Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Posts Tagged ‘nba’

No news so let’s look at some stats

Posted by Arsenalist on August 5, 2008

Team USA’s looking rather unbeatable. LBJ, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard are just too good for anybody and its not a stretch to think that this team can win each game by 25+. Never say never but I don’t think those Argentians can back-cut this team to death like they did against Antonio Davis and Co. a few years back, much better talent and much better coaching. Larry Brown always struck me as more hype than substance and Coach K’s “back to the basics” philosophy is working, at least in the warmups.

As you might imagine there’s very little (zero) Raptor news. Matt Devlin is covering wrestling for NBC in Beijing and in his latest post from a few days back he’s talking about how Russian teams have ‘money to burn’ when it comes to signing players and the weak dollar isn’t helping matters. Basically money talks and European teams have it and should continue to provide the NBA with competition when it comes to signing players. So far we haven’t seen any big names depart to Europe and until that happens nobody’s going to be hitting the panic button and call the NBA anything but the best basketball league in the world. Whoops! Just as I say that ex-Raptor Carlos Arroyo just bolted to the Holy Land.

OK, so I was bored and started digging up some stats from last season and I came up with the following table. They’re mostly taken from Hoops Stats.

Stat Name Stat NBA Rank
PPG 100.18 13th
OPPG 97.28 10th best
RPG 40.07 28th
Record when scoring 100+ 27-17 16th
Record when opponent scores 100+ 7-30 23rd
SPG 6.95 19th
BPG 4.09 25th
APG 23.81 4th
Turnovers 11.69 2nd best (DET)
3-pt shooting 38.9% 3rd best behind NO and Phoenix
FG shooting 46.6% 7th
FT shooting 81.24% 2nd (DAL)
Point Differential +2.9% 13th
Starter PPG 65.5 22nd
Bench PPG 34.6 3rd
Starter RPG 25.7 30th – dead last
Bench RPG 14.3 7th
Record vs. .500+ teams 11-33
Record vs. sub .500 teams 31-12
Best Player Chris Bosh 11th – 24.3 eff

The two things I took from those is 1) our starting 5 struggles to rebound and 2) we can’t beat good teams. Rebounding was and still is a concern, Jermaine O’Neal was brought in to remedy that and there’s no doubt he’s going to help us in the area, but by the same token we also lost a very good defender and a durable rebounder in Rasho Nesterovic. We definitely improved but its hard to say by how much. Point #2 directly hints at our inability to execute in the fourth quarter for whatever reason. No point getting into the specifics of whether Bosh chokes or if its Parker missing shots, Jose stiffening up or Sam failing us, bottom line is its an area where we must improve.

I’m not one to pay too much attention to the 100 point threshold but looking at our record when we concede more than 100 is very shocking. It obviously speaks of a failing defense but also speaks of an offense that can’t stay in “run ‘n gun” games and can’t sustain a high tempo of play for 48 minutes. One of the goals of next year’s Raptors team is to form an identity by adopting a philosophy and sticking to it through thick and thin. Mitchell needs to decide whether we need to get fast break points and gun for a number each game, he needs to set a goal for a PINP number, a goal for PF assists, post-up counts, guard rebounds etc. Hiding weaknesses and taking advantage of strengths sounds like a simple enough concept but putting that into practice is terribly difficult. This team has enough holes and enough strengths to make Mitchell’s job a nightmare next year and it’ll be upto him to establish a framework where we can consistently play to our strengths by doing all the little things necessary to keep everyone involved while being disciplined. It’s a tall task, I hope Sam’s up to it.

Hoops Addict is having a tournament where he’s picking the best garbage man in the league, he asked me to nominate a player from the Raptors and I had to pick Kris Humphries who is currently losing to Reggie Evans and needs your vote. There’s tons of good candidates, definitely worth a read.

Going on vacation soon. It’ll be quiet around here for a couple weeks. Take it easy.

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

Crosshair: Anthony Parker

Posted by Arsenalist on May 4, 2008

Next up on the crosshair is Anthony Parker. These are going in no particular order.

He reminds you a lot of Voshon Lenard – a capable scorer that can be effective as long as he’s not being stretched past his physical ability and talent. Parker’s got a textbook jumpshot that rivals Allan Houston and a fadeaway that can be considered deadly as long as the legs are fresh. His low-post game consists almost entirely of the fadeaway which can be used with success on shorter players. Once you put a bigger defender on Parker, his offense quickly degenerates as the fadeaway isn’t nearly as effective and the fake-the-drive-pull-up-for-the-j becomes too contested to be consistent.

Parker is the best mid-range shooter on the Raptors and can come off screens and into the 15-18ft area and drain the shot. On occasion he can drive to the rim and finish with authority which keeps the defense somewhat honest but even then they always play him for the shot – 82% of his shots are jumpers. Parker’s ability to score deteriorates as the game goes on and his legs get tired. This often results in him missing big free throws and jumpers late in the game. There have been over a half-dozen games where he’s missed a shot that would’ve iced the game or brought the Raptors completely back in it which has negatively affected his clutch rating. Maybe in his younger days he could’ve sustained his field goal accuracy for longer durations but as he approaches 33 it’s only going to get tougher.

