Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Posts Tagged ‘carlos delfino’

The West coast trip sans Bosh might be the best thing that happens to us

Posted by Arsenalist on March 10, 2008

I made a very disinterested post-game post last night so I thought I’d make up for it. In truth, I was playing basketball and got hit very hard in a very sensitive area and was feeling woozy for the rest of the evening.

Five game roadtrip coming up and Michael Grange and I are on the same page: it’s tough to see us get anything out of this one. Lakers, GS, Sac, Denver and Utah are all teams that can beat us, well, maybe not Sacramento but without Chris Bosh and what with them being the home team, you’d have to favor them. And unlike the Raptors, teams remember who humiliated them last time around and come out with a sense of urgency and revenge not seen around these parts. Barring a 60% FG shooting performance one one of these nights, we’ll come out 0 for 5. But wait, the good news is that we’ll still be 1 game over .500. And if we manage to sneak out a win, we’ll be 3 games over .500, not too terrible going into the home-stretch.

Let’s talk about home-court advantage, I don’t think the Raptors need it to win a playoff series. This team plays better on the road, as crazy as it sounds, it’s true. They’re more focused, energetic and generally much more crisp when they’re playing away from home. A lot has been made of the Raptors lack of toughness and grit but one that’s self-evident is that the Raptors don’t get phased by the opposing arena and I feel confident that as long as their jumper is dropping in one of the first two games in the playoff series, we’re more than capable of stealing home-court advantage. Their success depends entirely on whether they can rebound and hit their perimeter jumpers. Both these facets of the game are a huge variable on this team which can fluctuate on a nightly basis, so it’s conceivable that the Raptors can simply “catch fire” and pull out a win.

Going back to actually getting home court advantage, we have no chance of catching Orlando which is currently 5 1/2 games ahead of us. Our hope is to catch Cleveland which has a slightly more challenging schedule than Orlando and have shown that they’re very much beatable, at least in the regular season. If this turns out to be our playoff matchup, needless to say they will have a serious rebounding advantage over us and it’ll be very much up to Sam Mitchell to manage Brezec, Rasho, Humphries and Bargnani in a way that mitigates this advantage. Of course none of this stops John Hollinger from picking us as the winner in this series:

Majeed: LeBron and the Cavs remind me of the Lakers last year. Great player on a mediocre team who will go one & done in the playoffs.

John Hollinger: Cavs could easily be one and done, yes, especially if they get Toronto in the first round (and Bosh is on the court).

It appears that Dave Feschuk is secretly hoping for us to fall to 6th place behind Washington, face Orlando, rely on the PG advantage and the Bosh/Howard wash-out to pull out a series win. Maybe this roadtrip is the best thing that’ll happen to us? We got screwed last year when NJ beat Chicago on the last day of the regular season to grab 6th spot, maybe what went around last year, came round our way this year. Even though he’s not saying that, I’m definitely saying it. Losing sucks but I would rather finish 6th than 4th or 5th, we need to win a playoff series, not finish higher in the standings. We did that last year and look what came of it.

I’m glad to see Elliote Friedman get some credit for being a half-decent sideline reporter and asking the tough and important questions, this guy should be doing this for every game. His point-blank question to TJ Ford asking whether he could co-exist with Calderon was gold and its bluntness even caught TJ by surprise. His interview with Bryan Colangelo basically asked him, “Why is this team playing like shit?”. Nice to hear. Enough of the Norma Wick and Rod Black’s of this world, we got a guy who has some real talent, asks proper questions and doesn’t get laughed at by Sam Mitchell. Since John Saunders was squeezed out, we’ve never had a truly professional guy on our media team and Friedman is a breath of fresh air. Although the CBC A/V team often screws him up by wiping out his audio while he’s talking to pictures on the wall, he still is the best TV reporter for the Raptors. Speaking of the media, I was really expecting more from Eric Smith’s new blog, with insider access like he has, he still tells us stuff we already know, like whether Bosh will play against Seattle or not. Recently he caught up wit Kapono and instead of asking him why he can’t seem to buy a 3 point attempt, let alone make one, he asked him about the weather.

