The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Since when the **** do we play small ball?

Posted by Arsenalist on March 2, 2008

Toronto Raptors 98, Charlotte Bobcats 110

So let’s get this straight, we’re getting killed on the boards and Charlotte’s scoring everything off of second chance points but yet we continue to only have one big in the game? We decide to play small ball with one of Humphries, Brezec or Rasho in the middle for what reason again? why not play big upfront knowing that our weakness is rebounding? Playing small ball is nice but only if you’re even on the 2/3/4 matchups on defense; however, if the other team has a decided advantage when it comes rebounding at those spots, playing small ball will kill you. That about did us in.

Dudley and Okafor play 37 and 30 while Rasho and Brezec play 27 and 11. No shit they killed us on the boards and scored 32 second chance points, we didn’t even have the personnel out there to counter what they were doing, nor did we use our resources to their potential. Our substitution pattern is so inconsistent that Joey Graham can stay on the bench for weeks on end but suddenly get thrown into the game in the first quarter. Our biggest and most physical player doesn’t get into the game until the third quarter. After being adamant about not playing TJ and Calderon at the same time, they play significant stretches in two consecutive games. After playing 40 minutes against the Pacers, Bargnani gets 18. There is no method to this madness. Either Sam has no clue on how to manage a rotation or he’s too busy trying to incorrectly react to what the other team is doing instead of imposing our strengths on the style of the game.

We were up by 10 after the first quarter which also happened to be the only quarter where we out-rebounded Charlotte and also happened to be the only quarter where we stuck with two big guys upfront for the majority of the time. The Raptors came out with an intensity and purpose unlike against Indiana, they were playing good tight defense forcing Charlotte into jumpshots and taking care of the defensive rebounds. But after that Charlotte realized that all it takes to beat the Raptors is to run a simple pick ‘n roll and you’ll have a lane to the basket from which you can kick out, go up for the layup or just take a really bad shot knowing that our defensive rotations are in shambles and grabbing an offensive rebound isn’t a tall task. Of course, not having Bosh there hurt but even so somebody has to take the initiative and step up.

For a team that runs the pick ‘n roll on every offensive set, we sure can’t defend it to save our lives. To put it in Layman’s terms, you have two options: switch or don’t switch. Whatever you decide to do make sure it’s based on the matchup at hand, just like the Indiana game, we get caught on switches that are completely to our disadvantage. Felton on Bargnani, Richardson on Brezec, Dudley on Calderon and so on. It makes no bloody sense, you have to make the effort, fight through the screen and force the offense into resetting. We got exposed the first time Raymond Felton or Jason Richardson ever tried to use a screen. On the other end Charlotte was smart, whenever they switched they also backed off tempting TJ to shoot or ended up crowded the big who got the ball (Bargnani, Hump) and forced them into a shot they didn’t want to take. Calderon was denied the lane he so loves to use after coming off a screen forcing him to give it up.

We can talk all night about the intricacies of our errors but I wouldn’t be incorrect in painting this game with one broad brush: rebounding. With Bosh out, Moon, Delfino, Calderon, Rasho, TJ and the boys needed to step it up and by ‘step it up’ I don’t necessarily mean grab 10 boards, it means box your man out and make sure he doesn’t get the board. That didn’t happen and our starters mustered 21 boards to their starters’ 35. On the offensive boards, they killed us 18-6. Need I say more? Need I really say anymore? Jared Dudley’s 10-rebound game reminded me of the game Dominic McGuire had against the Raps in Washington. In other words, Dudley provided dominant offensive rebounding during key stretches which ultimately proved to be the difference (can’t help but think Brezec might’ve helped here). That’s the type of guy we need on this team, a prototypical banger who’ll get our jump shooters more shots. Get ‘er done Bryan, or are you waiting for Garbajosa to be that guy?