Parker’s tendency to become anonymous for large parts of the game is very troublesome, as a starting shooting guard playing 39+ minutes a game you have to be a constant factor in the play. There are times where you almost forget that he’s in the game until you look at the box score after the game (see Orlando) which makes you wonder just exactly what the hell he was doing while he was in there. This phenomenon is partially because he’s not a good enough scorer to demand the ball and score consistently like better 2-guards such as Crawford, Johnson, Hamilton, Allen or Richardson. It’s also because in a Bosh-central offense his primary role becomes that of a three-point shooter. If the defense has him covered on the three-point line, he basically becomes a non-factor. Although there have been a few times where he’s carried the team offense over a 4-5 minute stretch, it doesn’t happen nearly enough for him to be considered a go-to guy when your offense is in a funk.

Overall, Parker’s offense only flourishes when teammates are setting great screens, Bosh is being doubled off his man and he’s being guarded by smaller players. If that’s not happening, Parker finds getting his points much harder and becomes that much less of a factor. He doesn’t have any go-to moves in his arsenal, something which is almost mandatory for a shooting guard on a team that hopes to be contending. The 7% dip in his playoff shooting percentage (48% – 41%) is a great example of how a limited offensive player like Parker can be neutralized in a controlled and planned playoff setting.

Just like his offense, Parker’s defense also suffers as the game wears on. This is completely natural for any NBA player but since the Raptors’ perimeter defense is leaky at best, a drop-off in Parker’s ability to keep his man in front of him is highlighted even more when we lose. Nobody can question his effort when it comes to man-defense, but if he’s guarded by a quicker player his lateral quickness can be put to the test quite easily. In many cases this year the offensive player has tried to create space by shaking Parker and shooting over him, he’s done an excellent job of contesting those shots. It’s because of these types of possessions and his on-court demeanor that he’s built a reputation of being a decent defender, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty he has some serious issues.

The biggest complaint about Parker’s defense is that he drifts from his man for no reason, especially when he’s guarding him on the weak side. This has resulted in countless open threes for the opposition and has effectively negated anything else he does on defense or as some might argue, what he’s provided on offense. Sam Mitchell’s tenure has seen the team refuse to double team legit scorers (Kobe) while sending help when its not needed (Howard 12 feet out). Such inconsistent defensive philosophies have resulted in players like Parker, Delfino and Calderon not understanding their defensive duties as they should and they are always found cheating and getting burned. How many times this year have you seen Parker wildly flail his arm as the shot is being released? Those aren’t shot-contests at all because they don’t actually bother the shot, they just underline how late Parker is on his close-outs.

Jack Armstrong’s been saying it all season: down and dirty defense, quick close-outs, shot-contests and a determination to keep your man in front of you is what the Raptors need to do. Anthony Parker can give you the grittiness but if it isn’t accompanied by the lateral quickness and a defensive system that puts a premium on close-outs, it doesn’t mean much. Leo Rautins’ metaphysical love for Anthony Parker is largely because they’ve both bounced out of the NBA and played in Europe. Parker’s return to the NBA is something of a vindication for Rautins’ career, you know, European ball matters. Leo constantly referring to Parker as a clutch performer couldn’t be farther from the truth but his claim that Parker is a leader carries a lot of weight.

Just like Moon’s getting too much playing time because of lack of other options, Parker being a starter who plays close to 40 minutes a game tells you how thin we are on both offense and defense at the SG position. The closest thing to a backup shooting guard we have is Jason Kapono and he was missing practically the entire season, thus forcing Parker into playing heavy minutes which his body isn’t made for.

Parker probably should have been playing in the NBA a couple years before he started his Raptors stint. It would’ve been interesting to see what he could do with younger legs. At this point in his career Parker cannot be a starting shooting guard for a team that hopes to win a round or two in the playoffs. Maybe earlier in his career, but definitely not now. His contract is reasonable at 4.5M and he’s coming off the cap after next year. He should be playing approximately 20 minutes a game coming off the bench and become our Vinny “The Microwave” Johnson. Bryan Colangelo has to sure up the starting SF and SG position at some point and whether he can address both this summer is the question that will determine Parker’s fate. Colangelo has to decide whether Parker’s best value is in a trade to a contending team which puts a high value on his outside touch and veteran leadership or letting him come off the cap next year.

Personally, I like Anthony Parker’s attitude, on-court demeanor and what he can give on offense. He’s simply too old to be a factor the way a starting shooting guard should be. I think he has a place on this team as long as his role his reduced and better defined, right now we’re asking too much of him and when he doesn’t deliver (12.5 PPG – 32nd among guards) we tend to get upset without realizing that he’s just another player on the Raptors thats being asked to produce beyond his means.

As for the present today, George Washington anyone?

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Raptors concede to Pistons in 3rd quarter…kinda…except Bosh came back in the 4th….but not Calderon, Parker or Delfino…WTF?

