The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

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Hollinger be talking; Kapono be thinking; Sampson be signing; Manatee be resting

Posted by Arsenalist on October 1, 2008

The name’s Sampson. Jamal Sampson. The initial reaction to this signing was much like the ones of Hassan Adams and Willie Solomon: Who? Once you get past the disappointment of signing somebody on the fringe of the association the normal next step is to wonder what he can do for us. At the worst it’s a move that will replace Maceo Baston, at best he might turn into a Loren Wood or Jelani McCoy. The numbers aren’t flattering and he’s bounced around (the Raptors are his 7th team) but who knows, with some playing time he might be able to show us a little something something. All the best to Sampson, I mean that, hopefully he puts up a fight in training camp and gives Humphries a run for his money.

If you really want to read between the lines you could say the Sampson signing is insurance for Nathan Jawai. The Raptors are taking every precaution with The Manatee’s heart condition. The question that comes to mind is whether we did a proper physical before we drafted him. He missed most of summer league and couldn’t get past media day, not being crude here but isn’t it too soon to be seeing specialists? This one’s got early retirement written all over it. All the best to him too, he seems like good people. I really wanted to see how he reacts when he’s put in the game to defend Dwight Howard, I’m taking he’s seen nothing like the sort before. NBA initiation, it’s the best.

Hollinger’s Raptors preview is out and he’s predicting a 47-35 record (tied with best ever) which would be good for third in the Atlantic and fifth in the East. To sum it up he’s saying that our interior defense is our biggest strength and the lack of depth in the backcourt our biggest weakness. Hollinger’s a closet Raptors fan who wants us to trade for a more experienced reserve. Well, we all do but since we refuse to pay the luxury tax and have a plethora of small and unproven contracts, we can’t make a move. So we better learn to live with what we’ve got. In summing up last season he brings up 1 good and 1 bad point. The good: We were better than our record last year and should’ve piled up more wins but the TJ Ford saga and Bargnani’s regression while playing heavy minutes cost us wins. The bad: He once again brings up his stupid, retarded and nonsensical point differential argument and uses it to argue point #1. There are many things wrong with giving any sort of weight to point-differential without considering records against +.500 teams. After all beating a good team by 1 point is much more indicative of a team than blowing out a sorry opponent by 20.

Dave Feschuk is back and his initial offering is weaker than an Arsenalist 3AM post. And that’s weak. The subject of the matter is Jason Kapono and how he was two players last season: a good one and a crappy one. Says Kapono about his inconsistent playing time and performance:

“Partly the blame’s on me, I’ve got to perform in the short time that I do get, and then extend my minutes. Hopefully now I have earned somewhat of a chance to kind of work through an oh-for-2 or oh-for-3 start (from the field).”

“Partly”. Let me finish of his thought for you: Sam Mitchell didn’t know how to use me and I was just trying to get mine in an offense that is based on freestyling. I’m a shooter and you can’t yank me after I miss my first two shots – see, I’m not Bargnani or Humphries. And so I didn’t play great defense last year, well, who did? Cut me some slack here, this time I don’t have Delfino to compete with and I’m damn sure that Adams and Solomon aren’t taking any PT away from The Kap. As long as I get some consistent playing time and have some idea of when I come in to the game I’ll put up some numbers. Running a play for me would help too, I can’t do this on my own. I tried last year and you should give me credit for that instead of talking about my 4 3’s all spring. You know?

There’s an article about Will Solomon in the Sun. It’s about how he left a couple million dollars on the table and went to Europe instead thinking there was more money there. Fast-forward six years and its no longer about the money but the pride of playing in the NBA. I don’t know, something tells me if he had gotten Delfino-money in Europe he’d manage to suffocate that pride for a few more years. Again, good luck to Solomon. He’s also good people. Plus he seems like a motivated guy who could play hard for a new contract. Always good to have those unless they start jacking up shots to pad stats (see Voshon Lenard).

Finally, Matt Devlin’s thinking that Jermaine O’Neal is looking “lean and strong” and by O’Neal’s own admission he’s never worked out this hard in the summer in quite some time. Andrea Bargnani was working on his back-to-the-basket moves at Tim Grgurich’s Big Man’s Camp and Sam Mitchell wants him to play “18-feet and in”. That sounds good on paper but Bargnani’s mid-range jumper had back-rim written all over it last season and he was far more comfortable shooting the 3, a lot like Bruce Bowen. Don’t know how that’s going to work but I’m all for moving Bargnani closer to the basket.

That’s it for this morning. Eid Mubarak!

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 19 Comments »

Raptors second best in the East?

Posted by Arsenalist on August 6, 2008

The title of this post is an example of how you can put a question mark is front of even the most ridiculous statements and give them a serious air. To get to the point we now know that Jamario Moon’s using his new found money to buy the finest cocaine in the land. That’s the only way I can explain him annointing the Raptors as the second best team in the East. I love the confidence because it’s a prerequisite to being great but expectations need to be kept in check. I’d prefer it Moon started saying things like, “We want to prove the cynics wrong” rather than “After Boston, its us”. The latter has a work-ethic theme attached to it that both Moon and the Raptors need to adopt if they want to even come close to the former statement.

Matt Devlin reports from Beijing about the makeup of the Olympics and how Team USA will kill everybody. He drops an interesting fact about the Olympics: There are 29 current NBA players participating at the Beijing Games along with 17 former NBA players and eight international players whose rights are held by an NBA team. Compare this to only 12 years ago where there use to maybe two or three non-US players in the tournament and you get an idea of how basketball has grown. There’s a Fox Sports article that tries to find things to warn Team USA about but its reaching when making every point.

On a side note, I hate the Olympics. I hate everything about it, I hate the torch, I hate the IOC, I hate the corruption of the people running it, I hate the false sense of ‘sportsmanship’ and ‘unity’ that it insists upon itself and last but not least, I hate 80% of the sports in it. Sorry, but I’d rather watch more summer league than watch a Canadian ‘realize his dream’ when finishing 7th in the swimming pool. The whole amateur thing has run its course; the mixing of professionals like NBA players and athletes who have part-time jobs is getting to be a bit much and sends a lot of mixed messages about the spirit and nature of this competition. What does Olympic Gold mean anymore? Does it mean that you’re the best at what you do? In most cases, no. So why the hell should I care? The only reason people even care about this event is that they’re told to do so by the overwhelming hype created by the marketing machine that is the media.

The NBA schedule will come out any second now (New Years Eve vs. Nuggets) and here’s hoping for an easy November. Nothing can be more deflating than ending the first month with a record like 4-10. The only thing that’s going to do is get Sam Mitchell closer to being fired which of course isn’t exactly undesirable to many. Regardless of how we start the season Mitchell should be given at least till the end of December to prove whether he can handle the new look Raptors. After all this is the East and even though teams have gotten better there’s no reason to believe a team can’t absolutely suck for the first half of the season and make a run to grab a playoff spot, so bad start will not equal impending doom. Update: Here it is.

