Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Aggressive Denver too much for sloppy Raptors

Posted by Arsenalist on October 22, 2008

Denver Nuggets 105, Toronto Raptors 94

This game served as a good test for the Raptors which if they passed would’ve given them some confidence heading into the regular season. In the end it turned out to be yet another reminder that this team has more question marks than answers. An athletic Denver side which was committed to attacking the rim shot 53% as the Raptors defense (especially the second unit) failed to cope with Denver’s speed and aggression. It’s what you get when you have a 19-man roster fighting for 15 spots, people come out and play for their jobs. It’s a spirit that’s been lacking at this year’s Raptors training camp where players like Moon are playing like they’re already guaranteed minutes.

They don’t keep a stat of deflections but if they did you’d see Denver get one every three possessions. They challenged the Raptors by playing extremely aggressive defense – fronting the post, early doubles, ball-pressure and fighting through screens rendering them pointless. All this pressure forced the Raptors into making 20 turnovers which were of the very sloppy kind. We had the ball literally taken out of hands three times not to mention countless strips that either resulted in a turnover or took a bit chunk out of the shot-clock as the Raptors reset. Although Denver’s lead was only around 10 for the entire game you knew that this was a huge uphill mountain to climb – you’d never have picked the Raptors to come up with five defensive stands against a determined Denver while scoring five times on the other end. Hell, I’d even have settled for five straight possessions without a turnover.

There were some positives from this game, especially early on. Our offense clicked rather well when Jermaine O’Neal was in the game. O’Neal executed his patented post-moves on a couple occasions drawing double teams and kicking out for swing sequences. He hit a pull-up mid-range jumper and felt comfortable in driving to the rim against Juwan Howard or Nene. Chris Bosh was hitting his jumper and Parker executed two of his patented off-the-screen fadeaways. Andrea Bargnani went through good and bad stretches but ended the game strongly and looked good when he wasn’t turning the ball over. Let’s not kid ourselves though, we saw more bad than good last night and learned that this team is far from ready. Mitchell believes he doesn’t need any more preseason games but welcomes the practice time coming up. He feels that he knows what he wants the team to do, its a question of teaching the team how to do it. Of course, how could we forget…Mitchell knows everything, its the other that are lacking around him.

Jermaine O’Neal didn’t return for the second half because of a sore knee which rang many alarm bells in many heads. According to O’Neal its not a big deal:

“The back problem caused a little tightness in the leg. It’s more of a maintenance thing.”

Oh, a little maintenance thing. It’s something like getting an oil change, you need to do it and if you neglect it you’ll have to buy a new engine. Hopefully all we’ll need to do this year is oil changes because the mileage on this baby isn’t too high, although on the other side it’s been driven by a piss-poor driver for the last few years. I don’t know, you decide the depreciation on this equipment and whether it’ll have any buy-back value at the end of the year. I guess we could have brought something a bit cheaper and a little more stable but we went for the name brand here instead of really trying to find a good car to fit our needs. We ended up by buying a used BMW whose Kelly Blue Book value was way higher than what she was actually deemed to be worth by anybody other than the Kelly Blue Book people. They say BMW’s have long lives, obviously your mileage may vary so all we can do is hope that it works out.

There was a play in the second half which showed what the team’s continuity level is. Jose Calderon drove the ball across the paint and right underneath the rim expecting Bargnani – who had set the screen for him – to cut to the basket to receive the pass. Bargnani never cut and Jose ended up with a turnover and setup a picture perfect fast break for the Nuggets. Two players that are just not on the same page. Will Solomon was rested due to hamstring issues so Roko Ukic got the nod as the backup PG and showed us how raw he really is. Ukic’s ball handling needs to be a lot better before he can execute the passes that his mind wants him to make. Half the time he’s trying to protect the ball rather than make a play with it; his dribble isn’t nearly as tight as it should be and you can tell that he wants to attack the rim and create but doesn’t yet have the tools to do it. Ukic didn’t make many mistakes on the court, he dished out five assists and went 4-9 FG in a game where he was under constant pressure. Not a bad performance from the Croatian who is showing that with some experience he can be an effective member of this team.