Posted by Arsenalist on January 15, 2008

Toronto Raptors 89, Detroit Pistons 103

Did the Raptors just concede this game in the third quarter after the lead ballooned to 16? Fine, I can convince myself to live with that even though a 16 point lead isn’t exactly a mountain to overcome, but what gets me is the starters remaining on the bench once we cut the lead to 9 with 10:40 to play. After the bench led by Juan Dixon, Joey Graham and Rasho Nesterovic managed to slice the lead to manageable levels, Sam Mitchell chose to rest the starters in anticipation of Sacramento tomorrow. I was completely dumbfounded by this move because at that point you have to put back Calderon, Bosh, Parker and Delfino in the game and hope the momentum shift will continue and maybe you can cut this lead down further, especially with Wallace on the bench. Mitchell conceded the game way too early and the Raptors didn’t even bother giving themselves a shot in the fourth quarter. Now what made entirely no sense was the re-introduction of only one starter, Bosh, in the fourth quarter with 6:22 left and a 10 point game. So you don’t bring back the starters with a 9 point lead a 10:40 to play but you bring back one starter with a 10 point lead and half a quarter to play? Makes no fucking sense.

Let’s move on past this insane substitution pattern and talk about what lost us the game: turnovers and helping off the wrong person. The “Points of Turnovers” stat is often misinterpreted in my opinion because it doesn’t necessarily indicate that the other team scored because of your turnover, but rather after your turnover. Today, the former was true. Every time we turned the ball over (14 in total), Detroit was off and running and getting easy baskets in transition making it look easy. If that’s not bad enough, we also let our guard down defensively and committed a very familiar sin: helping off a shooter. The biggest culprits included Anthony Parker and Jason Kapono who have a fetish for helping out when they should just stick to their man, it’s no surprise that Hamilton and Billups ended with 39 and 20. They make jumpers for a living and we made their living very easy, especially Rip’s.

A couple posts ago nolagunner had made this comment on the blog leading me to give Bosh more of a break for not driving the ball enough:

I’m not being snarky here, but has anyone considered the idea that Bosh doesn’t drive every time because he’s fucking exhausted? I mean, the man has to pace himself given all he’s being asked to do.

It’s an excellent point although my beef with Bosh has as much to do with him not posting up enough as not driving enough because driving can be taken away by a defender if he gives you space, taking away someone’s post-up game is much harder. Either way, today he did neither. He completely and utterly settled for the outside jumper and never challenged any of the Detroit power forwards into defending him. Detroit was more than content letting him shoot from outside and Bosh fully obliged. He wasn’t even rolling on the pick ‘n rolls opting to attempt a 20 footer. His most aggressive move was reserved for late in the fourth quarter when nothing mattered, not very POW like. Anyway, once that avenue of scoring was shut down, we never had a chance in this game but thanks to Delfino, Parker and Calderon willing the Raptors back into this game, the lead was only one at halftime leaving the door slightly open. The said door was quickly slammed shut after the Raptors started the third in the same way they started the game: turnovers and leaving shooters open. Once the lead bubbled to 16, the events described in the first paragraph transpired, leading me to conclude that we didn’t do all we could do to win this game.

Jason Maxiell’s 9 rebounds and 8 points really hurt us because they came through offensive rebounds and some hard-nosed banging down low. It occurred to me that we have a player who can contend with Maxiell, his name is Kris Humphries who only played 8 minutes while Maxiell logged 27. Humphries must’ve killed Sam’s dog and raped his cat because if there ever is a game where your power forwards need to log minutes, it’s against Detroit. I don’t remember Humphries doing anything to warrant an exile to the bench in his 8 minutes, do you? He traveled once but that’s only after he tore down a rebound over Maxiell and McDyess and lost his footing. Somebody please fill me in.

As tradition dictates, any post-game post must have at least one paragraph about Andrea Bargnani so here goes. This time he managed to grab five rebounds (practically fell in his lap) but unfortunately it came at the expense of scoring 0 points. I guess you take the good with the bad except that we’ve been taking a whole lot of bad and very little good this season and as the stats indicate, today was no different. He was out-hustled by McDyess on a couple occasions and was also caught trailing plays much to the chagrin of Mitchell who was once again forced to yank him. I’m not sure what the solution here is, I’m not a coach or a GM, I’m an unpaid blogger who doesn’t see an end to his misery. The best I can suggest is to somehow light a fire under his ass so he plays harder and stronger. We even might have to take that previous statement literally to get him going. We need a second scorer to beat good teams, on a night like tonight where our primary scorer is MIA, a player like Bargnani becomes even more important.

The officiating was terribly poor with the Raptors getting the short end of the stick on every occasion prompting Sam Mitchell to very audibly yell into the microphone, “Why can’t you just say you blew the call?” followed by a prudent “Fuck you!”. Who needs coaches wearing mics when you got Sam? Take that ESPN and ABC. But shit usually happens for a reason, the Pistons were way more aggressive than the Raptors and earned the calls. The Raptors on the other hand rarely attempted (let alone made) a shot inside the paint. Today was the best example of just exactly how perimeter oriented we are and just how much we need somebody who can play in the paint.