I’d like to talk a little about Carlos Delfino, Jamario Moon and Andrea Bargnani. These are the three players that will eventually determine whether we can win a playoff series. Moon has been stepping up of late and playing excellent man-defense and hitting the boards which is going to be imperative to our playoff success. Carlos Delfino is far too inconsistent to be relied upon to do anything offensively, he should not have the green light to shoot from deep unless there are less than 5 seconds on the shot clock. His driving and ball-handling skills are good enough that he can consistently get his points in the paint, he needs to be the inside-guy on this perimeter oriented team. Sam needs to get this message across to him because when he’s in the paint, he has the ability to find Rasho, Bosh or Humphries for short passes for easy scores. Andrea’s string of good game, bad game will need to end at some point, we’ve been harping about this all year long but unless he becomes a legitimate second scorer (and I don’t mean by shooting 30%) and gets at least 50% of his points in the paint, we’ll be in trouble. I foresee teams closing him out completely in the playoffs and forcing him to create off the bounce which he can’t do with surety. It’ll be interesting, your thoughts on this are welcome.

I have a confession to make: I hate watching this team. Yeah, we’re winning but the way they play bugs me to no end. The offensive sets are so lame, the defense is so inconsistent, lazy at times, our superstar’s not really a superstar and we’re so soft and dependent on the springer. Yeah, we apparently have great chemistry but lack the tenacity and diligence to be consistently good. I’m being very nostalgic but I do miss Charles Oakley and even Antonio Davis……I’m relying on this summer to fix some of those issues, I’m sure you are too. To sum it up, I’d like to quote Raps Fan from a comment on his blog:

I don’t enjoy watching them either, but just like a battered wife, i can’t leave these sons-a-bitches.

Outspoken commenter khandor grouped NBA teams into six different tiers, I don’t think he’s too far off, his list can be seen here. Mine differs a little.

1st Tier – Boston, Detroit, LA Lakers, San Antonio

2nd Tier – Houston, Phoenix, Utah, New Orleans

3rd Tier – Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Golden State

4th Tier – Atlanta, Chicago, New Jersey, Portland, Orlando, Toronto, Washington

5th Tier – Charlotte, Indiana, LA Clippers, Milwaukee, Sacramento, Philadelphia

6th Tier – Memphis, Miami, Minnesota, New York, Seattle

It’s all very debatable, feel free to have your opinion.

I’d like to tell everybody that fellow blogger Dinosty has an absolutely awesome picture of Andris Biedrins’ wife, he will unleash it after we play the Warriors this week. Unlike him, I can’t afford to pay gettyimages.com, so I’ll just give you this.

Later.

RSS RSS Feed

Posted in nba, Raptors | Tagged: , , | 14 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.

Liners:

* 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.

RSS RSS Feed

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

Detroit was too much but we can handle Sacramento

Posted by Arsenalist on January 16, 2008

Sacramento Kings 91, Toronto Raptors 116

I don’t fancy the Raptors chances in an up and down, no defense, all offense affair where the first team to play some defense or go through a drought ends up losing the game. I’ve seen that movie before and have learned that there’s no thing as a “safe lead” when it comes to the Raps because they’re as liable to score 9 points in a quarter as they are to explode for 36. So when we were up by 20 on the Kings, the thought of a win was about as distant as a warm sun. Not until a few minutes had passed in the fourth quarter and the lead still remained in the high teens was I able to sight a win, and a pretty solid one at that.

Both teams were looking to score without much thought being given to defense and it was very apparent that somebody was one drought away from being down big. In a game of runs, the Kings got cold in the third quarter through turnovers and ill-advised shots and the Raptors capitalized on the other end, often in transition to the tune of a 36-22 quarter. It’s not like the Raptors played great defense, many of the Kings’ 20 turnovers were unforced and careless. The Raptors did however do a very good job of clogging up the passing lanes in anticipation of would-be passes, Anthony Parker and Carlos Delfino’s 7 steals combined is testament to that. The third quarter saw the Raptors completely demolish any 2-3 and 3-2 zone that the Kings were using by moving the ball around to get open looks and even attacking it, forcing it to collapse leading to easy hoops through quick interior passing.

