Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Posts Tagged ‘knicks’

Watching casually as the Raptors beat the Knicks

Posted by Arsenalist on October 9, 2008

New York Knicks 111, Toronto Raptors 113

It’s very hard to judge a preseason game because you don’t know whether to attribute mistakes to rust or inability. How seriously does one look at missed defensive assignments, box-out problems and general chaos on the defensive end? Is it just a bunch players trying to get a run in or is there a bigger purpose to this? Although we won the game it felt like there were many things wrong with the way we played not the least of which was our team defense. On the other hand we saw some good positive play which if replicated throughout the season could give us a chance to win a lot of games. Instead of analyzing the overall team and individual play to death, I’ll just try to point out some of the things that went right and some that went wrong:

Chris Bosh: Good: A very good scoring game, most of his points came by taking the 15 to 21 foot jumper. The jumper looks smoother and he’s got a lot of confidence in it. He’s setting an example for his teammates by diving for loose balls and playing the boards aggressively Bad: Took a lot of jumpers and we never saw a single post-up move from him. The one time he did post-up he took a fadeaway….and made it.

Jermaine O’Neal: Good: Looked rusty, his bread and butter move is the drive into the paint, stopping on a dime and either shooting over the defender or powering into him for a layup. He executed it successfully a couple times and got fouled twice. The jumper looked sharp even though me missed a couple. Got early position by establishing himself in transition and made an impact. Bad: Either wasn’t very into rebounding today or just had a bad game where he was in the wrong position a little too often. Got dunked on by Chandler. Pretty bad too.

The chemistry with Bosh is coming and you can see that that they’ll be using the hi-lo a lot. Chris Bosh is making an honest effort in trying to establish a 1-2 game with O’Neal and is trying hard to feed him the ball.

Roko Ukic: Good: Showed a very nice tendency to drive the ball into the paint and create off of the bounce. Solid in his defensive stance although couldn’t check Crawford or Marbury when matched up with them. Played a little point with Solomon and some off-guard with Calderon and showed that he could contribute for 5-8 minutes a game….against the Knicks. Bad: Defense is an issue but you’re not going to notice it on a night like this because everything was in shambles. The 3-shot foul on Crawford was unacceptable but he’ll learn.

Andrea Bargnani: Good: Displayed a much smoother mid-range jumper which had a “float” aspect to it rather than the usual line-drive. Made an effort to play inside; always looked to post-up first rather than just stand at the three-point line. Even the jumpers he hit started off with him either posting-up or catching the ball near the rim. Had a couple nice drive to the rims where he finished one of them. Had a nice block on Randolph. Bad: Couldn’t really see the improvement in rebounding technique, its early but he got caught a ball-watching a couple times.

Jason Kapono: Good: Showed once again that he can drive to the rim. Bad: The shooting was off-target but its early, no need to be concerned. We all know what he can do.

Willie Solomon: Good: Has a little TJ Ford to his game. Doesn’t mind jacking up shots and has a good enough stroke to make you pay for playing off of him. Hard-nosed defender but we only saw glimpses of that today since the overall team play was so poor. Bad: Could not penetrate a not-so-tough Knicks defense as much as you would’ve liked. Content to stay on the perimeter rather than create by force.

Kris Humphries: Good: Very nice game. Couple put-back dunks, boxed his man out, showed an ability to finish in traffic and always hustled. It’s basically even between him and Bargnani right now. Good: Took a couple 16 footers and missed them badly (as expected).

Jamario Moon: Good: Made his jumpers. Bad: Took way too many jumpers, he never looked to drive the ball and when he finally did in the fourth quarter it ended badly for him.

Jose Calderon: Had a rather anonymous game where he hit a few jumpers, had some bad passes, had trouble guarding Marbury and pushed the ball up the court without actually pushing the ball up the court. It’s hard to get a take on his game right now except to say that he’s definitely in cruise-control and is picking the spots where he decides to go hard in pre-season. There’s an article out there today which talks about him and new role (which is a lot like his old role) except its full-time.