For me it’s never whether you lose or win, it’s how you lose or win. I didn’t like the way the Raptors played or the way Sam coached this game, I thought we could’ve come closer and challenged Detroit in the fourth but for whatever reason we didn’t. I had this one circled as a loss in the 4 in 5 stretch so it’s not a shock we lost, but it’s still a tough one to swallow. Sacramento tomorrow will not be easy.

One-Liners:

* Parker/Delfino/Calderon got us to within 1 point of the Pistons in the second quarter, they deserved a chance to do the same in the fourth.

* The Raptors settle for the jumper even when they’re in transition and have numbers in their favor.

* Give the Detroit defense some credit on shutting down Bosh, they gave him space so it was harder for him to use his blow-by quickness. But they didn’t prevent him from attempting postups, that option was there all game long.

* If there’s one good thing about tonight, it was that Kapono got some shooting practice. Hopefully he got some of his rhythm back.

* The team as it is right now can make the playoffs no problem, they might even be able to get home court advantage. But winning a series or two is an entirely different matter. We have a big hole at the 5 spot and there’s not enough scoring from the 3. 1 and 4 are the only spots where we’re solid with Anthony Parker being the lone gunman at the 2.

* Sam Mitchell didn’t talk to Andrea Bargnani for three weeks! That is a sign of horrible coaching, you need to communicate with a player, you can’t isolate him and shut him out and magically hope he gets better. Tough love doesn’t work like that.

* This was the longest I’ve ever seen Calderon stay on the bench. I still can’t get past the fact that we conceded so early.

* My heart stops every time Moon shoots outside of 15 feet. Lucky for us, he’s making his share over the last couple games but it’s still scary that him shooting jumpers is something we’re encouraging and seem to be looking at as a source of offense.

* Am I the only one who wants to lunge and claw at the screen every time they show Darrick Murray Martin on the screen. Yeah, Dixon was clanging it 1-8FG but I’d still rather see him in there, at least when he chucks, it has a chance of going in.

* Richard Hamilton’s line included 16-22 FG (5-6 3 FG). Isn’t this a little excessive? Didn’t it click to the Raptors to cover this guy after he had made his 10th open shot?

* Jason Maxiell is type of player that the Raptors are desperately searching for. Somebody who plays close to the rim, uses his body and hot his jumper and can rebound. An unbelievable pick by Dumars late in the first round, now that is some good late drafting.

* Detroit is unbelievably patient in their offensive sets. After examining mismatches with the utmost care, they find a way to exploit them by making the perfect pass and then to top it off, finish with composure.

* Nobody give me the “We were resting the starters for tomorrows game” excuse in justifying Sam benching the starting unit with the game still up for grabs.

* If you missed the second podcast, check it out here.

I apologize for this post being so long.

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

Raps outlast Blazers to exact sweet revenge

Posted by Arsenalist on January 13, 2008

Portland Trailblazers 109, Toronto Raptors 116 (2OT)

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

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

“We didn’t have an answer for Bosh”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One-Liners:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Best game of the year so far.

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

Later.

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

Un-fucking-believable!

Posted by Arsenalist on December 22, 2007

Toronto Raptors 115, Seattle Sonics

We lose the one fucking game that everybody thought we could win on this roadtrip. The Sonics who are 12 games under .500 and one of the worst teams in the NBA look like the ’85-86 Boston Celtics and punish the Raptors for a 123-115 win. Yeah, that’s right, they scored 123 points on us in regulation. We were torn to shreds by their passing in the paint and were lazy and disinterested in playing defense especially in transition. Maybe we thought this game belonged to us and Seattle would just lie down and hand over the W but that didn’t happen, just ask Carlos Delfino who doesn’t check whether he’s inbounds or not before taking a critical wide open jumper late in the game.

But it should never come to a fourth quarter comeback when you’re playing a team like Seattle and you profess to be one of the better teams in the NBA. The Sonics were up by 18 points in the fourth quarter and this almost turned into a laugher. If it weren’t for their youth and inexperience they’d win by 25 but they were nice enough to let us back in the game. When it actually counted and we had a chance to really come back, Bosh bobbled the ball and Delfino stepped out. Rookie mistakes from veteran players.

How about that Chris Wilcox demanding the ball pregame and then delivering with power and style over every Raptor forward, for a while there I thought he was Dwight Howard. Or Wally Szczerbiak getting wide open look after wide open look. We might want to cover this fucking guy after his fourth three, no? Carlos Delfino doesn’t think so. Let’s get to Jose Calderon and his stellar OFFENSIVE game of 15 points and 16 rebounds. Why is the offensive in uppercase, it’s because his opposition of Luke Ridnour and Earl Watson had 10/6 and 10/7 which takes their tally to 20 points and 13 assists, pretty much offsetting Calderon. There’s bad defense and then there’s lazy defense, the Raptors perimeter is by nature bad, but when you add the laziness that’s when the shit hits the fan. To finish with Calderon, I absolutely cringe every time we have a 4 on 3 or a 3 on 2 and Calderon pulls the ball back and sets the offense – run the break man!