In yesterday’s post I said the NBA need not worry when petty free agents sign in Europe and should only be concerned if the stars start moving aboard. Well, today Lebron apparently said that he’ll be down with Europe if it gets him a salary of $50 million/year. If that actually does happen I wouldn’t be shocked to see the NBA personally offer Lebron $100 million to stay, it would be a matter of saving face. Meanwhile the exodus to Europe continues and this time its one of the stalwarts of the league, Earl Boykins, leaving us to join Virtus Bologna on a 1yr/3.5M deal which will make him the highest paid player in Italy next year.

That’s about that for this morning. This is going to be the last Raptors post till August 25th. I’m going home for two weeks. Thanks for reading the blog and posting comments, it is greatly appreciated. I’ve asked eastcoastrapsfan to fill in when he can, he might write a post later on where he’ll talk about what it means to be a Raptors fan who is getting up there in age.


Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , | 8 Comments »

Rod Benson talks about summer camp

Posted by Arsenalist on July 22, 2008

Uber NBDL blogger Rod Benson talks about his summer camp with the Raptors including how Sam Mitchell doesn’t accept anything less than defensive perfection (insert a big f*****g joke here). I sat through watching this team fail to close-out and rotate the entire freaking year, I’ll attribute this slip of Benson to not getting any PT:

The first practice was all about instruction. Head coach Sam Mitchell made it very clear to all of us that our focus would be defense, so I was making every effort to be in the right spot and to talk. Only an idiot would do otherwise, I thought. Still, despite my best efforts, I couldn’t escape the ridicule that seemed to catch up with everyone who failed to employ the correct defensive tactics. If there was one thing I learned from coach Sam during that first two hours, it was that he doesn’t accept anything less than perfection.

Beijing’s getting closer and the reason I’m picking the Americans to win isn’t because that they’re a much better team than any other country but simply because they have Lebron James. An experienced Lebron James. In tournaments past they’ve lacked that one go-to guy that could get them out of their doldrums when things weren’t going their way or when there was one too many defensive gaffes and offensive Larrybrowness. Safe to say that getting points will not be as hard as it’s been the last two tournaments given how Lebron’s learned to suck the defense and even give out contracts to people named Boobie.

Chris Bosh talks about the lack of size in the US frontcourt and how its not a concern since talent-for-talent they matchup against any team’s 4/5’s. Bosh is likely to play backup center to Dwight Howard which is a good thing. In the upcoming season he’s going to be asked to switch around and play the C more often since Bargnani and O’Neal’s natural position is the PF.

New Jersey made another nice acquisition: Keyon Dooling. A defensive-minded guard who can shoot and plays hard, much like Darrel Armstrong who he’s likely to replace. So far NJ’s acquired Eduardo Najera, Yi, Jarvis Hayes, CDR, Dooling and Brook Lopez. That’s a nice young core but aside from Vince I don’t see legit proven talent on that team. They almost seem to have too many role players at this point.

Juan Dixon wants to be a Raptor again apparently. Actually, Juan Dixon would like to play anywhere and would be more than happy if any team would take him.

Matt Devlin’s loving Toronto, he sounds like a very humble guy that’s got his head on straight. John Bitove’s in the news.

Off to work.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 14 Comments »

Bryan Colangelo should be more like David Morway

Posted by Arsenalist on July 14, 2008

Dead Season is in full swing. Our beloved Raptors are in Vegas where they’ll play the Nuggets tonight at 6PM. Nathan Jawai is expected to get some play in tonight’s game; he’s still recuperating from an injury he suffered while reaching for some popcorn that fell through a movie theater chair earlier in the year. He did manage to retrieve the popcorn but injured his groin in the process. Says Nathan:

In hindsight it was probably a bad idea to twist my body and stick my arm between folding chairs for two bits of popcorn and I probably should’ve let it go, especially since I weigh 395 pounds. I’ll continue to work hard at not spilling popcorn and I’m confident that I’ll overcome this affliction.

In reality the giant injured himself in pre-draft workouts.

A non-Raptor to keep your eye on during the game is Denver’s second round pick Sonny Weems who likens himself to a future DPOY. There’s something about the hunger of an out-of-contract rookie desperately trying to get into the NBA that’s very intriguing and Joey Graham’s about to find that out. Graham’s great game against Sacramento was a nice enough event but to think that its increasing his trade value to anything meaningful would be foolish. You can put up big numbers in the summer and it won’t mean a thing if you didn’t come to training camp without an area of your game being improved. If Joey wants to seriously contend for Moon’s spot he needs to sure up his mid-range game, increase his lateral quickness and up his basketball IQ to the level where he doesn’t look confused when the ball’s in his hands. It’s a tall order for Graham but if he can nail 2 out of 3, you never know.

As for tonight’s game I’m expecting to see something better from John Lucas and Daniel Ewing, they were both awful against Sacramento and will be looking to rebound. If Jaycee Carroll continues to hit running floaters and knock down jumpers for the second game in a row, I’ll be switching to him as my outside pick to make the team.

Interesting blog from Indiana GM David Morway who takes us inside the war room of the Indiana Pacers and tells us how the deals with Portland and Toronto went down. They were targeting Brandon Rush from the outset and had made the Roy Hibbert agreement with the Raptors well in advance. He also says that they aggressively tried to acquire another pick in the first round but nobody was giving it up. Firstly, I wish Bryan Colangelo would write a blog like this and give us fans an idea of what was going through his mind. Secondly, if the Pacers valued first round picks to a degree that they wanted three of them, why didn’t the Raptors care to have even one?

Everybody in Charlotte’s on the trade block including Gerald Wallace. If he had been our major off-season acquisition I would’ve had a real problem with it. He’s been putting up big numbers on a very bad team and hasn’t helped that team achieve anything. In the process he’s gotten rewarded with a big but relatively reasonable contract (~9M). He’s also had issues with injury as you can see by his game tally. Having said all that, I would welcome him on this team given the talent already present in the front court. Salary-wise, this trade would be almost impossible for us unless we managed to shed someone like Kapono, Bargnani or Parker in the process, something I feel the Raptors are very reluctant to do.

I wrote an email to Matt Devlin yesterday:


Welcome to Toronto.

Day 1 Raptors fan here. Looking forward to hearing you call the games. Raptors fans are one of the most passionate fans in all of sports, for many people its very hard to believe that given the incorrect “hockey crazed” label of this town. Most of us understand the game very well and can “see through” the commentary and media coverage around the Raptors. I guarantee that you’ll be a fan
favorite (even more so than Swirsky) as long as you simply call things the way you see them.

I really look forward to hearing you and Jack together.


Eric Gordon’s done for the summer league and there’s no chance Greg Oden suits up for it either. Canada’s playing Slovenia at 6AM tomorrow.

