he skipped his Marketing class at Meridian Community Colleage where they would have taught him not to over-promise what you can’t deliver (i.e. the Kapono tape-beyond-the-half-court thing). Props to GGreen and D’Black for an exciting and creative showing. They are both flawed players (D’Black is not that different from Darko on the defensive end, he blocks shots, but not that much else — you see, I’m an equal opportunity critic). But they are inventive and that’s SO important in the dunk contest, because if not you just have Rudy Gay re-doing Wince’s dunks.

    3. Finally, PapiJulio, you can surmise all you want, but Detroit and Boston, as currently constituted, are NOT soft teams, and therefore, could not be compared to, say, last years Mavericks, and get taken out by a much lower seed. A soft team is the one whose blog you are currently posting about. KG, PP, Ray Ray, Sheed, Chauncy and Rip will not let their boys take time off in the playoffs. They know time is running out on their careers and legacies. They will play with urgency. The Raps don’t play with urgency on a Friday night mid-season game at home against the Clippers. As PsychicSpy would say, patience.

  9. khandor said

    re: Kapono’s “bad” signing

    Whom did Colangelo sign second, Kapono or Delfino?

  10. PapiJulio said

    jjdynomite—> I’m not calling Detroit ‘soft’ by any means. I’m saying Boston weak spot is there bench. Boston’s front line should be able to take them to the finals in the East, but we **do** have a chance against them, even if it’s a ‘VERY SLIM CHANCE’. I’m not signing it in blood, but come on…..dream just a bit….like I said…

    “Our starter have to answer all big plays by Boston’s magic 3. If we can keep it close then our bench once again need to out score theirs
    by at least 10-15 points. Boston is a shallow team.”

    Bench is Key.

    jjdynomite—> I hope your injury isn’t too bad. I have a 3rd ‘Separarted Shoulder’. Didn’t get surgery because of the very, very different opinions & procedures with ‘Separated Shoulders’. A dislocated shoulder is pretty routine but a 3rd degree separation is very different on surgery opinions. The A/C shoulder joint is the most complicated joint in the body and they can’t replace it….. yet.

    It was my right shooting shoulder. My arm become dead weight for a month or so, but…. on the bright side I’ve regained my ability in my right arm and developed a left handed shot because I kept playing pick-up ball but shot left. It took about a year or so but now I can even drain the odd left handed 3 ball. Would have never spent the time on my left without the injury. I can throw people off because people aren’t used to me shooting left handed. It just looks strange to poeple and they aren’t used to reacting to it. I’ll start the games shooting left. If I don’t find a rythem with my left hand I’ll switch back to right handed and all of a sudden shooting seems really easy.

    It really boils down to your doctors track record. Is this a routine surgery? Or do you need a specialist??

    I’m sure your know or will find out jjdynomite but, Physical therapy, Physical therapy & Physical therapy!!! The road to recovery is up to you! They won’t push you. You have to push yourself!
    And sometimes a injury is a blessing in disguise….it’s probaby hard to see it that way when you confined to the couch!

  11. Pickstar said

    i am hearing a lot of stupid trade talks, and talks about getting other players through trades. Most of these trades consist of trying to get a big center. we need big athletic guys. We have enough players with skill. We just need guys that can jump and grab a couple of boards and play defence. The guys we have right now are great, but we simply need to get more athletic. We clearly are not utilizing moons athleticism, so many missed back door passes and lobs. Mike Miller is the only guy I would trade for, but personally I would go for a gerald green, because lets be realist, athleticism=potential. Look at bargs, he just like two inches off the floor and cant grab boards for power forwards let alone trying to grab boards from centers. He doesn’t have much skills as people think and he is not atheletic enough to say he has potential. Sabonis had a great all around skill set, and bargani wont every reach that stage because his only skill is his ability to shoot the ball. He is another wang-shu-sh (SP). Get more atheletes.

    List on unatheletic players
    Graham (not as atheletic as he seems to be – or he is too stupid to know what to do with it),
    Dixon,
    Bargs (Man how the hell an you not dunk the ball easily being 7-foot tall… also to much like a fairy on the basketball court to respect his game)
    Rasho ( Very skilled and extremely smart player)
    Garbo(Same as rasho extremely smart and skilled)
    Kapono ( Better athelete than bargs and better shooter, more skill. I would keep him concidering he is possibly the best pure shoot in the league, behind ray allen and peja)
    A.P (somewhat atheletic, but condering the position he plays and other guys in the league that play the same position he would be concidered a sub par athelet.)

    The more I look at the list the only guy that really needs to go is Bargs, because we need to seriously upgrade our friggen rebounding and interior defence not our, centers ability to shoot the three. As well as finding a legit shooting guard.

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