Is there anything funnier than Jamario Moon trying to sell a head-fake? Yes, there is. It’s Jamario Moon trying to sell a pump-fake. His misery continued with another 0fer as he went 0-4 and got thunderously dunked on by Nene at the end of the second half. Again, I point out to two plays that tells you all about Jamario Moon’s state of mind. After O’Neal kicks out the ball and Denver’s rotating on the perimeter the ball comes to Moon who launches a 18 footer when two extra passes would’ve resulted in an open Calderon three. Granted, he’s wide open but that doesn’t mean you take the shot. So that’s #1. Then he managed to get an offensive rebound and instead of going up strong with it, he tried to use the highest part of the glass to avoid being blocked. Naturally he misses the layup. Contrast this with what Ruben Patterson or Dahntay Jones did last night and you’ll see the difference in aggression between the players. Denver is full of slashers and we don’t have a single one; the two guys that actually might be able to do that (Moon and Graham) are just not willing to do it. Afterward Mitchell was critical of Moon’s play (again):

“The Jamario of last year isn’t good enough for this year..if you’re not going to apply (what’s being taught), we’ll get people who will. But it’s coming for him. But it’s coming for him.”

Moon then chimed in with another unintelligent comment about how its just the preseason and how his problems will disappear come opening night. At least he’s admitting he’s playing the kind of basketball which is unworthy of a starting NBA small forward:

“I feel like I’ve had one of the worst pre-seasons that anyone could have, but that’s why they call it pre-season. I was just working on what coach wanted me to work on, drive to the basket. But I’ve got to step up now. The season’s ready to start.”

One of the painful things about this game was watching Jason Kapono struggle like a fish out of water. He’s unable to get his shot off because there’s no reason for his man to leave him open. It sounds ultra-simple but its true. Why would you leave Jason Kapono open if you don’t have to? The way Kapono can get his threes off is if someone is doubled and the rotation gets to his man. If we’re not consistently posting up Bosh or O’Neal, Kapono’s success rate falls instantly. We can’t expect Kapono to get his shot attempts off the high pick ‘n roll because that’s basically a two-man game the way the Raptors run it. Defensively he got exploited on every opportunity and worst of all the help of the second unit was brutal making for great interior Denver passing followed by Sportscenter material.

Bargnani’s late spurt resulting in 19 points might’ve saved the bench’s face but let it not be lost that they were outplayed throughout the game. Aside from Roko Ukic creating off the bounce or forcing the issue and Bargnani knocking some one-on-one shots down, they looked horrible on both ends of the floor. If we’re expecting this lot to sustain us during those crucial late third quarter and early fourth quarter periods we might be in trouble. Defensively they’re shot. Denver guards were able to split our pick ‘n roll traps every single time which led to easy points in the paint as Kris Humphries, Andrea Bargnani and Joey Graham looked at each other quizzically. You should’ve seen the way Hassan Adams tried to close-out JR Smith on this one three – it was f*****g weak!

Generally speaking our defensive effort was not good. We fell for way too many simple head-fakes (Moon, Graham, Bargnani and Bosh all guilty) which opened up things for Denver. We were -6 on the boards and were in shambles anytime Denver made more than two passes. Again, the second unit is far more guilty of this than the starters but you’re only as strong as your weakest link.

The preseason is over and I feel like we hardly learned much from it. Nobody’s taken ownership of the starting SF spot, who the backup PG will be is anybody’s guess and there’s no sign of the Raptors coming close to becoming a cohesive unit by October 29th. We have one-a-day practices for the time leading up to the season opener and we have a lot of work to do.

I feel bad for the fans who came out last night in Edmonton. They were trying to cheer on the Raptors all evening long and even had Ole, Ole going at one point. Instead they saw Nene crush Jamario Moon and Denver manhandle the Raptors. Oh well, better than staying at home.

That’s it for today.

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40 Responses to “Aggressive Denver too much for sloppy Raptors”

  1. eastcoast said

    It was a rough night. Andrea had one of the “ugliest” good games I ever saw. Rebounding wise he was strong out of the gate, grabbing an offensive board from the jump, but there were times when he reminded us how tough his transition to the inside was last year. I hope he finds his comfort level and starts to look to passing more and being more of a creater for others. All in all I was hoping to see a regular rotation in the last preseason game, as had been talked about, but with JO out it wasn’t going to fully happen anyway.

