Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Red Army comes to town

Posted by Arsenalist on October 14, 2008

An excellent preview of tonight’s game is available in the local paper. Let me quickly recap: CSKA Moscow come in to Toronto after getting their asses handed to them by the Magic 96-66 where future Raptors coach Ettore Messina said Dwight Howard “looked like Godzilla” to them. Anthony Parker says they aren’t taking them lightly since the European and exiled American players want to have a chance to show what they’re worth in NBA terms. Parker of course helped Maccabi beat the Raptors in Toronto by hitting the game-winner on Morris Peterson. Will Solomon is echoing some similar thoughts here.

Sam Mitchell on the other hand can’t possibly be taking this game too seriously. After suggestions that the Raptors didn’t play hard or well enough against Philadelphia, Mitchell brushed off any criticism by saying:

“We can’t get banged up trying to win a pre-season game. I saw what I needed to see.”

Right. So that’s that I guess. If Mitchell isn’t too worried about the game maybe he should be. His counterpart tonight is a man who was speculated to succeed Mitchell a couple summers ago and is considered to be a brilliant strategist, a sharp contrast to Mitchell’s blowhard line of ways. There would be a none better endorsement of Messina’s superiority over Mitchell if they beat us tonight on the heels of the 76ers loss and right after they themselves got rocked by Orlando. Go Sam.

A few names to lookout for on the CSKA roster: Trajan Langdon, the Duke star known as the Alaskan Assasin, JR Holden who’s now a Russian citizen and former Maryland forward Terence Morris. They are the defending Euroleague Champions so I expect a good game tonight, nothing like Orlando.

The NBA is laying about 80 people off in the US because of the economic troubles. Funnily enough David Stern expects the number of season tickets to go down but the revenue to go up which can only mean that those season seats are getting very pricey. I myself haven’t been able to afford one ever.

The Cavaliers have trouble figuring out who will start at SG for them and this blog suggests that they pick starters based on matchups. On the surface it seems like a good idea but the article admits that it comes at the cost of continuity and rhythm, two very underrated but important factors in any rotation. It works in soccer, not in basketball. The Raptors tried this experiment last year to some degree (well, not by flipping starters but through incoherent subs) and it didn’t turn out too well.

Four of the games that I always circle on my calendar are the ones against the Hawks. There’s never a dull moment. The Hawks are aiming for a .500 record and SLAM has a preview of the young team which will pose more of a threat than they’ve done in recent years. Hawks/Raptors games have always been exciting and I can’t see this year being any different except that we shouldn’t take winning 3/4 for granted.

I was really looking forward to the Minnesota game on Friday as it would mark the return of Hoffa but sadly it wasn’t to be. He was cut by the T’Wolves. Sniff. Did you know the NCAA is increasing the 3-pt line by a foot to 20′ 9″?

As you can see I’m ending this post with some big time fodder because that’s all there is to it. I’m going to the game tonight and will have something for you tomorrow.

11 Responses to “Red Army comes to town”

  1. Tunez said

    I was looking forward to Hoffa doing his vintage tomahawk chop foul on chris or JO and the crowd just ripping into him

  2. khandor said

    Arsenalist,

    I agree with your perception that the Hawks will be an improved team this season.

    IMO, Atlanta is one of several outfits in the EC that are poised to go past the Raptors this year, if they should encounter any sort of injury woes, while the Hawks do not.

    As much as many/some pople are anticipating real improvement by the Raptors this season, through the addition of …

    Jermaine O’Neal + Will Solomon + Hassan Adams + Roko Ukic + Nathan Jawai [or Jamal Sampson]

    and the subtraction of …

    Rasho Nesterovic + TJ Ford + Carlos Delfino + Maceo Baston + Primos Brezec + Jorge Garbajosa + Roy Hibbert

    it does not seem to me as though these individuals have calculated accurately just how much the Atlanta Hawks may have improved their team this year with …

    * The addition of Maurice Evans, Flip Murray & Randolph Morris
    * The return to health of Speedy Claxton
    * Having Mike Bibby from the start of the season
    * The continued maturation of solid young players like Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia, Acie Law & Mario West

    and the subtraction of … Josh Childress

    after getting a taste of the NBA Playoffs last season for the first time in many years.