Let’s talk about transition defense. Did we not have a day off yesterday? Did we fucking run here from Portland instead of flying because that sure is how we played. Kapono, Parker, Bosh, hell everybody was just late getting back on defense despite knowing that Seattle’s obviously trying to speed up the game and make this an up and down affair. The basic rule of defense is that you stay between your man and the basket at all times unless you’re fronting them. That rule just didn’t apply today for the Raptors, how they allowed Nick Collison, Wally Szczerbiak, Jeff Green and everybody else to just beat them down the floor was a thing of beauty if you’re a Seattle fan. However, if you’re a Raptors one (and there were many who wasted their money making the trip from Vancouver), you can only shake your head in disgust and lament why you even tuned into this one.

Kevin Durant’s going to be a great player in this league some day but he’s not great just yet. Doesn’t matter though, the Raptors made sure he got some nice and clean looks to start off the third quarter and get himself into the groove and the Sonics back into the game. Fight through the fucking screens and shove a hand in his face!!! It was damn comical to watch the Sonics make 7 foot passes in the paint to carve open poor Humphries and Bosh who were both oh so quick to crowd the initial receiver that they left the other guy wide open right under the rim. I wanted to pull my hair out and eat it after the fourth time the Sonics did that. The initial penetration by Ridnour and Watson happened so easily that it forced help from the likes of Parker, Delfino and Kapono and they were always late to recover which set the wheels of the Sonics layup drill in motion.

Let me sum this shit up: Bad, no, non-existent transition defense, lazy perimeter defense, lack of a legitimate #2 option, stagnant offensive sets where the only guys who’re ever going to get points in the paint are Bosh/Hump and that to on rare occasion, Jamario Moon getting smoked by everybody on defense, ineffective Bargnani/Rasho and jumper after jumper cost us this game. I remember when Jamario Moon wanted to lock down his man and was focused on just that, now he’s just leaving his man wide open to help on the ball-handler every time which ends up throwing the matchups off, and since the Raptors aren’t good at rotational defense as it is, it makes things a bit of a mess. I just thank God that his stupid block streak came to and end, Swirsky must be devastated.

Coming up on the road we have Phoenix (ouch), San Antonio (oh, no), Houston (revenge mission) and New Orleans (Chris Paul, ‘nuf said) which amounts to a 1-6 roadtrip (this just in, Las Vegas just gave 1-1 odds on this). The Raptors miss an opportunity in Portland and completely blow one in Seattle, suck ass to be a fan right now. I didn’t even mention Bargnani, he had a great game, well, great by his standards: 4 points, 2 rebounds on 2-7FG (28%). Great to see him coming out of his funk. #1 pick indeed. Oh, I’m sorry Bryan, I’m supposed to judge him after 14 years, sorry, my bad.

I’m out.

One-Liners:

* Do you blame the coach if the team is just playing lazy defense?

* What happened to the defense we saw in the second half against the LA Clippers, was that a one-time thing?

* I forgot what Maceo Baston looks like.

* We need to decide if we’re going to help on the opposing point guard or not. Right now we’re helping sometimes and not helping other times resulting in very confused defensive sequences.

* I don’t think Chris Bosh can finish around the rim, I pray for him to get fouled because I know the shot’s not going in.

* Where do you go from here?

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

The Celtics are just better than the Raptors. It’s that simple. Plus, Bargnani might be a bust.

Posted by Arsenalist on December 16, 2007

Boston Celtics 90, Toronto Raptors 77

That was hard to watch and don’t let the score fool you, this game wasn’t even close. The Celtics come into our building missing one of their big guns and blow us out of the water while we play like stiffs in awe of our opponents rather than go for the kill in a statement game at home. We didn’t match Boston’s fire or energy and ended up getting beat by Boston role players such as Rondo and Posey. We couldn’t adapt to Garnett who whenever pressured by a double team always managed to find a shooter who was left wide open because of a late defensive rotation. The Raptors achilles heel. Holes this big in your defense can only be compensated for by having a great offense which wasn’t there today, instead we had the same perimeter oriented approach towards scoring that only works on occasion (see second half of Indiana game) and can’t be relied upon to score against a good defense on a consistent basis. Did the Raptors honestly think they’d be able to mount an Indiana-like comeback against Boston? That shit happens once or twice a year if you’re lucky.

The bottom line is that Boston is just better than us. They have more star power, better fitting role players, a coach that understands the strengths and weaknesses of the team and does a good job of exploiting the former and hiding the latter. Doc Rivers is by no means a great coach but over the years he’s learned how to deploy the resources he’s given to good use. James Posey, Eddie House and Rajon Rondo are all great fits in a Boston team where everybody seems to know how to approach the game and know what their role is. Contrast this to our style where the first offensive possession of the game is a Jamario Moon fadeaway and where despite all our coaching staff’s efforts we can’t get our #1 pick a clean look to save his life. The disparity between the two clubs is evident in our 0-3 record against them. This is no fluke, they are better than us both player and coaching wise. We are a good team, they are a contender. They have Eastern Conference champions written all over them, we can at best hope for a second round birth.

