Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Posts Tagged ‘philadelphia 76ers’

Bosh and O’Neal offset each other as Raps lose to Philly

Posted by Arsenalist on October 13, 2008

Philadelphia 76ers 85, Toronto Raptors 79

Before we start, check out East Coast and his great guest post here.

Just like we brushed off the preseason wins we should brush off the preseason losses. So Philly comes in to our building, beats us and sends an early message that they’re ready to contend for second spot in the Atlantic. It’s nothing we didn’t know before but at least we’re now positive that Elton Brand will have something to say about the standings before its all said and done. This was a prototypical Raptors/76ers game – their athleticism, speed and agility versus our…..whatever the hell we are. I can’t even qualify what the Raptors are trying to do on the court but I think we were trying to take advantage of O’Neal in the post, trying to use Bargnani’s size, exploit Andre Miller and maybe even make Iguodala or Thadeus Young play some defense by running Parker off 16 or so screens. At the end of the day it came down to fourth quarter execution and with O’Neal and Bosh safely glued to the bench and Iguodala being checked by Jason Kapono (insert joke here), the former penetrated the heart of our defense for a thunderous dunk which said, “Take that!”. Game over.

There was a ‘moment’ early in the game went Jamario Moon drove to the rim and Elton Brand brought him down with a hard, hard foul which was somewhat unworthy of the preseason and something you see in Game 6 of a playoff series. Moon got up and knocked the FTs down but Brand had sent the message: no easy baskets against Philly. None of the Raptors stood up to Brand or took issue with the hard foul (see, we’re pussies) but maybe they were right in doing so, I don’t know. I just wanted to see a reaction. Any reaction.

Don't hit the panic buttonChris Bosh said yesterday that he was ready ‘now’ for the season but as is evident by yesterday’s game, the Raptors are far from a well-oiled machine on either end of the court. Jermaine O’Neal is rustier than a coffin nail and Chris Bosh doesn’t know if he should drive, defer or post-up in any given possession. If you add up Bosh’s 1-5 FG and O’Neal’s 3-10 FG, throw in a little -14 in the rebounding department and its surprising that this one was even close. Our top three scorers came off the bench with Kapono, Willie and Bargnani chipping in an efficient 14, 12 and 10. The worst thing that can happen to the Raptors is Bosh and O’Neal offsetting and preventing each other from having good games. This was a game where having them on the court at the same time worked out against us because there wasn’t a plan on how exactly to use our weapons. Contrast this with Philly who recognize that Samuel Dalembert is a defensive force and consistently clear out space for Brand to make his move. The Raptors simply alternate Bosh and O’Neal touches which is basically high-school coaching. But its preseason so there’s no point in ringing any alarm bells. Yet.

Doug Smith serves as the apologist for Bosh and O’Neal’s play and says that its getting better albeit very slowly. There’s definitely a big learning curve here and as I’ve been saying since the trade, its up to Sam Mitchell to figure things out. He can’t just rely on O’Neal and Bosh “figuring out” what the right play on the court is given any situation, there needs to be a method and well-defined plays that consider fakes, drop-offs, shot attempts, rebounding position and second options. The chemistry between Bosh and O’Neal will not simply develop by increasing their playing time together, there’s a lot more to it than that and it does involve the three other players on the court. Hopefully Mitchell can figure this out before people start hitting the panic button. You can check out individual player grades here.

I appreciate and endorse what Bargnani’s trying to do. He’s getting into the lower block and trying to shoot over the shorter defender if he can’t take him to the rim. His jumper is looking a lot better and he’s recognizing that his advantage is in the post more than the perimeter. It doesn’t matter if he’s airballing his threes right now; all that matters is that he’s doing the ‘right’ thing on the court. Grabbing only one rebound in 26 minutes is a cause for concern but you look for any positives with him at this point. He had a few good defensive possessions where he was forced to trap a wing player on the perimeter by using his size and did so effectively, his pick ‘n roll defense was better than average and he didn’t get overpowered on defense. Of the 10 rebounds Jamario Moon got there were a few that could’ve gone to Bargnani – I mean its not like he was ball-watching today.