A word about Kapono. He’s a bad defender, no surprise but there were a few plays today where you really found out just how bad he is. Matt Carrol was blowing by him while talking on his cellphone and Richardson and Felton were hunting for him on matchup screens. Kapono’s got the lateral quicks of a refrigerator and the rebounding prowess of a cripple. In his 17 minutes he scored 6 points while giving up about 10. Ughh, what a huge mistake by Bryan Colangelo. At least Mo Pete played some defense and actually attempted 3-pt shots. supersub15 on RealGM, did some analysis on Kapono:

Last 25 games:

Minutes per game: 15
3-pointers made/attempted per game: 0.16/0.4
Free throws attempted per game: 0.36
Rebounds per game: 1.1

Cost of every 3-pointer made in those last 25 games: $408,231.70

Great ROI, eh Bryan?

We got a L coming up in Orlando and the struggling Heat after that, I would not be surprised if we go 0-3, the Heat are licking their chops at our laughable defense. With Bosh not there to man the paint and Brezec secured to the bench, Wade might go for 40.


* Anybody notice how Brezec threw that towel after Sam finally gave him the call late in the third? Sam screwed this substitution up. Primoz was pumped to play this game with all that’s been going on with Sam Vincent and Mitchell failed to see this and didn’t use the energy and intensity that he would’ve brought early on.

* Charlotte was 1-9 in their last 10. The Raptors have always (not just this year) been a team who other teams end their slumps against. Always. Doesn’t matter how bad you’re playing, if the Raptors are coming to town it’s sure to be a good night.

* Anthony Parker played hard again, I think I was painting him with same brush as Moon in the Indiana game. I was wrong there. He was trying to attack the rim, did a god job on Felton, did well in boxing out Richardson and most of all, his intensity level never dropped.

* Andrea Bargnani: 2-8 FG, 6 rebounds. Discuss please. Like Indiana, Andrea tried to get himself off early by driving strong to the rim on his first possession but after that missed a couple jumpers which appeared to kill his confidence and he never looked to assert himself on any end and became a non-factor. With Bosh out, we needed him to step up but he faded away into obscurity. Insert generic statement about his inconsistency.

* Jose Calderon’s been turning the ball over very uncharacteristically. The Raptors gave up 12 points off of 11 turnovers and 4 of them belonged to Calderon. It’s not like they were forced passes, they were just bad and lazy passes that should be easy to make, something you never see from him. I don’t understand it. He’s also very passive on offense and needs to look for his shot when he’s in the game, especially with Bosh out. I’m not sure how much having TJ back is affecting his game. Theoretically, it shouldn’t.

* Chris Bosh can’t climb up stairs nor can he move laterally? Ouch. I was hoping for a little more optimism from him in his pre-game interview, it’s obviously a slightly more serious injury than originally thought. Definitely not just a “precautionary measure”, the man’s in pain.

* Check out Jamario Moon getting posterized by some scrub named Ryan Hollins.

Till later. I’ll leave you with this clever little GIF:



27 Responses to “Since when the **** do we play small ball?”

  1. RapsFan said

    Not going to give that much of a rant about this crap anymore, to think that Sam had some senses to not fall for the SAME mistake twice after the Indiana game. Small ball, lol.

    I can’t wait to see Sam subing off Rasho for Joey Graham to be put on Dwight Howard on Tuesday. “Dwight Howard grabbing 50 rebounds to double his season high”.

  2. […] sure Arsenalist is disgusted…yep, he is. Cuzoogle too. At least I’m not alone…misery likes […]

  3. Ellie said

    I listened to the game, so I didn’t see the towel throwing. What did Primoz do?

  4. cuzzy said

    “Kapono’s got the lateral quicks of a refrigerator and the rebounding prowess of a cripple”

    That is being harsh on cripples….

    This team is lost in more ways than one……

    At least they can’t piss us off on an off day??

  5. Raps Fan said

    i’m pretty much out of words right now, but god damn that was the most disgusting game of the year, potentially eve. brezec was so hard to get into the game, he was sweating before he got in. smitch can’t coach, and the rest of the raptors stayed behind in toronto.

  6. AltRaps said

    With Bosh out?!?!? Dude, with Bosh IN and ON FIRE, the rest of the guys have to step it up.

    In a few days it will be exactly one year since BC told a gathering of season ticket holders that, and I quote, “I’m not worried about rebounding. Scoring the basketball is what wins games”. Yeah, 56% of the time before tonight, asshole. I know, lets have one glaring weakness accompanied by 3 or 4 smaller ones….and to offset that, let’s get a whole group of shooters!! That’ll work!!! It worked in Phoeni….oh, wait, no it didn’t and now they have Shaq. Ummm…Dad??