Let’s talk about Bargnani. If it looks like a bust, plays like a bust, acts like a bust, it’s probably a _____. You fill in the blank. He looks awful but I’ve decided to analyze him in an entirely different post coming in the next week hopefully. Suffice to say every time he touches the ball he embarrasses himself and the GM who drafted him. To put it bluntly it looks like Kris Humphries might have a better career than Bargnani. The Italian can’t seem to grasp simple basketball concepts and is repeating the same defensive and offensive mistakes over and over again, his confidence is so low that I wouldn’t trust him in a jumpball against Rondo. Besides the occasional three point shooting he hasn’t lived up to the expectations and hype that the media and the Raptors franchise has shoved down our throats. Right now it’s turning out to be a disaster pick and I can’t even blame the coaching staff for not “bringing him along” because its clear that the problems that plague him have much more to do with mental makeup, confidence and ability more than incorrect utilization by the coach.

In this paragraph I’ll try my best to summarize what we did wrong. Forgive me if the grammar and sentence structure is a little of. Anthony Parker either missing open shots or taking bad shots. Chris Bosh taking too many jumpers when guarded by the likes of Kentrick Perkins and Glen Davis, didn’t end up having an impact on the game. Jose Calderon doing nothing to take away Rajon Rondo’s penetration. Non-existent rotational defense when double teaming Kevin Garnett – Rondo was left wide open, somebody should cover for Calderon when he’s doubling. Andrea Bargnani. Jamario Moon being too block-happy when guarding Pierce. Token man-defense on Eddie House and Tony Allen despite their hot shooting. Not getting Jason Kapono involved in the offense instead having him worry about how to get himself involved in the offense (you know, coaching stuff). Too perimeter oriented – complete points in the paint domination by Boston. When the pick ‘n roll failed (i.e.: Boston switched or fought through) we had no clue what to do next. No energy, hustle or desire.

Despite all that we could’ve cut the lead to 7 if Kapono had drained that three in the fourth quarter but we all know it wouldn’t have mattered. We couldn’t stop Boston from scoring and had trouble putting two good possessions together so it’s only deserving that we lose. The blame doesn’t go on any one person but the entire team as a whole including the coaching staff who is impotent when faced with the prospect of having to come up with a plan when the jumper isn’t falling. This blog is getting boring because after every loss the same issues come up and I write pretty much the same shit every time. The Indiana win was a fluke, this right here is reality. I concede the Atlantic Division to the Boston Celtics and am on the verge of labeling Andrea Bargnani a bust. It’s this close.

The mini-streak we had going doesn’t amount to a thing when you lose the most meaningful game of the month to your divisional rivals. For the third straight time. At home. In a blowout.

One-Liners:

* andreabargnani.com is available.

* I was wrong in thinking that the Celtics were a three-man team when the season started.

* Sam just needs to add a couple plays to his thin playbook where a shooter like Kapono can get a clean look.

* One-on-one moves and Joey Graham don’t go together.

* At the risk of sounding like a broken record I’ll say that our rotational defense is terrible. The most guilty parties today were Delfino, Calderon and Graham. To a lesser degree Kapono.

* We go through too many offensive droughts that bury us early and we just don’t have a run-killer on our team when Bosh is struggling.

* Not having a regular 8-man rotation is affecting this team’s offense. Don’t give me a PPG stat, those are meaningless.

* I want to take the Caliper test that Bargnani took and see how I do. Damn curious.

Feed.

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

Raps shutdown Johnson, Johnson and Smith but night ends on a very bad note

Posted by Arsenalist on December 12, 2007

Toronto Raptors 100, Atlanta Hawks 88

I’d rather take a loss than see TJ Ford carried out on a stretcher, needless to say it brought to mind the Mark Madsen collision which ended up breaking Ford’s vertebrae. Coming off a stinger injury which made him miss about two weeks, this was the last type of hit that Ford needed. There’s zero intent on the part of Al Horford who by his own admission was completely tricked by TJ’s decision to reverse the ball rather than go straight up with it. It’s nice to see Sam Mitchell come out to the other side of the court protesting the foul for the sake of protesting it. There was nothing malicious in the air but Sam’s concern for TJ is well evident. Let’s just hope he gets better, the word used by Chris Bosh, Anthony Parker to describe TJ on the ground was “scared” as in he’s scared about history repeating itself. Hopefully it’s just that and nothing more.

There was a funny quote coming out of Chris Bosh in the post-game when asked about TJ’s move on Horford:

“[Shrugs] Usually he goes up like a wild man but this time he was in control”

See, even Bosh thinks TJ’s out of control at times, not just everybody watching the game. Speaking of the game, TJ was simply phenomenal with 26/2/8 and led the Raptors charge while making Anthony Johnson wanting to retire at halftime. When TJ decides to break the defense down, there’s nobody that can stop him, and if his jumper’s working on the same night, lines like this get produced. CB4 manly 20/13 provided the presence underneath but at times Bosh was guilty of sticking to the perimeter, we’d talk about it a lot more if this game ended up being a loss.