There’s an article about Moon’s exploits in the Sun today and it looks like its written by a 5 year old (I count 34 paragraphs). It’s very sad when our starting SF scores 7 points on 2-6 FG and gets outplayed by his counterpart and its hailed as “inroads were being made”. I mean come on. Come on. Huh, Come f*****g on. The guy grabbed a few defensive boards in a loss and suddenly that’s supposed to mean something? Is this a joke? Jamario Moon is an above-average defender. That’s where it ends for him, he will always under-perform in our lineup because he just doesn’t have the talent to be a starting small forward. The sooner we accept this and try to address this need, the better for the organization. He could be a real asset to us if his role was limited and he was allowed/taught what he does best: come into the game in the second quarter, get some blocks, grab some boards and slash to the rim.

The general defensive problems are highlighted by Michael Grange and its not surprising that perimeter defense and allowing G’s to penetrate is item #1. Grange hopes that we can iron out these kinks in the remaining five preseason games but I’m less optimistic. These aren’t problems that can be solved in practice, they’re not technical errors, they’re the limitations of a person’s physical ability. You can’t teach Calderon how to stop Miller blowing past him, good luck trying to teach Kapono how to guard Iggy on the perimeter with the game on the line, have fun with Parker and his commendable “fake hustle” defense (great effort but doesn’t really work). The best we can hope to achieve by opening day is learn how to play help defense and figure out how to rotate so that the weakest link in the opposition gets to take the shot. You know, find the opposition’s Jamario Moon and Will Solomon. As an aside I’d like to think that since Moon’s our best perimeter defender we’d be able to assign him Iggy and count on him to slow him down. No such luck.

Roko didn’t play because he was trying not to aggravate a rib injury which gave Will Solomon even more playing time. This man is not shy when it comes to shooting and possesses a good-looking shot that tends to go in. He’s quick, strong and looks like he could play the backup PG. He’s going to be a guy who will be able to get his shot off because the defense will give it to him; in other words he’s this year’s Jamario Moon. Teams will take the chance of Will Solomon beating you and he’s go to be careful of not falling into the Mike James trap. If Solomon’s taking a team-high 12 shots in any game, its a bad, bad sign. Good game though, showed ability on offense and tenacity on defense.

How about that Marreese Spreights (16th pick)? Wouldn’t come to work out for the Raptors but its not like it matters, we wouldn’t have picked him anyway. Look on the bright side though, we got Hassan Adams who would be wise to buy a nice wardrobe.

Raps lose to Philly. CSKA Moscow is next on Tuesday. I’ll be at this game.

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

The Philly loss means we wasted the entire week, so much for the easy schedule

Posted by Arsenalist on January 19, 2008

Toronto Raptors 95, Philadelphia 76ers 99

As you finished watching this game the taste in your mouth was probably the Raptors’ fightback falling just short, but it shouldn’t be. It should be the miserable third quarter where we got outscored 34-16 and didn’t play a lick of defense or showed any intensity. Philly on the other end couldn’t do any wrong, maybe the prospect of getting swept by their division mates was motivation enough to step things up – I sure hope the Raptors feel the same way coming up in Boston. After the Hawks game I was relieved that the third quarter bug didn’t finish us off but last night it took us out in cold blood.

One of the problems with the Raptors is that if things come easy for them early, they turn their level of play down and almost feel that their early success will be extrapolated over the entire game. It didn’t matter that we played well in spurts in the first half and the fourth quarter, the game was decided in the third where we couldn’t buy a rebound or a stop, and I don’t remember anybody fighting through a screen or rotating properly which resulted in open lanes to the rim for Dalembert and Iguodala. This is the quarter where it felt like Philly got an offensive rebound every time they missed a shot and converted on their second chance. Kris Humphries or Andrea Bargnani couldn’t keep Philly of the boards and even the reliable Bosh fell asleep on box outs. We went ice cold from the field and made bad passes that were picked off, here’s the offensive stretch to finish off the third quarter. It was like we got hit by a train.