    Humph was hustling and moving and scoring and he got hooked. Primoz who, rightfully so, looked like the first guy in line at a Jessica Alba gangbang, was held back so long he fouled the beer guy. Rasho proved why he should be back in the starting lineup in place of Jamario Eclipsed Moon.

    Ah, where is the racis…er…optimism of JJDynamite when we need it?

    The Raps will turn it around, but they need to be publically flogged for these performances.

  7. Raps Fan said

    man, i didn’t think hump did that much. he tries to score everytime he gets the ball. i guess i can’t see past that. rasho needs to start again…moon has had a string of really bad/useless games in a row. wow, i never knew bc said that, i’m not surprised, but still…to say it…i guess we know the direction this team is going in…i bet we trade for redd in the off-season.

  8. arsenalist said

    Ellie, it was one of those things that got caught on camera. It appeared he was like saying ‘Finally, for fuck sakes what took so long!’

  9. Raps Fan said

    i caught that too…i don’t understand, i would have thought for sure primo would be first off the bench to give rasho a rest. especially since the raptors were getting killed on the boards…i don’t know, i’m going to bed…bring on howard.

  10. khandor said

    I didn’t get a chance to see tonight’s game … but after checking out this blog and seeing some of the post-game interviews, the ‘Boxscore’ & the ‘Full Play-By-Play’ … it’s apparent that the Raptors had their of struggles vs the Bobcats.

    * An inability to defend effectively against ‘Pick & Rolls/Pops’?
    * 32 second chance points?
    * -13 Rebounding?
    * 4 TO’s from Calderon?
    * An absence of Shot-blocking?
    * Certain players not being able to defend their check off the bounce?
    * Certain players being taken advantage of in iso’s, on the wing, at the top, or in a post-up (necessitating a def-rotation to mask a player’s physical short-comings)?

    None of these problems should come as a surprise … after Friday’s loss vs Indiana.

    Once Pandora’s Box has been opened … it’s impossible to put the Genie back into the bottle.

    (and, yes, I’m aware that’s a mixed metaphor)

  11. AltRaps said

    RapsFan….Humph wasn’t a God by any means, but on a night when you and I would have outworked at least 6 guys on the Raptors squad, anything was welcome. Kris had a couple of good follow up jams and played his man as adequately as anybody else.

    It might just be me, but I always feel that Sam yanks guys even if they are on a roll. It’s like he has some system in his head (I can actually hear Arsenalist laughing) of “I have to get xxxx xxxxxxx off the floor in 4 minutes). Of course, this doesn’t apply to Bosh unless his knees are around his shins.


  12. Smoke said


    I’m as upset as the next guy, but none of this is a shock.

    Sam being crap, and the team being soft inside, specially when our best (only)shot blocker is out with an injury from carrying the team, is not surprising at all.

    Didn’t we all see this coming?

    I’m not sick, I’m not mad, I’m not surprised.

    And… for some reason… it feels worse?

  13. khandor said

    Back-to-back losses without Bosh plus the upcoming games this neek week – at Orlando (solid on the boards), at Miami (improving on the boards) and vs Washington (solid on the boards) – mean that this team is now staring an 0-5 stretch straight in the face.

    Yes, they won games last season without Bosh but … do not compare the team they have right now to the group they had last season, which included a decent wing defender & willing rebound-man, in MoPete … things are very different now.

    As long as Sam continues making the strategic mistakes of:

    i) Gradually increasing Ford’s minutes, at the PG spot … at the expense of Calderon’s;

    ii) Playing Ford (PG) & Calderon (OG) at the same time;

    iii) Keeping Humphries chained to the bench;

    iv) Sticking with their current defensive techniques vs ‘Pick & Rolls/Pops’ (i.e. ‘Hedge & Recovers’ and ‘Switches’) … when opponents are relentlessly attacking their immobile Bigs (especially Bargnani) & Ford in this way;

    there’s a high probability of this actually happening … and the Raptors then finding themselves in the thick of a play-off race for the remainder of the regular season schedule.