The game-ball however goes to our defense on Johnson, Johnson and Smith who had 6, 23 and 6 points, respectively. JJ’s points came late but were part of a mini-ATL run that never looked to really bother the Raptors. Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon and Carlos Delfino get credit for playing extremely tight man-defense and collapsing in the paint every time Smith went inside. The pick ‘n roll defense was superb with the Raptors switching 1-3 consistently thus taking the pick ‘n roll away from the Hawks. The Hawks had some big wins this season against PHX, DAL and ORL so they’ve shown that they’re a good team and the Raptors should take some satisfaction getting one in their building.

Andrea Bargnani’s return was rustier than an old nail in an abandoned 16th century house. Try 0-4 with 0 points on for size. But he needs practice and Mitchell gets that:

“You look at our schedule, until we get practice time … you have to kind of let them work their way into shape before the game. He (Bargnani) has been working on his own, running and stuff He’ll have to some extra running, do some work. Keith (D’Amelia), our strength coach, has been doing some good work with our guys when they’ve been out, working them.”

In short, Bargnani needs a few games to regain his rhythm. There’s a good bet Jorge Garbajosa won’t play this season after having surgery but I’m inclined to care less. With Jamario Moon, Carlos Delfino and Joey Graham all stepping and performing Garbjosaesque, there’s little cause for concern on fans’ part. Jorge can take all the time he wants to get back to 100% and know that when/if he comes back it’s going to be a dogfight for minutes.

So as Bargnani and Bosh come back, Kapono (wrist) and Ford go out. Rotten luck for the Raptors. It’s Dallas tonight, time to erase the memory of blowing a 24 point lead. If you need something to cheer you up you might want to check out Darrick Martin’s future in the NBA. Thanks for reading, grab the feed.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Sam Mitchell can’t ride the Bosh/Bargnani excuse much longer

Posted by Arsenalist on December 8, 2007

Toronto Raptors 84, Boston Celtics 112

toronto raptors dazed and confused

Hmmm…you didn’t need to watch past the first quarter because the other three were the same: Boston tearing an undermanned Raptors squad inside out as the Raps struggle with their offense while the coaching staff simply waits for Bosh/Bargs to come back. Yes, we were missing two key players but that can’t serve as an excuse for offensive sets that were so stagnant that Joey Graham taking one-on-one contested jumpers was considered a good possession. There’s no point in spewing the bile about our unimaginative offense or porous defense because as long as Sam Mitchell is in Toronto, it’s not going to change. At best we can hope for games where our run ‘n gun style pulls us through and the occasional individual brilliance from our talented offensive players.

I didn’t expect the Raptors to win this game but I did expect them to compete and at least keep the game close until the third quarter, don’t think that was too much to ask. Not having Bosh and Bargnani hurts but that can’t explain how Rajon Rondo was able to blow by our PGs and then have enough time to casually pick out a choice of open shooters. Nor does it justify picking up silly fouls, simply losing track of your man and not fighting through picks. These are basic fundamental things that an undermanned team must do in order to have an outside chance of keeping the game close, it ain’t exactly rocket science. It needs to be preached pre-game and enforced by the coach. No excuses. The players take the blame for not executing and the coaching staff takes it for not instilling the concept in the team. A coaching staff is supposed to get creative when faced with adversity or challenges, that’s when they really earn their money. In our case Sam just threw his arms up in the air and just rode the injury excuse to a horrible and embarrassing loss. All we fans beg for is to try and so something: trap the ball, run back-screens, maybe a UCLA cut, try to get Garnett out of the game, force Ray Allen to the baseline, make Rondo beat you, something, do something!!! Here’s what Mitchell offers:

“They just drilled us. Got guys injured. Got guys in and out of the lineup. It’s just tough.”

Not good enough I say. Sam’s sub patterns are so erratic that nobody really knows when they’re going to play and who they’re going to guard. Tonight we saw the return of Juan Dixon from exile and he looked like a chicken with his head cut off and was just trying to get his points. Can’t really blame him. Everybody has injuries, you deal with them and come up with alternate strategies, you don’t moan about them and use them as excuses.

Another concept, one of rotational defense doesn’t seem to exist in the current squad; the opposing team only has to beat one person off the dribble and we’ll be lucky if help comes. Even if help comes, the rotation that the help should trigger simply never happens thus reducing the task of breaking us down to a simple drive ‘n dish. This problem is so deep rooted in this team that it can’t change overnight. I don’t think we had a chance in this game even if Bosh/Bargs played because we didn’t lose this game by not just scoring enough points, we also lost because we allowed the Celtics to push us over way too easily on defense. There was little resistance to anything they tried to do, we couldn’t even foul them so they could at least earn it on the line.