Later. Feed.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

TJ Ford ball hogs in the fourth to kill any chance the Raptors might’ve had

Posted by Arsenalist on March 4, 2008

Toronto Raptors 87, Orlando Magic 102

Rarely are there instances where you can definitively blame a loss on one player but last night the horrid stretch of play by TJ Ford in the fourth quarter undoubtedly killed any shot that the Raptors might have had. Missing Chris Bosh is a lot to overcome against Dwight Howard and the Magic, but the Raptors managed to do that by getting their big gun in foul trouble and making him an essential non-factor for the better part of the game. After surviving the first half thanks to Jose Calderon and Anthony Parker’s hot shooting and after a battling effort in the third quarter, we managed to stay in this one going into the fourth. That’s where Ford took over for the worse.

Now you can look at perennial non-factor and Harry Rosen mannequin Andrea Bargnani’s 2-11 FG and 6 points and surmise that perhaps if a better effort had been put out, the Raptors would’ve handled the Magic rather easily. But his performances have been so inconsistent and the excuses surrounding his play have been so many that we’ve all come to accept him being an inconsequential piece of the Raptors season. To expect anything positive out of him over more than a 1-game stretch is asking too much so let’s leave him on the side. The focus of my anger is Ford. Consider this stretch starting the fourth quarter:

11:27	T.J. Ford makes 14-foot jumper	70-73	 
11:11	Kris Humphries shooting foul (Dwight Howard draws the foul)	70-73	 
11:11	T.J. Ford defensive rebound	70-74	 
10:57	T.J. Ford makes 14-foot jumper	72-74	 
10:42	Jason Kapono defensive rebound	72-74	 
10:33	T.J. Ford bad pass	72-74	 
10:00	T.J. Ford misses 12-foot jumper	72-77	 
9:48	Jason Kapono shooting foul (Dwight Howard draws the foul)	72-77	 
9:36	T.J. Ford misses driving layup	72-78	 
9:15	Toronto full timeout
9:06	T.J. Ford misses 11-foot jumper	72-80	 
8:52	T.J. Ford bad pass (Rashard Lewis steals)	72-80	 
8:45	T.J. Ford makes layup	74-80	 
8:17	T.J. Ford bad pass (Dwight Howard steals)	74-80	 
7:54	T.J. Ford makes 26-foot three point jumper	77-83	 
7:16	T.J. Ford makes 18-foot jumper	79-85	 
6:58	Jamario Moon personal foul (Dwight Howard draws the foul)	79-85	 
6:28	T.J. Ford lost ball (Carlos Arroyo steals)	79-87	 
6:11	Toronto 20 Sec. timeout
5:58	T.J. Ford makes free throw 1 of 2	80-89	 
5:58	T.J. Ford makes free throw 2 of 2

Our starting point guard just tried to do a Michael Jordan impersonation and simply ball-hogged for the first 6:30 of the fourth quarter not allowing any Raptor to take a shot in that span. Sam Mitchell had nailed Calderon to the bench despite him having great success against Jameer Nelson and Carlos Arroyo on almost every possession. Instead of Calderon, Ford started the fourth quarter and practically shot the Raptors out of this game. A 5 point deficit was increased to 11 and to make matters worse 6:30 crucial minutes were shaved off the clock. Two questions: Why didn’t Calderon start the fourth? Why wasn’t TJ yanked after he obviously made the game about him and Carlos Arroyo by looking past his teammates? I’m not saying we would’ve won the game if Calderon had the reigns in the fourth, I’m saying we would’ve had a much better shot at it.

It’s hard to look past the Ford fiasco but let’s move on. Rasho Nesterovic had a very good game, nothing spectacular but he held his position against Howard, hit the glass and got some contested rebounds, he was unfortunate to get called for some fouls and had a couple non-calls go against his way on the other end. However, in the fourth quarter with the game hanging in the balance, Rasho was nowhere to be found guarding Howard who found himself covered by Andrea Bargnani. Howard proceeded to torch Bargnani for 6 straight points where the defense was so bad that even a Grade 8 coach would’ve had a meltdown. The number one rule of defense is to stay between your man and the the basket which Bargnani forgot twice, on the other play Howard eluded him quite easily on the baseline for a hook shot which should’ve been sealed off. That little stretch combined with Ford’s theatrics was the TSN turning point.

I need to give credit to Anthony Parker for playing with his heart on his sleeve, you can tell that this guy wants to win and is looking to compete. 19 points and a team-leading 9 rebounds is no joke for a 2-guard who along with Calderon were the two people who really showed up to play. You never know what you’re going to get on offense with Delfino, today he laid an egg doing 1-7 FG for 4 points but you can look past that because he did manage to snatch 9 rebounds. That’s more than you can say about our starting small forward who on any other team would’ve been benched for his lack of production. No offense to Moon but bad perimeter shooters who struggle to defend and rarely slash to the rim are dime a dozen in the D-League. Perhaps Colangelo should take another peek in the cesspool of D-League talent and see if he can find himself a hungry SF who’s willing to fight it out in the NBA and doesn’t get too comfortable just because the coach seems to have blind faith in him.

The Magic weren’t playing well and the Raptors were staying in the game by taking advantage of Orlando turnovers, cleaning the boards (47-41) and answering back every Orlando run with a few shots of their own. The failing perimeter defense failed again but not to the degree it did against Charlotte or Indiana, or maybe that only appears the case because the Magic only made 8 of their 23 threes. They did shoot 52% and Turkoglu and Lewis proved to be deadly from the perimeter and by going to the rim. Again, with no Bosh in there it’s super-easy for any semi-athletic swingman to drive the lane and take a shit on us. Our perimeter rotations have been poor for three years in a row and our interior rotations have been non-existent. The only reason it’s not glaringly evident more often is because Bosh hides a lot of our problems.

Why am I so pissed off? We weren’t expecting a win here anyway but as we always say, the way you lose matters more than the loss itself.

Miami tomorrow, winnable? Hmmm.


* Don’t tell Leo Rautins that Jason Kapono is struggling. He’s not having any of it, No sirree, Bob!. Kapono’s crafty see, he leans in for jumpers and goes 1-4 FG, that’s not struggling, that’s him being multi-dimensional. WTF Leo? We’re not idiots, we can see through your lame ass shit excuses which try to portray Kapono as a half-decent signing and try to ignore the obvious fact that he’s as useless as an appendix.

* Rashard Lewis was begging Sam Mitchell to put Jamario Moon on him so he could show rookie just exactly how you back someone into the post, create space and lay the ball in.

* Do we have any plays? I can’t seem to remember seeing one, everything is freestyling based on whatever pops in your mind. I know ripping on Sam about his X’s and O’s is getting old but the guy doesn’t have any X’s and O’s. Fuck, I’ll even settle for a strategy or a method or a gameplan, anything at this point. Dwight Howard getting in foul trouble was totally unplanned, it just so worked out that the guy picked a few fouls up helping our cause.

