Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Posts Tagged ‘leo rautins’

Leo Rautins and Basketball Canada

Posted by Arsenalist on July 25, 2008

According to Michael Grange, Leo Rautins could soon be fired as head coach of the Canadian basketball team. His dealings with Dalembert reminded me a little of how Butch Carter caused a fuss when he sued Marcus Camby in the middle of the playoffs that one spring. Sure, Camby played for the other team while Dalembert was one of our own but the disruption caused by the events can easily be pointed out as one of the reasons why the team lost.

Grange isn’t blaming Canada Basketball’s pathetic record on coaching alone, he says:

There is talent in Canada, too. It needs to be well-coached, to be sure. But no amount of coaching can make up for the lack of nurturing, money, commitment and planning required to turn talent into wins internationally.

The problems with this program obviously run deep and if their going to be fixed its going to happen from a top-down approach rather than by firing the coach. To fire Leo at this point would indicate that he’s a large reason why the team failed which simply isn’t true, you can’t blame a crack in the window for letting air in when the entire thing is shattered.

There is talent in Canada, I’ve seen it myself. I’ve seen it in gyms, in high schools and even in Canadian colleges and universities. Expansive scouting is the key to building any good program in any sport and it’s there that the program appears to be failing the country. We shouldn’t need NBA players like Steve Nash, Samuel Dalembert or Jamal Magloire to qualify for the Olympics, we should be able to find enough intelligent and talented players that if they play organized basketball a few times a year they’ll be gelled enough to compete in international competitions.

The other major problem with basketball in Canada is the lack of a legitimate pro-league which leaves many Canadians hanging out to dry. European countries like Croatia, Russia and many more all have basketball leagues where the natives are abundant and which allow the national team coach to handpick players from a collective talent pool. In Canada, when a good college player graduates and can’t find NBA or European employment he’s forced to move away from basketball to earn a living thus killing potential that could’ve helped the national team down the road.

You can argue that Canada’s not enough of a basketball country to support a pro-league enough to make it survive or make it financially feasible. You might be right there but this is where the “money argument” holds merit. You need money for a project like this to happen and if Michael Grange is to be believed, we don’t have any. After seeing how the National Basketball League folded, investors will be weary of supporting any proposition that might result in a repeat financial disaster and who can blame them.

Some things need to get worse before they get better and Basketball Canada is one of them. We need to hit rock-bottom and only then we’ll realize the severity of the issue and how embarrassing it is for the nation that invented the sport to consistently miss key tournaments. Somebody in charge somewhere needs to reflect of just how bad this program has been and maybe then they can set the wheels in motion that will tear this ship down and start a new one from scratch.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , | 12 Comments »

Philly rip Raps, Leo rips Dally, Croatia rip Canada

Posted by Arsenalist on July 18, 2008

The Raptors dropped one to Philly in Vegas. Up by a deuce with 16 seconds left, they let Philly tie it on a layup (think defensive breakdown) and committed an offensive foul to give them the ball back with four seconds left. This of course was enough time for Jamont Gordon to lay one in with 0.6 left.

The PG play was a bit better with Ewing and Lucas improving their shot selection enough to have more points than attempts. Joey Graham and Hassan Adams got their run in and the Raptors had a nice rally in the third where they cut down an 8 point deficit. Nathan Jawai didn’t play (presumably because of his injury) and Rod Benson finally got off the bench for 0 points in 4 minutes. Honorable mention goes out to CJ Giles for grabbing 12 rebounds and being very active on the glass. There’s no point talking about this game because we’re not going to be signing a single player from this roster that we haven’t already inked.

Leo Rautins ripped into Samuel Dalembert on the Fan 590 and called him a prima dona. There are rumours that fire was coming out of Leo’s nose and smoke out of his ears when he was speaking.

The game against Croatia was nothing short of a blowout as recorded so excellently by the Posted Sports Live Blog. As Grange points out there was never a doubt about who the superior team was as Croatia suffocated the Canadians into horrid shooting spells to take the game 83-62. Canada shot 27.1% for the game! So ends Canada’s Olympic dreams and so begins the speculation of what the future of Basketball Canada holds including Leo Rautins’ job status. The Raptors interest in the game was Roko Ukic who ended up with an unimpressive 1/5 for 3 points (box score). As the Posted Blog notes, the main fault today was the inability to execute on offense more than the Croatian defense and that blame must lie somewhere. The game repeats in the evening at 10PM on The Score.

They’re trying to come up with a nickname for the Oklahoma City team and some douchebag is saying that naming the Raptors the Raptors was a mistake and just a 90’s fad. I beg to differ, so what if Jurassic Park was the thing back in the day, the Raptors name still isn’t half bad. The real mistake was associating the color purple with the team which could only mean Barney! Aren’t dinosaurs supposed to be big, dark and menacing? Our early marketing never really captured that image. I’m happy with the name, I just wish they’d stop using the word “extinct” every time we get kicked out of the playoffs.

A nice post here about how Phoenix is no longer the attractive NBA market that it used to be because of the way Robert Sarver does business which is in stark contrast to how Jerry Colangelo did it. The report also suggests that the Suns are going after Shaun Livinston among other second-tier guards. Deron Williams has agreed to an extension with the Jazz and the Clippers have signed Kelenna Azubuike to an offersheet as the exodus from Golden State continues.

Jay Triano will help P.J Carlesimo lead the US Select team which now also features O.J Mayo. Triano is obviously a very well-respected coach whose involvement with USA Basketball speaks volumes about his credibility around the league and his coaching skills. I never got around to figuring out why he was made the scapegoat for Team Canada’s failures. He got the short end of the stick on that deal and I’m happy for the bloke anytime I see his name popping up anywhere. Future NBA head coach this man right here.

Quick one today.

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

It’s Friday and time for another Raptors weekend

Posted by Arsenalist on April 4, 2008

Digesting the Atlanta loss hasn’t been easy. Al Horford’s claims that he nipped the ball on it’s way to Ford is probably the card the NBA’s going to play in denying our appeal. Regardless of whether he nipped it or not, the NBA’s got the reasonable doubt it’s been looking. Plus, we did blow a 17 point lead and gave up 20 points in OT and are solely responsible for the loss. It should never have come down to the final half second but that doesn’t mean we weren’t wronged. Chuck’s blatant homerism drew some attention at Slam Magazine:

The funniest part of that clip is the way Raps play-by-play guy Chuck Swirsky is certain that the ball went in with time left. Even as replay after replay shows Ford’s hand touching the ball with the lights on. That actually made me laugh out loud. If Swirsky ever gets fired, it won’t be because he doesn’t support the Raptors.

Moving along.