There are times when the Raptors can come off looking like the worst team in the NBA and that’s when it dawns on me that we are so horribly coached on both ends that it’s nothing short of a shock that we’re 4th in the East. Well, we did have an easy November and if early December is a sign of things to come, we’re in HUGE trouble. Our inability to establish a defensive system under Sam Mitchell is going to cost us; it already cost us the NJ series and it’s cost us at least 5 games so far this season. Concepts like rotations, switching and close-outs are either entirely missing from games or executed so poorly that you wonder if the player is just being lazy or doesn’t know what to do – Joey Graham is Exhibit A, he doesn’t know who to guard and what to do on a switch. Throw Juan Dixon and TJ Ford into the same category and we’re lucky that the ref doesn’t blow us for the three second violation every time. As for Joey, it’s very evident that he’s trying to win a spot on this team by trying to force his offensive game. Unfortunately for him, that’s the perfect way to shoot himself out of an NBA job. He needs to learn the basic fundamentals of defense, develop two or three good go-to moves and be aggressive on the boards. Maybe then he has a shot of staying in the NBA past his rookie deal.

Enough about the game.

Chuck Swirsky
chuck swirsky caricature cartoon

Apparently he contacted the RealGM folk and asked that threads bashing him should be heavily moderated and that the insults are too much. Fair enough but he does bring it on himself by wrapping himself in a Raptors flag while calling the game. You can’t expect to make the entire broadcast your own little toy by coining stupid catch phrases, giving shout outs to people, exaggerating the player abilities, forcing your viewpoint on others and not expect to be called out on it.

I was watching the Celtics/Raptors game from way back when Vince hit the game-winning three at Boston Garden and John Saunders was calling it. There were no onions, no salami and cheese, no hyperbole, no insane shouting, nothing that would be qualified as stupid. He just called the game as he saw it and it was fine, everybody enjoyed it and never talked about the announcer. That’s how it should be. BTW Chuck, thanks for shoving the most useless stat down our throats for the past two weeks, you know Jamario Moon having a block in a dozen straight games. Is there one for steals? Or how about one for defensive rebounds. You know like “most consecutive games with a defensive rebound”. Ughh.

Horrible night for the Raptors, best to forget about it and hope that we find our form Sunday against Houston at the ACC.

You might find this little video clip amusing. Later. Get the feed.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Need more reason to hate Darrick Martin?

Posted by Arsenalist on December 3, 2007

Charlotte Bobcats 79, Toronto Raptors 98

Darrick Martin just gave us another small little reason to hate him. He did the “professional” thing and left the score frozen at 98 when the fans were chanting “Pizza, Pizza” louder than they were “Let’s go Raptors” all evening. The pizza situation was the only one in question after the Raps shook off that excruciating Washington loss and emptied all their weaponry on the Charlotte Bobcats who remind me of a “Whatever happened to…” team. You know, as in whatever happened to Derek Anderson or whatever happened to Othella Harrington or even whatever happened to that guy Oakley bitch-slapped. Chuck’s wondering why the Bobcats haven’t taken off in the Charlotte basketball-bred community, I can offer two possible reasons. First, they’re called the Bobcats and second, they have bright orange uniforms. A tough measure to overcome for any franchise.

The Raptors confuse me, they really do. They had no business blowing out the ‘Cats (not calling them Bobcats anymore) and yet despite not having Bosh, Bargnani or Ford, they dominated leaving little doubt in the outcome of this game from the first quarter onwards. The only challenge the ‘Cats mustered was three straight threes to start off the third but after that things went back to normal and by normal I mean Calderon/Delfino/Humphries wreaking havoc on both ends of the floor and Jamario Moon doing his thing on the defensive end. Even Joey Graham came off the bench to score a violent 13 which included two possible Sportscenter Top 10s (and I mean the real Sportscenter, not that TSN crap). There was also a Gerald Wallace/Jamario Moon Alabama reunion going on in the side, we’ll give this one to Moon who altered enough shots that they should really start counting them in the boxscore somehow.

I know it’s a total cliche but this was a total team effort with six guys in double figures and some unbelievable help defense that was too good to be true. Now I know it’s hard to replicate the offensive success against Phoenix coming up but I’m looking forward to the same defensive commitment, especially on the weak side. Never did a Raptor get beat tonight without a help defender coming over to challenge the offering. Defense is a joy to watch when played right and tonight, albeit against the ‘Cats, we were in fine, fine form. We even managed to lockdown professional Raptor-killer Jason Richardson who was held scoreless in the first half and ended up with a harmless 12; the only person to cause us any concern at any point was Jared Dudley with his hustle but that’s nothing in the grand scheme of things. But to quote The Wolf from Pulp Fiction:

Let’s not start sucking each other’s dicks just yet.

It’s only the ‘Cats and nothing to get ecstatic about, I would’ve been much more pumped if we had eked out that Wizards win rather than this slaughtering of the lambs. Let’s give a little credit to Kris Humphries though, the man is always ready to play and although he might frustrate you with his uncalled for 18 footers, he does play hard and usually makes the right decision on both ends of the floor. The mystery to me is Juan Dixon, I’ve lost track of the DNPCDs, if you’re not going to get PT now then when are you? Sam sure does run a pretty solid dictatorship.

I’m thinking of making these posts the day after the game so that I can include some links to newspapers etc, meh, we’ll see. Thanks for reading, grab the feed.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | 13 Comments »