Tag:Joe Johnson
Posted on: November 28, 2008 10:33 pm

Raptors - Hawks - A Game in Review

The Raptors came into Friday’s game against the Hawks needing a win to close out a 4 game home stand at 2 – 2 after losing to the Celtics and the Nets. A victory over the Bobcats on Wednesday gave them a better frame of mind against a team that had beaten them once this season. With Jermaine O’Neal on the bench, the Raptors needed to find a way to contain the Hawks on the boards and control the perimeter after being torched by Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson. The Hawks were looking to return to the form that had gotten them off to a 6 – 0 start before losing to the Celtics. Since that loss they were 3 – 5 bringing a 9 – 5 record to Toronto and looking to turn the momentum early in the season.

Averaging 27.6 points per game coming in, Chris Bosh has been hot lately with 2 40+ point games and a 39 in the past week. He has been one of the top players in the league so far being 2nd in scoring behind LeBron James and just ahead of Dwyane Wade so far this season. After being stuck in his apartment’s elevator for about an hour, he arrived late to the game and missed the warm up. That is probably a very good thing for the Hawks as he opened a bit cold shooting but had 5 assists in the first half before he scored 20 in the second half ending up with 30 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 blocks for a solid all around game providing yet another example of why he should be considered an elite player in this league.

One of the biggest ingredients this team has been missing thus far this season has been bench play on both offense and defense. Tonight, on a night where Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon struggled offensively, combining for only 11 points, Joey Graham, Jason Kapono, Kris Humphries and Will Solomon combined for 31 points and 13 rebounds. Anthony Parker not only provided 7 points and 2 steals, but he kept Joe Johnson quiet in the first half and held him to 18 points overall. Jamario Moon had perhaps his most solid start of the year adding 10 points and trying hard to contain Mike Bibby who finished with 20 points, but had 15 at the half. Our defense looked solid though at times it still gave up easy inside shots or runners in the lane, over all, most shots, even from outside the arc were contested and that was enough to turn the game around as the Raptors had to fight back from a half time deficit.

Overall, the Raptors must be pleased with the ball control they exhibited down the stretch after the Vince Carter debacle with the Nets last week. I am sure most Raptors fans held their breath as the Raptors held on with solid defense and timely offensive boards and some well executed in-bounds plays. The team showed some character coming up with huge stops when they needed them and some outstanding rebounding at both ends. After some goofy shots on about 7 possessions in a row, the guys got it back together and held off the Hawks.

Let’s hope this can build some momentum going into Sunday’s game in Los Angeles and the Lakers. With a lineup of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum,  who is not playing and is questionable for the game, and Vladimir Radmanovic and Dereck Fisher, this team is going into Friday night’s game against the Dirk Nowitzki led Mavericks with a 12 – 1 record. This game will be a challenging game as the Raptors will again have a test of their resolve. The next few games for the Raptors will be played against some of the top teams in the league. With the Jazz and the Nuggets up next, it could be a difficult week for the Raptors.

Posted on: November 27, 2008 12:35 pm

Raptors - Hawks - A game Preview

Friday night, the Raptors welcome the Atlanta Hawks to the ACC. A team that has been hot and cold this season with a hot 6 – 0 start only to go 3 – 5 in the next 8. Since injuring his ankle against the Raptors early in the season, Josh Smith has not returned to the lineup. The Hawks are 5 – 5 with him out of the lineup and miss his leadership and his 12 points per game.

What they do bring to the floor is an array of young and old talent with Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson working with Acie Law, Al Horford, Ronald Murray as well as a mix of guys like Marvin Williams and Maurice Evans. Besides Josh Smith, the Hawks have a very balanced offense with 5 other players in double digits nightly with Evans at just over 9 as well, this team will challenge weak defensive teams all over the court. With winning 3 of the last 4 against the Wizards, the Bucks and the Bobcats, the Hawks are coming into Toronto looking for a win to kick start a week of games with the Knicks, the Wizards and the Grizzlies, they look to continue a series of winnable games.

The Raptors are coming off a hard fought win against the Bobcats where Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor lead a spirited game against a short lineup with Jermaine sitting for the Raptors. He will also miss this game leaving Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani to start up front with Joey Graham likely to start at the 3 spot. Sam Mitchell will look to Joey to tighten the defense around Joe Johnson who, along with Mike Bibby, torched the Raptors the last game. With Jose Calderon looking much better, the offense is starting to look more consistent again, but taking only 72 shots against the Bobcats is barely what I would call purring along. When the Raptors decide to watch Chris Bosh score as they did last night until Joey stepped up and scored 17 off the bench, it was hard to watch as they stagnated several times and kept the Bobcats in the game with poor shots.

The keys for the game against the Hawks will be a combination of ball control and ball movement. 12 turnovers last night allowed the Raptors to keep the pace where they wanted and keep the ball moving on offense. Aside from Jason Kapono and his pump fake travel, the Raptors made much better decisions with the ball. I seem to recall most of the turnovers were having the ball ripped out of the hands by more aggressive defenders. Jamario Moon has got to become more involved defensively as he has not done much on either end of the floor. Should Joey have another good game both offensively and defensively, we may not see Jamario for awhile. Roko Ukic will be called upon to spell Jose off and if he continues to progress in his ability to maintain the ball and keep the offense running both in the open court and in the half court, this team will succeed. Defensively, we still have work to do as a team as more than a few times someone would make a great play only to have the ball return to a Bobcat as no one rotated to help on the ball. That will have to change against a much better front court that the Hawks will bring. One good thing that I did notice was how many times the Bobcats made a very tough shot with :00 on the shot clock. It was good to see guys jumping lanes and rotating on defense to limit the open looks.