The Bucks might be interested in Maurizio Gherardini and I say take him. Bryan Colangelo needs to balance the Euroness of this team with some old fashioned NCAA talent and it’s going to be tough convincing me that Gherardini knows half as much about the NCAA talent pool as he does about the European leagues. His influence on this team has been a positive one, he was key in the signing of Parker and had a hand in landing Garbajosa which he deserves credit for. I’m not sure he has the ability to scour through the 2008 eligibility list, target a sleeper and do what it takes to pick him. Leo Rautins might refer to him as The Godfather every chance he gets but that’s a tough sell to the knowing NBA fan.

Philadelphia’s continuing it’s stellar play and right now they have the inside track to that highly desirable 6th spot and frankly, they deserve it (Jason Smith’s already celebrating). They have an Atlanta date on Friday night and it should be interesting to see how they’ll do against a team the Raptors had serious issues stopping. Washington recently went a respectable 2-3 on their West coast swing (the one we went 0-5 on) thus setting up a tight race down the stretch. Lucky for us Washington and Philadelphia play each other on April 12th so if we sweep our remaining 7 games (possible but very unlikely), we’ll avoid the 7th spot. There’s something to aim for, but as has been the case so many times this season, we’ve looked at a stretch of games, deemed them winnable and proceeded to bomb the schedule. Expect no different here, unless we catch fire we’re looking at backing our way into the playoffs which is not the way you want to go in.

This is from a couple days ago but ESPN ranked the best foreign players and Jose Calderon came in at 8th, it’s a fair placement given the likes ahead of him. Jose’s got a telling quote in one of his earlier blogs which I didn’t catch, here it is:

My personal ambition is to be a starter in any team where I play, as well as to have the maximum responsibility in my team. But above this, I want to win.

If I was Jose Calderon, I’d leave the Raptors unless I was at the minimum guaranteed a starting spot. From his perspective the Lakers are a perfect fit. He would get to play with Pau Gasol, become the unquestionable starter and have a chance to win an NBA title. Unless Ford is cast out, all he’s going to get here is split playing time, constant controversy and a .500 team. From the Raptors perspective it’s a bummer but from his angle, he’d be a fool not to explore free agency in detail.

Chris Bosh won the Atlantic division’s NBA sportsmanship award, it’s the NBA’s way of giving us a consolation prize for the Atlantic. We’ll take it, bring on Antawn Jamison! Bosh can own him when it comes to ethical behavior, fair play and integrity.

We’ve lost 7 of our last 8 Friday night games, only two more to go: tonight against Charlotte and next week at home to New Jersey – I think we can end on a bit of a Friday high.

Here’s Nikki Reyes asking Andrea Bargnani some very meaningless questions and ending with something all Raptor fans want to know: Are Italian or Canadian women hotter? WTF?

Maciej Lampe is ready for the NBA. Get ‘er done BC.

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

Clueless 4th quarter stretch kills Raptors in Sacramento

Posted by Arsenalist on March 17, 2008

Toronto Raptors 100, Sacramento Kings 106

The first three quarters were marred by stretches of bad defense, spotty offense, turnovers and generally speaking, some low quality basketball on both ends. Both teams were thankful that the other hadn’t blown them out so the fourth quarter began with the Kings nursing a three point lead and the Raptors looking to salvage a win on this roadtrip before they get a lesson in Basketball 101 tomorrow in Utah. The game was up for grabs in the fourth quarter but the Raptors, not surprisingly, failed to execute down the stretch on both ends and the core flaws of this team were yet again exposed.

Let’s fast forward to the fourth quarter to the part where we’re intentionally fouling Sacramento to stretch the game. Who’s their best FT shooter? It’s Kevin Martin at 86.4%. Who do we allow to easily catch the ball four straight times and get fouled? Kevin Martin. There was zero ball denial being deployed and Martin iced the game going 6-8 and Sacramento grabbed the offensive rebound on his last missed FT (how fitting). The inbounds play where Delfino allowed Artest to walk right underneath the rim to catch and lay the ball in reminded me of Corliss Williamson in Game 5 of the Detroit series. It was that dumb and obvious. The Raptors weren’t even on the same page when it came to fouling, Mitchell wanted the Raptors to play defense with 34 seconds left but Jose Calderon didn’t get the memo and so began the fouling fiasco. Maybe it’s stretches like these that’s prompted TSN’s Tim Chisholm to openly rip Sam Mitchell:

Mitchell can (and does) blame the players all he wants, but his Raptors have become a purely reactive team because he coaches them that way. This is not a team that walks into a game knowing who they are and how they’re going to beat their opponent, they’re a team that looks to interrupt what their opponent does and hope that they fall apart like the Raptors do in similar circumstances. They never impose their will on their opponents, but rather try and counter every move their opponent makes against them, tacitly admitting that they can’t conceive of a plan to beat them in advance and giving all the psychological power that implies to the opponent.

Rasho Nesterovic’s soft hands and Jason Kapono’s outside shooting kept us in this game of runs where the first team to play defense was going to come out on top. Just like the Golden State fourth quarter, nobody played any real D, the Raptors just cooled off between the 2:40 and 1:04 marks of the quarter where Jamario Moon missed a three and Jose Calderon missed a jumper. On the other end in this same stretch Kevin Martin and Ron Artest got scores while Brad Miller hit 2 free throws. A 1 point game turned into a 7 point deficit and that’s all she wrote. Talk all you want about whether Jamario Moon is the guy to be taking threes in crunch time (and why Kapono was on the bench) but that’s a whole other topic. This paragraph is to let you know what key stretch cost us the game.

This blog is becoming pretty boring because I keep saying the same shit over and over again: Their guards got into the paint way too easily and created opportunities for everybody around them. 19, 17, 14, 32, 15. Those aren’t the lottery numbers, those are the point totals for Sacramento starters who were benefiting from PG penetration and the Raptors’ inability to fight through the pick part of the pick ‘n roll. For a team that runs the pick ‘n roll on eveerry siingllle plaaay the Raptors can’t defend it for shit, Jose Calderon is the worst when it comes to this. He firmly believes that going underneath on a shooter is a valid option as long as you flail an arm after the shot’s been taken. This is pretty basic stuff, almost man-you-ball basic. The rebounding was expectedly bad again, 50-36 is the final tally with Sacramento grabbing 5 key offensive boards in the crucial fourth quarter. Ho hum.