Chris Bosh (11-12 FG, 31 pts) and Carlos Delfino (8-11 FG, 27 pts) led the charge with Bosh taking maybe one outside jumper all game because things came that easy for him. I’m starting to think Mikki Moore slowing down Bosh last year was a total fluke because he couldn’t contend with anything Bosh was trying to do. If CB4 had been eating an ice-cream with one hand he still could’ve put up 20/8 today. Even he was surprised with the space he got:

“I was just trying to be aggressive and drive to the basket. At the beginning of the game, I saw a lot of lanes. Guys weren’t really concentrating that much on me if I wasn’t in the post. Anytime that happens I’m going to try to drive as soon as I catch the ball.”

Delfino shot the ball well in Detroit and his stroke was still there tonight, none of his threes were of the jacked-up variety and usually came after a double on Bosh spawned a string of passes on the perimeter leading up to the ‘Fino. We did an excellent job of quickly moving the ball on the perimeter and forcing Sacramento to make their rotations which ended up getting the last option on the play an easy shot. It was beautiful at times. Granted if this was Detroit, they would’ve locked down Bosh and forced such a bad pass out of the double team that the theatrics that followed tonight would’ve been impossible, but then again it’s not in our place to beat Detroit, Sacramento we can handle.

I think the Kings would’ve had a better chance of beating us if Bibby and Artest hadn’t played because for the better part of the evening, the Kings players’ were trying to get theirs instead of going through any real offensive sets. Mike Bibby and Kevin Martin might be locking horns for FGAs in the future because Kevin Martin clearly feels that he deserves equal if not more touches than Bibby who would beg to disagree. The only reason we would’ve lost to the Kings tonight was if we went through a huge offensive funk or if we played zero defense, we did neither. Our outside shooting was solid with Kapono having his second straight good shooting game and as mentioned Bosh and the ‘Fino going off. What’s lost in the mix is Calderon’s 17 points, 14 assists and most of all his quick and intelligent passing on the perimeter. This RealGM thread pointed out by PsychicSpy debated whether our guard play is lacking. It’s very unfair to create such a thread after a game against Detroit, our guard-play has been generally acceptable all season, it’s hardly the reason we’re still a middle of the pack team in the East.

As is custom, here’s the Bargnani paragraph, I’m going to write it in green from now on: 3-13 FG, 7 points and 6 rebounds. Well, a pretty good game by Bargnani considering his standards. What might be getting lost in the stats is that most of the shots he took were of an acceptable quality level and he simply missed them. I only counted two missed defensive rebounding assignments and he did get back on defense when the Kings were on the break. Two of his field goals were good finishes around the rim and the other was a sweet baseline jumper initiated by a double on Bosh on the weak side. He did log 26 minutes which tells you he didn’t piss off Sam too much. Hopefully against Atlanta he can log 35 minutes, get us 12 points and 8 rebounds while shooting say 5-15? I can live with that. Yeah, it’s depressing but I can live with it.

Yesterday’s loss in Detroit left a bad taste in our mouth because of the way we lost, we played like shit and coached like shit but then again it was Detroit. They’re a cut above us and we should hope to be at that level in a year or two, for now let’s savour a rare blowout against a decent team. The 4 in 5 stretch is going according to plan so far, Friday at home against Atlanta might end up being a similar story as today. The Hawks will be looking for a revenge, the Raptors need to avoid a let-down after a good performance today, they should expect things to be a little tougher especially on offense as the Hawks have enough athleticism to bother the likes of Bosh, Parker and Calderon. Should be a good one.

I’d like to thank the readers especially PsychicSpy, SAMisCOY, Raps Fan, Crank, PapiJulio, Birdman, Red Rebounder and everybody else for keeping the discussion lively on this site. Keeps me motivated.

One-Liners:

* The Score production was very poor, they missed at least 4 live plays when showing replays.

* Leo Rautins demolishing Chuck Swirsky’s bobblehead doll was tasteless. And also not funny. How many times did Leo Rautins point out that Reggie Theus was good-looking?

* Jason Kapono is starting to come out of his spell, that’s good, real good.

* We did a very good job of recognizing the zone and moving the ball around it to get good open looks.

* The see-saw affair of who’s the 2nd string point guard continues with Juan Dixon ousting Darrick Murray Martin. The race is simply too close and Mitchell can’t decide. It’s a good problem to have.