* Primoz Brezec gets into the game in the 1st quarter after being chained to the bench until the 3rd against Charlotte? Somebody please explain this to me, really, please explain this to me. How do these subs work? Based on gut feeling?

* Sam should’ve seen that TJ had made this game about himself and was being a detriment to this team and taken him out early in the fourth.

* We lose the season series 2-1, not that it matters. We’ll probably end up playing Orlando in the 3-6 matchup.

Posted in nba, Raptors | Tagged: , , , , , , | 17 Comments »

Worst game of the season. Killed by heavily depleted Pacers at home

Posted by Arsenalist on February 29, 2008

Indiana Pacers 122, Toronto Raptors 111

I want to puke. I just want to hurl and get this sick nauseating feeling out of my stomach. A home loss to the Pacers missing Jermaine O’Neal, Jamal Tinsley and Danny Granger to end the “easy” month of February at 7-5. Why are we surprised? We really shouldn’t be, this is the most inconsistent team in the league, it fools people into thinking that they’re good (just ask John Hollinger) when they’re just a bad defensive team which exclusively relies on the jumper and has trouble maintaining effort across games. We’re used to the dependency on the jumper, but the non-existing defensive effort can never be excused.

We might as well have had a gimp playing defense on Travis Diener, Troy Murphy or Mike Dunleavy because God knows that Jamario Moon, Jose Calderon and Anthony Parker can’t guard them for shit. The perimeter defense was the worst that it has ever been. I don’t recall a game where it was as bad. It was embarrassing to watch Murphy and Dunleavy get 3-pt play after play after blowing by our perimeter 3’s (Parker/Moon/Graham) with ease. I can’t stress this enough, they pulled their pants down, used the shiniest of vaselines and let it rip. There’s really no other simpler way of putting this. They fucking killed us.

Let’s get to tonight’s key play and if you saw the game you know what it is. After Indiana was pummeling the Raptors by 16 midway through the third, the Raptors found some pride, played a little defense and went on a 15-0 run kick-started by Bargnani and Parker. We managed to cut the lead to one and got the ball back. That’s when Jamario Fucking Moon managed to use his arm to clear out Kareem Rush while the ball was still in the backcourt. Turnover. Momentum gone. Indiana goes on a 10-2 run. Back to square one. Fuck. Moon has been playing D-League level basketball over the past little while, yeah he had a good game against the T’Wolves but he’s not doing the job that he was hired to do. He doesn’t play defense, that play where Dunleavy almost tore his ankle at the top of the three point line epitomized just exactly how bad his defense is. The guy can’t keep his body-weight even and defenders are exploiting it. Plus, he’s it’s become super-easy for players to make him leave his feet. Horrible game by Moon. Just brutal.

For all the perceived depth on this squad, without Chris Bosh we’re a lottery team. It’s cool to shit on Bosh at times for not taking to the rim and finishing strong but take him out of the lineup and you get this. CB4 is our one and only shot blocking threat, once he’s out of there it’s open season for opposing 2/3’s. The only reason our shit perimeter defense has gotten us this far is because once you come inside Chris Bosh is simply awesome on help defense. Mind you that the rotation behind him still sucks ass but at least he’ll make the defender think twice before trying any funny shit.

After Bosh went down, we countered with Jose Calderon and TJ Ford playing a good chunk of the entire second quarter together. It’s good to have them there at the same time for brief stretches but to play them the entire quarter is defensive suicide. I lost count how many times in the second quarter Diener had open lanes to the rim after catching the Raptors defense in transition. It was as if though the Raptors were playing transition defense the entire game. Nobody was dug in on defense at any time, we kinda wandered around, aimlessly switched on screen ‘n rolls, tended to just pick up the player that was the most convenient for us and were three steps too slow. It made you nauseous.

Why Sam went with a lineup where Joey Graham is the 5 is unexplainable. The Pacers are playing small ball but that doesn’t mean you have to comply We have Rasho and Brezec warming the bench, why not throw them in the game to rebound our misses and try to control the boards. Did Sam honestly think our 2/3’s can outplay theirs? Dunleavy must’ve been licking his chops when he saw that we have absolutely no big man in there to even contest his shot once he waltzes past our perimeter D.

People wonder why the American media doesn’t talk about the Raptors and respect them as they should. It’s not because they’re biased or prejudiced, they just know that come playoff time when it counts, we have no ammunition to compete. This team has serious, serious holes starting on the defensive end which are just itching to get exposed in the playoffs. But tonight what pissed me off even more was our non-existent effort. It was pathetic. Ughhh.

What did you think of Bargnani’s performance? I liked it. He was 12-25 for 27 points and only 9 rebounds. I liked the way he played, he was aggressive, he was confident, he was driving, he was pulling up, unfortunately, he wasn’t hot enough early to keep us in the game. He needs to find his offensive rhythm so he can be a little more consistent, it’s games like these that might help him, with the playoffs coming and us being locked somewhere between the 4-6 seed, I say give him the green light so he can warm up and hopefully be a real contributor in the playoffs.

Anyway, to some up the night in two words. Fucking disgusting.

Sorry for the shit language.


* It’s hard to sweep even a bad team but Indiana was there to be had.

* Jason Kapono is useless to us. He’s about as useless as an asshole on your elbow. It doesn’t matter if he plays with TJ Ford, Jose Calderon or fucking Bob Cousy, he can’t help this team because he’s too easy to cover and our coaching staff is too dumb to utilize him.

* Chuck, I don’t believe your lying ass when you say you have that much trouble telling part Joey and Stephen Graham that you make the same mistake like 5 times. Here’s a little hint that might help: THEY WEAR DIFFERENT UNIFORMS!! Also, did he just blame the lack of energy in the arena on the fucking weather?

* I’d even excuse the Raptors for allowing the Pacers to blow by them so easily on the perimeter if they at least took away the outside shot, but they didn’t even do that. The Pacers made 12 three and countless 18 foot jumpers. I’m telling you this was the worst I’ve seen them play. Ever.

* We managed to crawl only 2 games over .500 in the softest part of the schedule by playing 7-5 ball. I don’t even want to know what March will bring.

* Why am I shocked? I saw this coming. It’s just that when it actually happens you can’t believe it.

Posted in nba, Raptors | Tagged: , , , | 37 Comments »

A nervy win in Indiana

Posted by Arsenalist on February 26, 2008

Toronto Raptors 102, Indiana Pacers 98

Sometimes a win can overshadow many things that went wrong in a game and such was the case last night. This was a little too close to being a L for one’s liking. The Pacers sans Jermain O’Neal and Jamal Tinsley frustrated the Raptors by putting up a fight and took the lead midway through the fourth quarter at which point it looked like this might be a New York repeat. A couple Delfino deep bombs restored some order, but the offense went dead after that giving the Pacers a chance to tie it up with 19 seconds left. Fortunately for us Jim O’Brien’s playbook appears to be paper thin and all they could muster was a Kareem Rush one-on-one contested three. Game over. Thank God.

