The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Joey plays, Raptors lose as MLSE and TSN prove to be greedy %&$@#

Posted by Arsenalist on October 17, 2008

Before we get to the game let’s talk about TSN2 airing 23 Raptors game this year. This stinks of a fat suit in MLSE and a fatter suit at TSN wondering how to make more money and their greed eventually leading them to each other. The cash of course comes at the expense of the middle-class fan who is forced to buy yet another specialty channel just to catch their home team’s games in a city where cable channels are running reruns of Seinfeld and Family Guy in primetime. Is the new VR still around? How about OMNI? Couldn’t MLSE have chosen to air these games on one of those local channels? After all they still produce the games, its just a question of who airs them. But asking MLSE to take a hit for the fans is something that’s never happened and expecting them to offload games to regular cable channels would be too much of a sacrifice. Remember, this is happening in a year where the average season ticket went up a whopping 17% making it top 3 in the league. Am I shocked by this? Actually, I kind of am. I thought having an entire channel dedicated to the team would be enough to air all the games the normal cable channels couldn’t handle but hey, MLSE, O’Neal and Bosh need to get paid.

To the game now and thanks to DG for hooking me up with some awesome, awesome seats. Section 107, Row 24, I usually find that watching the game on TV allows me to analyze and understand it better but having an unobstructed view from seats this close completely changed my view – if you want to watch an NBA game spend some money and get up-close. Check out some of the pics I took.

I don’t know if Sam Mitchell whipped out the bench for the majority of the second half because he new we weren’t up to the task of winning and just tried to save face by swallowing the loss in the name of the reserves or whether he really wanted the likes of Kapono, Solomon and Humphries to get some run in. Whatever the approach was it made for an eye-sore of a game if you’re a Raptors fan. What was irking me even more while I sat there in my great seats was that my man Roko Ukic was glued to the bench. He played the lowest minute total of any Raptor (8:21) while his bench backcourt mate Will Solomon James played 24 minutes and once again hoisted the second most shots on the team. Take that for its worth.

This was a showcase game for Andrea Bargnani who looks very comfortable with his mid-range game which appears to be his finest weapon so far this preseason. He even faked the drive and stuck a jumper from 20 feet which I think happened twice all last season. The best part about watching him play so far is that he appears comfortable with himself, takes what the defense gives him and if there’s nothing given, he won’t force the issue. What the stats don’t show is that he made a couple very sweet passes which should’ve been converted for points and set solid screens in the high pick ‘n roll situations. I thought he should’ve gotten a lot more touches but Will James and Jason Kapono were guilty of looking him off or not re-posting him up after the initial catch. Bargnani is no doubt the anchor of the second unit and the sooner Jason Kapono and company learn how to play with him instead of around him the better.

Jermaine O’Neal who you can’t say has had a single solid game all preseason only played an error-filled 15 minutes. I thought we’d see more of him in the second half but Sam had decided that he’d had enough of him. With only three preseason games remaining there isn’t much time to get Jermaine O’Neal looking like the Jermaine O’Neal from four years ago and if this is the form he’ll bring into the season opener against Philadelphia, we’re in trouble. You would think he’d log up some serious minutes with Bosh to get that chemistry going but nothing of the sort happened today.

Maybe Sam played the bench because he was too disgusted by our first half defense which saw Minnesota leak out for scores about 5 times. The Raptors’ jump shooters were ball watching as they released their shots while their man ran up the court and caught a long pass for layups. On one occasion they actually pulled the stunt coming out of a dunk. This was not a good defensive performance and it came against one of the worst teams in the league. But hey, remember yesterday Mitchell said that they weren’t working on defense, they were focusing entirely on offense so let’s see what the offense did. 86 points and 19 turnovers against a T’Wolves defense that didn’t do a single unorthodox thing all game. All they did was use their athleticism and length to get into passing lanes and steal the ball from players like Jason Kapono when they were trying to dribble through three defenders. Save for some Bargnani pick ‘n rolls and some Joey Graham back-cuts and slashes there was nothing smooth about our offensive game. We didn’t get many easy baskets and were only 6-16 from long distance; the thing that kept us in this one was our +5/+8 rebounding differential mostly thanks to Kris Humphries who continues to impress on the glass and suck from 16 feet.