    I still think we should have spent less time on a 5 man second unit we hopefully won’t have to see together very often, and more time working on our reg season strategies. I hope that’s what they’ve been doing in practice and over the next few days. I hope.

    On Sam, I get the feeling Sam is too reliant on the other team’s coach to make his decisions. I find him to eager shift the burden of the decision to the other coach. You see this with match ups, too. It’s the idea that “we’re not going to play our starters down the stretch if they don’t” even if we wanted to in our last preseason game because it would have been good for us. But I bet if Karl played his starters we would. I also bet if we played our starters Karl would stick with what he wanted to do anyway. One of the two coaches is driving that ship, and it’s not Sam.

  2. khandor said

    Since the Jermaine O’Neal trade was first consumated, and no other major acquisitions made by the Raptors during the summer signing period, it has been apparent to the keen observer that this year’s version of the Dinos is going to struggle mightily against the authentic high-end teams in the NBA. What SHOULD be alarming to others now, is just how much this group is going to struggle this season versus the other middling teams in the NBA, as well, that are in a similar boat to the good ship Raptor but, each of which improved their roster substantially heading into this new campaign.

    As is, the Raptors are over the Salary Cap and only $1,100 [or so] below the Luxury Tax Threshold … which their GM/President has stated they have no intention of exceeding this year … with a bare-bones roster of 14 players still with the team, several of whom have little to no experience in the NBA.

    Unlike other middling teams, however, the Raptors do not have only 1 key player who they can absolutely not afford to lose through injury, they have 3 of them, i.e. Chris Bosh [franchise player], Jose Calderon [only legit PG] & Jermaine O’Neal [$21 mil/yr], each of whom has, in fact, missed time over the last 2 seasons due to injury.

    There are worse things in the NBA than being a league-wide laughingstock for a few years, but with the pieces it takes to re-build your franchise down-the-road, as a legitimate contender for an NBA title with a comprehensive plan of attack extending over a number of years.

    Instead … you could be a team that has made consecutive playoff appearances, been eliminated both times in the 1st Round, and now has a limited number of highly marketable assets on its roster … but, which is Over the Salary Cap already and just shy of the Luxury Tax Threshold with no intention of exceeding it, this season or down-the-road, that is in serious danger of slipping into Treadmill Territory, fast, in comparison with the other Top Flight & Middling outfits in the NBA.

    Yes-sir-ree, Bob … it is going to be an interesting season ahead in Raptorville.

    As was said in this space several months ago … Keep your eyes firmly fixed on the first 6 or 7 games of the regular season schedule and then the key stretch of games at the beginning of December, because there are going to be a lot of 2nd [and 3rd] tier teams in the NBA this season and there’s a date in the middle of that month where at least 1 or 2 of those, with designs on challenging for a top four playoff spot this season [however false that might have been to begin with] are going to think long and hard about replacing their head coach and taking their team in a different direction altogether.

    As always …

    “The Proof of the pudding is in the eating.”Anonymous

  3. AltRaps said

    “Generally speaking our defensive effort was not good.”

    Generally speaking the economy is in a bit of a state of flux.
    Generally speaking I like grilled cheese.
    Generally speaking Jessica Alba would never sleep with me.

    Commonality in the above: all gargantuan understatements.

  4. Arsenalist said

    I thought the first unit played okay defense…not terrible. It’s the second unit which couldn’t move two steps laterally without looking like gummy bears.

  5. Sam said

    Even my normally tribal honking fan nature (or whatever you savants are calling it these days) took a beating watching bits and pieces of this game. I have no idea how this team will be playing 20 games into the season and have a hunch that it won’t be until next year that the JO trade has a chance to push the team forward.

  6. khandor said

    Arsenalist,

    ——————-
    re: I thought the first unit played okay defense…not terrible.
    ——————-

    Yes … against a Denver team that was playing without Iverson, K-Mart, Kleiza and Carter-A, i.e. 4 of their starter calibre players.

    Thus far, the pre-season W’s have come against:

    Cleveland … when Lebron played 9 minutes
    New York … nuff said
    CSKA Moscow … no comment required
    LA Clippers … when playing without Baron Davis, Marcus Camby and Tim Thomas

    while the L’s have come against:

    Philadelphia … at the ACC
    Minnesota … at the ACC
    LA Lakers … out-classed on the road
    Denver … see the facts above

    These just haven’t been run-of-the-mill L’s that a team with only 10 legit NBA players on its roster should be blowing off completely, as mere pre-season fodder for the grist mill.