Not the ideal follow-up to the NY win; getting bailed out by Delfino’s deep threes isn’t something you want to rely on but at the same time it’s good to see him knock them down. TJ Ford’s close to returning to his pre-injury form and becoming the nightmare that he is for slower guards that are forced to give him space. If he’s matched up with a guy the same size such as Travis Diener, what usually follows is an infliction of speed combined with hesitation that will leave the defense on its heels. TJ’s 16 points and 7 assists were essential on a night where the reliable Jose Calderon laid an egg in the assist column, something that will never happen again. Ever. It’s only a matter of time before TJ gets the starting job, has a bad game and the Forderon debate begins anew. The starters were in the habit of creating a hole (1st and 3rd quarters) only for the bench to come back and restore sanity (2nd and 4th quarters). We outscored their bench 55-24 (Marquis Daniels had 20) with Delfino leading the way with 6 threes and a career high 23 points. Check the box score, it’s all there.

Time for a post game quote, it’s always good to hear some sort of praise from the opposing coach:

“It’s hard for anybody in the NBA to match bench for bench. That’s a formidable group, and it speaks to their depth that those players come off the bench.” – Jim O’Brien

Depth is one of our strong suits, no doubt about that. But come playoff team when the rotations are shortened and roles become well-defined, I’m not sure how much our depth will help us. We’ll see I suppose.

Although the Raptors are a defensively challenged team they go into these hounding defensive sequences where they pressure the ball handler, trap on the baseline, collapse on the big men and actually come out to make the rotations. The second quarter and some stretches in the fourth were great examples of this. However, it’s hard to maintain that sort of a defensive effort across four quarters because of the sheer toll aggressive defense takes on the body. That’s why you see a Jekyll and Hyde effect with the Raptors defense. We’re a middle of the pack defensive team (11th out of 30 D-Rating) with some gaping holes on the perimeter which will undoubtedly come back to bite us. Jamario Moon’s defensive game has regressed, he’s falling for simple up-fakes, isn’t following the scouting reports and is too concerned with providing help. Murphy, Granger and Dunleavy all took turns undressing Moon on simple moves. It didn’t come back to bite us but a case could’ve been made that Joey Graham deserved to get some run based on Moon’s poor effort. Sam is by his own admission an “equal opportunity hater” and Moon definitely deserved some hate today.

Anthony Parker tries to do his best to contain his man but he’s a sucker for help defense, maybe that’s how he was coached overseas for all these years and it’s in his nature to help off his man on another wing player. However, in the NBA once the perimeter man is beaten, it’s up to the 4/5’s to contend with the man that just penetrated the heart of the defense. Parker’s always guilty of leaving his man to provide help which ends up amounting to nothing because by leaving his man he’s made him the easiest pass for the penetrator. Thus we see Parker always late getting back and wildly flailing his arms at his man as a three is being drained. I’m disappointed in Sam Mitchell’s inability to instill a defensive mindset and philosophy in this team over his tenure, the offense is very simplistic so you’d think that the majority of the work the coaches might do would be on the defensive end but frankly speaking, I don’t think we’ve improved at all.

The frustration with Bargnani continues: 2/5 on 1-5 FG. Even though I’m a traditional center guy I’m willing to go with the “new age” center theme on this one but it has to be done the right way. It’s great that Bargnani is a 7-footer that can shoot but he might be taking it to another extreme. 35% of his field goal attempts are threes! That is an insanely high amount, to put that in perspective, 38% of Parker’s FGAs are threes and only 28% of Jason Kapono’s shots are threes. Does a “new age” center mean that he’ll be living on the perimeter? Because I thought a 7-footer center meant he’ll be beating his man off the dribble and out-quicking him in the post for easy scores, not settling for deep bombs. To further extend my late night analysis, I looked at Dirk Nowitzki’s shot selection (chosen for obvious reasons) in his first two years and only 25% of his shots were threes, gradually he moved his game further in and currently only 21% of his shots are threes. My point? Threes are nice but I doubt Colangelo brought him here to be a 7-foot Kapono, he needs to move his game inside.

Primoz Brezec got his first DNPCD. The guy must be wondering what he did wrong in the NY game to warrant a benching. Instead Kris Humphries got the call (well, for 7 minutes) and played well in getting his 5 points. With Kapono getting 23 minutes and Bargnani staying out of foul trouble, the Raptors big men reserves only netted 11 minutes. This was also the first game since TJ’s injury where Ford got more playing time than Calderon which is a telling stat because this wasn’t a blowout and every possession meant something. Sam opting to go with the in-rhythm Ford means he’s confident in TJ’s ability to run this team again and the “ease back TJ” period seems to be over.

It’s hard to end this post without a mention of Chris Bosh’s seemingly routine night: 24 points, 10 rebounds. He didn’t have a pretty night, got stripped at least three times (5 TOs) and took some questionable shots that’ll make anybody grimace. Chris Bosh is very obviously choosing spots where he can be aggressive and where he can ease back. This is a perfectly normal strategy for the regular season, I’m hoping (praying?) that come playoff time he’s not mulling over shoot or drive decisions, it should be pretty obvious when a player of Troy Murphy’s quickness is covering you.

Unlike Washington and New York, we avoided a letdown in Indiana. It should be a super-easy win on Wednesday against the T’Wolves before we get a chance to sweep Indiana at home on Friday. Check the schedule, look at March and shit in your pants.


* Hard to believe Rob Babock passed on Danny Granger. Twice.

* Indiana was one well-designed play away from taking this game to overtime. We’ve got to start the halves much better against them on Friday.

* Kareem Rush and his brother Jaron Rush used to play at Pembrooke High School in Kansas City, MO. I used to go to O’Hara High School in Kansas City at the same time. These guys used to come in and put on a show. Jaron was clearly the better player but he got hooked on drugs, took money from agents and ended up ruining his shot at the NBA. He’s trying to find HS coaching jobs now, kinda sad.

* Leo Rautins making excuses for Jason Kapono? Stop trying to convince us that Jason Kapono is anything more than a strictly one-dimensional player just because he cut to the rim and had a layup. It’s insulting our intelligence.

* Does Chuck Swirsky know anything about basketball? His reasoning for the West being stronger made no sense, he somehow managed to give Bryan Colangelo credit in why the west was stacked. Apparently he’s also a proponent of the Top 16 teams making the playoffs regardless of conference. Might want to think that through Chuck. Pain to listen to.

* “He sure blabs a lot” – That’s my wife’s (who knows nothing about basketball) take on Chuck Swirsky. Bang on really.

* Carlos Delfino is the Top Rap.

Thanks for reading. Later.


