Tag:Dwight Howard
Posted on: February 2, 2009 11:36 am
  •  
 

Raptors - Week 14 in review

Well, here goes another attempt at trying to figure out the enigma that is the 2008/09 Toronto Raptors. With wins last week against the Bulls, the Kings and the Nets for their first three game win streak since opening the season 3 – 0, stopping a 7 game losing streak in which they lost 2 to the Celtics, as well as one to the Bulls, to the Pacers, the Suns, the Hawks and the Pistons, they find a way to let the Bucks, playing without Michael Redd, beat them and then they get embarrassed at home by the Magic.

 

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Raptors – 107
Nets – 106

With Jose Calderon back in the lineup, the Raptors needed his 17 points and 11 assists to hold off the Nets who were again lead by their solid back court of Devin Harris, who had 25 points, and 10 assists and Vince Carter who had 27 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. This was one of the first games in a very long season that the Raptors found a way to make a couple of stops down the stretch as Devin Harris missed the winning shot at the buzzer to give the victory to the Raptors. At times the Raptors had excellent ball movement and worked the ball around with a balanced attack, but Anthony Parker was the player of the game for the Raptors with his 21 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists while Joey Graham and Jason Kapono offered some solid work off the bench adding 15 points from JG and 10 from JK. Though Chris Bosh was pretty much a non-factor in the game, Andrea Bargnani struggled with only 8 points, his lowest game total since December 29th against the Warriors, ending his streak of 10+ points per game streak at 15. Keyon Dooling, Brook Lopez and Bobby Simmons were solid for the Nets who were just outplayed a bit by the Raptors bench.

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Raptors – 85
Bucks – 96

A terrible game by the Raptors who looked disinterested the whole night. Charlie Villanueva dropped 26 points and collected 13 boards as he out played a bored Chris Bosh. Andrea Bargnani scored 16 as did Jermaine O’Neal, Jose Calderon scored 7 to go with his 11 assists. Andrew Bogut and Charlie Bell combined for 24 points off of the bench while Richard Jefferson and Luke Ridnour scored a combined 32 points while the Raptors could offer little resistance to a team missing it’s go to guy with Michael Redd out. The Raptors coach offered this summation of the game “I give them credit because they outworked us”. That pretty much sums up the game.

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

Raptors – 90
Magic – 113

AND it wasn’t really even that close after half time. With double – doubles from Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard, this Magic team showed how you play a team that has no desire to show up. The Magic were quite content playing Dwight Howard off Chris Bosh turning him into a jump shooter, ending the game 4 – 11 with 11 points on the game. Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, Courtney Lee and Mickael Pietrus all ended the game in double figures while Jose Calderon, Joey Graham, Andrea Bargnani and Chris Bosh all were in double figures, but no one had more than 16. The team looked tired and gave a terrible second half performance after being down only 6 at the half.

With games coming up against the Lakers, the Hornets and the Cavaliers, the Grizzlies and the red-hot Timberwolves, this Raptors team seems to have given up at this point. Let’s hope they can find a way to play some inspired ball rather than the lack-luster effort they have shown most of the year. The issues go far beyond chemistry and bonding, there are some serious issues with the heart of this team as the players don’t seem bothered by the losses any more. That can never be a good thing.

Posted on: January 26, 2009 2:24 pm
 

Raptors - Week 13 - Jose Returns

Week 13 saw the return of both Jermaine O’Neal and Jose Calderon as the Raptors wallowed in the midst of a 7 game losing streak. Since I have discussed the Pistons game and the Hawks game, I will focus on the Bulls and the Kings games which saw Numero Ocho return and remind us of what was missing from this lineup.

 

 

Friday, January 23rd, 2009 Raptors @ Bulls

Raptors – 114
Bulls – 94

Jose Calderon returned to the floor and quickly provided this team some much needed balance and a steady hand in the back court. He was able to connect all of the pieces of this team that looked very unsure of what was to happen next on offense. With 23 points, 10 assists and 0 turnovers, he lead this team to a 20 – 2 run late in the game to pull away. Jermaine O’Neal played again and looked a lot stronger and more sure of himself playing off the bench behind Andrea Bargnani who has been brilliant this last month while starting for the injured O’Neal. On the game, Joey Graham scored 16 off the bench while Chris Bosh had 17 points, 6 steals and 6 rebounds in a game controlled by Jose and Andrea, who had 22 points on the night. Anthony Parker had 14 points and 7 assists as our back court was just a bit better than the Bulls who’s starter, Ben Gordon and Derrick Rose scored 19 and 12 points with Kirk Hinrich adding 17 points off the bench. The game was taken over by our front line who were no real match for the Bulls smaller front court. Jamario Moon had 6 points and 5 rebounds and 2 steals on the night. Overall, a very solid team effort against a Bulls team struggling to play a consistent level of basketball every night. We needed to win, and the guys went out on the road and got one.

 

Sunday, January 25th, 2009 Raptors vs. Kings

Raptors – 113
Kings - 97

I know, many of you will say “It’s just the Kings, everyone can beat them” and to a large extent, that is very true. We have seen this Raptors team struggle against the “weak” teams like the Thunder and the Wizards and the Clippers this season as their lack of defensive desire seems to allow teams to hang around all game and that lack of killer instinct has been sorely missed this year. Sunday, the Kings came to town 0 – 17 against the eastern conference with a road trip that will take them to games with the Cavaliers, the Celtics and the Bulls. The first quarter the Kings came out on fire hitting 6 – 9 from outside the arc, but only went 5 – 16 the rest of the way as they seemed to play the game far away from the basket while the Raptors pounded the ball inside all evening long and were rewarded with 29 free throws hitting 25. Chris Bosh scored his 11th 30+ game with 31 points and 8 rebounds while Jermaine O’Neal had 11 points and 10 rebounds off the bench behind Andrea Bargnani who continues to play at a much higher level at both ends of the floor scored his 15th straight 10+ point game with 24 points and 7 rebounds. The Kings were lead by John Salmons with 21, Francisco Garcia with 18 points, Brad Miller with 15, Kevin Martin and Jason Thompson with 12 each. For the second straight game, the Raptors shot over 50% from the floor as Jose Calderon found open guys who were hitting shots and attacking the rim all evening. Jose has recorded 18 assists and 0 turnovers in the past 2 games. Welcome home Numero Ocho! We missed you.

This week, the Raptors have games against the Nets and Vince Carter and Brooks Lopez and Devin Harris as well as the Bucks who are without Michael Redd for the rest of the season. The still have Richard Jefferson, Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions on the floor, but these are two games we must win before next week’s murderer’s row of games against Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson and the Magic, LeBron James and the Cavaliers, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler and the Hornets and the Grizzlies the following week. It should be interesting to watch this team as they look to begin the climb back up the ladder in the east. Parts of the game are still missing, but not correctable. At 18 – 28, we are not out of the playoffs yet, but unless team play improves, the playoffs will be little more than fund-raising dates.

Posted on: January 5, 2009 2:18 pm
 

Raptors - Week 10 Review

Week 10 in the NBA for the Raptors provided an insight to this team long overdue. With games against the Warriors, the Nuggets, the Rockets and the Magic, we faced 3 teams with 20+ wins and a team that pushes the tempo any chance it gets. Starting week 10 with a 12 – 18 record after losses to the Clippers and the Trail Blazers and a victory over the Kings on the road, this team finished its 6 game road trip in Sacramento before heading home to face the Warriors. Here is how I saw the games last week

Monday December 29th, 2008 Raptors @ Warriors

Raptors 111
Warriors 117

With Corey Maggette and Monta Ellis out with nagging injuries, the Raptors looked to stem the tide of losses with a trip to the bay area. Stephen Jackson and Marco Belinelli had other ideas. With 55 points between them, this game was not settled until late into the 4th when C.J. Watson dropped a floater over Chris Bosh in the last minute. On a night when 6 Raptors had 10 or more points with Chris Bosh with 30 and Jose Calderon with 21, Kris Humprhies with 10, Jason Kapono and Joey Graham with 11, and Jamario Moon with 12, this was a very solid game offensively for the Raptors as Jose dished out 16 assists against the quicker Warriors. The difference in the game was points off of turnovers where the Raptors were -10 for the night. Though they lost a tough game, this team played tough grabbing 20 offensive boards on a night when Andris Biedrins scored 13 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and had 5 blocks after losing Jermaine O’Neal early in the game and we could find no answer for him. For being the last game of a brutal road trip, these guys played well enough to win in most aspects of the game, but allowed the Warriors to shot 50% from the floor and from outside the arc, and we won’t win many games when we allow those to both happen.

Wednesday December 31st, 2008 Raptors vs Nuggets

Raptors 107
Nuggets 114

The Nuggets came into the game after beating the Knicks but losing to the Hawks and looked to continue to be a force in the West and showed the balance that tends to happen when your coach has 899 wins heading into the game. Tonight, the Nuggets had 7 players with 10 or more points with Nene scoring 21, Carmelo Anhthony adding 20, Kenyon Martin, Chauncey Billups and J.R. Smith added 15, 18 and 16 respectively, but he damage was done by Carl Anderson with his double double off the bench and Linas Kleiza with 10 as well off the bench. Known for their love of transition ball, the Nuggets were held to 10 fast break points as the Raptors were able to control the tempo only giving up the ball 12 times on turnovers, but were quick to recover on defense to slow the Nuggets down. With Jermaine O’Neal out however, the Nuggets pushed the ball inside and attacked the rim at will and were +16 in the paint for the game. Anthony Parker had a very solid game as he started again for Jason Kapono with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists in one of his best games in a couple of months. Chris Bosh had another solid game with 24 points and 11 boards while Jose Calderon struggled with 11 assists but 5 turnovers and 18 points. Andrea Bargnani started at center and scored 26 points and grabbed 6 rebounds and was huge defensively with 5 blocks. Will Solomon put in 11 off the bench while Jamario Moon contributed another solid game on the boards, with 7 rebounds and 10 points on the night. The Raptors had opportunities to get the game back to level, but struggled with their outside shooting in the second half. All in all, they played well, but again allowed this team to shoot 51% from the floor. After watching Jay Triano burn a time out as they refused to push the ball inside after getting the Nuggets in bonus early in the second and they didn’t get free throws until late in the half, he yelled at the guys and sat down to let them figure out why they keep settling for jump shots in transition. As I watched, I could sense the guys finally were ready to listen to the coach. Though they lost the game, this team played hard and I think attitudes were adjusted that night, finally.

Friday, January 2nd, 2009 Raptors vs. Rockets

Raptors 94
Rockets 73

Too many people will say that this was a game that the Raptors won only because the Rockets are playing bad basketball right now having lost to the Bucks on New Year’s Eve. They came into the night after finishing December with a 9 – 5 record, beating teams like the Jazz and the Nuggets and the Nets, but losing to the Cavaliers and the Hornets and the Wizards. Still, they are a playoff team in the West sitting in 7th spot behind the Mavericks and still ahead of the Trail Blazers. The Raptors were missing starter Jermaine O’Neal, but welcomed Jason Kapono back to the floor after missing a couple games with a leg injury. The new starters included Andrea Bargnani in his second straight start at Center and Anthony Parker returning to play the 2 spot and Jamario Moon looking to solidify his spot at the 3 after a few good games rebounding, he looked to become more consistant at the offensive end as well. Chris Bosh played well scoring 19 points and grabbing 5 rebounds, but Jose Calderon went down in the first and left in the second quarters requiring Will Solomon and Roko Ukic to step up and provide the court leadership we would need on the night. Will Solomon responded with 8 points and 7 assists while Roko Ukic added 3 assists and 2 points. Jake Voskuhl was huge off the bench again with 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 points in 18 minutes on the floor. Kris Humphries and Hassan Adams both added 4 points as the team responded with solid offense and tough defense. The Rockets were held to just 34% shooting on the night while committing 22 turnovers which the Raptors took full advantage of turning those into 27 points. Andrea Bargnani looked very solid in the Center spot and had a very good game with 19 points and has begun to look like he belongs on the floor night after night finally. A much needed win by the Raptors as they not only built up a huge lead, but were able to hold on and beat a team that they should not beat. Happy New Years all around.

Sunday, January 4th, 2009 Raptors vs. Magic

Raptors 108
Magic 102

Any time Dwight Howard comes to town, the Raptors seem hold their breath and Sunday was no different. With the first 9 points of the game for the Magic, he seemed on a mission to show Chris Bosh and the Raptors why this team has gone 26 – 5 since dropping the first two games of the season. 39 points were not enough to secure the victory as he was unable to make the free throws the Raptors were more than happy to surrender to him as he missed 7 from the line. The Raptors were 23 – 24 with Chris Bosh making 13 – 14 while collecting 23 points for the game. The Magic were 17 – 24 and lost by 6. There is not a lot of other reasons why this game was won or lost as the teams were pretty even though the Raptors were +6 in the paint despite 39 from Superman. Rashard Lewis scored 20 and Jameer Nelson added 15 while Hedo Turkoglu had only 9 on the afternoon. The Raptors were +8 rebounding and +2 in turnovers while Roko Ukic scored 12 and offered up 7 assists on the game, Will Solomon starting for the injured Jose Calderon had 11 points and 4 assists and was able to control the flow effectively. Anthony Parker had 26 points as he spent the afternoon scoring at will as he took the ball strong to the rim and shot 13 – 16 on the day and seems to have returned to the offensive form having had a good week at both ends of the floor. His return to form is critical for this team as the new year begins. Andrea Bargnani making his 3rd start at Center scored 18 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and added 3 assists to a balanced offense that again saw 5 guys with 10+ points.

Coming up this week are the Bucks, the Wizards and the Grizzlies, it will be interesting to see how much momentum we can carry from this week.

Posted on: November 24, 2008 11:35 am
 

Raptors - Week 4 in Review

Last week the Raptors would love to forget most of what happened to them. I know Raptors fans are very disgruntled right now with the inconsistent play from the team in general as they find ways to lose games in which they have huge leads. So far, after 13 games, the team is 6 – 7, which is exactly where it was last year after 13 games and at this point, there seems little hope for team fortunes to improve as the next week brings the Bobcats, the Hawks and the Lakers on the schedule.  With Jose Calderon still not even close to 100% healthy, it looks to be a long week again.

Here’s what I saw in the past week and what I am looking at for the next week.

The past week gave us 4 games against Eastern conference teams. Two were in the top 4 teams of the conference last season and the other two are hovering around .500 as we are. The Magic were first up in Orlando on our Florida swing with back to back games in Orlando and Miami for a re-match against the struggling Heat.

The Magic came into the game on a 3 game win streak and were 8 – 3 on the season at that point. We were able to open up a lead on the Magic as we were able to get the ball inside and keep Dwight Howard off the boards and off his game with only 4 points in the first half. He finished with 18 points and 9 rebounds, both off of his season averages. Chris Bosh had a huge game with 40 points, 18 rebounds hitting 14/19 shots while Jermaine O’Neal had 1t points and 10 rebounds. With Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono seemingly lost in their own heads, Sam Mitchell started Andrea Bargnani in the 3 spot and he struggled both on offense and on offense with only 5 points. Playing without Jose Calderon, this team turned the ball over 24 times and squandered the lead and the game away as Will Solomon attempted to run the offense with little success as the Magic just kept shooting the ball as Hedo Turkoglu, Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis all had 22 points and seemed to answer any run the Raptors threw at them causing turnovers or grabbing rebounds and running the floor scoring an easy 2 or 3 off the transition game.

Next up were the Heat who came into the game 5 – 5 and missing Centers Jamaal Magloire and Mark Blount up front leaving the Heat out manned against the front line of Chris Bosh, Jermaine O’Neal and Andrea Bargnani. Having beaten the Heat the previous Sunday, the rematch in Miami presented the Raptors with a good chance for a road win. Jose started the game but looked sore and careful on his injured leg. Though Dwyane Wade had 40 points and 11 assists and Shawn Marion had a 20 point, 14 rebound game, they were just not matched up well as Andrea Bargnani had a 25 point game and Jermaine had a 16 point 17 rebound effort. It was a very exciting game as Dwyane Wade took over and attacked the Raptors inside in the 4th to keep the game close. To me, the play of the game was JO’s rejection of Wade with a little over a minute left. It allowed the Raptors to get the ball back up court and pull ahead and out of range.

Next game was the Nets and Vince Carter. Although the Raptors opened up another 18 point lead, Vince scored 12 points in the last 22 seconds including the game tying 3 from 27 feet with Anthony Parkers had in his face. Then he scored on an ally-oop to win the game on the last shot. Dropping 39 points and grabbing 9 rebounds while Devin Harris, who left before half time with an upset stomach, scored 30. Together, they combined for half of the Nets points. Andrea had his best game as a pro scoring 29 points while Jose scored 26 and CB scored 42 as he and VC went back and forth all evening answering each other on both ends of the floor.

Sunday, the World Champions visited the ACC and from the beginning of the game, the Raptors appeared shell shocked, probably not recovered from the terrible loss Friday. The Celtics had 7 guys in double digits with Ray Allen leading the way with 21, Kevin Garnett, who harassed Chris all afternoon had 15, Kendrick Perkins had 12, Rajon Rondo scored 15 as did Tony Allen and Eddie House added 11. CB countered with 24 and AB added another 14 as this game was never close.

So, the past 4 games have given us a very deep look into this team, and it is very much in a state of flux. Our 4 main guys right now are Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, who is hurting, Jermaine O’Neal, who is hurting as well, and Chris Bosh. Over the past week, their numbers look pretty good with Chris averaging over 30 points per game and 10.5 rebounds. He is shooting 54% from the floor with his first 3 point shot of the season, and 83% from the line. Andrea has stepped up his production as he continues to improve while adjusting to the SF position scoring 18.25 per game, 6 rebounds and 50% from outside the arc. Jermaine has become a very solid fixture on defense and hurt his knee during the Nets game. He has given us 11 points and 9 rebounds with the last two games being injured. It is obvious that he is becoming comfortable with Chris Bosh and his secondary role on this team which bodes well for the future as long as his knee keeps him on the floor, he will continue to add depth and strength up front. Jose Calderon missed one game this week but has continued to contribute 16 points and 10.3 assists per game and is still 100% from the free throw line to lead the league in that.

With all that great play from these 4 guys, all this team needs is someone – anyone at this point to step up and contribute some defense and a little on offense. Most nights, there is no one on the bench who seems willing to contribute other than Kris Humphries who offers good minutes when called on. Every game this week our second unit of Jason Kapono, Will Solomon or Roko Ukic and Jamario Moon has found ways to lose huge leads built by our first unit. Sam has little success adjusting as the guys just aren’t playing well as a group. Last season, our bench was a strong point, but this year, they are anticipated by every team we play as they endure or first line to get to the weak, ineffective second stringers. Until these guys can start adding to the team, we will struggle against every team in this league and will have little chance to make the playoffs as anything below .500% won’t make the playoffs in the east this year. This past week we allowed an average of 46.5 points in the paint per game. An unbelievable number with the guys we have up front! Where are they coming from? Wade and Carter – guards scored 40 and 39 with Harris, another guard adding 30, mostly off the dribble or at the line. Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard with 22 and 18 with Nelson driving and dishing and shooting wide open looks over our guards. It becomes pretty obvious that this team can not stop any kind of wing game, as Paul Pierce showed in the first game. Night after night our guards and SF positions are exploited as teams out play our guys and Sam Mitchell seems lost as to how to stop it. With the Lakers and the Hawks coming up, this does not look promising as they are both bringing 2 of the best SG’s in the league with Kobe Bryant and Joe Johnson. I hope they can find a way to stop wing and guard penetration soon as we saw Sam unable to attack a zone defense. Should be a very long week for the Raptors and it’s fan base.

Posted on: November 19, 2008 9:44 am
 

Raptors - Magic - A night to Forget

Well, our fears were realized last night! Jose Calderon is the piece that is holding this team together. Chris Bosh had a monster game and Jermaine O'Neal played a solid game on Dwight Howard and we get our butts handed to us. The Raptors can not continue to turn the ball over and for the third game in a row rack up 20+ T/O’s with 24. That, along with 12 steals and 2 – 14 from outside after missing the first 12 was just too many wasted chances to hold the 10 point lead they worked hard to get. Will Solomon scored 10 points but caused 7 turnovers with only 4 assists. That just won’t cut it in the NBA.

After being + 6 rebounds most of the first half as our front line played tough inside frustrating Dwight Howard and keeping him to 4 points in the first half, something happened and they forgot to stop watching CB try to win the game by himself as they became stagnant on offense with no ball movement at all. The Magic scorers began to just out play our pathetic play on the perimeter. Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis started to hit outside shots and create wide, and I do mean WIDE open looks from the corners. Andrea Bargnani was unable to create any problems as Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick moved the ball and scored at will.

A tough night for the Raptors, but it was good to see that we are getting solid play from our front as we had hoped. The biggest thing we saw last night was how tough it is for Roko Ukic and Will Solomon to step in and be a PG in this league. Redick has taken 3 years to develop from and NCAA star to an adequate replacement for Mickael Pietrus. A very good decision by Van Gundy to start Redick as we could offer him Anthony Parker who looks very tired these days. Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono look so out of place without Jose to create the open shot for them. Both have a long way to go to keep their playing time up as they are quickly becoming liabilities when they are on the floor.

Here’s hoping tonight they will not remember last night against the Heat.

Posted on: November 17, 2008 10:14 am
 

Raptors - Magic Pregame Thoughts

The Raptors head to Orlando to take on the Magic after beating the Heat Sunday afternoon. The Magic are coming off a win against the Bobcats in a game that saw Dwight Howard score 4 points and collect 7 rebounds in just 26 minutes before fouling out. Hedo Turkoglu lead the team with 20. The Raptors will have to continue the front court pressure to keep Dwight Howard off balance and off his game to take advantage of our front court again. Chris Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal will need to work inside against Howard and Turkoglu as well as Rashard Lewis in the SF position. He is bringing 17 points and 7 rebounds to the floor. Should Sam put Andrea Bargnani at the SF position again, the front lines of both teams will provide us a very entertaining game.

The back-court of the Magic with Jameer Nelson and Mickael Pietris will test our back court of Will Solomon and Anthony Parker as both are quick and love to attack the lane. Should Jose Calderon be available and 100%, then the back-courts should be about even and the game will fall into the hands of our front line. The game could hinge on substitutions and keeping the guys fresh and keeping the Magic off balance on defense as our guys all bring a different intensity and skill set to the floor. With JO averaging 13 points and 9 boards and CB4 averaging 25 and 10 we have the ability to keep most front courts working very hard on defense. The hallmark of Dwight and the Magic is defense with Howard averaging 21 points and 14 rebounds and Hedo adding 17.5 and 5 boards, our guys will have to work together to keep them playing hard at both ends. Howard is averaging 4.5 blocks per game which will hopefully make our guys aware of where he is and keep the ball moving as they did Sunday.

Keys to the game.

First and foremost, we will need the inspired play we got from our bench guys. Jamario Moon will need to play with the intensity he did against the Heat. Jason Kapono brought energy and some smooth shooting to the game. Perhaps neither of these guys should start as they could be great weapons off the bench. If we can get Kris Humphries to provide the same level of play in support of JO and Chris, this team will be able to put Andrea Bargnani at the SF and create havoc on the wing against smaller guys.

To win the game, the Raptors will have to keep Dwight Howard off the glass and out of the game defensively. That means ball movement and moving Jermaine and Chris in and out of the paint all night. This Raptors team loves the high – low game and will need it to work well against this mobile Magic front line. Andrea or Jamario or Jason will have to keep Rashard Lewis from bombing all night. One of the 3 or all of them will need to be in his face when he has the ball challenging him to drive. With our interior guys playing solid defensively, we need to keep him off the arc. Our guards will have to provide the solid play we got from them, as well, they will need to find a way to shut down the solid tandem the Magic provide. The game will give Solomon, Roko Ukic and Anthony Parker the opportunity to show they can be the stoppers defensively. Our guards won't be able to give up the ball so easily as 24 points off of turnovers will kill us against this team, or most teams in this league.

I think that we have the chance of taking both games in Florida and I would love to see the guys keep playing solid team defense. Our offense will take care of itself.

Posted on: April 29, 2008 5:00 pm
 

Raptors Post-Mortum

Well we have come to the end of a very disappointing 2007-08 Raptors basketball season with the loss and elimination to the Orlando Magic. Congratulations to the Magic and their starting five who dominated what should have been a closer series. Dwight Howard has quickly taken over the title Dominant Big in the NBA and I would love to see him and Amare Stoudemire go mano a mano for a 7 game series!! Hedu Turkoglu deserved his Most Improved Player award and Jameer Nelson seems to have recovered his form that made him so hard to handle a couple years ago in March. Rashard Lewis was unstoppable and this group will be hard for whomever they face next to stop.

 

Thus begins the dissection of a team that should have won 50 games this year but seem to lack the drive and intensity needed to put teams away. Here is my evaluation of the key parts of this team and how I assess the overall structure of this team for next year.

 

Chris Bosh – ALL discussions about this team must start with CB4. The franchise player had a year good enough to be an all-star, but with guys like Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace ahead of him he will have to wait to be consistently there. His stats for the year look like this:

GP  MIN/G  PPG  REB/G  AST/G  FG %
67   36.2      22.3    8.7        2.6      49.4

When compared to the league, he is the 8th ranked power forward, with 6 of the 7 ahead of him being from the west and the other being Antawn Jamison of the Wizards, pretty good company hanging with guys like Dirk Nowitzki of the Mavericks, Al Jefferson of the Timberwolves, Carlos Boozer of the Jazz, David West of the Hornets and Tim Duncan of the Spurs and the Lakers Lamar Odom. I think we have seen Chris SEE the next level, and now he is desperately waiting for his team to supply the support he needs down low to allow him to create the space he needs and raise his post play from the 4 spot not the 5. I see a lot of Amare in him, but not quite as strong physically. Bosh is very athletic and has the heart of a lion that is often ignored by his coach. More on him later!!

 

Brian Colangelo needs to go out and find a STUD center that can control the front end. Chris should not be expected to grab 15 boards a night as he plays 10 – 15 feet from the basket most of the game.

 

T.J. Ford – This team played it’s best team games with him in the hospital and in rehab. I am not sure why that fact was so hard to notice by Sam and Brian. I think T.J. would be a great guard on a team that needs a selfish ball hog who thinks he is Kobe Bryant or Tracey McGrady – wait, he WAS on this team at one point… wasn’t that Isaiah who traded him? Hmmmmm… wonder if the Knicks read any of the deals he made LOL… sorry, I digress! There are few players in this league who can suffer a severe neck injury and sit for 3 or 4 months and then come back and be as sharp as when he went out… Ford is not one of them. The Raptors held on to T.J. leading this team way too long. I think that fact alone is why they are out golfing or what ever it is tall guys do over the off-season. T.J. needs to listen more carefully to John Lucas who could teach him game sense and how to play with his team and rely on them. A lesson I think Kobe has finally caught!!

 

Andrea Bargnani – I love this kid’s talent, but his heart fails him. He does not have the grit to play an 82 game season with people who want to eat him for lunch… I am not sure you can teach toughness to that level. I think that he has to be a second line guy at best as the pressure of facing top centers on the opposing teams has completely demoralized this kid. He looks beaten up like after a school yard brawl, which is not a bad analogy for action in the post during an NBA game, let alone a playoff game. I know we paid him a lot and I would hate to see him become the next Sam Bowie as he does have NBA talent, just not sure he has the heart of a lion needed to survive there…

 

Rasho Nesterovic – how can a guy who STARTED for the Spurs when they won a title, sit on the bench behind Andrea Bargnani? Come on Sam; give your head a shake. When he started, he brought energy and a very complete inside game to the mix and he plays well as the second option low with CB4 free to play 10 – 15 feet and in, not the other way around. Am I the only one who saw this? When Rasho played well, they won, when he played ok, they at least had a shot, when he played very little, the got blitzed. MAKE THIS GUY THE STARTING 5 or trade him and the waste of space Primoz Brezec for someone they feel is BETTER… though I am not sure they will find a more consistant center than Rasho at those prices.

 

Anthony Parkerthis man has blossomed into a top level shooting guard over the course of the season with the following numbers:

<o:p>GP  MIN/G  PPG  REB/G  AST/G  FG %
82    32.1      12.5    4.1       2.2       47.6
</o:p>

Those numbers have him in the top 20 ranked shooting guards which is a vast improvement from last year. He is quick, has great vision and is usually able to provide decent outside defense. Tony needs to step up his perimeter defense and not be reluctant to take clutch shots.

<o:p> </o:p>

Jose Calderon – What this team needs is to decide what to do with perhaps one of the top 4 or 5 young guards in the game.

 

<o:p>GP  MIN/G  PPG  REB/G  AST/G  FG %
82    30.3     11.2     2.9        8.3       51.9
</o:p>

He comes in at number 8 in point guards, well ahead of T.J. Ford who comes in at 46<sup>th</sup>. I am not sure why the discussion over which guard to start is even thrown about as Jose has clearly demonstrated his ability to lead this team and make this team a winning team. After he gave his “T.J. will lead this team” speech, the whole team started to look lost and aimless as they had no floor leader that was committed to working all the players into the game. That is vital in a point guard and why Chris Paul and Deron Williams can play at such a high level even in this playoff season. They don’t expect to win games alone. That is the secret Jose brings. He had a couple great games but focused on making the game easy for the rest of the team and he was rewarded by a spot on the bench… nice move guys… I hope he stays, but I am pretty sure he won’t put up with that level of disrespect much longer. Jason Kapono, Carlos Delfino, Kris Humphries, Jamario Moon, all of these guys seem to drift the last part of the season as they were ignored by Ford and the “me first” or “ I just want to win so bad” attitude he brought. Which brings me to…

 

Sam Mitchell – Former Coach of the year in the NBA, 2007.

 

I could go on and on about how many lousy decisions he made that cost the team W’s so I won’t but I do know that this team should have won more than 41 games and it’s not the talent that was lacking. Sam’s “I love T.J.” attitude took a 4th seeded team to a 6th seeded team only because the teams behind them – 76ers and the Hawks were under .500 % teams. Sam has no sense of what to do with a bench as loaded as his and he showed that nightly as his subs were usually poorly timed and poorly chosen. His overall inability to manage his bench which had pretty good depth this year was frustrating to say the least.

 

I could go on and on and about Sam, but that won’t do much good. The bottom line is this: 2007-08 was at best very disappointing over all for the team. We saw bright lights in Jamario Moon and Jose Calderon, and very inconsistent play from T.J. Ford which ultimately cost them a higher seeding and an early exit from the playoffs.

 

What this team needs is leadership from above to make some very tough decisions about the direction of this team. I am sure some team would love to have Ford, toss in Primoz, though I don’t think anyone wants him… maybe add Joey Graham who can’t possibly be happy sitting on a team starved of forward play and acquire a solid 15 and 10 Center who can give Chris some real help down low. The Bench is very solid, and Jose SHOULD be the starter or he will walk.

 

Just a few thoughts…. I will add more as the playoffs roll on…

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com