    IMO, those who choose to simply ‘look the other way’, right now, will have no right to sympathy/empathy down-the-road, from this corner … should things shift from bad to worse, at a later point this season.

    Fore-warned is fore-armed.

  7. Arsenalist said

    You’re absolutely right…we’ve once again shown that we can beat the weaker teams and consistently lose to the better ones. It’s a trend replicated from last year.

    I’m trying to look at the silver lining here and say that we’ve also held back by not playing our starters for when it matters. I think the disappointing preseason speaks more for our bench than our starters since they’ve shown little ability to stay with any second unit they’ve played against.

  8. khandor said

    Arsenalist,

    ——————-
    re: I’m trying to look at the silver lining here and say that we’ve also held back by not playing our starters for when it matters.
    ——————-

    Except for the fact that … in each of the L’s, thus far … the Opponent’s key players have actually played even fewer minutes than the Raptors’ perceived to be main guys.

    Any way you want to slice it … this team, right now, is in pretty rough shape heading toward their opening night game @ Philadelphia.

    Further Food For Thought

  9. Chutney said

    That was a pretty awesome metaphor.

    I’m really wondering if Sam dismissive attitude towards the preseason has trickled on down to the players. You notice the casual nonchalance in player’s comments about their performance, but no one seems to realize that this preseason should’ve been more about getting the team ready rather than individual players. I’ve only seen marginal improvement in our team from the first game to last night. We really needed to build some chemistry before the regular season kicked off and find an identity, and the lackadaisical approach to preseason kind of prevented us from doing that. It looks like this will be another season where the first 2-3 weeks will be spent fiddling with the rotation and figuring out what works.

  10. fluxland said

    YIPPY!!! That cunt TJ is gone.. we got JO, baby!! Twin towers… number 2 in the East. CONTENDERS!!! NBA Finals here we come!!!

    Mateen is back in the L? Who knew! I love that guy!

  11. khandor said

    Flux,

    Best be careful … some of the neophytes round these parts, or the Jonestown residents, might not be able to ‘catch’ your intended sarcasm. :-)

    ——————

    re: Mateen

    Don’t think he actually attempted a jump shot all game, and still managed to acquit himself adequately.

    Hope he can stick with the Nuggets [or, at least, some other NBA team], as he’s one of the really good character guys in pro hoops.

  12. FAQ said

    Is this a NBA-quality team, with the addition of 5 new non-NBA quality players? Do the Raptors have a ‘bench’? Is this the “Toronto Raptor Leafs”???

  13. Tim said

    “re: Mateen

    Hope he can stick with the Nuggets [or, at least, some other NBA team], as he’s one of the really good character guys in pro hoops.”

    I didn’t know the Chuckster comments on this board.

    Kidding.

    As no one seems to be stepping up at the three spot, how long before Kapono is thrown in there in the hopes that playing with the starters gives him some open shots and some help on defense?

    Sorely disappointed with Moon. Six months off and he hasn’t managed to find ways to hit the open jumpers? Isn’t hitting open jumpers simply a matter of practice, practice, practice?

  14. fluxland said

    Khandor,

    Well I wouldn’t want to be accused of not being a “true” fan.. so no sarcasm there. Like, none… at all! Riiiight.

    I love that interior presence and defense we have displayed during the pre season. Clearly all issues have been addressed. I mean, we are outrebounding teams are a ridiculous rate (8 games, won battle 3 times, once by 1) and teams simply haven’t figured out how to penetrate our interior, which is been described as the Berlin wall. JO is a shot blocking machine. I think Arse meant amortization not depreciation on this “asset”.
    And our offense, I mean c’mon.. “our offense has never been a problem, we just have to get some stops” What problem? We’re making it rain. 4th q execution? We are serial killers…redefining the term CLUTCH in every sense of the word.
    —-
    Yeah, hoping Mateen can stick with someone, as well.

  15. Dan H said

    re: Khandor: “Except for the fact that … in each of the L’s, thus far … the Opponent’s key players have actually played even fewer minutes than the Raptors’ perceived to be main guys.”