* Bibby and Artest returning turned out to be a good thing for us because the Kings were trying to find themselves through the better part of the game.

* Smitch proved that he’ll bench even his favorite player (Moon) if he fucks up. That was nice to watch.

* Sam Mitchell’s stare down of the officials was classic. It’s one of those things that sometimes makes me look past the glaring fact that he has no plays.

* We had 24 points of 20 Kings turnovers, shot 52.4% and outrebounded them 42-29, that’s the game right there. It goes in line with the theory that if we shoot the ball well and rebound, we have a great chance of winning. A no-brainer really.

* Hope to have Podcast #3 tomorrow in the PM. It’s a solo effort, do tune in.

Thanks for reading. Check the feed.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 40 Comments »

Raps outlast Blazers to exact sweet revenge

Posted by Arsenalist on January 13, 2008

Portland Trailblazers 109, Toronto Raptors 116 (2OT)

The biggest gaffe of this game wasn’t Jamario Moon fouling Travis Outlaw on a four point play which tied the game. It was the Raptors NOT fouling Brandon Roy when he rebounded the ball in the first overtime inside the arc with the clock ticking down and the Raptors saving their foul for yet unknown reasons. Roy’s three which sent the game to double overtime where the Raptors eventually prevailed should’ve never have happened and is a prime example of the players being unaware of the situation at hand. But let’s put the break on the negativity and praise the Raptors for hanging in there against a tough, tough (the repetition is warranted) Portland team that refused to die and crashed the offensive boards to stay in the game.

Now this is a quality win. There’s no reason to jump up and down when you beat Philadelphia or New York but downing the NBA’s hottest team after being deflated twice by deep bombs deserves a lot of praise. Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon and Anthony Parker were huge on the offensive end for us and Carlos Delfino chipped in with 16 increasing the bench production which has been missing of late in big games. It was good to see Bosh attack the rim in the overtime periods when it mattered the most and to nobody’s surprise he had success. Aside from having 38 points and 14 rebounds, he had 3 huge blocks and changed many Portland shots saving the Raptors at least 10-12 points. He was the reason we won and Nate McMillan acknowledged that:

“We didn’t have an answer for Bosh”

Give credit for Jamario Moon for atoning for his end of regulation error by coming up with blocks on Roy and Jack which spawned fast break opportunities. He had to be the happiest guy on the team because even if nobody would say it, this game was on him if things had gone south in OT. This might be the place to mention a site dedicated entirely to Jamario Moon where we learn that Moon is going to the slam dunk contest. Reminds me a little of the obsolete rickbrunson.com.

How about Sam Mitchell putting out bosh Bosh and Calderon in the game at the start of the fourth? Was that refreshing or what? I guess he learned his lesson after Darrick Martin had handed the Blazers the game on the west coast and took no chances putting his two best offensive options in the game facing a six point deficit. It’s a no-brainer really but for Sam, it’s an improvement. It wasn’t a fluke that the Raps went on a 7-0 run with Roy on the bench at the start of the quarter turning this into a game that was going to be decided by the slimmest of margins.

Anthony Parker who many want traded for crazy rebuilding reasons poured in 25 to singlehandedly keep the Raptors in this game early when Roy was having his way with us. The Raptors who’ve been guilty of helping off the wrong perimeter player so many times were making the same mistake in this game by leaving Roy open by having Parker help on the player driving into the rim from the weak side! Roy lit us up early when Parker was on him blowing by him at will on a few occasions, it was then that we put Jose on him with specific instructions to NOT provide help under any circumstance. The move worked to some extent because Roy didn’t get open looks from the perimeter and was forced to score and create by driving, something we can live with. On the other end the Blazers chief defensive strategy is to to switch on every screen and they can afford to do that with the personnel they have. The Raptors did excellent in exploiting the resulting matchups like Calderon/Outlaw, Bosh/Outlaw, Calderon/Przybilla, Parker/Aldridge and all kinds of G/PF switches where Portland offered the Raptors to contend with.

