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Tag:Jamario Moon
Posted on: January 28, 2009 12:09 pm
 

Raptors - Week 14 in Preview

Week 14 on the Raptors schedule offers them the opportunity to move back up towards the .500% mark and take a couple of steps back to the playoff race. With games against 2 teams within 4 wins of us at this point. After last weeks losses to the Suns, Hawks and the Pistons, the Raptors are coming off of two wins against the Bulls and the Kings as Jose Calderon and Jermaine O’Neal both return to the team, with Jermaine O’Neal coming off the bench as Andrea Bargnani has earned the starters job with his very solid play in the past month, but more on that later.

 

Wednesday night the Raptors are travelling to the Nets to complete the season series which the Nets hold a 2 – 1 edge in. Coming into the game, the Nets are 3 – 7 in their last 10 games and lost 3 of 4 games last week on a 4 game swing through the west losing to the Hornets, the Spurs and the Thunder while beating the Grizzlies. Tonight they will be looking at beginning a bit of a run up the eastern standings as they have fallen to 9th overall behind the Bucks, who the Raptors play on Friday. Vince Carter turned 32 on Monday and here is a very nice touch from a teammate – “He started his career with the Raptors, now he's technically a dinosaur." -- G Keyon Dooling joking about "old man" Vince Carter. No matter how old he gets, he seems to love playing his former team and tonight will be no different. With Devin Harris playing at a very high level, this Nets team has one of the best back court duos in the league. Vince Carter averages 21.3 points and 5 rebounds and 5 assists as the SG, while Devin Harris leads the team with 21.5 points, 3 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. I am not sure, but I would be hard pressed to find a more productive starting back court in the league right now. The Nets will put Ryan Anderson, Bobby Simmons, and Brooks Lopez on the floor as well which should offer the Raptors the opportunity to work the ball inside against the smaller Nets front line with Yi Jianlian out of the lineup. The Raptors will have to find a way to slow this back court down to give them the opportunity to work the ball to Andrea Bargnani and Chris Bosh who will present many challenges to this young front court and with JO off the bench, the balanced front court attack we offer needs to be augmented by solid back court play from Jose and Anthony Parker as well as their backups Roko Ukic and Jason Kapono or Will Solomon. To me the X-factor in the game tonight will be Jamario Moon on Bobby Simmons. If Jamario can win that battle all night, we have a very good chance of keeping this game in our control.

Friday night, the Michael Redd – less Bucks come to Toronto as they begin the next phase of the season without their leading scorer. Last week they beat the Mavericks and the Kings, but lost to the Trail Blazers and the Hawks and the suddenly hot Timberwolves. Tonight they visit the Pacers before we play them. With Andre Bogut still listed as doubtful, this team has lost 33 points and 13 rebounds a game so guys like Richard Jefferson, Charlie Billanueva, Luke Ridnour, Ramon Sessions and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will have to step up every part of their game if they are to remain in the hunt as a playoff team in the east. Sitting in 8th place in the east right now with the Nets, Knicks, Bobcats who beat the Lakers in a thriller Tuesday night and the Bulls as well as the Raptors within 4 wins, they will be hard pressed to stay there if this team doesn’t find a way to elevate their games. The Raptors will be looking to take the game straight at this team from the guards moving the ball up tempo to take advantage of our quicker big men. This game will show us if the Raptors have figured out how to beat teams that they should and beat them when they are weakened. I look forward to seeing what all these losses have taught this Raptors team as they prepare for a very tough week next week.

I feel I must write a small bit about the play of Andrea Bargnani today. Since Jermaine O’Neal went down December 29th against the Warriors and the team started the huge slide downward, we have seen Andrea raise his game to a level we had been promised, and perhaps go beyond them. During the Warriors game on the 29th, he scored 7 points and grabbed 6 rebounds. As a starter since then, he has played 15 games, scored 318 points or 21.2 points per game, grabbed 19 offensive boards and 81 defensive for an average of 6.7 rebounds per game and has recorded 2 double doubles as well as 4 games with 8 or more rebounds. He recorded 5 blocks in the game against the Nuggets on December 31st. Over those 15 games he has shot 111/223 from the floor or 49.8% including 50% from beyond the arc at 36/72. His only game he failed to make a 3 point shot was against the Hawks and we lost by 3. He was drafted ahead of LeMarcus Aldridge, Adam Morrison, Tyrus Thomas, Sheldon Williams, Brandon Roy, Randy Foye, Rudy Gay and a kid named Rajon Rondo who few thought would be where he is, but playing with Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce on the Celtics will make you pretty good. Expectations were very high for him as Bryan Colangello presented him to the Raptors fans as a 3 or 4 year project to grow with. I guess he saw his chance to show some of the skills he has developed here and has finally earned his place as a starter on this team. Well done Andrea, for the work, I would have to him the Raptors player of the month.

After the Bucks, we have the Magic, the Cavaliers, the Lakers, the Hornets so this week is critical in developing that balance again with Jermaine off the bench and Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson, LeBron James and Mo Williams, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, Chris Paul, Peja Stojakovic and Tyson Chandler on the way, this Raptors team might surprise some teams who are looking for an easy Win at this point of the season.

Posted on: December 29, 2008 5:41 pm
 

Raptors - Week 10 in Preview

Tonight, the Raptors head to the Bay area for the conclusion of a dismal road trip that saw them lose to the Thunder, the Mavericks, the Spurs and the Trail Blazers while scoring victories against the Kings and the Clippers. Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, Jason Terry, Tony Parker, Brandon Roy and LeMarcus Aldridge all played top notch games against this struggling Raptors team that saw great games by Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal and some solid play off the bench by Andrea Bargnani and some awful play by Jason Kapono and Joey Graham. Jamario Moon is coming off a good week on the glass and looks to contribute more in the up tempo games to come this week. Here are the games as I see them this week.

Monday, December 29, 2008 Raptors @ Golden State Warriors

The Warriors come into the game after a win against the Celtics on Boxing day followed Sunday with a thumping by the Lakers in Los Angeles. With losses against the Magic and the Heat, this team comes into the game with a 9 – 23 record and with the addition of Jamal Crawford, this team can score in transition and do as the Celtics found out. With Corey Maggette and Monta Ellis out, the Warriors have been lead by Stephen Jackson and Andris Biedrins and have 8 players that average more than 9 points per game. The Raptors will have to play fantastic transition defense to keep this team in check as they did to open the season. A win tonight would bring the road trip to a 3 – 3 close. Not the best, but 3 much needed wins to say the least.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008 Raptors vs. Nuggets

The Nuggets carry a 20 – 11 record into the week with a win against the Knicks last night and a game against the Hawks who have returned to early season form and are now sitting with a 19 – 10 record, in 4th place in the East. The Nuggets are lead by Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups with Nene and J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin, this team is one of the top teams in the league and will be a difficult team to match up with as the earlier blow out indicates. Let’s hope we can keep this one close and our back court with Jose Calderon and Jason Kapono or Anthony Parker can provide a spark to this game.

Friday, January 2, 2009 Raptors vs. Rockets

With Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Rafer Alston, Ron Artest Luis Scola, this 20 – 11 team is tied with the Nuggets in the west and brings a lot of fire power to any game they play. The Raptors will have to get strong play from Jamario Moon and Joey Graham to contain Ron Artest and the rest of this band of scorers. Tracy McGrady is hurting and is questionable right now, but with games against the Wizards and the Bucks, he will probably be ready to play Friday.

This will be a character testing week for the Raptors who have shown little so far this season. Guys like Will Solomon and Joey Graham and Jason Kapono should be realizing that their jobs are hanging by a thread with this team and should begin to step it up. Jose Calderon needs to take his game back up to the level he was earlier this season, but with Jermaine and Chris demanding the ball everywhere on the floor, his job has required a lot more patience and better decision making which has failed him at times this past month. Should be a very interesting week for Raptors fans as we continue to sense change coming earlier than later.

Posted on: December 29, 2008 3:53 pm
 

Raptors - Week 9 In Review

The conclusion of Week 9 in the NBA finds the Raptors with a 12 – 18 record after recording 2 wins and 1 loss in games 3, 4 and 5 of the 6 week road trip that winds up tonight in the Bay area against the Warriors. With victories against the Clippers and the Kings and a game against the Trail Blazers in which both Brandon Roy and LeMarcus Aldridge played major roles in the second half blitz of the enigmatic Raptors, we end this trip with an opportunity to take a .500% record back to Toronto. As we stand today, we are 4th in the Atlantic behind the Nets and the 76ers and the Celtics.

Here is how I saw the games this past week.

Monday, December 22, 2008 Raptors @ L.A. Clippers

Raptors 97 – Clippers 75

On a night when the Raptors really needed a win, the Clippers were ready to provide the Raptors with fuel. Jake Voskuhl reminded those of us who watched the original Bad Boys Pistons team that Bill Laimbeer played the game and seems to still be lingering in the hall, just out of view. After a Chris Bosh lay-up, Zach Randolph banged knees with Jake and was forced out of the game. In 8 minutes, Jake grabbed 5 rebounds and added 2 points and was very active at both ends of the floor working in the paint and making room for Chris Bosh who scored 18 of his 31 points in the 4th quarter. Eric Gordon and Zach scored 19 for the Clippers and Baron Davis added 16 points and 9 assists in the loss. Jermaine O’Neal chipped in 23 points and added 9 rebounds while Anthony Parker had a solid game with 12 points off the bench. Jose Calderon was steady with 8 points and 9 assists. Some will say that this is a half-game win as it is only the Clippers, but as I see it, they are on the schedule so it counts. A win is a win and at this point, any positive energy is much appreciated to this fragile collective team ego.

Friday, December 26, 2008 Raptors @ Sacramento Kings

Raptors 107 – Kings 101

The night belonged to Jermaine O’Neal who scored a season high 36 points in just his first 30+ point game since he dropped 39 on the Bulls in March, 2007 while still with the Pacers. With Chris Bosh scoring just 13 points while struggling with foul trouble early in the first half, Jermaine was scoring at will in the low post reminding his former team mate Brad Miller what he surely remembered from all those practice sessions against O’Neal. With 9 rebounds including 4 offensive boards, Jermaine O’Neal was the focus of most of the offense and the centerpiece of the defense. John Salmons and Brad Miller both scored 20 points while Bobby Jackson added 17 while Jose Calderon scored 16 to go with Chris Bosh’s 13 and Jason Kapono who scored 10. Andrea Bargnani filled in the gap more than adequately for Bosh with his 14 points. Over all, this game was close probably because of the 16 turnovers which kept the Kings in the game early in the second half. Taking only 69 shots, the Raptors hit 55% and grabbed 12 offensive boards, while giving up 17 second chance points to the Kings. With some hard work on defense, the Raptors were able to close out the Kings and enjoy a two game winning streak on the road. We really can’t be upset with this at all.

Saturday, December 27, 2008 Raptors @ Portland Trail Blazers

Raptors 89 – Trail Blazers 102
After building up an 11 point lead, the Raptors were hit with a buzzer beater from the back court by Travis Outlaw which seemed to dig deep into the hearts of the Raptors who never recovered. The second half belonged to Brandon Roy who scored at will in the brutal second half in which the Raptors scored only 10 points in the 3rd quarter and 22 in the 4th. Roy scored 14 in the 4th and a game high 32 points on the night. LeMarcus Aldridge scored 21 and added 9 rebounds while Greg Oden scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Bosh scored 29 and 17 points but could not find a way to consistently stop the solid front line the Trail Blazers put on the floor. Outlaw added 12 off the bench. Jose Calderon scored 11 and Andrea Bargnani scored 13 while Jamario Moon scored 8 points and grabbed 8 rebounds including 7 offensive boards. The Raptors went 12 – 34 in the second half and had the bulk of their 13 turnovers in the 10 point 3rd quarter. Jason Kapono and Joey Graham both were held scoreless which was a huge reason this game fell flat quickly in the 3rd as neither could find a rhythm from the floor and the middle was just not available after some nice adjustments by this young Trail Blazers team. Will Solomon added 5 points and Anthony Parker added 6 off the bench, but it was just no where near what they needed.

Week 9 showed me that this team has the talent needed to compete with even the best teams in this league, but seem unable or unwilling to pay the price yet. To continue to lose implies a willingness to not do the small things needed to win. It seems small, but things like clearing the boards, making guys take pressured shots, finding your man in transition defense, taking the ball to the hole on a break and not settling for jump shots when you have the numbers. The Raptors played some good ball this past week and when the ball movement was there, this team was tough to play against. What has happened, it seems, is that teams realize that the Raptors seem to have no will to compete and no heart to struggle through a shooting slump as a group. If one guy is missing, they tend to feed him rather than find the hot hand. Andrea Bargnani was hot in the first half against Portland, but sat until late in the third by which time the Raptors were down by 10 or more and had gone cold, then Jay sat him down. I understand that we need to move the ball into our two big men, but when they are getting out played and the Raptors allow guards to penetrate the zone and torch them for 32 pretty much uncontested shots, the heart to defend has been ripped out of this team.

With games against the Warriors, the Nuggets and the Rockets, the Raptors will face a tempo team, a solid back court and wing based team and a team with one of the toughest front courts in the league. Character will be revealed as we head home.

 

Posted on: December 22, 2008 11:20 am
 

Raptors - Week 9 In Preview - Christmas Week

The week that is ahead offers the Raptors some hope as we arrive in Los Angeles to play the Clippers tonight before having a few days off before Christmas to re-group, then they play the Kings and the Trail Blazers on Friday and Saturday before finishing this 6 game road trip against the Warriors on the 29th. With the Mavericks, the Spurs and the Hornets behind this trip, the return home will bring the Rockets, the Magic and the Nuggets to town. This week appears to be our best chance to record a much needed victory, especially one or two on the road, and maybe 3.

The Clippers come into the game tonight with an 8 – 19 record after a week in which they went 2 – 2 with victories against the Thunder and the Pacers and losses to the Bulls and the Bucks. The Clippers are lead by Zach Randolph who is averaging 22 points and 11 rebounds a game and Marcus Camby who is averaging 11 points and 12 rebounds per game. With Baron Davis and Al Thornton averaging 18 and 17 points per game and Eric Gordon averaging 9.1 points per game, even with Chris Kaman out, this team has a solid front court with a very active back court and will provide Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Bosh and Jamario Moon fits at both ends of the floor. Tonight I look for Jose Calderon and Jason Kapono to carry the game as our guard play will have to step up and provide some consistent scoring as our front court will be challenged all night by two very good defensive forwards. I look for the tempo to be calculated and to not be pushed as this team would love to get Baron Davis in a running game against our much slower back court. Turnovers will be critical and we will need to work hard to take advantage of every rebound we can acquire as they will be looking to control the game on the boards against one of the weakest rebounding teams in the league. I think the Raptors can pull this one off, but they will have to desire and attack every ball and every rebound and out hustle this Clippers team at both ends of the floor.

On Boxing Day, the Raptors head up the highway to Sacramento to take on the struggling Kings. Tonight they play the Spurs in San Antonio where Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan will be ready to play this Kings team who are 7 – 19 and last in their division. With a starting lineup missing two key players in Kevin Martin and Beno Udrih, the Kings will send Brad Miller, Spencer Hawes or Mikki Moore, John Salmons or Francisco Garcia and Bobby Jackson to the floor. This should be a game that Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Bosh could do a lot of damage in the front court with Andrea Bargnani adding some out side scoring from the 4 position, the Kings are just a bit too thin to compete with our active front including the new kid, Jake Voskuhl who looked good in the short time on the floor scoring 4 points over Tim Duncan. Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono I think will have a lot of opportunities to showcase their games should they chose to step up and play. Salmons will be a good match up for Jamario and Kapono will be a valued outside shot should the Raptors stay inside the flow of the offense. Jamario Moon and Jose Calderon should be able to push the ball, but I think Roko Ukic and Will Solomon with Joey Graham will push the tempo on this team that is a bit thin due to injuries.

Saturday finds the Raptors playing in Portland to play the Trail Blazers. Since they beat the Raptors on December 7th, the Trail Blazers are just 2 – 3 with wins against the Kings and the Suns and losses against the Magic, the Jazz and the Clippers. This week they are busy with a back to back starting in Denver tonight then facing the Nuggets in Portland tomorrow and then hosting the Mavericks on Christmas Day. At 17 – 10, they are tied with the Nuggets for 1st in the Northwest division with the Jazz behind with a 17 – 12 record. The Trail Blazers will be a very tough match up for the Raptors, and the memory of the 1 point loss looms large still. The lineup for the Trail Blazers has been solid all season with Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, LeMarcus Aldridge, Steve Blake and Nicolas Batum with Travis Outlaw and Rudy Fernandez both averaging 10+ points a game and have been starters at various points in the season, this team is balanced and deadly in the open floor. Being the 5th game of the 6 game road trip, I suspect the Raptors will be ready to get home as they will have been away for nearly 2 weeks, which is not a bad thing at this point in their up and down season. Against the Trail Blazers, our perimeter defense will need to be at top form to keep the ball out of the hands of their shooters. That has been a struggle all season but it can be done. We will need balance on offense with our shooters needing to turn in good games to pull this team out from the paint and force them to open some room up for our guys up front. It worked the first game had Blake not hit that Vince Carter like shot over Anthony Parker for the win.

With a few days of rest and some valuable practice time before Christmas, this week should allow the team to do some coming together under coach Jay Triano. Since December 3rd, the Raptors have had little time to practice and have shown a more willing attitude on the floor. That will have to continue to grow as the new year brings some tough games early in January. January 11th and 12th offer us a home and home with the Celtics, with 2 games against the Bulls and one against the Pistons, the Suns, the Nets and the Bucks twice. A couple of wins before the end of 2008 would be a great way to ring in the new year and perhaps offer a stimulus to turn this season around.

Posted on: December 13, 2008 4:20 pm
 

Raptors - Hornets - A Game Preview

Sunday afternoon the Hornets visit the ACC to take on the suddenly 2 in a row winning Raptors with a new head coach and a new defensive attitude holding the Pacers and the Nets to a combined 34.1% field goal percentage in the last 2 games. Sunday, Chris Paul and David West lead the Hornets with Peja Stojakovic to give them a different level of test of their defensive mettle. Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal will be tested inside all afternoon as Chris Paul looks to penetrate and kick all game looking for Peja and Morris Peterson off the dribble. With Tyson Chandler questionable for the game, Hilton Armstrong will be looked upon to provide some offensive boards for this team who will be out manned up front. With Kris Humphries and Anthony Parker still in suits, it will be up to Andrea Bargnani to step in and provide solid defense up front while Jason Kapono and Jamario Moon get the start at the 2 and 3 spots.

Keys for the game:

1) Protect the Paint – allowing only 34 points in the paint to the Nets was a huge victory for this Raptors team that had been averaging 47+ points in the paint nightly. Against the Hornets Chris Paul and Rasual Butler will look to force the Raptors out of the defensive lanes that held Vince Carter to 0 – 13 shooting with no lanes to penetrate. Joey Graham will need to continue his solid work cutting off the top of the lane from the slashing guards the Hornets have.

2) Perimeter defense – Not letting Mo Pete and Peja Stojakovic will be looked to shoot over top of the 1 – 4 structure that Jay has implemented. With Jose Calderon being pulled out of man coverage on Chris Paul, the defensive movement of Jamario Moon and Joey Graham will be critical to putting pressure on the array of shooters this Hornets team will bring to the game.

3) Rebounding – I will say this every game until the Raptors begin to assert themselves on the glass consistently. Against a smaller front court like the Hornets, there is no reason why we can’t dominate this team on the glass, especially if Tyson Chandler does not play. With him out, David West becomes the leading rebounder on this team and he should have a difficult time against Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal all afternoon with Andrea Bargnani in the mix, the Raptors should be able to work toward a more balanced rebounding effort. Though they won the game, the Nets were +15 on the offensive glass. I believe that this will correct itself as the team continues to respond to the schemes and attitudes that Jay has begun to implement on this team.

4) Transition defense – This Hornets team will look to take advantage of turnovers as Chris Paul is one of the league leaders in steals with 53. The Raptors will have to contain the transition offense and early baskets that the Hornets will attempt to capitalize on.

5) Control the Ball – Turnovers will be a huge factor as the Raptors will be hard pressed to keep the ball and keep the number of turnovers closer to 10 than to 20. As this team becomes more comfortable with Jay’s systems, I look to Jose Calderon to have more than 3 assists as well, but more critical, this team needs to keep the assist to turnover ratio closer to 2/1 to continue it’s success. Right now the Raptors are 4th overall in assists per game with 22.8 per game, but they average 14.4 turnovers per game. Lots of room to improve there as a group. They are 4th in the league in A/TO’s right now, but there is a lot of room to improve ball control and work at protecting the ball. The improved play of Roko Ukic has provided a much noticed improvement in this area the past week.


I can see the Raptors working to improve on the effort they have begun to show and should they be able to contain Chris Paul and David West and make Peja take shots under pressure, I think it will be a good start to a brutal week with the Nets and the Mavericks coming to town before facing the Thunder and the Spurs on the road by Saturday.

Posted on: December 13, 2008 10:48 am
 

Raptors - Nets - A Game Review

Friday night in the Swamp, the Raptors faced the Nets in a game where both teams had something to prove. The Nets were looking to build on a 7 – 3 in the last 10 games and still enjoying the OT win in Toronto after being down 18 points for most of the game. The Raptors were looking to show that their defensive improvements over the past 3 games critical in the win over the Pacers Wednesday night in which they held Danny Granger pretty much out of the game though he finished with 22 points, he was held to 9 – 25. The Raptors were looking to re-establish the interior defense that they had in the 3 – 0 start of the season, but lost before the change of coaches. On a night when the Nets were still without Eduardo Najera and Josh Boone was playing his first game after missing 14 games, the Raptors were looking to exploit that thin front line.

As the game unfolded, it was easy to see that the Raptors commitment to defense had taken hold. At one point early the Nets were held to 4 points in the paint and it stayed that way as Vince Carter made 0 shots in the first half making his first FT with 8:21 left in the 3rd quarter ending with 3 points and 4 rebounds and 3 assists. He was frustrated all night as Jamario Moon would not let him have any open looks and when he drove, the defense was there with the proper rotation forcing him to pass and often, that pass was contested and the ensuing shooter was contested. It was great to watch the Raptors hustle for loose balls and attack the perimeter making the Nets take low percentage shots or creating turnovers. The Nets ended the game with 18 turnovers. When the 4th quarter started, Vince was planted firmly on the bench and the Nets were 27% or so as a team shooting. They ended up at 31.3% as the benches played out the 4th which the Raptors started with a 71 – 53 lead. At a couple places in the 4th, the Raptors were up 30 points and had a 31 point lead at one point as the Nets bench scored 26 points in the 4th to keep the numbers from being more lop-sided than they already were.

For the Nets, Devin Harris and Vince Carter came into the game averaging 47.7 points per game as a tandem, one of the most prolific duos in the league this season. Raptors concern was that this would not be contained. With Jose Calderon and Jamario Moon playing against them most of the night with help from Joey Graham on Vince, they were held to 17 points on 4 – 23 shooting Vince being held to 0 field goals. Both Jose and Jamario have had points in the season where they have been called lousy defenders and liabilities, but Friday night they broke down the Nets back court all night long with Jamario Moon ending the night with 5 steals and 1 block. Last game, Brook Lopez scored 14 points inside and was a huge reason why the Nets were able to come back as he was an active threat on the glass and created a lot of room for Devin Harris and Vince Carter to take over the game. Friday night he was pretty much held in check by Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal as they both were up to the task of keeping the pressure on anyone who ventured into the paint. Lopez scored 6 Friday but was able to grab 8 rebounds which kept the Nets in this game for the first 3 quarters. Yi Jianlian was guarded by Chris Bosh most of the night and was relegated to a perimeter player most of the night as he had no room underneath and was frustrated by Chris Bosh all night ending up with 5 fouls taking him out of his slashing game. Bobby Simmons and Trenton Hassell had 12 and 10 points. As a group, the Nets starters were held to 15 – 54 for a dismal 27.7% shooting. That speaks of them taking plenty of low percentage shots and having a terrible night shooting overall.

Let me review my 4 keys to the game and highlight some good play by the Raptors as a group.

1) Turnovers – we will not be able to turn the ball over 20+ times against this quick back court or we will pay a huge price for it. Jose and Roko Ukic or Will Solomon will have to work hard at making the right pass and keep the turnovers under 15.

The Raptors ended the night with 11 turnovers to the Nets 18 with 8 steals and 8 blocks 4 by Andrea Bargnani. The Raptors held the Nets to 7 points off of turnovers as they recovered well while scoring 24 off of Nets turnovers. Jose Calderon had 0 turnovers and 3 assists and 3 rebounds and 13 points, but played so well on defense which was the first priority for him last night. Roko Ukic again played a very solid game attacking the rim and pushing the ball up the floor. He ended the night with 10 points and 5 assists and 4 rebounds and only 1 turnover. He has grown immensely in the past few games under Jay Triano as he finds himself getting more and more minutes and handling himself very well. Chris Bosh had 4 turnovers, usually making bad passes in the post or just losing the handle. He is not usually this awkward with the ball, but he is drawing more attention from weak side help again, but last night that was exploited with great success.

2) Rebound on both ends – the Raptors will not get away with a soft night on the glass at this point. Teams know this Raptors team has no desire to get after balls and will gladly do the work it takes to control the ball and the pace of the game.

Again, the Raptors were out rebounded on the offensive glass 20 – 5! 50 – 37 over all so they were collecting the ball on defense. Most games, I would be saying that this stat alone is one that will beat them most nights, but on a night when the Nets MISSED 57 shots, we got the ball back 56% of the time. The Nets ended with only 19 second chance points on 20 offensive boards! To me, that tells me that the Raptors were very good at recovering and actively pursuing the ball which is something they had not been doing as they were in the nasty habit of watching the rebounder just put the ball back in the net. I think it was Jermaine O’Neal who blocked at least 1 ball that was pretty much in the cylinder, but more on that later. Do the Raptors need to work harder on offensive rebounding? Yes, but when a team settles for long shots, they usually get long rebounds and that was how it went last night which is why they had so few second chance points. For their 5 offensive boards, the Raptors had 9 second chance points. I can live with that effort, but would love to see that balance itself out.

3) Balanced offense – 6 players in double digits is a good sign for this team. When the ball movement is there, Chris Bosh has his room to do what he does and take the ball to the hole and get to the line. Another double double from Jose would look great as well.

Friday night, Chris Bosh scored 18 points, had 5 rebounds and 3 assists and 1 steal. He was 6 – 8 from the field and 6 – 7 from the line. His 4 turnovers were a big reason why his numbers were down and the fact he sat the 4th quarter showed the effort the team gave last night. This is the second win in a row and the second game in a row he has not hit his season average in points. It is also the second game in a row that we have had 6 players in double digits with Chris Bosh, Jason Kapono with 16 on 4 – 9 from 3 point range, Andrea Bargnani with 11 and 7 rebounds, Joey Graham and another very solid game all over the floor with 16 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists and some hard work defensively let him finish the game with 30 minutes of playing time. It is nice to see him improving every game. Roko Ukic again had 10 points and 5 assists and 4 rebounds and Jose Calderon had 13 points. That type of balance from the Raptors starters and bench will give the team more opportunity to win close games as the season rolls on. Will Solomon and Hassan Adams also played with Will adding 2 points.

4) Protect the paint – we can’t continue to give up 40+ points in the paint and expect to win many games. NOT IN MY HOUSE has to become the mantra on defense of this team.

Coming into the game, the Raptors had been giving up 47 points in the paint as teams attacked them and collected uncontested put back baskets at will. As I watched the game, I was quite impressed by the new attitude this team has begun to develop in such a short time under Jay Triano. The Nets were only able to score 34 points in the paint last night. Loose balls are now attacked and fought for, more than a few times there were 3 Raptors on the floor after the ball, including Chris Bosh. That is a great thing to see as that is an internal thing, an instinct and a desire to win, not just play the game. You see that attitude in guys like Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade, Amar’e Stoudemire, Kobe Bryant, Chauncey Billups and guys that are willing to go all out every play to win. I am pleased to say that this was missing for the first part of the season, and should this continue, this team will soon gain the heart to compete at a very high level, and the past 2 weeks will be a distant memory as the new year begins.

Some random thoughts from Friday night’s game.

Chris Bosh looked very much more at peace and relaxed in the new look Raptors. He tried to force a couple passes and had the ball hacked out of his hands a few times, but I believe that he is much happier in the role of being AN option on offense as opposed to being the ONLY option on offense. I think that he will return to his 20+ games, but they will be in the context of the balance that we have seen the past 3 games. The 2 shots he missed last night were both tough no calls, but he was attacking the net again and that is a very good thing to see. Jason Kapono has scored 41 points in the past 2 games and is 17 – 31 from the field and 7 – 16 from outside the arc. Not only that, he is working harder on defense and contributing rebounds and assists that fit very well in the flow of this offense. He is a very valuable asset when he plays the game he can and doesn’t force his game. With 13 boards in the past two games, he has found other ways to contribute as well and his defensive play has improved immensely. Jermaine O’Neal scored only 7 points to go with his 2 rebounds, but added 3 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks providing a solid support inside that contributed to the Nets having no desire to attack the rim at all. He needs to contribute more rebounding nightly, but his defense alone was enough to set the tone for this game. Andrea Bargnani scored 11 points and collected 7 rebounds including 2 offensive rebounds. He also had 4 blocks and 1 assist on a night when his shooting was off he played a solid game on the glass and keeping the Nets out of the paint.

Sunday will be another tough game as the Hornets visit, then Monday the Nets return to the ACC, then Wednesday, the Mavericks visit as the Raptors have a 3 game home stand, but they have 5 games in the next 7 days with the Thunder and the Spurs next weekend. I hope we are up to the challenge.

Posted on: December 10, 2008 11:13 pm
 

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 7, 2008 8:58 pm
 

Raptors - Week 6 in Review - Transition Week.

This past week in the Raptors schedule saw the end of an era, the beginning of a new one, and 4 games this team will need to quickly forget to begin to build some sort of success with the rest of this season. Here is the week in review as I saw it!

After wins against the Bobcats and the Hawks, the Raptors embarked on a road trip which had stops against the Lakers, the Nuggets and the Jazz who are all at or near the top of the western conference and at or near the top of their game. Though they were coming off two wins, the Raptors had begun to develop nasty habits on both offense and defense that teams had begun to exploit. Defensively, the team was struggling to maintain leads and maintain any sort of consistent effort in the area of perimeter defense. Heading into games that feature some of the premier perimeter players in the league right now, the Raptors needed to find someone to step up and take that role to heart or find a way to play better team defense. With Jermaine O’Neal still nursing his sore ankle, prospects heading west were ominous at best. With the inconsistent play, it was clear that Sam Mitchell’s job was hanging by a very thin wire and he was on a very short leash at this point.

Heading into Los Angeles the Raptors started the tough 3 game trek against the Lakers looking to see if they could elevate their game to a new level. The first quarter was exciting and with a shoot out looming, the quarter ended 34 – 29 for the Lakers. After that point, the Lakers pulled away and over powered the short handed Raptors leading 61 – 51 at the half. The Raptors showed a lot of heart outscoring the Lakers 30 – 29 in the third, but the Raptors were never really able to mount any kind of sustained scoring as the Lakers would create a turnover or grab a rebound and run the floor scoring lay up after layup on the slower Raptors. The Lakers score 18 fast break points to the Raptors 7 and with Kobe on the bench for the 4th quarter they pulled ahead for good with their bench out playing the Raptors all over the floor.

Lakers game stats

Kobe Bryant - 23 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists
Pau Gasol - 24 points, 8 rebounds
Andrew Bynum - 18 points, 10 rebounds
Trevor Ariza - 14 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists
Lamar Odom - 3 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals

47/92 - 51.1%
15 offensive boards - 54 total
34 assists
10 steals

Team Rebounds - 10
Defensive 3-second violations - 1
Points Off Turnovers - 13
Fastbreak Points - 18
Points In The Paint - 58
Second Chance Points – 30

Raptors game stats

Chris Bosh - 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 turnovers
Andrea Bargnani - 14 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks
Jose Calderon - 12 points, 6 rebounds, 12 assists
Anthony Parker - 19 points, 2 assists
Jamario Moon - 11 points, 3 assists, 3 steals
Jason Kapono - 11 points
Joey Graham - 7 points, 4 rebounds - 3 offensive
Roko Ukic - 7 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal
Kris Humphries - 3 rebounds, 3 steals

34/88 - 38.6% - 11/25 - 44% 3 points
36 rebounds - 11 offensive
23 assists
13 turnovers
11 steals
6 blocks

Team Rebounds - 7
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 17
Fastbreak Points - 7
Points In The Paint - 32
Second Chance Points – 10

As we can see, this game was lost on the glass with the Raptors ending up -18 for the night but a more telling -4 on the offensive glass. We were -11 in assists, and -26 on points in the paint. The Lakers ran the ball at will and scored on open shot after open shot in transition. This game was a good effort, but it was very obvious to most observers that this Raptors team had no clue defensively both in transition and on the perimeter. It was too much to ask our thin front line to compete with the solid and deep Lakers squad who seemed to play as hard as they needed to until they got up a few in the 3rd, then let the very talented bench take over and finish this game.

Next up for the Raptors, the Nuggets were waiting. With Jermaine O’Neal set to return, this game offered a hope that the Raptors would have some strength inside again. Though he provided 12 points, it was no where near enough to slow down the Nuggets and this game was over very early and was the last game in the Sam Mitchell era for the Raptors organization. Here are the game stats.

Nuggets game stats

Carmelo Anthony - 23 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks
Chauncey Billups - 24 points, 14 assists
Nene - 19 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks
Kenyon Martin - 11 points, 4 rebounds
Linas Kleiza - 12 points, 4 rebounds
J.R. Smith - 14 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals
Dahntay Jones - 5 assists, 9 points

49/82 - 59.8% including 13/24 or 54.2% from 3 point range
46 rebounds - 5 offensive
37 assists


Team Rebounds - 11
Defensive 3-second violations - 1
Points Off Turnovers - 16
Fastbreak Points - 27
Points In The Paint - 50
Second Chance Points – 10

Raptors game stats

Chris Bosh - 24 points, 12 rebounds - 5 offensive, 5 assists
Jose Calderon - 9 points, 7 assists
Jermaine O'Neal - 12 points, 3 rebounds
Roko Ukic - 13 points
Andrea Bargnani - 9 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals
Joey Graham - 10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 turnovers
Kris Humphries - 4 points, 8 rebounds - 3 offensive
Jason Kapono - 0 points

34/93 - 36.6% including 5/17 - 29.4% 3 point shots
39 rebounds - 12 offensive
21 Assists
10 turnovers
6 steals
4 blocks

Team Rebounds - 7
Defensive 3-second violations - 1
Points Off Turnovers - 8
Fastbreak Points - 17
Points In The Paint - 28
Second Chance Points – 9

The Raptors were outplayed all over the floor and the lack of both creativity and any defensive pressure at all cost Sam his job, signaling the beginning of the Jay Triano era. We did see a vast improvement in the play of Roko, but again, this Raptors team was out rebounded by 7, but on a night when the Nuggets shot almost 60%, they had no real need to rebound to control the game. This game was ugly early and most turned it off by half-time, I watched Amadeus!

Friday took us to Utah to take on the Jazz who were as vulnerable as they have been all season long. With Carlos Boozer out and Andrei Kirilenko recouping from an ankle injury, the Raptors had an opportunity to control the game inside. That never happened. Mehmet Okur showed why he is considered one of the best shooting Center in the game today. He scored from inside and from outside, short jumpers, fade away, off the dribble and off the break. Jermaine O’Neal had no ability to stop him as he had no help any where. When Bosh was on him, he had shots from 7 to 10 feet and very little pressure from the weakside. I guess defensive bad habits and bad attitudes take more than 1 or 2 practices to correct. Most of the time teams that have a coaching change seem to take to the floor with a bit more energy and a bit more focus in response to the firing. This was not the case for the Raptors. They looked listless and helpless all night long. Not the type of response Bryan Colangelo was looking for and I am sure Jay expected more from his guys, but I guess we can excuse them for not wanting to compete, but the effort they played with was awful. Here are the game stats.

Jazz game stats

Paul Millsap - 17 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks
Mehmet Okur - 21 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks
Deron Williams - 14 points, 5 assists, 2 steals
Ronnie Brewer - 10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals
Andrei Kirilenko - 7 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks
Matt Harpring - 14 points, 7 rebounds including 4 offensive
Kostas Koufos - 10 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal

49/95 - 51.6%
13 offensive rebounds 52 overall
31 assists
12 steals
8 blocks

Team Rebounds - 6
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 25
Fastbreak Points - 9
Points In The Paint - 66
Second Chance Points – 15

Raptors game stats

Chris Bosh - 18 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, 4 turnovers
Jose Calderon - 10 points, 8 assists, 2 steals
Joey Graham - 13 points, 5 rebounds
Jermaine O'Neal - 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks
Andrea Bargnani -7 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks
Roko Ukic - 7 points, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Jason Kapono - 5 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal
Jamario Moon - 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Will Solomon - 7 points
Anthony Parker - 8 points, 4 assists, 1 steal

36/82 - 43.9% - 4/17 for 23.5% from 3 pt range
38 rebounds - 3 offensive
23 assists
23 turnovers
8 steals
10 blocks

Team Rebounds - 3
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 15
Fastbreak Points - 16
Points In The Paint - 44
Second Chance Points – 2

Allowing 66 points in the paint is inexcusable at an NBA level. The Raptors were beaten by a very good team, and they looked unable to run simple plays out of an offensive set. The coaching staff has a lot of work to do.

Sunday, the Raptors hosted the young Trail Blazers featuring 2 players that Bryan Colangelo MIGHT have drafted rather than Andrea Bargnani. With both the 2nd overall pick after Andrea, LeMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy drafted 6th in the lineup, one can only wonder what might have been. Here we have yet another game that the Raptors opened up a 16 point lead only to see it disappear as yet another team exploits this teams inability to guard on the perimeter. Steve Blake looked like Steve Kerr out there and the Raptors had no way to hold on to the lead. This game will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many Raptors fans as we seem to be seeing the beginning of a Chris Bosh meltdown underway. During a very tight third quarter that saw the Raptors recover from a 10 point deficit to take a lead, we saw Chris Bosh decide that he was the best option from outside the arc with Jason Kapono open to his left. Jay Triano seemed to bench him after that selfish play and he was on the bench for the first 8 minutes of the 4th while Joey Graham and Jason Kapono and Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon and Jermaine O’Neal were able to build a 5 point lead with 3 minutes left. Chris Bosh came in and although he did manage a block late, he scored only 4 points in the second half, was blocked twice and turned the ball over and took fade away shots over a much smaller defender too many times to consider it coincidence. I have never seen him play for himself so much and on the final inbound pass, he tried to dribble from outside the arc with a wide open Jason Kapono and Jose Calderon in his line of sight, he threw up a horrible shot over LaMarcus, looking for a foul I guess. I have not often seen him play so poorly when the team needed him to compete. I hope that they can work things out as he is too valuable to this team to watch him play this way. I hope this is not an indication of any more unrest within the walls of this locker room. Here are the game stats

Trail Blazers game stats

Brandon Roy - 15 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists
LeMarcus Aldridge - 20 points, 8 rebounds including 6 offensive, 2 blocks
Steve Blake - 19 points including 5/8 3 point baskets, 7 rebounds, 4 assists
Greg Oden - 10 points, 10 rebounds - 5 Offensive, 2 blocks
Rudy Fernandez - 16 points, 8 rebounds - 3 Offensive

36/82 - 43.9% including 12/24 - 50% 3 point shots
48 rebounds including 18 offensive
19 assists
3 steals
5 blocks

Team Rebounds - 6
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 12
Fastbreak Points - 2
Points In The Paint - 24
Second Chance Points – 20

Raptors game stats

Jermaine O'Neal - 24 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 6 blocks
Chris Bosh - 19 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block
Jose Calderon - 15 points, 13 assists
Jason Kapono - 10 points, 2 rebounds
Joey Graham - 10 points, 2 rebounds
Anthony Parker - 8 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals
Andrea Bargnani - 5 points, 4 rebounds

38/77 - 49.4% including 8/17 - 47.1% from 3 point range
31 rebounds - 4 offensive
26 assists
8 turnovers
7 steals
8 blocks

Team Rebounds - 3
Defensive 3-second violations - 0
Points Off Turnovers - 15
Fastbreak Points - 8
Points In The Paint - 34
Second Chance Points – 10

I think there were a few things that I really liked from this game and a few things that concern me greatly. Once again, the Raptors were -17 on the glass with only 4 offensive boards while giving up 18 offensive boards to a very active Trail Blazers team. Offensive boards reflect the heart of a team and the Raptors played this game with no desire to attack the offensive glass. That one fact alone keeps them in a very small window to grow as a team offensively as they could have sealed this game late with a couple of tough rebounds and a couple of loose ball plays that the Blazers seemed to be the only team wanting the ball most of the game. We gave up 12/24 or 50% from 3 point range to a team that is known as a good shooting team. Steve Blake, like Vince Carter, killed us with a huge 3 point shot on a very similar play that the Nets ran on us, maybe the Raptors are the only team that doesn’t dissect game film to figure opponents tendencies out before the game is played. Jay did a great job with the rotation after the team had lost the lead. They continued to work the ball around and a balanced offense was the result with 5 guys in double digits scoring. Watching the last 3 minutes and the meltdown of Chris Bosh as he was very much in the way the second half, was difficult after watching them battle hard to put themselves in a place to be one rebound away from beating this very good team. We did only have 8 turnovers which was great but our lack of perimeter defense killed us again.

As I started this by saying, it was a very difficult week for the Raptors and we played 4 very good teams and perhaps the western conference champion and we struggled in every aspect of the game. Some interesting facts I found this past week by the numbers.

1) 49.5 – average number of points in the paint given up in the past 4 games. This means that over the past week we have given up a lot of very easy baskets. With the Raptors averaging only 34.5 points in the paint a game, that is a huge disparity and one of many reasons why we struggle so much from game to game.
2) 181/351 - 51.5% - the combined opposition field goal percentage. You can’t let teams light you up every night. Not only are the Raptors getting beat inside, our lack of solid perimeter defense is reflected in the high shooting percentage. For a team like the Raptors that struggles on offense, we can’t continue to let teams score 1 out of every 2 shots they take.
3) 50 rebounds given up per game with 12.75 Offensive boards per game allowed. We can not expect to succeed on any kind of consistent basis giving up those kinds of numbers on the glass. Rebounding reflects the heart of a team defensively, from the numbers shown here, we have a long way to go.


Though it was a tough week, I think that the move to Jay was a step in the right direction and the game Sunday showed that the team does have the talent to compete should they chose to, but I am afraid the tendency towards mediocrity this team has displayed so far this season has become systemic in nature and will be very tough to overcome from the top to the bottom of this roster.

This week we also saw a much improved Joey Graham begin to reveal some character and some heart. I think he is ready to start as what we have had just isn’t good enough and we have some very tough games coming quickly. Roko Ukic has begun to show us the skill he has and as a young guard, has provided some much needed rest for Jose. Anthony Parker and Jason Kapono had some good minutes scoring this week as did Jamario Moon. Here’s hoping that those guys continue their improvement on both sides of the floor. Andrea Bargnani is becoming a force defensively but has paid the price offensively. It is a very difficult thing to balance, but this team needs him to score as well as provide tough defense, but the improved defense will provide him opportunities to score in transition more as the tempo of this team improves offensively and in transition.

If you made it through this, thanks and I hope you enjoyed the read.

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