    The fact is … teams put together by Bryan Colangelo:

    i) Make a huge profit for their owner(s);
    ii) score a lot of points;
    iii) play exciting, fast-paced basketball;
    iv) win a lot of regular season games;
    v) make the playoffs consistently;
    vi) keep the paying customers happy;

    vii) are weak Defensively;
    viii) are poor Rebounders; and,

    ix) are physically soft.

    If THE ‘goal’ in Toronto is to actually win the NBA championship, one day in the future – which is still a gigantic IF – the problems in this organization have their roots much higher up in the chain of command at MLSE, than just the players & the coach(es) of this team.

    Q1. How do certain NBA executives with a certain family name repeatedly win the EOY award … without ever having won a single NBA championship?

    A1. Smoke & Mirrors … pure and simple.

    “If you’re not going to rebound … in this league, you can’t win. We understand that’s an issue we have as a basketball team … Sometimes we win and it’s masked.” – Sam Mitchell

  14. jjdynomite said

    Hey AltRaps, you hypocrite, for the past few weeks you have been so one-note with your “Euro” and “soft” crap.

    And NOW, when the in-game situations demand something different, you write: “Humph was hustling and moving and scoring and he got hooked [editor’s note: whitey]. Primoz who, rightfully so, looked like the first guy in line at a Jessica Alba gangbang, was held back so long he fouled the beer guy [editor’s note: Euro]. Rasho [editor’s note: Euro] proved why he should be back in the starting lineup in place of Jamario Eclipsed Moon. Ah, where is the racis…er…optimism of JJDynamite when we need it?”

    Hey AltRaps, why don’t you go back to jerking off on your own blog that no one bothers to read since your posts are mostly just snippets of other blogs and newspaper articles instead of original analysis. That’s pretty much emblematic of a “soft” effort in the blogosphere, isn’t it? I guess it takes one to know one. Go “linkage” yourself, asshole.

    Anyway, Arse, beyond all your righteous criticsm, you forgot to mention yet another Jordanesque performance by a SG/SF, J-Rich blowing up for 10 PPG above his season average. I guess it’s “racist” for me to point out that Moon was assigned to cover him and yet again, he played like the D-leager that he was until 5 months ago.

  15. arsenalist said

    I’m not even shocked J Rich burned us, save a couple seasons he’s always averaged well above his season average against us. For a streaky shooter he sure finds his touch against us pretty consistently. I didn’t have a problem with his big game, he was 10-24, I can live with that percentage especially when we shot 51%. The much bigger reason for the loss was second chance points and offensive rebounding where we got owned 3:1.

  16. GipFace said

    Long time lurker. Your GIF cracked me up. Thanks for keeping it real! Your post-game analyses are the best on the internet. ^_^

  17. Sam is COY said

    arsenalist > It’s not the 1st time Smitch has held back a player on the bench VS a team they got traded from.

    It’s weird but, even after all the finger pointing at TJ vs Jose, Moon, Bargs, even BC, we have to face the facts, that only one man, and one man only has the power to place the players in the game.

    Think about it. We can yell and scream all we want about “race” (where the heck did that come from???), Euroball VS HS Ball/And1, Jose playing 1/2 defense, TJ shooting 0/5 in a row, Bargs not rebounding, CB4 and Moon taking jumpers, small ball, and the list goes on and on … but only One man, had/has the power to do antyhing about it at the time …

  18. AltRaps said

    Wow, JJ. So off the mark it’s sad, really. I rarely touch on the “euro” aspect of this team. However, is the team soft? Absolutely. Nobody can say they aren’t.

    On the contrary, you were irritated since I stated I was a fan of Humphries and his hustle, I cracked on Jamario due to his waning play and thought Kapono should get more burn to shoot us back in the games that we were getting kicked on the boards.

    Nice try, though, son. Guess you just have too many hate-ons for people that you are getting them confused.

  19. […] – Arsenalist […]

  20. Crank said

    It’s time for Delfino to start. The Moon experiment is over, put him on the bench and give the bulk of minutes to Delfino who is at the very least consistent on defense. I can live with his chucking if he’s playing good D which he does. After Bosh he’s the toughest player on this team which is sad.

    TJ/Calderon playing together isn’t working out, why did Sam think it would after the Indiana game. Fool me once…..