With the Lakers due up on Sunday, Jermaine will rest again. The Raptors, as a group, will have to be committed to team play to win this game. Can they do it? I think we can. Who will provide the second and third option this team will need to compliment Chris Bosh? Who will step up and shut down Bibby and Johnson? We have the players who can do it and I think Kris Humphries will factor hugely into this game. Enjoy the game. Comments always welcome.

Posted on: November 8, 2008 12:06 pm

Raptors - Hawks! Am I glad that is over!!

"There was just nothing we could do to stop them," said Raptors coach Sam Mitchell. "We just couldn't guard them tonight. Almost everybody was off. It happens."

This was Sam trying hard to explain how this team with so much talent could be beaten so badly by a team that just wanted to win more! It will be hard to express my thorough distaste of how this team seems happy to score their 93 or 94 points a game while letting opponents run them into the ground.

A couple good things about last night, the Hawks had come into the game averaging 15 offensive boards a game and only had 7 last night! I think that when you seem to make 55% of your shots, there isn’t much need for offensive boards! The Raptors came into the game averaging 35.5 rebounds a game and finished the game with 32 LOWERING their league worst average to 34.8 boards a game! That one fact should scare Sam and Bryan to their core! Again last night we were – 9 on the glass. I am not sure of any team that is good enough to be out rebounded every night and win more than they lose. From what I saw last night, this is NOT one of those teams! Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal were a combined 43 points and 12 rebounds which was a bit better than the Hawks front of Al Horford and Marvin Williams who had 21 points and 13 boards with Josh Smith adding 6 before he left. Off the bench, which some consider the Raptors strength this season, the Hawks offered Solomon Jones with 6, Ronald Murray with 16 and Maurice Evens with 15 with a combined total of 15 rebounds! The Raptors provided Jason Kapono with 14, Andrea Bargnani with 9 and Kris Humphries with 5 and a combined total of 6 rebounds. Our second unit provided us a total of – 9 points and – 9 boards!

What killed us was the back-court!

--Toronto's guards and small forwards were out-scored 81-35 by Atlanta in Friday's loss.

Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson destroyed Jose Calderon and Anthony Parker both inside and outside! We had no way to stop them as Sam Mitchell so expertly mentioned! He would know, he taught them how to play that way! With absolutely no clue how to stop driving guards as we saw with Tayshaun Prince and now Joe Johnson! This had better change quickly as most of the teams in this league have quick guards who can shoot!

--In four of their first five games, Toronto has given up at least 10 more shots than they've taken, a fact directly attributable to their lack of defensive rebounding prowess.

As I mentioned earlier, we are the worst team in the league on the glass! Jamario Moon has all but disappeared off the glass and out of the offense. He has his moments on defense but not consistent enough to warrant the PT he receives. That being said, Jason Kapono would be out played by most of the great athletes the league has playing on the wings night in and night out! A very difficult place to be for Bryan Colangelo after he put all his eggs into Jermaine O’Neal’s injury prone body!

Here are a few thoughts on the season that has just begun.

Team defense MUST become the number 1 priority on this team as they can’t stop anyone from the outside at this point. Teams are all well aware of how to attack this team as we are slow on the perimeter or seem to have no desire to pay the price to win.

The promising start has quickly given way to fear and trepidation! The Pistons and the Hawks have exposed our weak underbelly! We MUST become a team that wants to take the ball to the hole! We MUST commit to team defense as a priority and not an after-thought! We need to find another scorer to provide 10 to 15 points a game. With Chris Bosh at 26 and Jose now at 16,  JO and AP both around 11, we are at the middle of the pack offensively but giving up more points than we are scoring after just 2 losses!

There is much room for improvement and this next week will show us if Sam is able to do what it takes to move this team up the rankings or down the chart! The Ball is in their court now!


First, I could be wrong and I hope I am, but it is time to start looking for something other than Andrea Bargnani! He has some talent and a great touch for a big man, but he looks over-whelmed most games and has never developed the heart needed to play against some of the men in the league nose to nose! In his 3rd season now, he should be able to hold his own at both ends of the floor night after night, but he can’t seem to find a rhythm from night to night as teams just let him shoot knowing if he misses the first couple, his night is over! He has had success driving the ball to the hole, but seems very reluctant to commit his body to that kind of pounding night after night!
Jermaine O’Neal looks slow and out of place most nights. His 17 last night were great to see, but 4 rebounds just won’t cut it at some point. He is averaging 5.8 rebounds a game, while Jose Calderon is averaging 4! Surely your C/PF can average more than 2 more boards a game more than your PG? Is that too much to ask? Let’s hope that he can find his place and step up to the challenge and provide more rebounding as being – 9 or 10 every night is not a good plan to win games!
Category: NBA
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