Posted in nba, Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | 31 Comments »

Got that sick feeling in your stomach? Me too

Posted by Arsenalist on January 29, 2008

Toronto Raptors 104, Washington Wizards 108

You would think after earning an undeserved lifeline courtesy of Anthony Parker the Raptors would play five minutes of good basketball tonight. It didn’t happen and we crumbled to a miserable defeat at the hands of the Wizards who played without Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas. Before we start ripping, bashing and placing blame, let’s give a collective round of applause to Eddie Jordan who made the adjustments on Bosh and the Raptors in real-time and silenced the Raptors best player into a woeful second half and overtime. In short, we played bad and got out-coached but might’ve still had a chance if we’d just played harder.

The Raptors downfall tonight was eerily familiar, lack of perimeter defense by leaving shooters wide open, helping off the wrong people and giving up 19 offensive rebounds (4 in OT, haha) which were converted to points at an alarming rate. We got outmanned 57-44 (19-12) and gave up 5 threes to Deshawn Stevenson and 3 to Roger Mason Jr, the last of which came after Calderon and Humphries couldn’t figure out if they were supposed to switch or not. That play and the late, late Jamison tip-in were the microcosms of the Raptors defensive performance which ranged somewhere between careless to lazy all game along. Anthony Parker elaborates on the problem:

“It’s the same thing, nothing’s changed,” Anthony Parker said of the rebounding problem. “It’s going to continue to haunt us until we get better at it. … In games like this, it comes back to bite us.”

Yeah, we couldn’t rebound a fucking apple fall off a tree.

Aside from a 3 minute stretch where we erased the 11 point lead thanks to some Washington turnovers and a hustling Bosh, our defense was as bad as one can remember it to be. Compounding our technical problems on defense was the lack of hustle or willingness to stop Washington which got any shot they wanted anytime they wanted. We played like we had already won the game when Butler went down half an hour before tipoff.

Forgive me for painting a picture of doom but losing to a severely shorthanded team in an uninspired performance doesn’t fill me with anything positive to stay. Aside from Jose Calderon, the Raptors were struggling to find a consistent scorer, even Bosh was only effective in the first half and after that was the victim of a defensive plan by Eddie Jordan which focused on doubling him and allowing him ample space on the perimeter which ultimately seduced him into shooting jumpers. Forget the offense of Andray Blatche, it was his defense on Bosh late in the game which prevented the Raptors from trading baskets with the Wiz. Chris Bosh was hoping to draw the foul more than trying to score in overtime which is usually a good option but late in the games you don’t get the same calls you get in the first quarter. Calderon’s 23/13 were big, he hit some huge threes which kept the Wizard lead to manageable levels but unfortunately it all amounted to nothing. Bosh’s big night of 37/12 was first-half heavy and only saw us take a four point lead into halftime because of our bad, bad defense. A wasted effort really.

Yes, Anthony Parker had a horrible game, a real stinker and you can point to him as one of the reasons we lost but I wouldn’t rip on him too much. It’s not like he took bad shots, turned the ball over and forced things. He just didn’t hit his open shots tonight and we should all expect that from him once in a while. His perimeter defense has never been good and if you’ve got the game taped and have some spare time, go through it and you’ll find him lunging at three point shooters after helping out on somebody else for no reason. I don’t see why Sam hasn’t address this glaring problem in his game or why people don’t talk about it more, to me that’s the area where he needs to improve the most.

The other more subtle reason we lost today was because we got nothing from Delfino, he’s a player who we rely tremendously on to play intelligent basketball but when he reverts to taking bad shots his entire game goes down the toilet. Tonight he wasn’t hitting his threes which meant he didn’t rebound the ball or attack the rim, something which we desperately needed to do in the second half given the PITP numbers. Jason Kapono’s having a very hard time finding his shots and we should consider either trading him or creating some plays for him because teams have very obviously adjusted and are completely taking him out of his game. Of course it doesn’t help that he tends to catch the ball just inside the three point line guarded by two of his own players, those two sequences in the fourth quarter were sick, twisted and hilarious.

The start of a third quarter was a horror show. Bosh wasn’t getting touches and we weren’t looking to force things with him, Washington picked up the tempo and recognized that we were there to be had. They went inside with Blatche while we turned the ball over and took jumpers. The first three quarters we played were very similar to the ones in Philadelphia where we were in cruise control while playing at a very mediocre level. There was this very weird sense of complacency amongst the Raptors that was as surprising as it was maddening. Whatever Sam said at halftime, it didn’t work. Here’s what he should’ve said:

We are lucky to be up by 4 in this game, we’ve played horrible defense and are leaving their shooters wide open. Make Stevenson drive, double Jamison and force a pass out of him. Andrea: take Haywood out to the three point line on offense so he doesn’t bother us on the boards. Chris: keep doing what you’re doing but know that they’re going to make it harder for you in the second half so establish position early, when they double, Anthony and Delfino will be cutting, got it? Good. Hey, CD, WTF is up with the threes? None of that shit unless you’re wide open. Lock down on Stevenson. Guys, we’re switching 1-3 to prevent them getting open shots, let’s see how that goes….

Hope you guys remembered Andrea Bargnani’s Boston performance because we’re probably going to have to wait till late March to see that again. In fairness to Bargnani he did manage to toil 6 rebounds, a couple were even impressive, but the overall throughput only amounted to 3 points on 1-6 FG. I suppose this is the place where we mention something about his confidence, defense and shot selection but its all gotten a little too old and repetitive so there’s really no point. All I have to say is that we need him to be our Andray Blatche but he’s playing like Will Purdue in his final days. It’s just amazing what scouting reports can do to you.

It’ll be awfully hard to watch tomorrow’s game knowing we just blew an opportunity to sweep the Wiz 2-0. I thought when Sam told his team “Let’s play some basketball” at the end of regulation that we’d take it up a notch and thwart the deflated Wizards which is the opposite of what happened. The Wizards took the opportunities presented to them, played very hard and simply wanted the game more. All you really have to look at is the way Dominic McGuire ripped his 10 rebounds (6 offensive) to know that they were ready to play and we were not.

Damon Stoudamire. I’m not sure what my feelings are here, it all depends on TJ’s injury status, if he’s actually done for the season then we need to bring in Damon but if he’s coming back after the ASG, having three true PGs would cause a bit of a logjam, no?


* Chris Bosh: Great first half, miserable 2nd and OT. I’m not sure what the wisdom in him catching the ball at the top of the three point line after a pick ‘n pop really is. His 3 late in the game was the worst play of the season.

* Jose Calderon is the best spot up shooter for the Raptors. Kapono is close but if you’re not shooting the ball, you’re not a shooter.

* Jamario Moon should be fined for taking jumpers with more than 2 seconds on the shot clock. I don’t care if they go in sometimes, he should not be shooting, it’s embarrassing.

* Our defensive confusion on Washington shooters and their complete dominance in the paint reminded me of the Phoenix game. They had a plan to get Bosh out of the paint, we didn’t have a plan to shut down Jamison or Stevenson. Sam, care to comment?