4:46 Jamario Moon misses layup
4:43 Jamario Moon makes tip shot
4:13 Jose Calderon misses layup
3:13 Chris Bosh misses 16-foot jumper
2:33 Rasho Nesterovic misses 13-foot jumper
2:06 Chris Bosh bad pass (Andre Iguodala steals)
1:50 Jason Smith blocks Juan Dixon's layup
1:28 Joey Graham misses 15-foot jumper
0:51 Jamario Moon misses 23-foot three point jumper

If you notice more than a 24 second difference between offensive possessions it’s probably because Philly was owning us on the offensive boards on the other end. When the third finally ended, we were down by 20 and the game was practically over. Juan Dixon and CB4 led a fourth quarter fight back which would’ve been almost complete had Anthony Parker drained a left-wing three but God was smiling on Philly and it rimmed out. Bosh explained why the comeback fell short:

“It was just way too big of a deficit. Being the team we are, we’re going to try to force the issue and come back until the end, but you can’t dig a hole that big and expect to climb out.”

Game over, week wasted. Let me tell you why.

This was supposed to be an easier week for us and good judgment told us that we should go 3-1 and go 2 more games over .500. Instead we finish 2-2 and completely waste the golder opportunity to climb in the standings, it’s like we took zero advantage of the schedule, something that we must do in order to secure a reasonable playoff seeding. The Sacramento and Atlanta wins went all for naught and the week as a whole was a disappointment because when it came down to it, we couldn’t take advantage of the schedule.

I saw this game on a raptorsnation.net stream (props to aRapsFan4Eva) on mute because I was at a party and the only one stuck to a computer, needless to say I looked like a loser. Anyway, point being that I probably missed a lot of stuff here and there that one absorbs when watching on a big TV so I’m not sure how to read things. But despite my limited viewing resources it did appear that Bargnani sucked ass yet again. The box score backs me up on this by reading 12 minutes, 3 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 steals and 3 personal fouls. Fuckin ‘eh. You don’t have to be an analyst to realize that a line like that can only mean that you had zero impact on the game and judging by the personal fouls, likely had a negative one. Bargnani’s fondness of rebounding has never been that great but how can a 7 footer not grab a single rebound?!? From what I saw of him in the third quarter, Reggie Evans and Dalembert were going around him (and Bosh) to grab offensive boards with seeming ease. There’s nothing much to say about Bargnani except that I should probably expect zilch out of him and shouldn’t be pissed off, but something about him being the #1 pick tells me otherwise. Anybody see that foul he picked up bumping Miller, does this man even know the rules?? Imagine how solid we’d be if he gave us 18 and 8 every night like he was expected to coming into this year. I can even convince myself to look past the horrendous play but what frustrates me even more is that I don’t see the needed effort or intensity from him. Based on his demeanor and play, it almost looks like he’s not even bothered by his struggles.

On the bright side (and you really have to look hard) Jamario Moon had a great game on both ends, 17 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals and a block from the D-League scrub (contrast this to Il Mago) drove the Raptors in the first half where they allowed a Philly team to hang around. Lapses in their defense allowed Philly way too many easy baskets and instead of probably being up by 8 or 9, we were down 2. If you watched the first half you’ll know that Philly was right there for the taking. They weren’t playing defense and were spotty on offense, unfortunately the Raptors matched them on both ends. I thought CB4 should’ve gotten Dalembert out of the game early by drawing some fouls but chose to stay passive. Dalembert didn’t pick up his third foul until 10 seconds left in the game. If you allow him to stay in the game, he will kill you. And he did.

On another note, Joey Graham and Juan Dixon had strong offensive games which is great news because they’re both probably being showcased for a trade. I have a question, how bad is Maceo Baston in practice? Let’s put this guy on the floor and see what he can do for us. Let’s match him up against Evans or even Dalembert and at least see what he can do, let’s see just exactly how bad he is or whether he’s actually deserving of one of the 450 best jobs in the world.

The Raptors should return home with a DVD of the third quarter and watch it over and over and over again until they get so angry at themselves that they’ll never dare to repeat that performance.


One-Liners:

* Nobody talk about fatigue being an excuse, just like the Raptors, Philly’s starters played extended minutes last night in Boston.

* An inexcusable loss which falls entirely on lackadaisical play, lack of intensity and horrible defense. I don’t think there’s any reason to point the finger at the coach, this game was lost on the floor, in the third quarter.

* We lost by 4 and missed 5 FTs. I know it’s unfair to point to this as the reason we lost but we’ve been missing some FTs lately and today it came back to haunt us. Having 16 turnovers (4 by Calderon) didn’t help much either.