    ===================

    In my book, it is simply not a given that the Raptors are going to finish this season with more victories than the Hawks.

  3. Steve said

    Mitcheroni: “We can’t get banged up trying to win a pre-season game. I saw what I needed to see.” I must be stupid because I do not get him. What a saw is frightening. Watching 2/3 of the last game guys on the floor who will not play together at the same time, ever. And then if a game, preseason game is not that important so Mitcheroni is allowed to bore us to death, why not playing Ukic? Oh, yes…his rib.
    Khnanor Says:”In my book, it is simply not a given that the Raptors are going to finish this season with more victories than the Hawks.” Well,in my book they going to finish the season with less victories then last year.
    Steve

  4. Mac21 said

    LOL @ “Mitcheroni”.

    I don’t have a doubt that the Hawks will do better than us. Sad to say but pound-for-pound they have more talent than us and last years playoff run is going to help them. I don’t even know why Smith was shopping himself around in the summer.

    Remember you Raptor homers, they had a longer playoff run than us against a better opponent!

  5. fluxland said

    I got the LarryCats finishing better then us!

    I wonder where the “twin towers/second in the East/cuntTJisgone/contenders” crowd is?

    And if you think NBA players are ready for an Euro coach to tell them what’s what.. you are out of your mind. Unless of course it’s a collection of former Euro players and US scrubs that played there.. oh wait.. that’s the Raptors right?

  6. Sam said

    Re #5 we’re all here flux. Some of us even realize that this is the pre-season.

    Now go work on you’re multi-episode response rant. Try to work in as many basketball-related ethnic stereotypes as you can.

    Oh, and the Pacers (and several other of these NBA basketball things) have their own blogs. You realize that you can “support” another team right?

    Ah the internet, where being a rude MF is acceptable :)

  7. fluxland said

    Please elaborate on “basketball related ethnic stereotypes”…

  8. Johnn19 said

    Does anyone remember this is preseason and wins and losses are meaningless stats to the coaching staff.

    Priorities are:

    1-evaluate and integrate 5 new players into offensive/defensive systems, and to play with holdovers from last year, correcting mistakes in practice sessions..

    2-Get veterans in game shape to begin season, avoiding injury.

    3-Winning 8 preseason games if possible would be nice, but not a priority in supplanting 1 or 2.

    It is impossible to put any signifigance in current team performance, other than to note player performance, in the above circumstances.

  9. fluxland said

    Everyone has different expectations Johnn.. not so much in the win loss column, but in other areas.

    To some the cup is half full – to others half empty.

    So far, I have not seen anything to push me towards the “contenders in the East” crowd. If anything, it has further confirmed the suspicions of steps being taken backwards. And I am not one to dismiss preseason games as completely meaningless.

  10. Arsenalist said

    I agree with Johnn19 for the most part except that there is significance to the team’s performance. For example there’s something to be said about the way O’Neal and Bosh are being integrated into the offense and how well they are functioning. I love the hi-lo sequences that we’ve executed so far this preseason but at the same time I see Bosh becoming even more perimeter oriented than before which is not good.

    I haven’t seen Bosh’s post-game much at all and shockingly I think Bargnani has had more post-ups than Bosh. O’Neal’s play has been rusty and so far I haven’t seen a glimpse of the rebounding advantage that we’re suppose to have. I think JO’s rebounding positioning has been quite bad but as I said in yesterday’s post there’s no need to panic. We still have some time to iron out these issues and make sure the Raptors are functioning as a unit.

    I think our defense is a mess but watching other teams so far their’s is too. Obviously I’m willing to give Mitchell more time to figure this team out, maybe even 10-12 games into the season but that doesn’t mean I can’t criticize him now.

  11. fluxland said

    That’s what I am talking about Arse. Is that much not evident from the 1st few games? To me it is.

    JO looks like he hasn’t balled in 5 years.

    Told ya, the man is SG! ;)

    And Don’t forget AP still shooting bricks. (and I am not talking about those meaningless buckets)

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