* The trading deadline is fast approaching and we’ve had to needs since the start of the season: defensive rebounding and second scorer. BC needs to address one of them, I’m not sure acquiring Stoudamire does anything here, he might be a nice fit but it doesn’t solve our existing issues.

* Juan Dixon played a good backup PG tonight and Kris Humphries was the reason we were able to tie this game in regulation. He was our primary scorer in the fourth quarter which doesn’t say much about how our offense reacts under pressure.

Till tomorrow.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , | 16 Comments »

Down goes Boston! Down goes Boston!

Posted by Arsenalist on January 23, 2008

jose calderon toronto raptors boston celtics chris bosh

Toronto Raptors 114, Boston Celtics 112

What a game! The Raptors take out Boston in a clutch and tense affair which put a premium on the proverbial ice in the veins. Jose Calderon’s two clutch free throws followed by a decisive drive to the rim for a three point-play put the Raptors up by two. Off an offensive rebound, Raptor killer Ray Allen had a wide-open, albeit fading away jumper rim out to give the Raptors a win that’ll reverberate around the association.

For a moment it looked like conceding 16 offensive rebounds and giving up 26 points on 19 turnovers would be too much for the Raps to overcome but 58% shooting compensated for all that and then some. When those outside shots are falling at close to 60% we can beat the ’86 Celtics no problem, let alone this bunch. Chris Bosh was doubled every time he caught the ball but still managed to match Kevin Garnett’s output and when it counted in the fourth quarter, KG couldn’t stop Bosh. Andrea Bargnani, yes Andrea “Popeye” Bargnani showed up and showed up big. He singlehandedly kept us in the game in the first quarter by scoring, rebounding and passing like the player we thought he was. The best moment for me came at halftime when Leo Rautins interviewed him and asked about his first half performance:

“I’ve played very bad for one month. I don’t want to talk about myself.”

At least he seems to know just how bad he’s been of late, maybe, just maybe this game might bring him out of his HUGE slump and he might become a contributor and in some peoples’ eyes increase his trade value. Now even bringing this point up after a game like this makes me a party-pooper but if we were openly discussing it yesterday, there’s no reason not to do so today, right? Such are highs and lows of an NBA season that the goat of one game is the hero of the next. Let’s focus on what he did right today: he sealed of his man from the boards, on more than one occasion it was against KG that Bargnani timed his rebound jumps to perfection not allowing even a remote chance of an offensive rebound. On offense, he sold his shot fake, drove, and then pulled up for a jumper, then he took his time with an open three and drained it. On the other end, he kept his arms straight up and played defense with his feet instead of his hands. Instead of blindly taking the first shot, he looked for other options and created wide open threes three times. He drove to the rim, and when the defense challenged, he reversed it for the And1. In short, he played with confidence and was fundamentally solid which is where it must start with him. Even his offensive foul looked good.

As well as Bargnani played, the game ball goes to Jose Calderon and his 24 points and 14 assists. Jose’s outside jumper is soon going to be classified in the “deadly” category if it hasn’t already, when he has his feet set it’s a no-doubter and when coming off a screen where the PG goes under, he’ll drain it without hesitation, just ask Rondo. Anthony Parker’s efficient night of 8-12 FG offset a lot of things, one of them being Ray Allen. Allen went 7-16 for 19 points but had to work hard to get them, Parker was making him play defense and that naturally took away from Allen’s game. Besides the turnovers the main complaint against the guards today was letting Rajan Rondo and Tony Allen drive to the rim too easily, play your percentages and make them beat you from the outside, they can’t.

The +/- stat can be very misleading but sometimes it tells the entire story for a player and tonight Juan Dixon’s -13 was entirely indicative of what he brought to the floor. If there’s a game that you want Dixon sealed to the bench, it’s tonight. Boston made no secret of going at Dixon at every opportunity and always got points, Sam was smart to use him as little as possible and only because Calderon’s heart would’ve popped out of his mouth if he didn’t get a break. Personally, I would’ve given Graham a run today and see how he’d fare against Tony Allen who scored 14 straight on us. The rumor that Colangelo’s after Stoudamire might sound like good news but if he’s acquired it’ll throws a wrench at our point guard situation. I don’t even want to speculate what’s going to happen when TJ comes back (presumably after the All-Star break) and Damon’s demoted to 3rd string PG. Actually, since I think that would be a pretty shitty and unavoidable situation, it only makes sense that Colangelo won’t be going after Stoudamire.

I was calling for Humphries to get off the bench all game long, surely we could’ve use his hustle and muscle when we were having trouble grabbing boards, no? It’s one of those, “I’m glad we won so we won’t have to talk about it” decisions. The pessimist might say that this was a fluky win and we can’t possibly shoot 58% against Boston again, to which I’d say that we can’t also possibly commit 15 unforced turnovers. We saw some anomalies on both sides but in the end they evened out. There is a silver lining in the turnovers though, did you notice Jose trying to force the issue a few times and end up getting easy scores for Rasho, Bosh and Parker? One of the chief complaints against Jose is that he’s too conservative and doesn’t drive and kick, today he showed that if he wants, he can break down a good defensive guard like Rondo and create for his mates. His penetration set up more than a few open jumpers off the second pass, yeah, his inside-outside pass got picked off a couple times, but overall it was very effective.

Scalabrine’s three which put the Celtics up by 7 at the start of the fourth looked to be a turning point which would see Boston pull away. But Bosh, Parker and Delfino were huge to open the fourth while Calderon rested for four minutes. At first it appeared that Sam had made a mistake in benching Calderon to open the quarter and there’s no doubt if we’d lost, that would’ve been brought up in bolded font. However the aforementioned trio scored every single Raptor point until 30 seconds left in the game which is when Calderon took over. Even when the Celtics turned up their defensive intensity, the Raptors always had an answer which silenced the crowd and inched this game closer to being one of the best played between the two clubs.

Doc Rivers, you surprised by the shooting?

“Fifty-eight percent from the floor; 71 percent from the 3; 100 percent from the foul line. At least the foul line wasn’t guarded. Half the guys in our league couldn’t shoot 15-for-21 if they were in a gym by themselves, It was almost like we didn’t believe they would shoot another one.”

Yeah, I know Doc, sucks when the other team’s lighting you up, eh?


* Anybody tired of watching Jamario Moon shoot jumpers yet?

* Carlos Delfino hovers so close to the border of being a chucker that sometimes we’re just forced to admit that the man looks for his shot first at all times. His baseline fadeaway and pull-up three was unacceptable, luckily, those are the only two shots he forced.

* Anthony Parker: There’s no reason to be unsatisfied with his play, I thought that the Doug Smith C grade was very harsh. He’s basically producing the same as last year, if you look at his PER, they’re almost identical. Yes, he has bad games but he doesn’t get stuck in ruts and continues to try to make the right plays on the court.