Joey Graham got the start at the three and looked very good (relative to his career thus far). He moved without the ball for a couple easy hoops, got a hoop by going strong on the baseline and even went straight down the middle of the paint to get fouled. The subtle thing to note about Graham’s game is that he’s entirely one-dimensional when he’s trying to do something. For example, take that play where he drew the foul in the paint, he drew at least four defenders and could’ve easily kicked the ball out for an open jumper but he just doesn’t have the presence of mind for those things. I think it’s the lack of floor time that stunts that kind of growth in a player and that’s why I’m of the belief that Joey Graham will have a serviceable NBA career, it just wont’ be with the Raptors because he’s too behind Jamario Moon in Sam Mitchell’s books. Joey even had a good defensive game, he wasn’t nearly as laterally slow as we’ve seen in the past and even took a charge by using quick feet. How often does that happen? Let’s throw in a quote form Joey who if he plays as well as he did today might, just might give Moon some competition:

“I was aggressive, coach told me he wanted me to come in and be rebounding, run the floor as well as I could, even though it was still a little sore. I tried to do that, come out there and stay aggressive, attack the basket and get to the free throw line.”

Let’s talk about my least favorite Raptor, Jamario Moon, and Anthony “what have you done for me lately” Parker. Together they managed to score 5 points in 45+ minutes on 2-9 FG. How many games can we honestly win if that’s the kind of production we’re getting from those two? Not many, and the concerning part is that these two will have to produce offense without getting too many touches. There’s only one ball and Bosh, O’Neal and Caldeorn will need their share of it, if Parker and Moon think that they’ll be able to get “warm up shots” during the game they’re highly mistaken. I think Parker will come around and his percentages will rise as his legs come back to him but what will Moon do? He’s not going to become a better shooter overnight so asking him to keep the defense honest is out of the question, the only other feasible offense he can produce for us is through offensive rebounding and by running the break or slashing. Good luck getting him to do that. While I’m ripping Moon let me also mention that he’s the king of getting the rebound anybody could’ve gotten. His rebounding numbers are severely inflated and as soon as the NBA starts keeping track of contested vs. uncontested rebounds you’ll see the truth.

We had a chance to tie this game with a minute to go but Jason Kapono got the ball on the left wing and tried to go 1 on 2 and ended up losing the ball. Minny got the ball back on the other end and got a quick score for a 4-point swing. After that the Raptors came out of a timeout to execute a play which resulted in Will Solomon forcing up a bad jumper which obviously missed and that was that. The underlying theme of any Raptors loss is late fourth quarter execution and this one was no different. This is where I keep telling myself that its only preseason. Its only preseason…its only preseason…its only preseason…its only preseason…

So the Raptors bench drop one at home to the Timberwolves who thoroughly deserved to win the game. Corey Brewer, Rodney Carney and Randy Foye ran the break, stuck their jumpers and played with an enthusiasm that was refreshing. On a side note, Kevin Love looked awful, nonathletic and out of place, this looks like a classic McHale move. But Minny deserved to win and they would’ve won bigger if it weren’t for Bargnani and Humphries’ second half play. If you ask Sam we’re not supposed to feel bad about this win because 1) it’s preseason and 2) our starters didn’t play much so if we really wanted to, we would’ve won this game. Or so he hopes.

Once again thanks to DG.

21 Responses to “Joey plays, Raptors lose as MLSE and TSN prove to be greedy %&$@#”

  1. Josh said

    I just have a comment about your proposal of playing games on OMNI or VR over TSN2. I’ve never heard of those channels, so I assume that they are only available to residents in Ontario. If that’s the alternative, than they chose the lesser of two evils by making it available to us fans on the canadian outskirts. I’m not happy that they chose to air a large chunk of the games on TSN2, because my cable provider does not carry TSN2 in HD, but it would be better than not having the game available to me at all by having it on a local network. And for what it’s worth, TSN2 is available to me on my basic digital package, so I do not have to pay extra for it (outside having to subscribe to digital cable), as that seems to be a major concern for many, but that may vary depending on the cable provider.

  2. Danny said

    Dude, it’s pre-season. Relax.

  3. Paps said

    The game was ugly and the last Raptor play was predictable.

  4. Garfunkel said

    “I thought having an entire channel dedicated to the team would be enough to air all the games the normal cable channels couldn’t handle but hey, MLSE, O’Neal and Bosh need to get paid.”

    You would think so eh? If OMNI isn’t available to just Ontarians than there are plenty other “local” channels that are already on Rogers nation-wide in the basic package that would’ve been fine. The point is that there’s no need to ask more money of the subscribers for a your product when your subscriber already has YOUR TV channel.

    Nice pics btw, those look like awesome seats.

  5. eastcoastrapsfan said

    Some Thoughts,

    We lost the game when Bargs came out. The second unit offense should be built around him, the threat of JK’s shot and PG penetration, ie. Roko. It may need Moon to garb the boards, even the easy ones, because while they aren’t contested, with Andrea, they aren’t a given either.