    I think the point is, yes we’ve seen that the bench is much weaker than others – but we have yet to be able to make a crunch time comparison between the Raps starters and other teams’ starters. It’s not that we have seen good things, it’s that we haven’t seen much at all.

  16. khandor said

    Tim,

    ——————
    re: Isn’t hitting open jumpers simply a matter of practice, practice, practice?
    ——————

    If it was simply a matter of just THAT … there would a lot more people playing in the NBA today stemming from the ranks of the commentators in the blogosphere. :-)

    Unfortunately, what goes into becoming a good shooter, at the NBA level, involves a lot more than THAT.

  17. khandor said

    Dan H,

    ——————-
    re: but we have yet to be able to make a crunch time comparison between the Raps starters and other teams’ starters. It’s not that we have seen good things, it’s that we haven’t seen much at all.
    ——————-

    If the Raptors starters have been holding their own vs high-end opponent’s back-ups [for the most part] … it’s a fallacy to think/assume? that Toronto’s main guys will be able to achieve any better results vs those team’s Primetime Players, once the bright lights come on for real next week.

    The KOOL-AID being distributed, so far, from the Raptors’ organization, in this regard, is simply first-grade stuff.

  18. fluxland said

    Tim, are you kidding me?? They can’t perform vs scurbs and you want to see vs starters to get a “real” sense of what’s going on? I’m gonna need an explanation behind this logic.

  19. Sam said

    Fluxland is right. You (whoever you are) are wrong. Unless, of course, you agree with fluxland.

  20. fluxland said

    Err.. I meant Dan H. And yeah.. what Khandor said. But Dan is right.. we haven’t seen much of anything.. in a sense of basketball team. This team would have a hard time in the WNBA and NBDL.

    Sam last night looked more worried about how he’s going to keep his job then anything else. I bet he was looking at current openings, of any kind, in the NBA, at halftime. Love how he shoos away Kris.

  21. fluxland said

    Sam.. i am glad you see things for what they are. Now, go ahead and get that #19 comment tattooed on your hands (near the knuckles) and look at it every time you place them on the keyboard before you think about typing something.

    Anyone who refuses to see things ala Sam aka. homertillIdie is not a “true” fan and should find another team to “root” for. Apparently, there are plenty in the NBA.

  22. Johnn19 said

    Raptor’s Pre-Season lessons:

    1-Don’t play Ukic or Solomon along with Kapono, Adams, Humphries, and Bargnani all at the same time,( except garbage time)happened in the 4th qtr of every game but with CSKA, where the starters played 3rd/4th because Sam wanted to win.

    2-Don’t play Ukic or Solomon for more than 5/6 minutes at a time, with starter/subs combinations.

    3-Bosh and O’Neal playing together can be,and will be effective on both defense and offense. Bosh in game shape, O’Neal not quite yet.

    4-Bargnani as 6th man will be a success .475FG%,.500%3FG%,4.9RPG,14.7PPG

    5-Winning the games was secondary to giving PT to the PG’s and 2nd unit guys and exposure to NBA game situations, to expose areas for training.

    6-Adams, Jawai, Moon, Graham, still big questions ???? SF appears to be the weak link right now that Colangelo should be concentrating on.

    Positives:

    1-Kapono 3FG% .517 on 15/29 or 3.6gm or 297 for 82gms. Last yr 118 for yr
    he should be making at least 4 gm.
    2-O’Neal 10 blks 8gms, Bargnani 9 blks 7 gms.
    3-Bosh .519FG%, Humphries .500FG%, Ukic .500FG%(26fga)

  23. khandor said

    Those who are familiar with what I write on-line, already know that I value specificity above most other things, when it comes to understanding how the NBA actually works.

    ——————-
    re: 3-Bosh and O’Neal playing together can be,and will be effective on both defense and offense. Bosh in game shape, O’Neal not quite yet.

    4-Bargnani as 6th man will be a success .475FG%,.500%3FG%,4.9RPG,14.7PPG
    ——————-

    If you breakdown the Raptors 8 pre-season games further … you should now be able to see that #3 and #4 [above] might turn out to be mutually exclusive observations during the upcoming season … which is NOT how it was originally intended to be, according to the architect of this team, when the trade for Jermaine O’Neal was consumated this summer.

