The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Refreshing defense leads Raps over Nets, but how long will it last?

Posted by Arsenalist on April 11, 2008

NJ Nets 85, Toronto Raptors 113

The Raptors showed some promise tonight in blowing out the Nets to cancel out the loss from last week. An element of revenge was in the air too as it officially knocked the Nets out of the playoff picture. More importantly the win combined with Indiana’s triumph over Philadelphia means the Raptors are tied for the sixth spot with the 76ers and hold the tie-breaker. This win went some ways in trying to wipe the malaise thats been surrounding the Raptors of late but I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as I should and the reason is Chuck Swirsky. I hate to bring up this guy up in the first paragraph but he’s making it very hard for me to watch the Raptors. Swirsky calling for a hard foul on Vince Carter on a drive to the rim where Bosh was trying to draw the charge was a little nauseating, plus his constant hyperbole, slanted analysis, overreactions and just about everything else makes for a sour broadcast. Maybe I’m overreacting but nothing about him strikes a good chord with me, anyway, enough about him.

The Raptors started very slowly on offense and Vince started hot, some of the same old problems were starting to appear again – no ball movement, settling for perimeter shots, allowing Devin Harris to penetrate, weak close-outs etc. This translated into a 30-18 deficit at the end of the first quarter, not the start the Raptors were wanting after Bosh’s “players and fans should step up” pep talk. Jose Calderon came off the bench and was getting burned by Harris just like TJ. The pick ‘n roll defense was atrocious and Harris was doing a road-runner impersonation on every play. It didn’t look good.

Mitchell’s second quarter timeout initiated a spark of good defense, especially in the form of Calderon tightening up his man-D on Harris and knocking down a jumpers on the other end. Carlos Delfino had his break out game dropping 4 threes in the second quarter (which means he’ll be off for the next 5). The Raps went on a 12-2 run and shaved the 12 point deficit down to 2 at the half. For the second game in a row the PG play was stellar, TJ Ford picked it up in the third quarter where Calderon had left off (tweaked ankle). He was taking Harris to school from every spot on the court and the latter seemed helpless. When TJ gets in the lane and has his wits about him, he can demolish a defense from the inside-out and the Nets saw that first hand – 14/8 and 0 turnovers from TJ. Calderon with 11/10 and 0 turnovers, can’t ask for much more than that.

Chris Bosh is trying hard to walk the walk and was the only Raptor who came out with a sense of urgency which is not surprising. The man might seem like a deer caught in headlights in the fourth quarter at times but it’s hard to miss how excited he is about the time of the year. He understands what fans want to see from the team and is more than willing to reciprocate:

“No matter what happened, if I played a good game or a bad game, you were going to be able to tell that I tried my best, and sometimes that’s all people want to see. They want to see you trying to get every loose ball, rebounding the basketball. Sometimes a shot may not fall, but if they see the effort is there as opposed to lagging around and being lazy, they can appreciate that.”

If the Raptors want to have a shot against Orlando, its imperative that one of Kapono/Delfino start hitting some threes. Delfino was on tonight but who knows how long that’ll last. Jason Kapono was a miserable 0-1 for 0 points and 3 fouls in 17 minutes. Leave the offense aside, as soon as he was in the game Richard Jefferson and Stromile Swift made it a point to attack him, something you’ll see again in either of the Orlando or Detroit matchups. My point? Kapono will be a non-factor in the playoffs.

14 points and 6 rebounds for Andrea Bargnani who looked somewhat interested in going to the rim today, started off missing jumpshots but slowly took his game to the rim. Jack Armstrong’s got his game figured out, and I paraphrase: He’s got a chance to be a good player in this league, its a question of tightening up his offensive game, getting his confidence up and playing the game the right way. Not exactly a revelation but correct analysis nonetheless.

Looking ahead to the playoffs, he could be the difference between a series won and a series lost. You can shut down Jason Kapono, you can double Chris Bosh, you can contain Anthony Parker but if Bargnani seriously decides to be a factor, he has the ability to have a lasting impact in a 7-game series. If he plays like the way he’s been playing for 80% of the season, we’ll struggle, but if he can play inside-out, hit the offensive glass, try to take laterally slower players off the dribble, we might have a chance.

Getting back to the game, its worthwhile to mention the Raptors defense again. There were a lot of deflections leading to steals, some collapsing paint defense, Rasho holding his ground against their guards, great rebounding (47-39) and most importantly playing with a sense of pride. Mitchell summed it up after the game:

“We can’t play much better defence than we did from the second quarter on”

Defense is a contagious thing, when one player starts playing it they all join in and invariably it helps your offense because you’re playing with the energy that you got from the previous stop.

Tonight was an example of what is needed at the minimum for us to win a few playoff games.


  • Vince Carter’s charge on Jason Kapono was the worst call of the season.
  • Andrea Bargnani getting rejected by the rim was awkward.
  • Every time I see VC, I get nostalgic. Sue me.
  • Richard Jefferson has a miserable game and looked disinterested, I’m used to seeing him kill us so often that it was fun to see him go 4-13 for a change.
  • The fans did their part, the team did their part.
  • Covered some Colangelo and Bosh issues earlier in the day.
  • We can’t expect to win games after first quarters like that.
  • Some nice Nets coverage.
  • Top Rap: Carlos Delfino.

5 Responses to “Refreshing defense leads Raps over Nets, but how long will it last?”

  1. khandor said

    It will last until 2:15 PM on Sunday afternoon.

  2. Raptors2009 said

    WTF is up with that picture of Delfino? He looks like he’s been jonesing crack on a street corner for hours.

    This game made me feel a little better about the Raps, if they play defense like this consistently they’ll at least stay in games longer and give themselves a chance of winning games in the fourth quarter. Totally agree on this sentence:

    “Tonight was an example of what is needed at the minimum for us to win a few playoff games.”

    Bosh is playing with good intensity and is talking like he’s ready for the playoffs. That’s good news, hopefully Bargnani can step up and give us good 3-pt shooting in the playoffs….exciting times.

    Swirsky is a jerk at his heart, I’ll sign a petition to get rid of him.

  3. cuzzy said

    oooh yes lets start that pettition

    to get it rolling we all have to watch the ABC broadcast on Sunday and not The Score.

    Good effort tonight and it was refreshing to see them pulling away rather than holding on for dear life.

    Vince’s face makes me want to kick the wall every time I see it.

    Such a great talent but such a giant prick.

    I would be happy to never see the Nets on TV again.

    Something to keep in mind and dread. Swirsky keeps talking about YouTube like it is the shit. It is only a matter of time before he figures it out. God help us.

    Also can he never say “talking smack” again.

    3 to go.

  4. […] – Arsenalist […]

  5. Raps Fan said

    i went through bouts of muting the volume. i wish they would provide just a simple feed of the sound/noises from the arena…that would be incredible!

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