Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Posts Tagged ‘Indiana Pacers’

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.

Liners:

* 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.

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.

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

Kapowned!

Posted by Arsenalist on December 15, 2007

Toronto Raptors 104, Indiana Pacers 93

I’ll say little about the game because if you saw it you know it was a gutsy effort on the road that speaks volumes about the potential for this club. If you didn’t see it, maybe NBA.com can help you out. Down 17 in the third quarter this had all the ingredients of a loss that might make you wonder if we can ever shed the .500 mark: bad defense, stagnant offense, confined to the perimeter, you know, the usual. That’s when the defense picked up after the injection of Carlos Delfino and that’s when Jason Kapono and Jose Calderon led the charge that brought us back into the game. After that it was just riding Kapono’s hot outside shooting for a big road win.

Let’s dedicate this post to Jason Kapono. Not since Dell Curry have I seen a trigger man with a release like Kapono’s. And even then I might argue that Kapono’s is better because he’s shot-ready faster than Curry was. A debate for another day. Just take a look at the sweet stroke:

Indiana dominated this game for the better part of the evening and if it weren’t for Kapono getting hot from the outside and Kris Humphries escalating his interior defense on Jermaine O’Neal while also scoring in the paint, this was going to be a loss. CB4 kept us in this game early by playing smart interior basketball and was our primary rebounding force all the way until the end. Enough can’t be said about Kris Humphries and his contribution on both ends of the floor, you expect the defense but when you get the offense it just gets sweeter.

Contrast Hump’s plays with that of Bargnani’s (two very bad looking offensive fouls) and you notice a man playing with confidence and a man who is unsure of what he wants to do on the floor. It’s getting a little embarrassing watching Bargnani out there and although I STILL think he’ll get out of his funk and end up contributing to this team, he looks very, very confused out there. Hopefully him and the coaching staff can sort things out and get him game-ready but as Jack Armstrong said, “a lot of this game is played between the ears” and I’m not sure of Bargnani’s mental makeup. This stretch is the first test of his NBA career and so far he’s not handling it well, we’ll see how he does in the big Boston game coming up.

Good to be a Raps fan, solid fight-back win in Indiana where it looked like we’d get blown out at one point. I didn’t even talk about Calderon because we’re all so used to him being brilliant that it doesn’t even get mentioned anymore.

One-Liners:

* Example of Chuck Swirsky’s hypocrisy: Chuck questions Jim O’Brien decision for not taking out O’Neal with three fouls. Jack Armstrong mentions Sam Mitchell’s done the same with Bosh. Chuck changes topic.

* Jamaal Tinsley is a very good player who Jose Calderon had issues guarding. Lucky for us whatever damage Tinsley did, Jose countered.

* Chris Bosh took too many jumpers to start the fourth quarter. I know it’s overly critical but Bosh should be driving to the rim 90% of the time.

* I’ll bet money on Jose Calderon draining a wide open three over Anthony Parker.

* If Kris Humphries starts draining that 15 footer, he’ll average 15pts a game this year.

* Juan Dixon played well in limited minutes, his spell in the second quarter kept the Raps in the game.

* I don’t want to see Jamario Moon shooting after he hesitates, those never go in.

* Carlos Delfino, Carlos Delfino, Carlos Delfino, Carlos Delfino, Carlos Delfino…..

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

Raptors do enough things right to beat Pacers, a team we’re supposed to beat

Posted by Arsenalist on November 16, 2007

Indiana Pacers 101, Toronto Raptors 110

chris bosh attacking the rim
Technically this wasn’t a must-win game but if we would’ve lost tonight, massive alarm bells would’ve gone off, after all you can’t allow the Pacers to snap their five game losing streak on your home floor. So the Raps dug deep, did enough good things on the floor to ensure that they won a game that they’re supposed to win. There’s no reason to celebrate too much after a win against a team you’re expected to beat but there were some encouraging signs that might make all Raptors fans feel a little better about the next few games. For a change, Chris Bosh stayed aggressive for all four quarters and anytime he attempted a shot outside of 15 feet he missed so bad (thank God) that he resorted right back to driving to the rim. With Bosh supplying the inside presence needed on both ends, the game opened up for the snipers and Calderon, Kapono, Delfino and Parker nailed enough jumpers to take away a deserved win. Our PGs made good decisions and when given space, nailed the shots the defense conceded. 30 points and 17 assists for Forderon and we’re 5-0 when we score a 100 points which means if our offense isn’t stuck in a rut we have a good chance of winning.