    There was supposed to be a solid three-Bigs rotation which would see any two of Bosh, O’Neal & Bargnani on the floor together [with the other on the bench], at a given point in time, working in concert with one another.

    Thus far, however … when Bargnani puts up solid numbers it is coming only at the expense of sub-par production from both Bosh & O’Neal.

    ——————-

    Keep your eye on this as the first phase of the regular season develops.

  24. Dave said

    I only saw the first half … but it looks like the Raptors are going to struggle against running teams this season.

  25. PapiJulio said

    Besides Moon I don’t mind the line-up. With Bosh, O’Neal, Calderon and a SF (that’s a threat) I don’t mind Parker starting. I could live with that Starting Lineup as a Fan and be ‘Happier than Flies on Shit!’. People don’t want Parker to start but he is always ‘Busting a Nut’ on defense. When the team plays well Parker is at his best Offense. Parker just can’t carry the team…. Ever! If Parker stopped getting caught Double Teaming, his sisters’ friends errrr…. I mean the ball people probably wouldn’t be so harsh on his defense. I’m not a fan looking for a Championship, I just want to cheer for my team instead of thinking I could make better decisions that the people in charge of the Raptors.

    Starting Lineup
    Calderon, Parker, NEW SF, Bosh, O’Neil
    Bench
    Ukic, NEW SG, Moon/Kapono, Humphries, Bargs

    Hmmm…. I tried to put a lineup together….

    Since Moon can’t shoot good enough to play SG you have to move him to SF because of his slashing and height, but he’s too slim/scared to mix it up in the lane so defenders give Moon room to shoot and close out the lane making Moon a predictable ‘Shitty Shooter’. So, you insert Graham off the bench at SF. Graham can at least make-up for his lack of offense with brute size and muscle guys around and play OK defense & OK offense… ‘no plays’ just be a ‘Garbage Man’ with Humphries. BUT… what about Kapono??? He’s no SG!! His lateral quickness is too slow to defend other SG. But he’s great off the Pick&Pop and lay-ups, and floating jump shots and has the height to play SF.

    Why not use Kapono/Moon off the bench at SF?? If Moon doesn’t want to be the 3rd option off the bench then we have to trade him. I’m in business. Business is nothing personal. I think both Moon & Graham could make 2-3 Million somewhere in the NBA.

    Hassen Adams is a big question mark too… I don’t have a opinion yet but what I seem isn’t exciting. We need a low cost SG with defense. We’ll have enough scoring off bench with Kapono , Bargnani and Ukic slashing and dishing.

    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!FIND A SF NOW BC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Plus there has to be a low cost SG with only defense… somewhere… Mats Sundin isn’t playing…. I’ll take a Large Pylon between the Ball & Net at this point…

    Trade Bait- Jamario Moon, Joey Graham, Willie Solomon, Jamal Sampson, Nathan Jawai, Hassan Adams

    … No wonder the fish aren’t bitting…….

  26. Hotshot said

    I would go a step farther and say that being so thin, the Raptors cannot effort even injuries to two other players (other then their big 3): Anthony Parker and Andrea Bargnani.

    Anybody else being injured doesn’t really impact the roster as a whole because everybody else are too inconsistent to impact the team meaningfully on a week to week basis. Its anyone’s guess who else is going to have a good game and who is not. Most of the time the rest of the bunch would not.

    I really liked Doug Smith analysis today of how the minutes should be spread:
    ———————————————————–
    “What if there is no “second unit” most nights?

    I’ve been saying since before the season began that I think an eight- or nine-man rotation is the way to go, never 10 on a consistent basis and certainly not 11 or 12.

    So, how?

    Well, how’s this (and these are night when no starter gets two fouls in the first six minutes or so and everyone’s healthy):

    Usual starters, which I think should be Calderon, Parker, Graham, Bosh and O’Neal.

    After about 7-8 minutes, replace O’Neal with Bargnani. After about two or three minutes of the second quarter, replace Bosh with O’Neal. With about four or five minutes to go in the second quarter, put Bosh back in for Bargnani.

    Total time: O’Neal gets about 17, 18 minutes, Bosh gets about 17, 18 minutes and Bargnani gets about 11.