* Delfino + Kapono + Humphries = 2 points. Carlos needs to stop flopping and play some defense, this disease is carrying over to Joey Graham who instead of playing defense and challenging a shot opts to draw a charge. The NBA needs to fix this because a) it’s stopping potent offensive players and giving advantage to scrubs and b) it’s encouraging flopping.

* Check our Rasho’s statline. He literally didn’t do anything. Iguodala and Evans dominated us on the boards when it mattered (3rd quarter) and in that crucial stretch our bigs fell short.

* Calderon and Parker’s defense on Andre Miller and Willie Green was atrocious. Parker is the king of running back to put a hand up in vain while Calderon allowed Miller to blow by him simply too many times. Make the man shoot the J and see how far he gets before you start showing him respect. No?

* Yes, Anthony Parker struggled but let’s not start saying that his career is over and he’s a washed up flash-in-the-pan. He had a bad game but so did Calderon, Bargnani, Nesterovic, Delfino, Kapono and Humphries.

* I’ll be posting more often (not just on gamedays).

* If you missed the Podcast #3 where I touched on how easy the schedule is (shows what I know) check the podcast page.

Pissed off tonight.

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

Raptors start 4 in 5 stretch + Podcast #2 + Thoughts on Ukic

Posted by Arsenalist on January 14, 2008

First of all, congratulation to Chris Bosh for winning the Player of the Week. Well deserved award indeed but now it’s back to work.

It’s four games in five nights time again starting on Tuesday in Detroit. The Pistons just got their ass kicked by the Knicks and will be looking to kill the next thing they see. Unfortunately, it’s the Raptors. Realistically speaking a win here is about as likely as a Bargnani triple double, hell even a double double. I suppose stranger things have happened but let’s just hope the Raptors stay close and give themselves an opportunity to win at the end. In order for us to have any chance the bench production has to exceed five points which is what we could muster up last time we met in Toronto. The good news is that Bargnani had a great game against them last time around, hopefully it wasn’t just a fluke and he can take advantage of his quickness against Wallace/Maxiell/McDyess.

After that we have Sacramento sans Mike Bibby and Ron Artest but don’t let that fool you, Reggie Theus has these guys playing well and smelling upset pretty often. They’ve already beaten Detroit, San Antonio, Houston, Utah, NJ, Orlando and Memphis so the Raptors don’t exactly scare them. After that we get a day’s break before we play Atlanta at home which isn’t an easy task but a doable task, the Hawks and Raptors have historically played very close games and there’s no reason that this will be different. After that it’s Philly in Philly which should be a routine assignment by now and the Raps will be looking for a season sweep. Optimistically speaking, we should come out 3-1 out of this stretch and if I put my pessimistic hat on, I’ll say we’ll drop one of Sacramento or Atlanta and come out 2-2 which will prompt some fans to jump off the bandwagon, good riddance.

Time for Podcast #2 with the The Man from RaptorsTalk.com where we learn that he’s really a Knick fan. Go over to his blog and bombard him. We’re getting a little better but sound like two guys who’ve never done a podcast probably because we’re two guys who’ve never done a podcast. Other topics touched on include Ukic, Bargnani and the upcoming week. We both know that we’re brutal but I guarantee the quality and content will pick up by Podcast #7.

“Hoping for a 3-1 Week”Download it! (Size: 36.2MB, 25:46)

The Raptors need for a second scorer and/or rebounder is apparent and so glaring that it’s natural for trade speculation. If you’ve been following this space you know that I’m a big fan of Reggie Evans despite his nut-hugging ways. He’s got a reasonable salary and might be expendable in Philly where the word of the day is rebuilding.

Back to our 4 in 5 stretch, given the lack of a consistent second scorer, it only follows that Bosh needs to have big scoring game in order for us to have a winning record. ESPN’s short but accurate analysis in the power rankings sums it up:

Depth is supposed to be one of Toronto’s calling cards. But with Bargnani amiss and T.J. Ford into his second month on the shelf, Bosh might have to keep putting up huge numbers to keep the Raps where they are.