* Our rotations were brutal and we got carved out too easily once Pierce and Allen got into the lane.

* Chris Bosh took a backseat tonight and had a quiet 23/7 which was overshadowed by some turnovers where he tried to make passes which he’s never done before. He made three very tough jumpers which probably should’ve been drives but came up big for us in the fourth with key hoops and FTs. For the first time in a long time, the potentially great balance that this Raptors team has was displayed on the court.

* If Ray Allen would’ve hit that jumper this entire post would’ve been about defensive rebounding.

* So Bargnani’s ordering spinach salad’s with with Swirsky and Maurizio Gherardini (according to Chuck, he is God incarnated as man ) while Bosh and Moon are probably zoning out to Madden ’08. The company we keep.

* What does this win mean? It says Game 1 could’ve gone either way, in Game 2 we didn’t have our big guns, you guys beat us fair and square in Game 3 and we won Game 4. I think it gives the Raptors a true sense of belief that they can compete with Boston.

* Best defense in the NBA you say? 114 points I say. Fuckin ‘eh.

Later. Try the trivia, it took me a while to come up with the questions. Feed.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments »

Note to Colangelo: F**k pride!

Posted by Arsenalist on January 22, 2008

First of all, I have to give props to Raps Fan for actually doing a video podcast and revealing his mug on the internet. See, I could never do that, I was stepped on as a child and have the disfigurements to prove it. You may hear my high-pitch voice in the podcasts but my Quasimodo looks will never be revealed.

On to matters, I was going to write a deep post about how Colangelo might have fumbled by taking Bargnani as the #1 pick and I started my post like this:

I’m in favor of having a camera entirely focused on Colangelo and Gherardini any time Bargnani is in the game. I’m positive that with every error he commits and every fundamental thing he does wrong, there’ll be a look of slight disgust on Colangelo’s face while Gherardini will force himself to keep a straight face and pretend that this was all supposed to happen. Yes, it was all supposed to happen this way. It’s easy to play Monday morning quarterback with the draft and rip players who didn’t pan out while blasting their GMs for their selection, but this isn’t one of those cases. This is a case of a GM (and his influential friend) reaching out into a pool of talent from where there has only been one truly great player to come out. Now that would’ve been an acceptable choice if 2006 wouldn’t have been one of the better draft years of recent memory and there wasn’t any surefire talent available locally. But there was, and the Raptors said, “Naaaah, not good enough”.

After writing so much I realized that there was nothing I could say that hadn’t already been said or that the people that read this blog wouldn’t already know, so I stopped right there. But I may as well conclude my thoughts by saying that we did choose a project over a sure thing and are suffering the growing pains as warned by Bryan Colangelo as soon as the pick was made. But I don’t imagine that the needed “patience” Colangelo had called for would be of such extreme levels. Let’s look at Bargnani’s box scores over the last few games, if you have a weak heart, don’t click on the link.

Games like these don’t call for patience, they call for forbearance and submission. Now if you bring up this sensitive subject up with Colangelo he’s bound to attribute these struggles to a young European player coming in to the moshpit that is the NBA and having expected trouble in adjusting. But deep down even he must know that things aren’t going according to plan. No matter what he tells Bob McCowan and the media, he must know that this was not supposed to happen. Even Maurizio Gherardini, the architect of the Raptors (somebody remind me how great he is again), couldn’t have expected Andrea Bargnani to struggle so badly that even the staunchest of supporters are now raising an eyebrow at the selection.

I’m positive that the Raptors aren’t going to trade him, not this year, not the next. The reason isn’t even basketball related, the Raptors brass might be willing to give Andrea all the time in the world to find his game wherever that might be. Even if they’ve come to realize that his ceiling was vastly overestimated and that his fundamentals aren’t where they should be, they’re willing to stick through their pick and the reason is pride. And as Ving Rhames put it in Pulp Fiction:

“That’s pride fucking with you. Fuck Pride!”

And that’s exactly what Bryan Colangelo needs to do, he needs to fuck pride and do what’s best for this team. And this unpaid blogger and hardcore fan is saying that it might be time to salvage what’s left of the remains and see how we can increase Bargnani’s value and deal him for something worthwhile. It’s an avenue that needs to be explored. Perhaps it might just be a change of scenery that does the trick for him, maybe he needs a coach like Pat Riley who’ll make him run 100 suicides after every scrimmage where he doesn’t grab 10 rebounds. Whatever it is that will get him out of his funk isn’t happening in Toronto, we’ve tried everything that we can to get him out of his slump and nothing seems to work. These thoughts of him playing the 3 so he can utilize his “quickness” is bullshit, he will get eaten alive on defense and still won’t be able to grab boards because he’ll be playing against more agile players who on top of everything else, play harder than him.

At this point in the season, I don’t even give a shit if he plays well or not as long as he rides the pine if he’s hurting the team. If he’s going to stink things up I want him playing 10 minutes, not 25. Kudos to Sam Mitchell and his quick yank and don’t give me this shit about volume minutes.

Enough about Bargnani!

I always read Michael Grange and Doug Smith‘s blog hoping to find some insight into the Raptors’ player relationships, team camaraderie, what players think of other players in the league and other such insights that only people with media credentials have access to. And although Grange’s blog is pretty good, I’ve always been disappointed with both of them when it comes to providing some interesting insights. For example the Forderon debate, what do players think of it? What really is Sam Mitchell’s day-to-day relationship with Bargnani? Seeing how they sit courtside, the least they could do is tell us what some of the strategies Sam talked about on the sidelines? What was somebody’s reaction when they were taken out of the game? What does Maceo Baston think of himself? You know, shit that we as fan can’t see for ourselves. Anybody can come up with lame ratings.

We have two huge games coming up with Washington right after we play Boston and Milwaukee and judging by the way they manhandled Dallas, I’ll be very thankful to come out 1-1. This team might be better without Arenas (I know, stupid thing to say), the ball is moving through everybody’s hands and usually ending up with either Butler, Stevenson and Jamison, all fine scorers. The Raptors will have trouble against the trio’s athleticism and the size of Brendan Haywood (who we passed over for Michael Bradley when trying to address the inside-presence need, go figure). Assuming we actually go 2-2 in the final three games of the month (an optimistic assumption) we’ll come out 7-6. I know, it’s disappointing.

It’s hard for me to get excited about the dunk contest because the best dunker of the century is still healthy and sitting on the sidelines. This will be the first dunk contest I’ll actually tune into since the VC days and the reason is of course Jamario Moon. If you look at his competition so far, I’d actually say that he’s got a pretty good shot of winning this thing, the primary competition might come from a motivated Gerald Green who’s still bitter about Rob Babcock passing him over. Twice.

I’ll be missing Friday’s game because I’m off to New York for the weekend (not my decision). If one of you would be kind enough to do a guest post for the blog, just email me by filling out this form. Although I can’t pay you, I will be thankful.

Later. Feed.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments »