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Tag:LeBron James
Posted on: December 15, 2008 10:58 am
 

Raptors - Week 7 in Review

Week 7 in the Raptors season saw the team move far away from the Sam team and become the Jay Triano lead Raptors. With games against the Trail Blazers, the Cavaliers, the Pacers and the Nets, we knew it would be a rough week. 3 of those games were against teams above us in the standings and one against the team we made our huge trade with last season so emotionally, that Pacers game had a lot of mystique around it as team looked to recover from the brutal road trip against the Lakers, the Jazz, and the Nuggets.

Sunday, December 7th, Raptors vs. Trail Blazers @ ACC

Trail Blazers 98 – Raptors 97

Steve Blake scored on a 3 point shot that they borrowed from Vince Carter and the Nets to ruin Jay’s bid to win his home debut. Scoring 19 points on 5 – 8 3 point shots he kept the Trail Blazers close enough to win on the last shot. The Raptors played a much better defensive game allowing only 24 points in the paint which is half of what they had been averaging. Andrea Bargnani was a first over all pick, that, we are well aware of, but the Trail Blazers have the 2nd and the 6th picks in LeMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy. Bargnani has shown improvement but has not accomplished nearly as much as these two to this point in their careers. Andrea has not completely grown into the role he was projected to fill to this point, though this season he has improved in a lot of areas and I believe could be a solid player. Aldridge finished with 20, Roy with 15, Bargnani had 5 points. Player of the game for the Raptors was Jermaine O’Neal, for the Trail Blazers, Steve Blake. A game we should have won again exposed our weak wing defense and perimeter defense.

Tuesday, December 9th, Raptors vs. Cavaliers

Cavaliers 114 – Raptors 94

LeBron James – 31 points and didn’t play the 4th quarter. Chris Bosh, Jermaine O’Neal, Anthony Parker, Andrea Bargnani – 34 points. Jose Calderon had 14 as our starters looked awful as a group. Joey Graham had 17 and was Player of the Game for us and Roko Ukic had 10 points or this game was even more laughable than it was. Wally Szczerbiak had 16 points and looked like he was 24 again. Not a pretty game for the Raptors, but it did signal a change as Jay had to overhaul the starting lineup as Anthony hurt his ankle.

Wednesday, December 10th, Raptors vs. Pacers @ ACC

Raptors 101 – Pacers 88

With Anthony Parker hurting, Jason Kapono stepped into the lineup and scored 25 points to lead the Raptors to their first victory under Jay Triano. Chris Bosh, Jermaine O’Neal, Jose Calderon, Joey Graham and Jamario Moon all had 10 or more points as a balanced attack kept the Pacers off balance all night long. Danny Granger scored 22 but most of the time looked out of the game shooting 9 – 25. The Player of the Game for the Pacers was Troy Murphy who had a 20 – 20 game. Marquis Daniel added 21. This was a much better overall defensive game by the Raptors who would not let T.J. Ford loose to drive and his team could not shoot well enough to keep the game close.

 

 

Friday, December 12, Raptors vs. Nets

Raptors 101 – Nets 79

Vince Carter and Devin Harris as a tandem had come into the game averaging 47.7 points per game and Raptors fans were concerned that they would explode against Jason Kapono and Jose Calderon who are not the greatest man up defenders in the game. What we saw was a team defense that funneled two of the best guards in the East to a waiting wall of big men. Jermaine O’Neal and Andrea Bargnani and Chris Bosh would not allow the penetrating attack the Nets so love and they were reduced to shoot. With Josh Boone just coming back from an injury, they had no real inside game as Brook Lopez was held to 6 points. Vince and Devin were held to 3 points and 14 points as Vince was 0 – 13 from the floor. Yi Jianlian was the Nets most consistent big man scoring 14. For the second game in a row, the Raptors had 6 players in double digits while Jermaine had 8 points and 9 rebounds. The Nets ended the game shooting only 31.1%

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, December 14th, Raptors vs. Hornets @ ACC

Hornets 99 – Raptors 91

Well, a tough loss to the Hornets Sunday on a day when the Raptors could just as easily pulled out the win. After a solid defensive effort in the 1st quarter, the Raptors began to lose track of shooters like James Posey and Rasual Butler as the team ranked #1 in 3 point shooting in the league put up shot after shot as the Raptors struggled as they have all year with perimeter defense. Over-all, this game was exciting and very well played by both teams, but the Raptors continue to struggle working the ball inside to Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal consistently. Yes, Chris Bosh scored 25 points and 8 rebounds as well as 6 assists, but in the 4th quarter, he began to settle for jump shots again which is out of the context of the offense and too often leads to shots from the top of the circle with no rebounding support late in the shot clock. Jose Calderon played a very good game with 22 points and 7 assists to Chris Paul’s 12 points and 12 assists. Very solid games from 2 of the premier PG’s in the league.

I think that even though we lost 3 of 5 games, this team has come a long way since December 3rd. They understand what is required of them at both ends of the floor and have shown they have the heart to compete at the highest level. As they continue to work on the schemes the coach is instilling in them this team will have the opportunity to win more games than they will lose. A good week for a struggling team with a new coach and a new attitude.

Posted on: December 10, 2008 10:16 am
 

Raptors - Cavaliers - A Game in Review

What can be said about the Raptors game against the Cavaliers Tuesday night that hasn’t been said yet? Probably not much, so I will offer a few thoughts on what I saw last night and express some of the issues that I feel need to be addressed immediately.

First and foremost, this team has surrendered as a group. From Chris Bosh down to Hassan Adams, this group has no life, no passion and absolutely no will to win. The starting 5 of Chris Bosh, Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, Anthony Parker and Jermaine O’Neal were given a 7 point ball game in the second half and at one point were out-scored 19 – 4 in the quarter. The energy for playing defense starts with every man on the floor deciding that they want to be contributing and that they want to be outplaying the man across from them. Right now, Chris Bosh looks like he has no intention of trying to stop anyone and that attitude is sensed and has become part of the culture of this team and that has turned them into a team that every backcourt in the league is waiting to play. Jose Calderon and Anthony Parker played a sloppy game at both ends of the floor as reflected in 19 team turnovers. Passes were late, into double coverage, and the first two possessions of the game LeBron James caused a turnover and ended with a dunk. 4 – 0 in the first 10 seconds of the game and it only got worse. Defense defines the heart of a basketball team and judging by what was on display last night this team has no desire to compete at any level. The Cavaliers are a good offensive basketball team, but to a man, they play solid defense and are constantly putting themselves in a position to obtain the ball whether it be a loose ball or a rebound or jumping a passing lane, this team has become an elite team in this league from their glass out. Wally Szczerbiak scored 16 points against us mostly from outside, but he was able to grab an offensive board and on the put back against I think it was Andrea, got the foul and made the shots. I am not sure, but at 7’ tall, rebounding should be a big part of his game, but it is not.

Secondly, this team is lost on offense. Chris Bosh has disappeared from the rotation and has resolved that he is now an outside shooter. The entire team, except for Joey Graham and Roko Ukic, have decided that it is too tough to take the ball to the rim, so they don’t. Jermaine did grab a few offensive boards and was rewarded with a couple of nice baskets, but on the whole we stood around and watched making it difficult for the guards to make entry passes or the defender was just able to step around the receiver and drive for a dunk or a layup. How many games will it take of being out played on the glass before someone steps up and say “ENOUGH”?? Kevin Garnett did that the other night and they were UP 25 at the time. That is why they the Celtics win and the Raptors don’t. I know a lot of people will say he was an idiot or what ever you want, but I promise you, every guy on that bench, including Glenn Davis, will be a much better player after that time out and it will carry over to the playoffs. Leaders show you how to play then tell you what you need to do. This Raptors team is terrible in transition and has no idea how to run the floor on any type of break. We used to be a good team in converting turnovers into easy baskets, but it seems that we struggle to even get a decent shot and our opponents seem to score easy bucket after easy bucket. An inside game will provide that kind or scoring, but right now we don’t have one and our shooters have no interest in the game at all. Jason Kapono and Jamario Moon have had their moments, but they have been missed most nights and for a team like the Raptors, any thing less than a team game will not be enough to win most nights.

Our Bench play last night was actually pretty good as it brought us back from a 19 point deficit in the second to within 4 before LBJ nailed another uncontested 3 as Anthony Parker waved at him as he blew by. Will Solomon attacked the rim as did Joey and Roko. Jamario played a bit better but as a group, the bench play has been week and has cost us many games. Last night, our starters let the game slip away early and again in the third quarter. Kris Humphries has suddenly become the most valuable asset on our bench and he is unable to play. That must tell the team something.

Full credit must go to the Cavaliers who played a very solid game at both ends of the floor last night. Delonte West had 8 assists, Mo Williams had 9 assists and 13 points. Zydrunas Ilgauskas with 6 rebounds became the all-time rebound leader for the Cavaliers team and out played both our big men. Say what you want about Ben Wallace, he grabbed 5 boards last night and 2 blocks. LBJ had 31 in a game where all 12 players scored for the Cavaliers. At 18 – 3, this team is in 3rd place over all and 2nd in the East behind the Celtics and the Lakers and are going to be a difficult team to beat most nights as they are balanced and very good within the defensive schemes they run.

Jay Triano has a lot of work to do with this group of Raptors.

Posted on: December 9, 2008 2:25 pm
 

Raptors - Week 7 in Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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