Bosh comes under fire for taking too many jumpers and if you listen to Chuck and Leo and also look at Sam’s reactions to him shooting springers, I’m inclined to think that Sam is of the same mind as the fans when it comes to Bosh settling for jumpers. Bosh had success literally every time he drove the ball early and even then he was shooting 18 footers, it boggled my mind because that was playing right into Portland’s hands. The one horrendous side effect of him shooting jumpers is that when he was missing, there was nobody to rebound the ball for us because Portland’s rebounding positioning was intact. When he drives and misses, Moon, Delfino, Humphries have an opportunity to grab the offensive board against a Portland defense that’s busy trying to contend with an aggressive Bosh.

It’s become apparent that defensive rebounding is our Achilles heel, this is a long standing problem that requires an immediate solution, hopefully before the trading deadline. Quite simply put, Bosh needs some help and Humphries, Moon and Rasho aren’t enough to contend with the tall trees that teams put out against us. Don’t believe me, check out the rebounding distribution in this game for the Blazers and compare it with the Raptors’. I for one am ecstatic when the ball just bounces behind the backboard to give us possession – no chance of an offensive rebound there! Seriously though, I think Bosh is doing a phenomenal job rebounding the ball and boxing out considering how much energy he’s been exerting on offense. Bargnani, God bless his soul, is a good man with a good heart but his development as a rebounder is too slow for us to expect anything on the boards for him. I fear a Bosh injury if he has to keep playing like this because right now he’s playing every possession with his heart on his sleeve.

Channing Frye and Travis Outlaw’s points hurt us because they all seem to come when we were in the business of trading possessions with them in late regulation and overtime, both are two players that I would love to see on the Raptors. I was one of those who thought that Portland won the Randolph deal by acquiring Frye who still hasn’t reached his potential and needs more minutes to show just how productive he can be. As for Outlaw, he’s improved his outside shooting to the point where you have to be cognisant of it when guarding him, same for Martell Webster who possesses the combination of athleticism, ability and skill that’s a coach’s dream. But hey, we got Jamario Moon who held his own against Outlaw for the most part of the game, yeah he got scored on a few times but the rookie never lost focus.

An awesome and hard-fought win for the Raptors where Bosh led the way and Parker provided key scoring early, Calderon pitched in late and Moon played good defense in overtime redeeming himself for his 4-point play foul. Let’s not forget Carlos Delfino who when he decides to be more than jump shooter can be real asset to us. Coming up next is Detroit which by all accounts and Las Vegas predictions should be an L, let’s see what the Raptors learned last week when they handed it to us at the ACC.

One-Liners:

* Outside shooting is such an important part of the Raptors that unless we don’t hit our outside jumpers at a minimum 45% clip, we’ll have trouble staying in the game.

* This game came down to who will step up defensively first and the Raptors did that through Bosh and Moon in OT. Calderon’s key steal on Aldridge iced the game.

* Charles Barkley things Portland will miss the playoffs. That’s just crazy talk.

* You must check out Darrick Murray Martin and his “big balls” dance.

* It’s hard to find a weakness in Brandon Roy’s game but if you look really hard you’ll notice that if you force him to drive, help if he beats his man and rotate properly, you can contain him.

* We need to get Kapono some looks, he’s being wasted right now and is given zero space on the perimeter. It’s a tough situation for the Raps. Maybe we need to put him on the same side as a Bosh post-up so his man is the one that’s helping on the Bosh doubles.

* Bargnani wasn’t awful today, he had a couple hoops but got bit by foul trouble. It’s almost like he doesn’t know the rules in the NBA about hand-checking and what constitues a foul. When he does get called for fouls, he’s got that look which says, “That’s a foul?!?!??”. He should’ve taken Roy to the rim on the post-up, instead he shot the ball like it was a time-bomb.

* Jarret Jack helped us out by going 4-16, Aldridge was 5-17 but Bosh had a lot to do with that.

* Raps get out-manned 52-44 on the boards but make up for it at FT line 18-23.

* Best game of the year so far.

* Podcast #2 tomorrow. If you missed the first one, click here.