One can read a couple things into the buyout reached by the Raptors to free up Roko Ukic next year. With TJ Ford hampered by injuries and Bryan Colangelo indicating that he will match any offer on the open market for Jose Calderon, it looks likely that Ukic is being brought in as an insurance against a TJ Ford injury. I’ll be surprised if Ukic is being brought in to ride the pine ala Juan Dixon and Darrick Murray Martin and would think he expects to play at least 15-20 minutes a game. Now unless he’s going to be filling in at the off guard spot, we have a PG situation in Toronto where one of Jose or TJ will be getting squeezed, I’m guessing the latter. Even we if we sign Calderon to a reasonable contract, we’ll still be shelling out approximately 18-20 million at the point guard spot, a bit much I would think.

Here’s hoping for a 3-1 week.

Grab the feed. Till tomorrow.

Posted in Raptors, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

One Bosh block, a missed FT and Jamario Moon bail out struggling Raptors in Philly

Posted by Arsenalist on November 9, 2007

Toronto Raptors 105, Philadelphia 76ers 103

For a second there this looked like a weekend-ruiner, you know one of those games the Raps lose on a Friday in soul-squashing fashion to destroy your weekend. Thank God for Bosh recovering to get a key block right after him and TJ were faked out by Andre Miller. This came right after Louis Williams missed the FT part of a four point play which would’ve tied the game with seconds left. Verdict: We played better but got lucky in the end. Now 3-3 sounds a whole lot better than 2-4 and I’ll take a W in Philly’s hostile but empty Wachovia Center any day but that doesn’t mean we played close to our full potential.

Before we get to Bosh’s renewed determination to go to the rim and Jamario Moon’s flashy defensive display, let’s thank and applaud Anthony Parker for coming out of hibernation and sticking that J like only he can. Parker’s 22 including 4 big-time 3’s at crucial junctures kept the Raptors always a step ahead of Philly which went through enough offensive droughts for the Raptors to maintain their slim advantage through the game. It’s great that this is Andre Iguodala’s shot-jacking year because for every good shot he makes, he takes three bad ones and whether he knows it or not he’s got the ability to suffocate his own team.

I think (hope) Bosh has figured out that he can get his points at the FT line and doesn’t have to dance around the perimeter and hoist pretty little jumpers, going a manly 16-18 from the stripe against Dalembert/Evans/Smith says a lot about his willingness to will his team through in tough times. He isn’t the smoothest player but over the last two games he’s shown a hunger and desire (yes, desire – I’m not just using this word, it actually carries weight) to draw fouls, throw off defenses and get to the FT line which is where real men make their living. Kudos to Bosh for showing up tonight, I’m harsh on him when he’s making bad offensive decisions but tonight he was merciless. Gotta love it!

Jamario Moon has this crazy kink in his jumper which unless he fixes will restrict him to a 40% shooter for the rest of his career. Lucky for us we don’t count on his shot but his DariusMiles-rivaling raw athleticism that can contribute oh so much on defense when applied through the right channels. The key play by Moon was an offensive rebound which he had no business getting and would’ve easily earned a pardon if he just went back on defense instead, but no, he wanted the ball and wanted to contribute. Where there’s a will there’s a way and Moon’s offensive rebound with 2:29 left which was later followed by another Bosh offensive rebound managed to drain the clock long enough for the Raps to hold on. A couple nice finishes around the rim and you’ve got a contribution from such an unlikely source that there’s no way Philly could’ve planned for it.

So how did the Rasho for Bargs starting lineup pay off? Well, we had a lead after the first quarter and Rasho had 8 rebounds in 12 minutes, Bargs played twice as much but did struggle offensively. But the good news is that his problems can all be fixed by a couple practices. I suggest two areas of improvement:

1) He’s hesitating to shoot the three. This is death for a three point shooter and he’s passing up shots which deserve a shot attempt. I counted three times where he passed up a three when there was enough space for him to fire one up and he had his feet set. The “fake ‘n go nowhere” just isn’t his thing and he needs to avoid it.

2) Post positioning: He’s catching the ball either so close to the baseline that it becomes a defender or too far away from the basket that he’s confused whether to shoot or drive. Better post-positioning during possession switch-up is required from him to be effective down low. I’m not worried about Bargs, he’ll come around if he just keeps the game simple.