    I think consistent burn is the answer for JO but I think Sam is hesitant to give it to him in the pre-season. Let’s not forget that a JO that does less offensively than he has in the past is still a very good thing for the Raps. His d isn’t going to go anywhere. With Andrea and Hump, my concern for bigs production would only be about what each individual may get, as a whole I think the bigs will be fine, barring injury. And even if JO’s numbers are down, as long as we are winning I don’t think media, fans or JO should get down about it. If we win basketball games I don’t care what JO averages, and I think we can win even if JO roles plays on O to keep D honest and plays hard D.

    Did you notice the hedging on D? Looked a bit like Bosh in the Olympics didn’t it? Even when Bargs was doing it. I think Bosh and JO have become the influence on D and I’m all for it. We have a new D identity and didn’t have to change coaches to do it.

    Let’s all hold our breath though and wait for the new stuff on opening night. And if there’s nothing, it’ll be fair to call out Smitch. I have a sinking suspicion that Sam focuses on the second unit too much, and has a hands off approach to the actual Main line up. I suspect it’s due more to inpersonal realatinships and Sam’s respect for his vets, than negligence though, but time will tell. Even if Sam’s cupboards are bare, we could be okay if we execute. Our starters and good and assertive enough to find away to play together anyway, so I’m not too worried. Maybe Sam feels the same way. I only worry about our wings in the SL and if we can get that from Joey, replace Jamario. Why wait…Sam needs to get over Jamario. Everyone wants to see Jamario get paid next year but he has to earn it, and he can’t rely on past success against Deng to give it to him. And to see more good Joey, I think we need to see joey used consitently to play consistently. We need good Joey to be present as much or more than Joey does. If Roko can pick it up as back up PG, will could find some time at the 2. I’m almost tempted to do a trial by fire with Roko. He’s shown an aptitude, willingness, and thirst to learn, so why not give him all the opportunity. The lack of playing time he get’s in games we lose anyway baffles me. I think the penetration Roko gives is worth exploiting and is something I don’t see in any other raps. and could be used to keep d off balance from our otherwise predictable offense.

  6. khandor said

    Upper echelon teams in the NBA win the majority of their pre-season games.

    Leopards do not change their spots, in this League, once the Bright Lights come on.

  7. axl said

    …it’s only preseason…

  8. Dave said

    Good to hear Joey Graham had a good night, that’s encouraging.

  9. Arsenalist said

    I understand its only preseason but you have got to be kidding yourself if you don’t think this preseason is an indication of how good or bad this team really is. And how many times in the post did I mention that it was only preseason? Count them and let me know…

    As eastcoast points out we shouldn’t be surprised if this is exactly how we play on opening night because I’m not one to expect surprises from Mitchell, at least not good ones.

  10. Johnn19 said

    On opening night I would be pretty amazed if Soloman plays 24mins and Ukic 8mins at PG. Calderon should play a min of 34/36 mins per game.

    I would not be suprised to see Joey Graham start at SF where he has a history of being the most effective for Rap’s, and Jason Kapono at SG where he would benefit from Calderon’s passing.

    Parker would be a better fit coming in with Solomon to start, who he has some history with, and would present an alternate playmaker, and better fit than Kapono.

  11. Tom Newman said

    RE: Raps on TSN 2

    I think you’re leaving the fattest fat suit of all out of your argument. What about Rogers cable? If they would get over themselves and add TSN 2 to their lineup this argument would be over. We need to stop treating them like a helpless victim in this whole thing. Bell TV has TSN 2, Star Choice has TSN 2, hell, apparently even Sasktel has TSN 2, and I don’t hear anyone who uses their services complaining they can’t watch Raps games! Are you telling me that Sasktel (which I assume is a cable company located in Saskatchewan, and therefore can’t be very big) can afford to carry TSN 2, but Rogers, which is arguably the biggest cable company in Canada can’t? Give me a break. After all the blogs and articles about this fiasco it’s obvious that Rogers customers make up a huge % of Raps fans, so why wouldn’t Rogers listen to them and pick up TSN 2? I’ll tell you why, because Rogers is afraid precious Sportsnet will suffer if TSN2 is available. I say SUCK IT UP!! Get TSN 2 and let the customers decide whether or not they want to have it. I for one would much rather pay what will probably be an extra $1.50 a month to see 23 more Raps games, you?

  12. Arsenalist said

    Tom, Rogers will add TSN2 but when do they’ll add it as an “extra” channel which you have to pay for. Sure, I can afford $1.50 per month no problem but that’s hardly the point, why do MLSE and TSN have to concoct this scheme in the first place? Its designed entirely to put pressure on Rogers to add TSN2 to their lineup and the Raptors fans are being used as pawns in this little corporate battle. Remember, Rogers didn’t initiate this fiasco, it was TSN who decided to increase the “value” of TSN2 at the expense of the Raptors fans and MLSE agreed that it was OK to do so.