    I hate watching Bargnani play, so frustrating. Leo brought up a point where he said Bargnani’s scoring will come from the mid-range game which can be true but not the way his drive-fakes and pull-ups are working. Rebounding, what can you say, our 7-footers were getting owned by Jared Dudley who’s what? 6’7″?? Pathetic really, we needed a rebounder last season!

  21. Ellie said

    Someone better send this to Sam and the boys before they run into Kobe next week:

  22. Grumpy Fan said

    1. Look on the bright side. Maybe we will suck enough to fall to the 6th. No point being 5th or 4th if we are going to end up being LeBron’s b-i-a-t-c-h.

    2. Here is my theory on Calderon. I think the Lucas hire for TJ (even though it is being masked as a hire for all players) has thrown him off balance and is making him lose his focus. Looks like the the Raps are saying that no matter how good he plays the emphasis is to have TJ as the numero uno point guard for the future.

    3. Apart from Bosh; the basketball IQ of the players coupled with their 1 on 1 with Asst. Coaches is what has likely been carrying this team. Certainly not Sam’s coaching.

  23. arsenalist said

    Ellie, I saw that article. Do you think any of that stuff goes through Sam’s head when dealing with those players? Very unlikely.

    Grumpy Fan, I don’t know about the Lucas hiring affecting Calderon, they seem sorta disjoint to me. I don’t know about the coaches carrying this team, I think the GM gets the bulk of the credit there. BC’s made this a good enough team to stay around .500 but he’s also left enough holes that we can’t do anything in the playoffs. I’d say Parker and Calderon have high pretty high basketball IQs whereas Bosh knows the correct way to play defense, his offensive decisions sometimes are still pretty iffy.

  24. Ellie said

    Arsenalist, absolutely not. More a statement on how low their game is sunk if I’m learning more about D from online tutorials than from watching them play.

    Thanks for the clarification re: the towel thing.

  25. khandor said

    An example of what happens when others perceive incorrectly what’s really happening in a specific on-court situation …

    re: Calderon’s recent drop in productivity

    * Jose is NOT tired and has NOT ‘hit the wall’

    in fact, strictly as a Point Guard, i.e. when TJ Ford is NOT on the floor at the same time with Calderon,

    Calderon has NOT performed poorly during these last 6 games.

    What has effected Calderon’s overall performance?

    * the decision to stop playing him 38+ MPG … as the (solo) Mainframe PG for this team

    * the decision to play Calderon (Off Guard) & Ford (Point Guard) simultaneously

    * the residual effect(s) of attempting to close Pandora’s Box and put the Genie back into the bottle once the contents have been let loose (i.e. 38+ MPG for Jose)

    Calderon is a 1st-class person, a great teammate, and a consumate ‘pro’ … who will never (ever) admit/acknowledge that this is THE problem, right now, as far as his individual productivity is concerned.

    However, when you try to ‘make’ a Mainframe PG, like Jose Calderon – who SHOULD be playing 38+ MPG in the NBA – into something he is not (i.e. a back-up PG) then this is precisely the type of production your team can expect from him … nothing more, and nothing less.

    But, put him into his into his correct role … and he will once again produce at the same level he did when he was playing 38+ MPG, without Ford as his side-kick! … and, the Raptors will regain their W-L productivity against both mediocre and elite level teams in the NBA,


    Keep operating the way the team is running now … and there’ll be another 1st Round Playoff exit for the 2007-2008 Toronto Raptors.

  26. Oliver's Gut said

    RealGM has gone to shits for some time now but the new mods there are making things very boring.

    The word soft has been thrown around a lot here instead of ‘perimeter oriented’. Don’t confuse the two. I like our current core of players, we jsut need to add a good rebounder like Miller or Foster. I don’t think adding Artest will do much for this team..a solid inside presence is needed more than a thug.

  27. Birdman said

    Crank, totally agree with you there. Delfino, despite the inconsistencies, probably offers you a better all-around game than Moon.

    I’d go with:

    Watching Bargs both on O and D is VERY frustrating. But to be fair, we’re leaning on him for strength inside and rebounding because that’s where we’re weak… but that’s just not his style.

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