Looking at Mikki Moore (17/7) and his snake collection I can’t help but think that’s the type of guy this team needs. A banger, a banger that knows how to bang and rebound, and be angry and collect snakes. That’s what we need, a snake-collecting, mean, tattooed, angry, tough rebounder to set some things right. Plus he can hit the mid-range jumper better than Brezec, Hump and Bargnani. Yes, I said Bargnani. What did Sacramento get him for? 5.3M. We threw away four times that much on Jason Kapono who had his second great game of the year. Bryan Colangelo dropped the ball on this one, he knew Garbajosa had injury issues and didn’t address our interior defense need even after having an up-close view of Moore in the NJ series.

It’s becoming clear as my Dasani bottle that Jose Calderon and TJ Ford cannot coexist. I’m not being a drama queen nor am I a supporter of one over the other. They’re hampering each others games, Calderon hasn’t been the same since TJ got back and TJ hasn’t been the same since he’s been coming off the bench. Let’s face it, he’s over his injuries now so the deserving player should get the starting job and since TJ is our official starter, there’s no need for him to come off the bench anymore since you can’t really lose your job to injury. It’s not like the team is in some great rhythm that something might be disrupted if TJ starts. Maybe they can play better if they have well defined roles, like it was in the beginning of the season. What do you think?

Although they won’t admit it, the other is a distraction to them. More Ford to Calderon, than vice-versa. We need to get back to having a traditional PG setup and trade one of the two to address one of our many other needs. Which one do we trade? Do you really care? Is one of them that much better than the other?

This one hurt. Tomorrow in Utah will be very tough, Matthew Sekeres agrees.

Liners:

  • If Sacramento doesn’t commit 22 turnovers, this one might’ve not even been close.
  • Andrea Bargnani supporters, let’s hear it: 2-7 FG against a Kings team that doesn’t have a center. 37% shooting in the last five games? Why is he taking transition threes when he has the laterally challenged Brad Miller on him? Didn’t we draft him to blow by slower bigs? What gives? What are we waiting for? I thought this was the perfect opportunity for him to step up with Bosh being out? Huh? Anybody?
  • Sam Mitchell doubling Anthony Johnson with TJ Ford on him in the post is questionable. Johnson is not a great offensive player and even if he can score, why not let him make a shot before respecting his post-up game?
  • The Raptors need to get better at double-teaming. For starters, either do a hard double team or don’t do it at all. Poor Jose Calderon is often asked to provide temporary help on the post-up player which doesn’t bother him at all. All it does is pull Calderon out of place so his man can drift, catch a pass and make an open jumper.
  • Our close-outs on Kevin Martin, Ron Artest and Beno Udrih were very bad. We have to do a better job of keeping track of our man on the floor and must rotate briskly, quickly and with a purpose to shooters. I sound like a broken record but perimeter D and blow-bys are killing us.
  • Leo Rautins love Jason Kapono. Leo calling out TJ Ford as being the reason why Kapono missed clutch threes was asinine, Leo argued that Ford wasn’t finding Kapono on the floor and that cooled him off. Wrong! Only once did TJ not pass him the ball on the wing, that does not cool off the reigning 3-pt champ.
  • I want a job like Doug Smith. Sitting courtside, I promise you I’d report a helluva lot more than what he does.

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Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 42 Comments »

TJ Ford, villain or hero?

Posted by Arsenalist on March 13, 2008

Toronto Raptors 106, Golden State Warriors 117

Good fightback by the Raps but in the end it’s awfully hard to beat the Warriors at their own game. We fought valiantly but came up just a few chucks short of pulling a memorable victory at the Oracle. The Warriors just wouldn’t miss, they shot a blitzkrieg-like 56% and were hitting everything in the fourth quarter (73%). Our perimeter defense barely resisted and fell for the first drive-fake every time conceding Golden State an open 18-footer at their command, which Baron Davis and Monta Ellis did well to exploit. We tried to stay on pace by trading baskets and had TJ Ford leading the onslaught in the fourth but eventually the well dried up for him and a couple TJ misses and a Bargnani turnover was all it took to turn a 1 point lead into a 7 point deficit. Seeing how we were down 20, there’s a moral victory somewhere in here.

Anthony Parker had another solid performance (22/9) but took only two shots in the fourth which TJ had long before decided to be the time where he’d take the game over singlehandedly yet again. TJ went 4/9 in the quadrant and kept the Raptors in the game but in an entirely different manner than how the very effective Kapono/Parker/Delfino/Humphries/(Ford/Calderon) lineup had shaved the lead down from 20 in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Perhaps if we’d just stuck with team ball and had decided to continue to trust our teammates, our successful strategy of moving the ball around a porous GS defense would’ve also worked in the fourth. But this is a trend we’ve seen over the last couple weeks, TJ coming in and getting a high shot and point total but the Raptors end up losing the game because he eventually runs out of gas and points. A team high 18 shots off the bench for a team high 23 points. To his credit this time around he did have 8 assists but it’s hard to look at that after yet another fourth quarter where it was all points, no assists. Villain or Hero? You decide.

Andrea Bargnani needed more touches, his four turnovers weren’t very glamorous but he was 5-9 FG and looked to do the right thing on offense every time he had possession. Very similar to the Laker game, Bargnani needed to be involved in the plays early and often because Don Nelson’s side didn’t have a clue on who to put on him and Bargnani did well to exploit both size and quickness mismatches. If a better distribution of opportunities had fallen his way, he would’ve been in line for a bigger night. We can blame the others for not giving him the ball, but at some point you have to demand it by giving them a succinct message about how you won’t tolerate Delfino looking you off. Michael Grange made an honest post about some of the things that went wrong last night, I like his take on Kris Humphries, nothing that you didn’t already know but good to see it brought up:

This is a good example of why his playing time can be so erratic: Early in the fourth he hustles and draws a foul on a loose ball situation; hustles again and forces Golden State to lose the ball out of bounds after an offensive rebound on the same trip. So far so good. Then he takes a fading 18-footer with 20 seconds on the shot clock, which would be a bad shot for Bosh, and is unthinkable for the Hump, but he’s not always thinking.

The Raptors stayed in this game by shooting 50%, holding their own on the boards (38-40) and by going to the FT line. The technical area where this one was lost was perimeter man defense, missed rotations underneath and 17 costly turnovers leading to 21 points, a 54-38 points in the paint drubbing and a 23-5 ass-kicking in fastbreak points. Before the game even started it was known that the first team that would decide on playing defense would win the game. That wasn’t the case, neither team slowed down or picked up their D, it just so happened that we went dry before they did. The Raptors (especially the second unit) deserves a lot of credit for not folding after being down 20 early but slowly chipping the lead away in a professional and patient manner, not by jacking up threes.