Later.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 32 Comments »

The ‘Fino and CB4 lead the Raptors in one of the better wins of the season over the Rockettes

Posted by Arsenalist on December 9, 2007

Houston Rockets 80, Toronto Raptors 93

A solid win triggered by the defense and headlined by Chris Bosh’s gritty return. When we were down 16-2 to start the game it felt like the Boston game hadn’t ended with Shane Battier draining open threes after mild penetration. Houston’s domination didn’t last long as the Raptors stepped it up on the defensive end congested the area around Yao Ming forcing him to take hook shots and jumpers that we could take our chances with. Anthony Parker’s defense on the perimeter has been poor of late and was the same early on but Parker, Delfino and Moon kept McGrady on the perimeter and forced a bad shooting night out of him. We never let the likes of Mike James, Stevie Francis or Chuck Hayes get off and that was the key to success.
you reach i teach mcgrady bosh

Every win has a spark and in this one it was undoubtedly the play of Carlos Delfino who ignited a third quarter rally where we converted an 11 point deficit into a 6 point lead. After the ineffective and surprisingly shot-happy Jamario Moon was pulled, Delfino came in to score two key baskets to start the run and the Raps never looked back. Tracy McGrady did not have a good game and could’ve done a lot more for his team through rebounding and shot-creation for others but chose to take a back-seat. With Yao already struggling it signaled the end of the Rockets resistance. Every time I look at him, I go back 7 years and start thinking what could’ve been if Darrell Walker and Isaiah Thomas has shown a little respect and appreciation for him early on, it still hurts.

Chris Bosh’s (21/10/4 blocks) presence was felt in this game. Bosh struggled early in this game but continued doing what he does best: drive to the rim and get fouled or take a relatively high percentage shot. As long as he keeps doing that and doesn’t force his game towards the perimeter, he will be the core reason why the Raptors will win games. He made T-Mac play defense in the critical third quarter and had a few huge blocks which either ended Houston fast breaks or started ours. This was a typical hard-nosed performance by Bosh where he wasn’t seduced by that slutty jumper and kept going into the paint and getting what he can there. I love it when he plays like this. I’m critical of Bosh when he plays bad and doesn’t apply himself as best as he can and all that is well deserved but it’s game like these where someone watching the game thinks, “Man this guy really knows how to help this team”. Let’s hope it continues, CB4 led by example today and then reflected on his time out.

“I want everybody to play with confidence, that’s the major thing that I saw was missing when I was out. It’s not about what I bring to the table, it’s about us feeding off of each other and making each other play hard.”

Sam Mitchell’s halftime interview where he mentioned “shats” at least five times was a little aggravating, he cited the reason for us being down 11 to entirely “not making shots” but that was hardly the case. We significantly tightened up our defense, made a considerable effort to run the ball and hit the offensive glass hard. And yeah, we also made our shots. Although our offense is predictable as can be, it’s still sweet when the individual brilliance of some of our offensive players pulls us through. Give The Sam credit for doing whatever he did at halftime. Kris “The Hustler” Humphries has one great game every week, he gets his jumper going, the offensive rebounding is there, he’s out on the break finishing and playing excellent help defense. Today was that game prompting Chuck Swirsky to exaggerate the trade of Hoffa for him as “one of the best steals in the NBA”. Riiight.

The one thing that I just don’t understand is why we can’t replicate our defensive intensity on a nightly basis, I can see the shots not falling every night but I just don’t understand how our rotation and perimeter defense can be so bad in one game and be brilliant (for three quarters at least) in the next. This was our first really good win of the season. Up until now we’ve only been beating teams we’re supposed to beat and losing to better teams or teams that are on par with us. Tuesday in Atlanta will be tough and we expect Bargnani to be back, should be a great game. A winnable won too.

One-Liners:

* Delfino’s rebounds are always in-traffic and contested, not of the cheap kind that just roll out to you.

* Bring back the ’95 jerseys for a few games this year.

* Chuck: Why is it called a “backdoor” Leo?

* Jerry Colangelo is really an Assistant GM for the Raptors.

* The over/under on the next Juan Dixon sighting is mid-January. Same for Maceo Baston.

* Does T-Mac look a little overweight?

* Yao Ming is an 87% FT shooter? When did this happen?

* At one point during this game I felt sorry for Steve Francis.

Thanks for reading and get the feed. Check out AltRaps for continuing coverage of the game.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 6 Comments »