    Jose plays the entire first quarter and Solomon, or Ukic, starts the second and plays about four minutes and then Calderon comes back.

    The wings? Same sort of rotation, only shorter runs for everyone. If Graham starts, take him out after about six minutes, go to Moon for as long as you like, maybe nine or 10 minutes, and then go back to Joey. Or, if Moon starts, simply switch it around.

    And I can see Parker and Kapono splitting minutes almost evenly, with whoever’s having the better night finishing.

    Now, that leaves Hump out of the rotation and I don’t really have a problem with that. Figure he’ll get some minutes some nights when one of the three bigs gets two quick fouls and maybe a hungry Hump will be more active trying to earn minutes because right now he’s not really doing anything to help him earn playing time.

    And, frankly, if Moon’s play doesn’t pick up, I’d have no problem cutting his minutes way back and if they need to fill a few minutes a game, go with Hassan Adams. He’s not as athletic, that’s for sure, but his work ethic’s pretty good.”
    ———————————————————–
    I highly doubt Mitchell will even use anything similer to the above suggestion. Smitch always gives more minutes to his favourites and he often sends guys out based on his gut feeling (always panicking when guys get early fouls, just once I want to see someone foul out!). As well as last season he liked to change rotations of the guys “Based on matchups”, which clearly showed what a poor team we were when our team has to adjust their lineups for every opponant differently while no opponant’s adjusting their lineups to face the Raptors.

  27. khandor said

    Dave,

    Which of the best teams in the NBA might you characterize as non-running teams? [if any]

    1 Celtics
    2 Lakers
    3 Hornets
    4 Pistons
    5 Rockets
    6 Suns
    7 Spurs
    8 Jazz
    9 Magic
    10 Trail Blazers
    11 Cavaliers
    12 76ers
    13 Mavericks
    14 Nuggets
    15 Hawks
    16 Wizards
    17 Clippers
    18 Bulls
    19 Pacers
    20 Heat
    21 Warriors
    22 Kings
    23 Bobcats
    24 Nets
    25 Bucks
    26 Timberwolves
    27 Knicks
    28 Grizzlies
    29 Thunder

  28. khandor said

    Hotshot,

    In what place do you think the rotation suggested by Doug Smith [and endorsed by you] will finish this season in the Atlantic Division? in the Eastern Conference? in the NBA Power Rankings, on the whole?

  29. Dave said

    No top teams in the East are running teams …. that’s the important point. Toronto don’t need to be able to overwhelm running teams because they won’t be meeting them in the playoffs.

    A point of comparison – Cleveland suffer the same affliction, struggle against running teams, but it doesn’t effect their playoff chances in the East one iota. It does however effect their regular season record.

    The running teams that Toronto will struggle with are mostly middle (Denver, Indiana, GSW) of the pack teams and some Western squads.

  30. khandor said

    Dave,

    Do you happen to know what the Cavs’ W-L record has been each of the last 2 seasons versus the top teams from the WC?

    I could be mistaken … as I haven’t bothered to do the research on this, yet … but, I seem to recall that it’s been fairly good, in fact … in sharp contrast to the Raptors.

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

    Personally, I see this year’s Raptors team having its hands’ full with each of the other squads in the EC … regardless of their style of play.

  31. Dave said

    Khandor,

    No, I don’t know the Cavs record against the West.

    The issue (specifically how they fare against running teams) is how they’ve done against teams like Denver who they’ve struggled with as badly as Toronto over the past few years. Also Phoenix and Golden State.

    Just a second …. I checked what the Cavs’ overall record was against the West vs East, and it’s comparable.

  32. Hotshot said

    Khandor

    The question is “IF THE TEAM CAN STAY RELATIVELY HEALTHY” then I predict:

    – Raptors will finish 5th in the Atlantic division
    – Raptors will finish 3rd in the Eastern Conference
    – Power Ranking – 14th overall.

    But that is if the team stays relatively healthy. If not then they could easily miss the playoffs all together since they are not that far off better then teams who are right behind them in the Atlantic division.