You can’t really complain after this one, GS is leaner, meaner, more athletic, more talented and have a game plan, however crazy it is. They want you play an up and down game where the shot-clock is only 16 seconds long and any shot as long as it’s open is a good one. We got suckered into playing their game and although we competed, the chance of us winning in such a high-wire affair was always low. The alternate would’ve been to slow things down and force half-court execution but I’m not sure we would’ve fared much better. This was Sam’s type of game, no plays, just do whatever the hell you want but make sure you rebound. Simply put, the better talent one.

Liners:

  • Monta Ellis can get any shot he wants anytime he wants it. He tore us a new one in the first three quarters and Baron took over in the fourth.
  • I watched this entire game on mute. Sure, I missed a few things here and there but overall the experience was far more enjoyable, will do it more often. Any stupid Chuck/Leo convos?
  • Coming up is Denver which should be another L and after that is our only chance at a W in Sacramento. For those counting, the Wiz are 2 1/2 game back.
  • The Warriors came into the game as the best offensive (110.80 PPG) and worst defensive (107.64 PPG) team in the league. On this night, we beat them to the worst defense award.
  • If you happen to have a sick fetish for Primoz Brezec and want the Raptors to desperately resign him before he turns his back on us and goes on to join the Knicks and become league MVP, you might want to check out ResignPrimoz.com. I don’t know who’s behind the site but I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s Brezec himself.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 26 Comments »

Payback’s a bitch

Posted by Arsenalist on February 12, 2008

San Antonio Spurs 93, Toronto Raptors 88

“Let’s just say the language was PG.” That was the phrase used to describe Bosh’s demeanor in the third quarter by Rod Black who hasn’t figured out the motion picture rating scale just yet. When this was reported out of the huddle by the extraordinary journalist, the Raptors were getting spanked soundly by the Spurs at home and CB4 was in the midst of a miserable 3-11 FG performance where he looked exactly like the second-tier star that he is. Apparently Bosh was angry and agitated with his mates about the teams performance, the funny part about that is that the team wasn’t doing all that bad, it was Bosh that stunk the joint up by being a no-show in a statement game.

Pretend you didn’t watch the game and somebody told you the Raptors lost, what two reasons would you guess for the loss? Think about it, take a few seconds while I type a few ellipses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . if you picked rebounding and perimeter defense you’d be spot on. See, it’s come the point where you don’t even have to watch the game to know why they’ll lose. We got outmanned 46-34 on the glass and got burned by the Spurs’ perimeter ball movement which continuously carved us out with lot of the effects being felt in the paint. You’d figure that we’d defend Manu Ginobili a slightly different way after he’s already dropped 25 but no such luck, and there’s not even Sam to blame. The loss drags our record against the quality teams even further lending a significant hollowness to our overall record which stands at a seemingly constant 4 games over .500. Now when the month began, most of us had already circled this one as a L but to see it happen this way is disheartening. The loss isn’t bugging me as much as the way we lost it.

There were two plays that epitomized Chris Bosh’s performance, one of them was in the first half when he had Damon Stoudamire guarding him one-on-one at the top of the key and Bosh chose to uncork a fadeway jumper from 17 feet instead of getting the two easy point. The other play was a replica of the first one except it was Jacque Vaughan who was guarding Bosh when he launched another ungodly fadeaway. We needed him to go at Oberto and Elson with a vengeance but he chose to lay back, neither of the Spurs PF/C combo has the quickness to stay with Bosh but once again, he let them off the hook. With Bosh being a non-factor, it was left upto Jose Calderon to be the primary offensive threat and he tried his level-best to keep the Raptors in it but never got the help he needed from Parker, Bargnani or Kapono. Icy hot Carlos Delfino was the only other player who was ready to take on the challenge of the Spurs and his Argentinian pals. Not enough contributors on a night where we needed everybody to play at their level or better.

Let’s talk about Andrea Bargnani for a bit, he’s been playing a lot better of late even though his shooting percentage nor his rebounding is where we’d like it to be. But when you compare how awful he’s been for most of the year, you look at a 3-11 FG, 2 board performance and go, “Eh, he could be worse”. Or you try to justify it by saying that he at least tried to do some things right by attacking the rim and playing sound but ultimately ineffective defense on Duncan. Bluntly put, we need more output from him and I don’t even care about the boards. Although his size might suggest otherwise, most of us are starting to live with the fact that he’ll never be a great rebounder and are coming to grips with the reality that 80% of his contributions will come on offense. So on a night like this when Bosh may as well be on the bench, it makes his contribution even more important and when he comes up short, we don’t stand a chance. It’s only because of Calderon that this game was even close.

I was officially sick of it last week but now I am disgusted by Jamario Moon shooting jumpers like they were part of the game-plan. Leo’s lone good (and obvious) point in this game was that the jumper should be a supplement to Jamario’s game, not his primary offensive weapon. It’s when he starts thinking that his perimeter shot is the endpoint in the offensive set is when he needs to be benched, taken aside and given a lecture. The fact that one of the first shots of the game was a Moon deep jumper should tell you that the Raptors are a little unprepared. The Raps are one of those teams that need the first 15 plays of the game scripted, exactly what they do in important football games. It’ll get them off to a good start and help them avoid digging a 9 point hole which you struggle to get out of for the remaining 45 minutes. My point from yesterday about the Raptors coming out without any intensity at home was in clear view today as the Raps came out ball-watching instead of trying to kick-start the game.

Getting to the numbers, we shot 44% and allowed the Spurs to shoot 49% and grab 10 offensive rebounds including the most critical one when Manu Ginobili rebounded his own miss (for what seemed the 16th time) with 10 seconds left. A player who wasn’t boxed out ends up costing us a chance to tie the game. The defense on Ginobili was extremely suspect all game long, when you have a player that’s “in the zone”, you put a guy on him and tell him to not worry about anything but his man. I mean he shouldn’t look at anything but his opponent’s face and force him away from the things that he’s doing well. The Raptors simply didn’t do that, when Moon was guarding him, he was inexplicably offering help on Jacque Vaughan and Finley drives! WTF man? Just worry about Ginobili and make him put the ball on the floor and at least make him think about driving. Every time he did drive, he either didn’t finish or passed the ball off. If you’re a big Manu fan, check out this article which gives him the fellatio he deserves, apparently Greg Popovich’s PG interview consisted of two words:

“Manu Ginobili”

Deep, fucking deep. A word on the Spurs though, they were awesome to watch. The perimeter ball movement was crisp, the speed at which they recognized perimeter doubles was unbelievable and their inside-outside and outside-inside ball movement was timed perfectly enough to elude any Raptor defender hoping to make a rotation. Despite their efficient offense and our typically bad rebounding and defense, we were right there in the game and if we had just gotten a little push from Bosh, maybe if he had just canceled out Duncan’s 22, we would’ve been singing a different song. As it is, the Raptors lose to another top-tier team.