Carlos Delfino who would’ve been the goat because of his FT choking late in the game but deserves an honourable mention: 9 rebounds, all of them contested and some good D on Iguodala, CD is the most unsung Raptor and will be that all season, you won’t find him on the stat sheet but he’s making game-winning contributions. Sam didn’t do much to screw things up tonight and must be given credit for bringing in Moon early, good move the coach but it doesn’t make up for Thursday night.

But don’t let a W cloud your judgment about the team, we have issues. Perimeter D is a problem and so is shot-selection We need to manufacture shots out of sets for Kapono which is simply not happening right now, anything he gets is out of pickup-type plays. This needs to change if we don’t want to see the leagues top shooter go to waste. Kinda like Billy Koch and is 100mph fastball being hit out of the park. But we won tonight and let’s just savor the taste of victory.

Watch out for the collaborative podcast coming soon featuring other Raptors bloggers and aficionados. Until tomorrow, later.

Grab the feed.

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

Simply put, we need a Big Black Guy to come in here and rebound

Posted by Arsenalist on October 31, 2007

Toronto Raptors 106, Philadelphia 76ers 97

Seriously, we do. A pretty nervous win over a pretty bad team who managed to stay in the game only because we don’t have a single guy on the squad who would have the balls to face Reggie Evans in a back-alley late at night. Samuel Dalembert’s impression of Wilt Chamberlain wasn’t entirely unexpected but the ownage he laid on Bosh for the better part of the game might be. There was rarely a rebound tonight which we got with ease, even the team rebounds were contested. The perimeter defense was shoddy and the interior with the exception of a few true stops, often lacking. If I hadn’t put the score at the top you might’ve thought we lost, but we didn’t and we got two men to thank for that: TJ Ford and Andrea Bargnani.

Here’s a fact: TJ Ford is the only real clear advantage we will have on most nights. Bosh’s size can be countered, Bargnani’s threes can be contested and Calderon might be contained by the zone but TJ, only TJ contains TJ. How’s a 12:1 assist turnover sound? If not that, try on a +24 for size (gotta love the new box score stat). The bench had a terrible game, all they really did was give up any advantage the starters had earned. Calderon had a good scoring game and Delfino grabbed some boards but other than that, nothing was working offensively or defensively after early in the second quarter. It was Ford and Bargnani that provided the timely scoring when it looked like a once comfortable 21 point lead had been Kyle Korvered down to a point.

If you ever wondered just how susceptible we were to athletic swingmen, look no further than Iggy because if it weren’t for his own undoings, he could’ve willed his team to a win and almost did. Complementing his outside shooting and inside game was Korver who we mysteriously let drift way too many times. Six threes between the two took me back to the last game of last season and question whether we have improved defensively AT ALL.

Parker’s shooting touch (vacationing during preseason) is back and smoother than ever, helped us build the big lead that Bosh almost singlehandedly gave away. You have to check out the play-by-play, he had about 7 straight possessions where he either a) turned the ball over b) got rejected or c) took a bad shot. Not a good game for CB4 – no, even though he had 16pts, it doesn’t mean a thing. Bad, bad game. But let’s get to Bargnani’s, his 4pt play late in the fourth turned this game around and halted the ridiculous 76ers onslaught that was about thiiissss close to costing us the game. Bargs at least showing a willingness to rebound and play close to the rim, a definite improvement from the preseason. His 20pts and 5 hard earned rebounds were paramount tonight.

47-35 was the rebounding differential but man, it looked much, much worse. Reggie Evans was looking like Dennis Rodman, he actually got his own rebound off a missed FT which led to a score. The man is a beast and we need someone like him here. According to Leo, we’re a “rebounding by committee” team which I can tell you is a crock of shit and never works. You can’t ask your guards to come and rebound for you when you rely so much on quick outlet passes, it’ll just kill your game. Neither Ford or Calderon are big guards and don’t have the strength and size to take on rebounding tasks on a daily basis. Whether we can get him or not is a different question but someone like Rasho needs to be replaced by a rebounding demon who can do the dirty work.

We got lucky tonight that Philly didn’t get a few more offensive rebounds. Raps win a close one, NJ is up next. grab the feed.

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