Matt Devlin: Good: He’s not Chuck Swirsky. Bad: He’s not Chuck Swirsky. He’s a little monotonous and boring but I’m all for that. I’d much rather have my brain do the analyzing than have it done for me. Article in G&M about him today.

Again, its tough to read too much into this game, you have to like the way Chris Bosh played and its easy to appreciate what Jermaine O’Neal brings to the table. Somewhere in the muck that is our roster there could be a good 7-man rotation. It’s exciting to see Ukic and I can see him being a good solid NBA player, he might even take less time to develop than Calderon. So there’s another reason to thank Rob Babcock. The defense was a big mess, close-outs were non-existent, pick ‘n roll defense was bad and the concentration level wasn’t there. The offense basically worked through one-on-one moves and the pick ‘n roll wasn’t featured as much as we’re used to but even so we managed to score rather easily. Again, its the Knicks and its the preseason so I’m willing to let a lot of things slide.

The Knicks appear to be a free-wheeling team that aren’t scared to jack-up shots regardless of quantity or quality. It makes them more fun to watch and they look like they want to be on the court which alone counts for something in the New York media. David Lee and Nate Robinson were impressive, both broke down the Raptors defense with relative ease and always looked to cause problems. At the end of the day the Raptors defense tightened up a little and Will Solomon made a couple big shots to ice the game.

We got a good run in, that’s what counts.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , | 11 Comments »

Screw it, I’m following the Knicks

Posted by Arsenalist on September 29, 2008

I’ve decided to give up on the Raptors and follow the Knicks as my “favorite team”. This decision came last night after a lengthy and through-provoking discussion with my shrink who advised me to look out for my long-term happiness rather than get mired in the insecurities of the tumultuous near future. He told me that when it’s all said and done, money talks and bullshit walks. Now granted that this doesn’t sound like a sage’s advice as the $300/hr rate might lead you to believe but Dr. Stein did make a lot of sense. Says he that since I’m so emotionally involved with the well-being of the team and since that such well-being also determines the well-being of the people I live with (I throw chairs at people), it is best that I invest in sureties rather than risks. Naturally, I asked him what this had to do with me following the Knicks seeing how they’ve become the scum of the NBA and how even New Jersey laughs at them. The answer was surprising yet convincing.

According to The Stein the Knicks will amass more wins over the next 10 years than the Raptors and will always be closer to a title than us for decades and possibly centuries to come. When I heard that my first instinct was to get up and take a piss in Stein’s vase of petunias which serves as the centerpiece of the table between my couch and his chair. Unfortunately, I had just visited the bathroom so there was no need to go again. Instead I got out of my reclining position, sat on the couch, put my elbows on my knees, crossed my hands and gave The Stein the same look Arnold gave the Predator when he was covered in mud and said, “Say what?”. Stein told me to relax and sit back and think about the facts, then he said the following:

Mr. Arse, you’ve been a 10-year patient of mine and I owe it to you to tell the complete truth and nothing but the truth. So I regret to inform you that although the Raptors will surely out-perform the Knicks this coming season and maybe even the next, the balance of power will hardly shift towards Toronto in the long-term. The Knicks will always have more money to spend and will always attract free agents just because of where they play. Sure, the last few years have been tough because of Isiah but things will come to pass, they’re not going to be stuck in salary cap hell forever and eventually when Curry, Randolph, Marbury and other such lard contracts will expire they’ll get a chance to reset. Sooner or later they’re going to get a real GM, maybe even Colangelo, and end up climbing the ladder of respectability.

Of the 13 seasons the two clubs have been in the league together the Knicks have had the better record nine times. That doesn’t sound like much but its the percentage that I think will hold true for the next millennium unless the core principles of running the Toronto Raptors migrates from running a profitable business to striving to win an NBA title. I’m not saying both can’t happen but when priorities are scheduled the latter needs to take precedence. The Knicks might be a dysfunctional team with incompetent management but deep down their core principle is right: they’re trying to win a title. How successful they’ve been of late hardly matters, the current suffering is bound to end because the goal of the organization is still more viable for fan happiness than the Toronto Raptors.

I’ve also noticed that you have a subconscious inferiority complex about the Raptors which can’t be justified. Sure, we play in Canada – the supposed wasteland of the NBA – where we need to overpay players to sign with us, beg them not to leave and hope to hit a home-run in the draft rather than just pick out free agents every summer. Deep down you know that this city is far superior to almost all other NBA cities but yet we still need to resort to these measures just to keep the seats filled. You’re wondering whether it will ever end and there will be a summer where we won’t have to worry about either bringing someone in or keeping someone here, we could just relax and put agents on hold as they call us. Truth is that its likely never to happen, especially with a strong Canadian dollar (good for business, bad for players), higher living expenses and stringent tax laws. You’ll always be fighting this emotional battle which will end up leaving you (if it hasn’t already) barely satisfied with the current roster and wishing/hoping that at least 10 things go right for your team to have a shot at something meaningful. Stop lying to yourself. Please.

So consider the switcharoo to becoming a Knicks fan. I understand that your loyalty lies with the team that is geographically closer to you (in this case 500 meters) but as your doctor I’m concerned about your health and would advice the switch to be made within the next two years.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Atlantic Division predictions

Posted by Arsenalist on September 14, 2008

Why not? There’s nothing going on anywhere so it’s time I write the ultimate filler post. Without further ado:

Boston: The Celtics trinity are a year older but they’re still only 31, 32 and 33, one could even argue that they’re in their prime. They lost James Posey who was instrumental in their title run but as we’ll see this season that when you have three Hall of Famers on the roster, you tend to make up for things like that. The Big 3 might be a year slower but Rajan Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, Leon Powe and Baby Davis all gained experience last year that should help the Celtics in the regular season. Short of the Celtics putting it in cruise control and waiting for the playoffs, the Atlantic division is theirs. I highly doubt Boston will “take it easy” during the season because they realized last post-season how important home-court advantage in the playoffs can be. They’re not going to challenge for 70 wins but they’ll win the Atlantic.

Philadelphia: The second spot in the division has to go to either the Raptors or Sixers and I’m leaning towards Philly for two reasons: 1) They play better defense and 2) They play harder. They also happen to have more talent and athleticism across the board with Dalembert, Iggy, Brand and Miller headlining the roster and the team has their coach’s attention, something that can’t be said for the Raptors. Philly has a tight unit that can run, slash, block shots, rebound and starting this year, play in the post. There’s also something to be said for having a PG who can penetrate at will and pass it off to two double-team threats in Iggy and Brand, it’s combination like these that make for fourth quarter scores. Philly edges the Raptors to take second place.

Toronto: The team with the most “ifs” in the division. The hope is to finish with home-court in the conference but that would likely mean finishing above Philadelphia which is hard to see happening unless many things go right. Not saying it can’t happen, just that the odds are against us. Areas of concern last year were: perimeter defense, rebounding, fourth quarter scoring/lack of SF production. Of those three major needs we seem to have addressed one – i.e: rebounding. The Raptors are hoping that the players who played mediocre or bad last year simply play better and produce more. They’re hoping that Bargnani’s miserable season (BTW, great piece on Andrea Bargnani at Hoops Addict) was an anomaly and he can get back to terrorizing centers by taking them off the dribble. They’re hoping that the “addition by subtraction” at the PG spot works out in their favor and that Jermaine O’Neal returns to All-Star form and out-play the Dalembert-Brand combo in Philadelphia. Sam Mitchell needs to gel the team like Mo Cheeks did last year and I simply don’t have the confidence in him. I’d like to think we could beat Philly by a game or two but the reality here is too much to ignore.

New Jersey: Vince Carter, Bobby Simmons, Yi, Devin Harris, Brook Lopez and CDR sound like a good young exciting team but there’s very little of substance here. The lazy Carter’s 15 million dollar contract sticks out like a sore thumb on a team that’s trying to rebuild from the ground up and get some momentum for their eventual move to Brooklyn. The priority here isn’t winning, its developing some young talent and hoping somebody takes Carter off their hands. At least they know exactly the direction they’re going in. The Nets will be fun to watch and might even surprise some people but at the end of the they’re a couple notches below the Raptors, Sixers and the Celtics.

New York: If the Knicks go with the lineup of Gallinari, Crawford, Jeffries, Duhon and Malik Rose they’ll manage to win a few games. This team plays hard as often as AC Green gets laid so its always going to be an uphill battle for them. Mike D’Antoni’s a run ‘n gun coach without a run ‘n gun team. It’s not going to surprise me if the Knicks falter and fail but if all things go right and Marbury returns to mediocrity along with Eddy Curry showing a glimpse of his Bulls days, they might challenge the Nets for the 4th spot.

That’s it for today. Grab the feed for Arsy Raptors stuff delivered to your RSS reader.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Riley likes Calderon but he’s not thaaat crazy + other shit

Posted by Arsenalist on May 26, 2008

Somebody feed me a trade rumor so I can keep these daily posts going. Its only May and already the off-season is becoming unbearable with no Raptors activity or news. The club should hire a press secretary just like the White House whose job it is to come out to a podium at the ACC everyday and give a statement, even if dick all is going on. Something like, “Today we have no news but hopefully we’ll have news tomorrow”. And on the days something does happen like Colangelo glancing at a player in a random practice somewhere, we should be notified of every last detail about the player including the birthmark on his inner-right thigh along with the percentage chance of the Raptors offering him a contract. That would keep things moving along nicely.

Now if you were paying close attention to the Raptors during the season you would’ve noticed that Pat Riley is totally in love with Jose Calderon. Riley being a Calderon fan is hardly something unique in the NBA but would he trade the second pick just to get his hands on the Spaniard? Would he pass up a chance at Michael Beasley or Derrick Rose for a 26 year old point guard that has trouble guarding his own shadow and was basically the second best player on a bad NBA team? I doubt it but maybe Riley’s getting soft in the skull as he grows older.

The Knicks could have the top 3 picks in the draft and they’d still fuck things up, so I don’t know why they’re treating that 6th pick like its a chance to draft Michael Jordan. Believe it or not the best thing they could do is trade that pick to a team for expiring contracts as long as they’d take Eddy ‘This vehicle makes wide right turns’ Curry and Zack ‘I swear I have a neck’ Randolph with them.

Pop Quiz: The Raptors have picked at #17 once before, who did they pick? Tick tock tick tock tick tock…Ha! It was Michael Bradley! Another interesting totally unrelated tidbit: Jason Maxiell was picked 26th the same year we picked Joey Graham. Last year’s #17 pick? Sean Williams. The year before that? Shawne Williams. That’s scary!

Here’s a thought: if the Detroit Pistons lose this series they’ll be inclined to blow things up because it’ll be the third straight year they’d lose in the conference finals. Serious GMs don’t stand for that shit and given the emergence of Rodney Stuckey and Arron Afflalo, there might be a SG sale in Detroit and picks would do the trick. The first two to go might be Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton and the Raptors would be wise to inquire about Hamilton who at 30 still has 3-4 excellent years left in him. Hamilton would finally give us a legitimate scorer at the guard position since Vince Carter and if one of Ron Artest or Corey Maggette could be added to the roster via trade, it would make us an instant force. I know, I’m dreaming and should probably end this paragraph but not before giving a link to some Richard Hamilton/Ray Allen history.

Here’s something that’s been on my mind a lot – flopping. The reason there’s so much of it in the league isn’t because of Euros or players diving or any of that cuntiness, its because of the NBA rules and the officiating that backs it up. The officials are so quick to call a charge that they ignore when the defender got their ‘position’ and are inclined to forgive any lateral movement that the defensive player was making while the offensive player was in the air or after he had ‘gathered’ the ball. About 50% of the charges called in the NBA right now are either no-calls or defensive fouls. Its become quite aggravating seeing players credited as being good defenders just because they weaseled out of making a play and chose to twist themselves hoping to get some contact.

Joakim Noah got caught carrying a spliff after he was picked up for drinking in public. How dumb can you get? This also forever bans him from the list of “character guys” GMs such as Bryan Colangelo would ever bring on their team regardless of talent. On an entirely different note, did you know Joakim Noah’s mom was some sort of supermodel?

I don’t know if you necessarily need to be deranged to write for The Bleacher Report but you certainly have to be a daft cunt. In today’s excrement of an article, the writer proposes that it would be beneficial for the Raptors to trade T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston, and Joey Graham for Allen Iverson. How pointless for all parties involved. Consider subscribing to their RSS feed for gems such as these and other unintended humor.

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

I didn’t know it was this easy to get a win at Madison Square Garden these days

Posted by Arsenalist on January 11, 2008

Toronto Raptors 99, New York Knicks 90

Update: First Ever Podcast

“The First One, It Kinda Sucks”Download It! (Size: 6.8 MB, Length: 7:07)

Or you can play it by staying on this very page:

Warning! It’s so bad that I couldn’t bear listening to it once I had recorded it. I had to get the first one out of the way. It’ll get better.


Chuck Swirsky is taking a lot of the fun out of watching Raptors basketball for me, from berating the other team on every opportunity to ignoring every mistake made by the Raps, it’s all getting a little ridiculous. It’s funny how Randolph being benched is brought up every 2 minutes but when Bargnani is exiled to the bench it’s rarely mentioned. I’m embarrassed for the Raptors because some of these games are broadcast on NBA League Pass and our crew comes out looking like the biggest homers short of Tommy Heinsohn. The Salami and Cheese thing really has reached it’s saturation point and needs to be shelved for good. It’s insulting to the other team even though he’ll claim it’s all in good fun. Plus, it actually ends up jinxing the Raptors because every time he calls it the other team goes on a run and he’s left trying to save face with asinine comments like, “it’s a little too late for a Knick run with 4 minutes left” – the Knicks were down by 10!

Anyway, that didn’t stop me from enjoying this game from all angles: Knick fans, Isiah, Randolph, Curry and even good ‘ol Gren Grunwald and his broken right foot. While enjoying their suffering (Schadenfreude I believe) I kept thinking to myself that Bosh might’ve had a 60 point game if he didn’t bother taking 20 footers for half the game, clearly he can get to the rim anytime he wants, so why bother with the springer. Oh wait, I had answered my own question in a previous post. Chris was looking for his points tonight but was wise enough to pass quickly out of double teams setting the Raptors wheels in motion as the Knick defense (missing entirely until the 4th) self-destructed. We did have some help from Isiah who chose to send a message to Zach Randolph by benching him early because of a verbal argument. Eddy Curry looked to be of a similar fate in the first half although his crime was much less apparent. Surprisingly Renaldo Balkman was the only Knick big to administer any discomfort as the rest were either ineffective or benched. Thanks Isiah!

As for the Raptors, they did nothing special either. Chris Bosh dominated the game by looking to score every time and on a night when the Knicks were having trouble putting anything together, he could afford to miss a lot of jumpers. Calderon didn’t shoot the ball well but increased his AST to TO ratio going 8/1 which will ensure a good night’s sleep for Swirsky. Let’s give Jamario Moon some credit today because over the last couple games he’s been really disciplined about not taking bad shots and has stepped up his defense to the point where he’s not gambling, contesting shots and positioning himself for every reasonable rebound. Another hustle player, Kris Humphries bounced back from a Sam benching to hit a couple nice fadeaways and grab 7 important rebounds, a couple late in the fourth. The Raptors bench isn’t close to being as productive as it was earlier in the year with Delfino, Kapono and Dixon struggling but it’s shown a couple signs in the last two games. Of course having Jose start decimates the second team so maybe it’s wiser to wait until TJ comes back and then reevaluate the second unit.