    Rogers could solve this entire fiasco by adding TSN2 for a low rate or for free but why does it even have to come to that? There’s more than enough channels out there capable of collectively carrying 82 games. And remember what the hell is RaptorsTV for if not exactly for stuff like this. But MLSE decided they wanted to make even more money and saw an opportunity here even though they have THEIR OWN BLOODY CHANNEL. Makes me sick.

  13. T-Rap said

    Tom you sold me – I am moving to Saskatoon where I can see my Raps on SaskTel…Really – seems to me that Uncle Ted only cares about those damn Blue Jays…and really wants to stick it to hoops fans. Remember Rogers Sportnet said they didn’t want to carry anymore Raptors games… I guess more Poker, the better

    If TSN2 coughed up the dough for the raptors games – good on them…The Raps are a contender this year – I don’t care how it gets done …but pick up the stupid TSN2 and we are all happy… Doesn’t seem like a big deal in the US with ESPN and ESPN2 on all cable outlets …

    I’m not even going to mention how I missed the Flyers – Penguins game last week…

    Uncle Ted – want me to cancel my cell phone?????

  14. Tom Newman said

    Arsenalist, why do you keep defending Rogers? They initiated this by not picking up TSN 2 a month ago like everyone else who saw this coming. I for one, am not a pawn. I’m not going to let “uncle Ted” as T-rap calls him decide what I can and can’t watch. There are other players out there in the TV game, and as far as I can tell they all carry TSN2 already. I’m going to stop whining and do something about this, and I encourage everyone else to follow suit. Checkmate.

  15. PapiJulio said

    I’d like to see more Roko. That wasn’t enough time to see what he’s got But… I think he got yanked because he was trying too hard and forced himself into a couple bad situations. We lost major momentum when Roko was a little too anxious to prove himself and had 2 consecutive turnovers.

    I was impressed when Roko first entered the game and had energy and moved the ball well. BUT… T-Wolfs were quickly on to his passes and could spot them and intercept. He is quick, very tall for the spot listed a 6’5” (I think he’s 6’4”?), good at penetrating and kicking out the ball. But… after the 2 turnovers Roko was too ‘down’ on himself and Sam *had* to yank him before the T-Wolfs squished his spirit more. I really like his pass first shoot second attitude for a PG. Not sure about Salmon. Shoot first and maybe pass. Salmon picked up his dribble a couple times and kill the flow. Cardinal rule as a Point Guard, keep the ball going.

    Not sold on either yet but Roko might have more to build on in the long run, but a older experienced Salmon will probably get the reins now because Roko has a lot to learn about the NBA. Plus Salmon didn’t hang his head when he screwed up. Roko got himself yanked.

  16. T-Rap said

    lets bring Derick Martin out of retirement!

  17. Arsenalist said

    I hate Rogers. Let me make that perfectly clear but that doesn’t mean they initiated this. Rogers wasn’t carrying TSN2 last week either but nobody cared or talked about it. But now that MLSE/TSN have pulled games off of the main channel, you’re pointing the finger at Rogers as the culprit because they feel that adding another sports channel to an already saturated market is a bad idea?

    Tom, the point you bring up about Sportsnet is valid but I don’t see Rogers’ business practices being the issue here. Yeah, it would be nice if Rogers picked up TSN2 but that doesn’t mean they’re the ones who started the issue by dumping Raptors games to a channel nobody’s ever heard of. I haven’t heard an argument yet from anybody about why these games aren’t shown on RaptorsTV.

  18. Hotshot said

    The Raptors never had a winning percentage above 500 after the first 10 games of the season under Mitchell.

    I don’t expect the trend to change.

  19. muhdik said

    thank god i just started to steal rogers cable and get basic cable channels 0-70 free.even though i can easily afford to be held hostage by ted and mlse,fuck them both.the move by mlse to approve this knocks my love for the raps down a notch,and no doubt it will further drop when i find myself scrambling to find an online pirate stream and it bears me no fruit….fuck them those greedy bastards,ive sent 50 emails to both and will continue to send more……fta here i come.

  20. Meh, that was just ‘good Joey’ showing up for a game. I’m not optimistic that ‘good Joey’ will show up consistantly enough.

  21. T-Rap said

    Without any games, Raptor TV will be a joke…with MLSE and Uncle Ted laughing the hardest…

    Good for Edmonton Eskimo fans for putting pressure on Shaw Cable to sign up TSN2…they rallied and put the heat on Shaw – Shaw ended up picking up TSN2 in time for an Eskimo game last month…

    I hope I don’t have to go out and put one of those damn ugly BEll TV dishes up on my condo…look out below…hopefully it doesn’t fall as hard as one of Joey Graham’s bricks..

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