  33. Johnn19 said

    Re Raptors staying “healthy”, what will happen to Philadelphia if Brand and Iguodala go down, or Boston if Pierce and Garnett go down, or LA if Kobe and Gasol go down ???
    Staying healthy applies to every teams fortunes, be it the NBA, MLB, NHL, etc., if their stars are lost for extended games.
    Raptors are at no more risk than anyone else. Colangelo has stated that in such a case he would be prepared to go over the tax level to react to significant injurys, and or make trades, to react to the tax level.

  34. Hotshot said

    —————————————————–
    re:Raptors are at no more risk than anyone else.
    —————————————————–

    I have to disagree, there are two ways to look at it:

    1) Injury history. Brand had been injury free for 3 years prior to ruptured left Achilles’ tendon which was in game injury and wasn’t chronic (meaning long term). Iggy only missed 6 games in the past 4 years he has been in the league(and that was in a single season so he is like an iron man). JO on the other hand has been chornically injured for the past 4 seasons and Bosh has missed at least 12 games every season for the past 3 seasons.

    2) Once a player gets injured, how well can the rest of the team compensate his MIA?! Now you can’t compare Toronto situation to that of LA or Boston because they have alot of bodies in different position that would compensate for the loss. Any injuries to Bosh, JO and especially Calderon and we are looking at a major drop off of a performance of the entire team. The Raptors don’t have much depth to compensate for any of its Star injuries and the likelyhood of that occuring remains higher then other places.

  35. muhdik said

    sam isnt bright enought to get kapono looks.
    ap looks his age.
    jamario appears headed for the dreaded sophmore slump.
    hassan is ????? as we havent seen enough of him.
    jaws and the heart issue is far from resolved.
    hump played better with hair,without hair he’s reverted to kevin willis styles.
    roko looks confused.
    will looks like mike james minus the talent.
    jo with the tight back,possible injury concerns?
    our playbook is disturbingly predictable.

    these are all questions that will be answered in the first 15-20 games.
    btw,tj is a cunt,will forever be a lil cunt and thank god the lil napoleon ass bitch is gone.

  36. TauEpsilonNu said

    Ah Papi Papi thanks for expressing my thoughts better than I could except that I think Joey could fullfill the SF needs if given time/support.

  37. muhdik said

    lol….damn,i so forgot about that bum joey.wow,joey sure does leave an impression.

  38. Tim said

    Khandor,

    Actually, hitting wide open jumpers, like free throws, does for the most part come from practice. Mechanics play a strong part as well (use your legs, jump straight up, proper hand and arm placement, follow the ball) but I haven’t seen any really wonky mechanics on Moon.
    Nash and Calderon practiced alot and they improved dramatically in being able to hit the open jumper if their defender let them. Players like Kapono and the Barrys have made careers out of it, again by practicing alot.
    Again, I’m talking about wide open Js which is what Moon is given a lot of times, not creating your own shot, coming off screens, or running jumpers.
    Six months is a good amount of time to improve this aspect, which is what I hoped he’d have done as I didn’t think he could improve his ball handling ability enough in that time to help him become the slasher everybody wants him to be.

    And playing in the NBA is not simply a matter of hitting the open J, because if you could do that, the other teams won’t give it to you. You’ve got to be able to do a lot of other things as well. But I will submit that guys who have been able to hit the open J have managed to carve out fairly long careers as bench players. And no, I seriously doubt there are commenters out there who are putting up hundreds of shots a day while concentrating on keeping the same form every time.

  39. khandor said

    Tim,

    Steve Nash’s shot mechanics are unlike any other player’s in the NBA. When you’ve got a ‘motion’ like his, yes, indeed … then it’s a case of perfect practice, practice, practice, making for improved performance over a period of many, many years.

    Jamario Moon’s shot mechanics are nothing like Steve Nash’s [i.e. his wrist, elbow and shooting shoulder are all in perfect alignment everytime he shoots the ball, whether on his jumpshot or his Free Throws].

    Practice alone will not turn Jamario Moon into a much better perimeter jump-shooter than he is today … although he is actually much better at doing this than most Raptors fans realize, based on his performance to-date.

    A top notch basketball coach who knows how to teach shooting & how to correct existing flaws in a player’s idiosyncratic stroke would be able to help JM immensely, in a relatively short period of time. In his case, it’s a matter of technique, his current position, sports psych, and the proper motivation.

  40. muhdik said

    sam will teach jamario…………………..lol.

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