Tag:Danny Granger
Posted on: December 10, 2008 11:13 pm
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Raptors - Pacers - A Game Review

Wednesday night, the Raptors and Jermaine O’Neal hosted the Pacers with T.J. Ford and Rasho Nesterovic in their return to the ACC. Emotions were running high on both sides of the floor as the Raptors had come into the game with a 4 game losing streak looking for the first win as a head coach for Jay Triano, while the Pacers were on a 3 game losing streak after beating the Lakers with 2 losses to the Celtics and 1 to the Cavaliers! As a Raptors fan, I thought we had a tough schedule, but we are second behind the Pacers in that regard. With games against the Lakers, the Nuggets, the Jazz, the Cavaliers and the Nets, these two teams have played a lot of very difficult games in the past 2 weeks so both were looking to this game to help readjust their outlook to some winning ways.

On most nights, the Raptors rely on Chris Bosh to carry this team and the past week he has looked tired and out of sorts and his struggles on both ends of the floor have contributed to the tough 2 weeks they have endured. Not to say there are not a lot of other reasons for the struggles, but one could see the weight of the losses mounting on him as he became a jump shooter and working his game away from the inside game that has made him an effective weapon all season. Tonight, he was able to score 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, the most critical of which came in the 4th quarter as he grabbed a couple huge offensive boards to keep the ball out of the Pacers hands and keep the pressure on them to stop us as we pulled away down the stretch. Tonight, the game was not about Chris Bosh and his rise to the top 5 players in the league, it was about the Raptors playing as a team and working through their poor defensive play to work as a group at both ends of the floor.

The game started slowly with both teams forcing the game and their will upon the other with little success. Then the Raptors looked to Jason Kapono who started the game hot and continued his solid play throughout. With Anthony Parker hurt, the starting line up included Jamario Moon at the SG position and Jason Kapono at the SF position. Both responded with spirited play on defense as a combined 42 points between them with Jason scoring 25 in the game. Jamario Moon grabbed 2 offensive boards, one a flying put back that rocked the building ending with 8 rebounds and Jason Kapono had 8 as well. Andrea Bargnani had a poor game offensively with 0 points, but he had a couple huge rebounds defensively as the Raptors looked to seal the game down the stretch. He ended with 4 rebounds. Jamario provided some very solid minutes defensively as he hounded Danny Granger all night and was 7 – 22 shooting at one point ending with 22 points, but was not much of a factor in the second half as Jamario Moon and Joey Graham held him in check. Joey Graham played one of his best games defensively Wednesday night and was a pest offensively posting up his man and attacking the rim collecting 12 points off the bench. Roko Ukic provided solid minutes again running the ball and attacking the rim scoring 5 points and handing out 2 assists but did much more to allow Jose Calderon valuable time to rest. He has begun to become a solid guard and with Jay Triano able to coach him from a guard’s perspective, I look forward to see the improvement of all our guards at both ends of the floor. Jermaine O’Neal picked up two very quick fouls and looked early like it was going to be a long night for him. From that point, he worked hard on defense and found himself getting the ball inside against Rasho Nesterovic, he went to work and ended up with 10 points and 9 rebounds including 2 offensive boards. Over all, a solid game for him as he faced his old team and looked very comfortable as the 3rd or 4th option on offense.

The night was heralded as the T.J. Ford Jose Calderon battle part 1. What we saw was a game that featured Jose as a pass first guard playing a slashing PG who couldn’t find his game. T.J. Ford struggled early shooting 2/4 in the first half and went 0/4 in the second as Jose and Jamario chased him down and gave him little room to pass as well. Jose Calderon ended the night with 11 points and 14 assists and only 2 turnovers while Ford ended up with 2 turnovers and 4 assists. Round 1? Jose refused to say this game was about them, and I agree. He showed a lot of class as he has done his time with the Raptors. Tonight was about the Raptors coming together as a team, not about getting in the face of the team you came from. Well done both guys who refused to let it become about them.

A couple points I wish to leave here. The Raptors held the Pacers to 34.7% FG and only 28% from 3 points range. The difference tonight was that the Raptors had a man on the shooter most of the night and the Pacers had few open looks. It was a good job by the Raptors to work hard at finding the shooter and staying with him through the rotation. Marquis Daniels had 21 points and was 7 – 19 but 7 – 7 from the line. He seemed to be the only Pacers player early who was hitting shots as the Raptors found their place in the new defensive rotations. He moved well with out the ball and eventually the Raptors found him and made him take tougher shots as the game moved on. Troy Murphy led the Pacers with a 20 point, 20 rebound game and was the only consistent threat from outside as he shot 4/8 from outside.