There’s not much negative to write about Bargnani either who showed a pulse on offense by making a nifty pass to Bosh after posting up Nate Robinson and hit a couple jumpers which reminded me a little of how important he can be when he’s playing well. David Lee getting the better of him on a FT rebound was really sad to watch but I’m happy with Bargnani’s 7 points, 2-2 FG and 2 rebound performance. I’m not even being sarcastic, I’m happy. Remember folks, with this man, we need to take small, baby steps. That or start Bargnani Sucks Ass threads on Real GM. Take your pick. Mitchell weighs his words carefully but does call out Andrea’s rebounding:

“I think people are on Andrea, rightfully so, because he hasn’t had games on a consistent basis where he’s got double-digit rebounds. Until he starts doing that, that’s going to be a fair criticism of him and that’s understandable. If he’s going to play the position, he’s got to do it.”

I remember the days I used to circle the four Knick games on my calendar when the schedule came out in anticipation of all the little individual and team rivalries that we had going. Sprewell, Carter, Childs, Oakley, Jackson, Camby, Butch, Lenny, JVG, oh man. Those were really some great games. The garden used to be rocking and there wasn’t a dull moment from the first quarter on. I’m one of the few Raptors fans that actually wants the Knicks to be a good team just so we can recreate that rivalry that was as good as any in the league. I guess I’ll have to wait another three years according to Glen Grunwald who still says a lot without actually answering a question. The thing I remember most about Grunwald was that speech at Maple Leaf Gardens where he literally brought me to tears at the end of the season. It was the same game Allen Iverson dunked over four Raptors incluing Marcus Camby.

This paragraph belongs to Anthony Parker who even when struggles doesn’t lose confidence in his game. He’s had some miserable games during the season but has never let up his offensive, defensive and rebounding efforts. He hit a key three in the fourth quarter which restored the lead to 14 and kept the Knicks in check. There was some talk that he has a high trade value and should be traded since we’re not winning an NBA championship this year anyway. I completely disagree with this line of thinking, the Raptors have been a team that always loses its good players for the sake of the “future”. Well, the future is now and even though we’re not going to win the EC this year, it’s still good to make it to the second or third round of the playoffs and get some post-season experience under our belt. No team has ever won a title without losing in the middle rounds for a few seasons in a row, I say we start that losing streak.

Check the boxscore, it tells you all about how the Knicks shot 51% in this game and still managed to lose. For once the rebounding numbers were in our favor (43-33, 11 offensive) which created a ton of second chance points and ticked off valuable minutes late in the game. Isiah must be perplexed at how well the Knicks ended this game but failed to show the least bit of desire, ability or even interest for the better part of the game. The three guys that played well (and by well I mean hard) were Nate Robinson, Rolando Blackman and Jamal Crawford, aside from those three nobody cared. Well, maybe Randolph did but he was riding the pine from first quarter on.

Up next is a revenge mission against Portland. We blew the game on the west coast and need to earn a requital against Brandon Roy and Co. who have won 46 of their past 47 games – or so it seems like.

One-Liners:

* The ESPN game menu is better than the NBA.com one.

* If Nate Robinson had finished that putback jam, it would’ve been the end of Bargnani’s career.

* Anybody notice the hot black chick next to the Raptors fans they showed in the end?

* Rod Black thinks Sam’s temper is inversely proportional to the size of the Raptors lead.

* We missed about 10 WIDE OPEN shots today. Even the dead-eye Calderon missed about four he usually drains.

* I’m not talking about it much but aside from Bosh, we were exclusively a perimeter team. I would hate to see what would’ve happened if Curry and Randolph had their minds right for this game.

* Carlos Delfino needs to play better and smarter for us, he’s too good to just side-step and take a jumper. As for Kapono, I’m waiting for Sam to do something to get him some shots. He’s being wasted right now.

* Somebody please explain to me what Joey Graham did wrong to get the yank after 4 minutes.

* Darrick Martin played a halfway effective backup PG today. I guess he’s ahead of Dixon in the depth chart again.

Later.

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