Jorge Garbajosa unexpectedly came out of the doghouse to play 24 minutes and had a couple threes along with six rebounds. It’s good to see Garbo play well the same day Dave Feschuk (who’s actually readable this year) suggested that the Garbo situation couldn’t possibly end happily here in Toronto. What’s inexplicable is figuring out what the difference between today’s game and the Jazz game was that Garbo deserved time today but not on Wednesday. Ideas? I sure have none. Despite starting off the third quarter hitting everything and racking up assists, Sam took out TJ Ford and put in Jose Calderon until the end. I’ll commend Sam for actually sticking with Calderon the entire fourth quarter and not screwing this up by putting back an ice-cold TJ Ford like the Magic game. But if I’m TJ Ford, I’m really confused on why I didn’t play a single meaningful minute after the third quarter. But he’s a team player and he’s saying all the right things in the post-game interview. However, the beauty of winning is that nobody remembers these minor details. These minor details are even easier to forget when the bench has 48 points and the team has 26 assists on 38 made shots, a sure sign of a clicking offense where possessions are being converted in stride.

Raps again had early woes mostly thanks to some insane Indiana offensive rebounding, Jermaine O’Neal playing like an All-Star and some great shooting by Troy Murphy and Travis Diener (diminutive white man who can’t help but remind you of Luke Ridnour). The Raps did enough doubling in the second to make things uncomfortable for O’Neal and make sure that he doesn’t beat them. O’Neal is extremely though in one-on-one situations and there was enough help for Bosh that enabled him to not get in foul trouble and actually play good defense on O’Neal. Despite Bosh’s offensive struggles of late, he has been phenomenal on defense. The defense on Murphy was tightened enough so he had to work harder for his shots and this put the burden on Jamaal Tinsley who did everything he could humanly do to keep Indiana in the game but in the end when the Raps start hitting their jumpers, they’re very hard to beat. Even Jim O’Brien in the post-game tipped his hat to our shooters:

“They made some unbelievable shots…They’re very difficult to guard”

But there is one pretty dark stat on the scoreboard, it’s Andrea Bargnani. He is not a stiff and will end up being a pretty good player but right now he sure looks like a stiff. Less than five minutes played, no rebounds and three fouls. Not a very flattering line for Bargnani who was taken out in the first quarter and never saw the light of day again. So much for Chuck Swirsky predicting he would have a big game tonight. Hopefully getting his only shot embarrassingly blocked and picking up incredibly silly fouls doesn’t turns this two-game slump into a mental thing that might take weeks to cure. I don’t know how but somehow he’s got to get his confidence back to the level of where he can take a confident jumper and even if it doesn’t go in, he’ll continue working hard on the other end.

Excellent point guard play, strong inside presence courtesy of Bosh, very good spacing and good outside shooting pull the Raps through. Bosh isn’t close to being his best offensively but he’s on the right path. He’s shooting 93% from the FT line and that’ll keep him motivated to attack the rim, the jump shot will come sooner or later. Maceo Baston and Jamario Moon had nice enough games where neither was spectacular but did enough little things on the defensive end to help out on a night where their offense was definitely not needed. Anthony Parker’s 3rd quarter 3/4 court buzzer beater reminded me of…………………..yup, Mo Pete. Even though he’s not on this team and we’re probably better off for it, I still miss him. Something about him had Toronto Raptors written all over him and it’ll always be that way.

Some one-liners from the game:

  • Kris Humphries does not give up on any possession, the contract has breathed new life into him.
  • Jamario Moon has recoverability in his defense.
  • Maceo Baston looks like he can’t bend his knees without them making a cracking sound.
  • Jorge Garbajosa has extreme confidence in his 3pt shooting ability.
  • When Carlos Delfino starts nailing threes, the chances of us winning go up by 250%
  • Jose Calderon really doesn’t care who starts.
  • If it’s OK to for Jose and TJ to play at the same time in late game situations like tonight, how come it wasn’t against the Jazz, Magic and Celtics?
  • There’s a newer Mop Girl out there who might be hotter than the older one.
  • Jack Armstrong and Minerva from the Raptors Dance Pak are an item
  • Juan Dixon didn’t play for two games in a row now. If he just shows himself on the bench more Sam will remember him and put him in the game.

We’re 1-1 on this home-stand and got Golden State coming here on Sunday, that’s another game we should win. Thanks for reading, grab the feed.

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