TJ Ford was ineffective, while he was on the floor he canceled out Damon Stoudamire but ended up spraining his wrist and was never heard from in the second half. I thought this was one of those games where he could’ve exploited Stoudamire or Vaughan off the dribble but watching him play you realize that although John Lucas has done a great job of keeping him in shape, he’s not ready for primetime minutes just yet. The rust is surely wearing off but his jumper is a little flat, just like it would be if your legs aren’t in your shot. It’ll come back, give it some time.

Up next for Jay Triano and the Raptors are the revenge-seeking Nets at home. I can guarantee you that Jersey will actually be up for this one and won’t have forgotten the 37 point drubbing. Let’s hope San Antonio’s the only team who’ll end up getting the payback they so desperately seek.

Liners:

* This was one of the most perimeter oriented games the Raptors have played and the offense never looked more stagnant. Aside from the high screen ‘n roll, there was zero movement.

* Bosh’s aggressiveness dictates the Raptors’ aggressiveness and when he’s not playing with fire and energy, we tend to lay back a little. Either his love with the jumper needs to stop or he needs to become a better shooter, status quo is not cool.

* Manu Ginobili had 15 boards, he knew where the ball was going before anybody else.

* Fabricio Oberto’s defense on Chris Bosh was suffocating. It’s one thing to shut a player down by forcing the jumper, Oberto played great ball denial, tight post defense, never allowed Bosh to catch the ball in an advantageous spot, used the baseline effectively and simply outsmarted Bosh.

* Andrea Bargnani didn’t have a good game but as I said before, I’m finding it really hard to criticize him because relatively speaking, he played fucking great!

* Anthony Parker’s perimeter defense needs to get better, I sound like a broken record but he needs to stick to his man and stop relying on playing recovery defense – he’s just not quick enough to be cheating and then trying to close-out a shooter like Ginobili or Finley.

* TJ and Jose played at the same time at the end of the first half. This tells me Mike Evans wants to experiment playing both PGs at the same time and it’s Mitchell that has some unwritten rule against this phenomenon.

* It’s a pity to see Jose Calderon’s awesome performance go to waste, I wish Chuck and Leo would just STFU about Calderon being more “selfish”. To top it off, as soon as he missed an open jumper, they point out how the move wasn’t “aggressive”.

* Tim Duncan’s line: 11-19 FG, 22 points, 13 rebounds.

* If you’re sick of Chuck Swirsky and want to listen to the game on the equally bad but less annoying Fan 590, check out this piece of software, it gets rid of the TV delay by syncing your radio.

Till tomorrow.

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

Al Horford had no malicious intent, Anthony Johnson did

Posted by Arsenalist on January 18, 2008

Atlanta Hawks 78, Toronto Raptors 89

If you’re going to be a big enough coward to hit a man on the head while he’s got his back towards you, the least you could do is not feign your innocence and openly acknowledge conflict. Instead Anthony Johnson pretended he had nothing to do with Jose Calderon being knocked down to the floor and was set to get away with it hadn’t the officials caught the violent act. Nobody was short in pointing out that this is the same team that knocked TJ out and now came close to taking out our other point guard. But unlike Horford’s take down of TJ, this one was malicious and intentional and warranted a response from the Raptors. I’m not calling for a brouhaha but somebody should at least go up to him, stare him down and give him a little bump, it’s warranted. But credit the Raptors for responding to the increased physicality in the second half and coming away with another hard-fought win in a close game. Suspension to follow. Co-incidentally, the Raptors toughness is alluded in Podcast #3 which was recorded before the Hawks game:

#3 – A Time to Kill Download it! (4.3 MB, 12′ 22”) Subscribe in iTunes

The second half’s better, topics include: Bryan Colangelo, Oakley, Davis, Celtics, 3rd Seed, RealGM, Jim Rome, rebounding, missing NBA on NBC, soft schedule etc.

Josh Smith’s defense and Joe Johnson’s offense kept the Hawks in this game as much as the Raptors’ tendency to walk through offensive possessions as soon as they got a 5 point lead. The Raptors pull a Jekyll and Hyde on offense every other possession, you literally see them move the ball extremely well off a double team leading up to an open shot and on the very next possession, you’ll see Delfino jacking up a shot or nobody moving for the first 18 seconds resulting in a forced low-percentage shot. What this tells me is that we tend to lose focus fairly quickly, something we can get away with against the likes of the Hawks but will end up paying for against better competition. Give Sam credit for recognizing the athleticism of the Hawks team and their lack of PG play; he put out a lineup of Parker/Calderon/Bosh/Moon for the majority of the game and we one-upped their length and size on every matchup.

Chris Bosh’s performance was impressive again (35 points on 12-18 FG says it all), his game is starting to become inside-out rather than the other way round and I’m sure we’ll all agree that’s what the order of attack should be. CB4 challenged Josh Smith on every opportunity and came out the winner most of the time proving yet again that if his mindset is aggressive, even the better one-on-one defenders in the league will have trouble with him. Bosh will always have trouble against Kevin Garnett but that’s because Garnett is a freak and can afford to lay off Bosh and take away his drive while at the same time contesting his jumper. He can also stay with Bosh in the post making CB4’s life difficult, but that’s not what stopping me from calling the Boston game next week in our favor (see podcast). Chris Bosh summed up his offensive groove nicely:

“Everything is just opening up for me. I’m finally at 100 percent. It’s been a tough stretch for me but I just kept playing and kept pushing through it. I don’t feel I’m taking many bad shots. I’m getting off the double team really fast and I’m finding a lot of my teammates and putting them in good positions.”

The bolded part tells me he knows the difference. I can sleep better.

Today’s Andrea Bargnani paragraph has a mix of Rasho Nesterovic in it. It’s mainly because Rasho’s reduced playing time has completely taken him out of his rhythm and he’s struggling to do the few things he used to be good at: finding space for the open jumper, hitting the glass, putbacks etc. Now given Rasho’s struggles and the need for Bargnani to pick up his game, this observer says we may as well let Bargnani play through fouls until he fouls out and not use Rasho unless necessary as per matchup. Bargnani played 14 minutes and scored two points, a fry cry from what me and David Moro were predicting after the Kings game. He didn’t screw up too badly, yeah he allowed an offensive rebound, passed up shots he should’ve taken and picked up cheap fouls but in my opinion he didn’t even stick around long enough to actually have a slim chance at having a decent game. I don’t blame Sam Mitchell, his concern is with winning the game and he tried to match the Hawks’ athleticism with Delfino, Parker and Moon which got the job done. It comes back to Andrea earning his minutes, except that he’s just not interested. I’ll even go ahead and buy Bryan Colangelo’s 5-year plan theory but he’s talking about player development taking that long, right? Or does he mean we have to wait 5 years before Bargnani plays a game with the same level of intensity and effort as Kris Humphries?