Again, the Raptors were outrebounded 52 to 47 which is a much better performance on the glass for the Raptors, but ending up -9 on the offensive glass was a huge reason the game was still close into the 4th. It would be easy to criticize this Raptors team for not getting after the ball in order to limit the offensive boards, but they will correct that issue as Jay continues to work his systems into this group. They were able to grab the ball when needed to control the game down the stretch, and that fact alone shows a huge step in the development of this team from last week. 7 blocks were huge as Jermaine O’Neal and Jamario Moon each had 3 and they seemed to be huge as they came late in the 4th and helped ice the game.

It was great to see 6 Raptors end up with double digits points and Jose and Chris had double doubles and 4 players had 8 or more rebounds. Balanced scoring and balanced effort on the glass has got to become the hallmark of this team and let’s hope tonight is the first step.

The Raptors have the Nets with Vince Carter and Devin Harris who scored 32 in a loss to the Knicks Wednesday. Then they face the Hornets and Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler on Sunday. Let’s hope this gives the guys a much needed boost mentally and as a group. The schedule doesn’t get easier as the season goes on!

Posted on: December 9, 2008 2:25 pm
 

Raptors - Week 7 in Preview

The Raptors this week have 3 tough games again with the Cavaliers, the Pacers and the Nets. So far this season the Raptors have the second toughest schedule in the NBA with the Pacers being the toughest.

First up, the Cavaliers host the struggling Raptors tonight and bring a 17 – 3 record to the game which has them 2 games behind the Celtics who are first over-all in the league, putting them 2nd in the East and 3rd overall behind the Lakers who are 17 – 2 at this point. Center Zydrunas Ilgauskas needs four rebounds to break former center Brad Daugherty's record (5,227, 1986-94) and become the Cavs' all- time leading rebounder. LeBron James sits second overall in scoring average behind the Heats Dwyane Wade and just ahead of Chris Bosh with 26.5 points per game. Bosh sits at 25.7 despite a poor week of play. The Cavaliers are 11 – 0 at home and are 1 of only 2 teams to be  undefeated at home, the Trail Blazers are 7 – 0 at home as well. The Cavs’ bring an 8 game winning streak to the game tonight and are 9 – 1 in their last 10 games with their only loss going to the Pistons having beaten teams like the Hawks, the Nets, the Nuggets, the Jazz and the Knicks twice. Aside from LBJ, the Cavaliers have one of the most balanced teams they have seen in the LeBron era with Z and Anderson Varejao and Ben Wallace up front. Delonte West and Mo Williams, Daniel Gibson and Wally Szczerbiak in the back court, this team has a lot of energy guys on the bench and no longer can teams wait until LBJ sits to take advantage of the weak bench. The starters as a group are averaging 28+ rebounds a game so they are working hard as a group and have been rewarded for the attention to the glass so far this season. The way the Raptors front court has been, I can’t see tonight being any different than the past 4 games as the Raptors will have to wait until another night to get their first win for Jay.

Next up the Indiana Pacers, and the return of T.J. Ford and Rasho Nesterovic. Both of whom are enjoying good seasons with this young team. As I mentioned, this team has not enjoyed the toughest schedule in the NBA as they are 7 – 13 at this point. They do have some good talent on this team and with T.J. coming back to Toronto, they should have an emotional lift and play a spirited game. Danny Granger, Marquis Daniels, and Troy Murphy round out the starters who as a group are all at or above 10 points per game with Granger averaging 23.1 points per game. This is a game that the Raptors should win, but they will need to correct a few things first. They can not let Danny Granger roam free and attack from all parts of the floor. They have to contain the break and they have to get solid interior defense from the front line.

Friday we head to New Jersey to play Vince Carter and his Nets. Devin Harris has quickly developed into a top level guard in this league and the Nets are enjoying his development with 2 wins in a row and a 7 – 3 record in the last 10 games. With Brook Lopez developing into a solid front line player, the Nets are not just Vince Carter any more. Yi Jianlian and Keyon Dooling bring energy and solid rebounding to this team that has been thin up front with Eduardo Najera and Josh Boone out.  Any game between the Raptors and the Nets has a sideshow atmosphere and I look for more of the same.

As I see this week developing, the Raptors will be hard pressed to beat the Pacers in what could be their only realistic shot at a victory. Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon are going to have to develop some defense very quickly, Jermaine O’Neal will have to continue to score, but more importantly, provide this team some offensive rebounds, which they are 30th in the league. Andrea Bargnani had a great game against them last time and I look for him to continue his solid play on defense, but I would love to see him scoring at a 15 – 20 per game pace. Anthony Parker was burned the last sequence by Rudy Fernandez as he stood and watched the Trail Blazers grab offensive boards and find Steve Blake to kill us. That kind of effort won’t do! I think that Joey Graham should be given a shot at starting, but I suspect we won’t see a change any time soon as this team has such a thin bench as Jason Kapono and Jamario Moon are flying way under the radar. Unless this team suddenly finds some character, it will be a long week.

 
 
 
 
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