The third quarter has undone so many times that I feared for us after Atlanta opened it on a 13-2 run while our offense was playing Mr. Hyde. Jamario Moon’s propensity to jump in the passing lanes is meeting success over the last two games and he’s picking off passes in transition, guarding the post and getting deflections aplenty (something that should’ve long been a stat in NBA box scores). Moon was the key in triggering our third quarter run punctuated by two Anthony Parker threes which created a 7 point cushion and hopefully silenced those who think that Parker has been a major problem with the Raptors this year. Another solid game by Parker who’s been coming on strong as the season’s getting older, it’s called hitting mid-season form which is where veteran’s start getting in their stride and rookies start tailing off. AP’s been solid for most of the year, unfortunately for him he’s had a few zero point games which result in fans calling for his head. If you check his per-48 minute statis, they’re the same as last year. Yes, we need to upgrade the 2 spot, but not now.

Joey Graham is making it really hard for us to trade him and Juan Dixon isn’t helping either. The two players most likely to be traded if one is going to materialize scored a combined 4 points while having 2 turnovers. Graham is so far behind Moon and Delfino in the depth chart that the only way he gets into the game is when BC winks to Smitch from the tunnel. And when he does manage to get in, things aren’t pretty (how’s Danny Granger doing?). He looks about as comfortable as Bargnani on the low-post and you only have to watch a couple minutes before an ungodly turnover follows. He was supposed to be our tough hard-nosed slasher who could D up the opposition’s best player, instead he’s researching D-League accommodation with Maceo Baston. Imagine my shock when I heard that Maceo Baston was dressed up for this game, it almost looked like this was the game he might get some run. Sam is so mean, getting Baston’s hopes all high for nothing.

So far the 4 in 5 stretch has been going exactly as predicted with Philly being the decisive game in determining whether we stay .500 or improve our record by two games in this easier January stretch. Philly was blown out in Boston tonight with Iguodala playing 40 minutes, they’re 2-8 in their last 10 and the Raptors will be going for the kill in this one. We’ll do a mini celebration only if the Raptors win tomorrow because if we lose that, it’s like we didn’t gain any ground at all.

One-Liners:

* Kapono. Shot. Slowly. Coming. Back.

* Jose Calderon made up for his early bad pass intercepted by Josh Smith for a dunk by dishing 9 dimes.

* I don’t have a single complaint of Bosh today.

* Johnson should be suspended by the league for more than one game. There’s no doubt about his malicious intent.

* The Raptors and Hawks is turning into a rivalry, something which is good because right now aside from the Knicks and Nets, we really got nothing.

* Tonight’s win will mean little if we don’t win tomorrow.

* What is the point of having Maceo Baston on this team if he doesn’t play a single minute for months on end? Maybe we should fee free up the roster spot for a D-League rebounder or scorer? Just a thought.

* Sam deserves a lot of credit for sticking with his big guns instead of playing Kapono, Dixon and Bargnani for extended minutes. Kapono played well hitting both his shots but this isn’t the matchup for him.

* Jack Armstrong makes these telecasts so much better.

* What do people see in Tyron Lue? Every time I see him, I just remember Iverson stepping over him in the finals.

* The Hawks became more physical in the second half and the intensity of the game picked and the Raptors and more specifically Bosh, Moon, and Parker were equal to the task.

* Here’s the game in six minutes, thanks to monuow.

* Please make a constructive criticism about this blog, it really helps sometime.

Thanks for reading (and listening). Feed.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments »

Phoenix West beats Phoenix East (kinda, sorta, not really)

Posted by Arsenalist on December 23, 2007

Toronto Raptors 103, Phoenix Suns 122

I can deal with this loss because I wasn’t expecting us to win, if we can’t beat Seattle we definitely won’t be able to beat Phoenix the day after. That would be like finishing Drake’s Fortune on the Hard level right after you got your ass handed to you on Easy. But believe it or not there are multiple things to cheer about, yup, multiple. We’ll get to Chris Bosh and and Andrea Bargnani in a bit but let me put my reporter hat on and outline just a couple points mentioned by Bryan Colangelo during his first quarter interview with Leosky:

Jose Calderon isn’t going anywhere: Raptors are going to do everything to resign him. This of course translates to matching any ridiculous offer that a team throws at him. My only issue is that we’ll end up paying the PG position around 17M a season which might be a bit high. But if the Raptors can afford it, why not? Nice to see Colangelo give credit to the villainous Rob Babcock for picking up Calderon.

Andrea Bargnani: Obviously Colangelo’s not going to come out and say that he should’ve taken Roy or Gay but he does appear to have a roadmap for Bargnani and feels that he IS the right player for this team. BC is all about spoon feeding Bargnani and wants to make him “comfortable” in every way and feels that it’s the only way you’ll realize Bargnani’s potential. OK, sounds good, I guess we’ll just have to be patient with him and suffer through the growing pains. I’m fine with that, really I am but in the meanwhile we do need to find a legitimate second scorer if we want to taste the second round again.

Let’s get to the game now. We have clear proof that Joey Graham is not dead. He was seen wearing a Raptors uniform although his play was unbecoming of a player who wants to stay in the NBA. After Jamario “Happy Feet” Moon was quick to pick up three fouls within minutes Sam called on the rarely used Graham to inject some defensive purpose and slashing. Graham didn’t look very good and shied away from contact which is the last thing you want to see from a player who’s supposed to be our physical presence. But in all fairness to Joey I can’t even remember the last time he played significant minutes, it’s tough to ask a player to just step in and have an impact – especially against the Suns who put the fear of God in you on defense.

If there’s one negative that I’d have to pick about Sam’s coaching style (ignoring that he only has one play for a minute) I’d say it has to be the lack of a set rotation, this cannot be healthy for the players. You can’t have no idea when you’re going to play next and just be “ready” when you’re called upon. I know that sounds like an ideal team where everybody’s happy and doing each other’s laundry but in reality a player needs direction and goals to strive towards and on this squad people like Joey Graham, Maceo Baston and Juan Dixon have zero idea what’s next. This is probably a good place to mention that we should make Darrick Martin a full-time assistant coach (why, I don’t know) and free up that roster spot for a power forward or guard from the D-League.

Let’s get to the two bright spots of this game and they are….drumroll…Chris Bosh and…and…and…Andrea Bargnani. Bosh had 42/13 and went 22/24 FT from the line. A manly performance by CB4 who came ready to play and attack the rim like every single Raptors fan wants him to. After keeping the game close till the half, Phoenix simply pulled away in the third quarter and there was nothing the Raptors and their tired and porous defense could do to stop them. And when Phoenix did happen to rarely miss a shot, they got the offensive rebound and stuck it back in. On the bright side, Marion, Stoudamire and Skinner all took turns getting abused by Bosh, it made me feel a little better about this game.

Now Andrea Bargnani’s line of 6-13FG for 13 points isn’t exactly impressive but considering that he’s having trouble throwing a rock in the ocean, it’s a vast improvement. More important than the stats are some of the plays he made and the confidence he showed on the court. His three dump-offs to Bosh after driving past his man was a welcome sign and something that’ll help me sleep better during this six-day break. Sam gave him the start which translated to instant confidence. The starting center position is his for good and today he responded well, let’s just hope it continues and he can help carry the scoring and rebounding load.

Enough with the positives, we did get blown out by 19 points and one of the reasons was – and you can take a good guess here – lack of defense. Jamario Moon seems to be regressing and showing his true colors, a player that relies solely on his athleticism instead of his brain. Moon’s defense on Grant Hill was simply bad, if you can’t guard the guy one-on-one at least have the courtesy to come back down the court in time to avoid him getting a layup. It’s the least you can do. The Raptors had a problem filling the starting 3 spot at the start of the season and that issue is still there. Phoenix’s offensive rebounding killed us and sealed any hopes of an outside shot at a win in this one. It’s hard to stop Phoenix and when you do, defensive rebounding is a must. No one person to blame here but as a team we did a poor job of boxing out, even Kris Humphries who’s usually stellar cleaning up the glass was caught out of position and was over-athleticised (new word I just created) by Amare, one of the most gifted athletes I’ve ever seen.

Let me try to end this one by explaining the title of the post. We’re often compared to Phoenix because of our style of play and the fact that Bryan Colangelo helped build both teams. I never agreed with this comparison because if you look at Phoenix what sets them completely apart from any other NBA team is that they run the break and look to get easy points almost every time down the floor. The Raptors never do this. Calderon is notorious for pulling the offense back on semi-transition opportunities which is exactly where Phoenix exploits its opponents – by running the break and having their big men establish inside position early. So although we try to use a formula similar to Phoenix, by no means is our style of play similar to theirs. They run back-door cuts, curls, corner-screens, UCLA cuts while all we do is run the pick ‘n bloody roll.

One-Liners:

* I thought the Nash sucking up was only restricted to games in Toronto. I was wrong. If it were up to Leosky they’d put him in the Hall of Fame before Jordan.

* Where the hell is “The Truck” during road games?

* Chuck Swirsky openly calling for Bosh to break Vince’s 51 point Raptors record in a blowout game was disgraceful. Please Chuck, please. Plus, it shows his hate for Vince.

* Juan Dixon is playing well and deserves more minutes.

* The refs put us in a bad situation early by calling everything on us. All of Parker’s first three fouls were highly questionable and ended up sending him to the bench for a looooong time.

* The defense in the first half was good enough to keep us in the game but in the second half it was evident that fatigue had taken it’s toll.

* We’re 1-3 on the roadtrip and well on our way to 1-4. I’d be ecstatic if we finish 3-4 on the trip by beating Houston and New Orleans. It’s my Christmas wish.

I’m out for a week. Thanks for reading. Grab the feed.

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

Chris Kaman on suicide watch as Raptors win in LA

Posted by Arsenalist on December 19, 2007

Toronto Raptors 80, LA Clippers 77

I love these West coast games, no better way to spend a late night watching the Raptors, drinking tea and eating almonds until blisters start popping on the roof of your mouth. Who cares if it’s 1:30AM and that you have a FT job to go to, I might even have to kill off another uncle and sleep this one out. But enough about that, we have a real problem on our hands: Chris Kaman is on suicide watch after being annoyed to extreme levels by the defensive wall that is Rasho Nesterovic. Yes, Rasho the much-maligned soft-Euro that begs to be judged by the “little things he does on the floor” frustrated the petulant Chris Kaman into a total of two second half points as the Raptors started off their 7-game West coast swing off with a must-win win against a depleted Clippers side that put up a fight that most of us didn’t see coming.

The story of the game was the Raptors second half defense which looked similar to the one deployed in Indiana – crowd the paint and scramble back to the perimeter players if the pass out of the double-team is made (a weak zone almost). It wasn’t until the second half that the Raptors realized that save Richie Frahm the Clippers don’t have a single player that can be counted on to knock down an open jumper. Once you get Corey Maggette and Al Thornton taking perimeter shots (contested or not), the game is half won. Now you might look at the scoreboard and say, “Hey Arsenalist, we only won by 3 points so stop ripping on the Clips” and I’d say that even though this was a three point game, this game was ours to be had midway through the third when said defensive adjustments were made. If it weren’t for our reeking offense and Anthony Parker trying to do everything wrong and succeeding we’d end up winning this game by 15-20 points. The luxury of PVR is that you can rewind and investigate just exactly how that shooter was left so wide open. Turns out Anthony Parker’s often late getting back to his man and gets caught up in screens way too easily (Aaah! Ray Allen flashback!).

Aside to Chris Bosh: You can blow by Kaman anytime you want. You can post-up and lean into Tim Thomas at will. There is no reason for you to be taking jumpers let alone fadeaways and bailing the Clippers out. Thank the lucky star Procyon that Bosh drove to the rim just enough times to get himself 16 FT attempts of which he converted 12 and thus bailed out the 37.5% shooting Raptors. Against a better team we lose this game because they’d convert more offensive opportunities, the paper clips scored 28 points in the entire second half and all the credit can’t go to our defense, they are decimated by injuries.

No Raptor fan wants Andrea Bargnani to succeed more than me so I almost choked on an almond when he hit his first three, I took it as a sign of him coming out of the pitiable slump that he’s in. But the only highlights that followed after that was a nice pass to a cutting Humphries and a block on the 48-year old Tim Thomas. Sandwiched in there were about 5 ill-advised shots and a rejection at the hands of CK35 (fragrance for white men with thinning hair). At least he hit a shot and wasn’t a complete embarrassment, it’s a step up and I’ll gladly take it. Hopefully tomorrow he can make say three shots and not get rejected. Fingers crossed. Aside to Bargnani: The pump fake doesn’t work if the man is already in your face, he’s not going to bite because he wants you to take that contested shot from 22ft. You pump fake when you want the defender to come closer to you or you want him to jump in the air so you can drive by him. In your case the defender is challenging you to drive thus your pump fake redundant.


chuck swirsky cheerleader chimney la clippers raptors
I can’t blame Chuck Swirsky

What do you guys think of this? I agree with Chuck Swirsky and his wish of something like that popping down my chimney. But Leo Rautins couldn’t just let a joke be a joke and kept harping on it for the rest of the broadcast. Leo, we know you’d tap that ass in a heartbeat so stop giving the Swirsk a hard time about a harmless comment you abrasive prick. But don’t say this blog is all about bile because Leo did call it early that if Bosh went to the line 15 times we’d win this game, he was right. Not a tough call to make by any means but at least he made it.

Jamario Moon won his matchup with Corey Maggette and got a block for the Xth game in a row (the only thing more impressive than this stat is DiMaggio’s hitting streak). After playing Maggette tight early and realizing that it wouldn’t work since Maggette is more attracted to the rim that I am to almonds, Moon backed off later on in the game and went under the screens thus conceding the jumper resulting in success. Scouting report stuff really, nothing more. Jose Calderon’s quiet 12/6/9 were punctuated with the game-icing drive on Dan Dickau who I was shocked to see on defense with the game on the line.

There’s a fine line between being a chucker and having confidence and Carlos Delfino crosses over that one about 3 times a game. CD should realize that making a jump shot does not give you a green light to shoot a 24 footer on the next possession. But one can’t criticize him too much because he’s the second hardest working Raptor (Hump43 wins that award – another solid game BTW with an in-traffic rebound that would put Moses Malone to shame) and deserves some leeway when it comes to shot selection. He is the heart of the bench. Surprisingly enough he’s been playing PG and has been very good of late, he can easily spell Calderon about 5-7 minutes.

One-Liners

* We need a better performance against Portland, 37.5% will get us blown out of the Rose Garden.

* I don’t make many predictions but here’s one: Bargnani will have 15+ points tomorrow. He is simply due.

* Without Chris Bosh we are doomed, despite his springers the man is providing key scoring during important stretches in the game.

* Can we do a Quinton Ross for Juan Dixon trade?

* Props to the “Let’s go Clippers, let’s go!” fan.

* I know exactly when D-Mart is about to launch a 20 footer, it’s almost like a sixth sense. He had a nice block and a score on Dickau but as I said I’d rather have Delfino playing the point than him.

* Didn’t see a single celebrity.

* I SWEAR THERE WILL BE A PODCAST COMING OUT SOON. LOOK FOR IT.

Till tomorrow. Get the feed.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 18 Comments »

Nice, why can’t the Raptors always play like this

Posted by Arsenalist on December 12, 2007

Dallas Mavericks 76, Toronto Raptors 92

Just finished watching the Dallas game which I had handpicked as a win, that’s right man, you should’ve taken the +4. Enough good things happened in Atlanta which led me to believe that we’d win this one with or without TJ Ford. See, coming up with a recipe for a Raptor wins tonight was simple: tighten up the defense on Dirk, keep them off the boards and play solid perimeter defense on Howard/Terry while also guarding against their pick ‘n roll which they switch 1-3. On the other end, make CB4 drive to the rim (should be a constant in every game) and hit our outside shots after moving the ball. I know, it’s all easier said than done but when all of these things actually happen in the same game, it’s too good to be a Raptors fan.

This game wasn’t close past the second quarter and every Dallas run was answered with good defense and a timely hoop and often that hoop came from Kris Humphries who has made it a personal business of cleaning up the remains of Bargnani rejections. If Humphries can provide the energy and rebounding he did today, he’ll be an excellent contrast to the finesse of Rasho and could get his points off the confusion Bosh creates when he drives to the rim and happens to miss. In other words, a solid garbage man who can finish, rebound and play unrelenting defense.

Chris Bosh

Am I sick for sometimes wishing that Chris Bosh’s jumpers miss? I just want to see him take his man off the dribble every time and drive to the rim to either score or draw a foul. I hardly care if he gets rejected as long as he drives, he’s too quick for 90% of the PFs that try to guard him and I just see it as a waste of an opportunity every time he passes out of single coverage or takes an 18 footer. I know I’m being a bit dramatic but my point is that he should take the jumper as a last resort or when the defense is giving him enough space and completely taking away the drive. Just a thought.

Jason Kapono

I was observing Kapono on the last play of the third quarter and trying to notice how a three point shooter who everyone knows can shoot can possibly get open. He managed to create some space by simply going to the farthest corner of the court and his defender was barely 4 feet away when he caught the ball. His release was so quick that a) it had no chance of being blocked and b) it was perfect. I always try to compare Kapono with another great shooter, Steve Kerr. Kerr who holds the NBA record for highest 3FG percentage, was a different kind of shooter. When He caught the ball his feet needed to be set well before that in order for him to make a shot. Kapono can actually set his feet extremely quickly thus enabling him to have a quicker release. That’s why you see him coming in transition and just PLANT his feet at the arc and just catch and release. The amount of time it takes him to get into his shooting motion is insane. Possibly as quick as Dell Curry.

Andrea Bargnani

He looks really bad out there and I start to cringe every time he does his fake-the-three-and-take-an-off-balance-20-footer, somebody should tell him to either just drive all the way to the rim or just take the jumper, this in-between thing will never work. I still think he’s going to come out of his funk and have a solid year for us, at least by hitting threes and playing good man-defense. My main concern for Bargnani has always been with the coaching (or lack thereof) he’s receiving.

At his young age the thing he needs the most is coaching and instruction so that he can understand the game and get the fundamentals right (footwork, post-moves, using screens, decisions in the key etc.), the rest will come later. I’m not sure he’s getting that with the Raps right now. Over the past year, his offensive arsenal hasn’t improved at all which is cause for a little concern and his decisions in the low-post are suspect to say the least. The only area of improvement in his game is his man-defense and the effort he’s sometime shown in attacking the rim, but that’s effort not actual ability. Rudy Gay anyone? I’m just joking, I’ll stick with the horse I have, hopefully it’s not a foolish decision.

One-Liners

* Good to see TJ’s back, he says he’s out for at least 7 days. No problem, we have Calderon.

* How about Leo Rautins saying Dallas should blow the current team up because of the scars of the GS series and NBA finals. I think he’s way off.

* “I’m not a bum man!” – Kris Humphries in the PG interview when asked whether this is the first time he’s had his name changed.

* I counted at least five air-balls tonight.

* Does Eddie Jones look fat or what?

* Penny Hardaway got released by the Heat. I was rooting for him.

* This is guaranteed to make you laugh.

Next up we’re at Indiana, another game that’s begging to be had. More coverage here. Later. Feed.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 12 Comments »