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Tag:Nets
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 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: 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 21, 2009 11:12 am
 

2009 Free Agent Class - Overlooked and Forgotten?

I know we are all focused on 2010 when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh become free agents and the rumours that are swirling around with that, but what about next years class? looking over the list i see a lot of pieces that many teams would love to have, so, the question is do you think this season's batch of free agents will be pretty much ignored or will there be a flurry of trades and deals to secure some of these guys before 2010 which, in my opinion, is really a three team race right now.

Here is the list

Hawks -Josh Childress, Solomon Jones, Marvin Williams
Mike Bibby, Zaza Pachulia
 

 

 

Celtics - Glen Davis, Leon Powe
Eddie House (P)
 

 

Bobcats - Shannon Brown, Jermareo Davidson, Raymond Felton, Ryan Hollins, Sean May

 

 

Aaron Gray,Drew Gooden
 

 

 

Cavaliers - Lance Allred, Tarence Kinsey
Zydrunas Ilgauskas (ETO), Damon Jones, Joe Smith, Eric Snow, Wally Szczerbiak, Billy Thomas, Anderson Varejao (P)
 


Mavericks - Brandon Bass, Gerald Green, Eddie Jones, Jason Kidd, Keith McLeod, James Singleton
 

 

 

Nuggets -Linas Kleiza
Chris Andersen, Anthony Carter, Steven Hunter (ETO), Allen Iverson, Dahntay Jones
 

 

Pistons - Will Bynum (T), Jason Maxiell, Check Samb
Kwame Brown (P), Richard Hamilton (ETO), Rasheed Wallace
 

 

 

Warriors - C.J. Watson
Al Harrington (P)
 

 

Rockets - Mike Harris, Luther Head
Ron Artest, Ron Francis
 

 

 

Pacers - Danny Granger, Jarrett Jack, Josh McRoberts
Maceo Baston, Marquis Daniels (T), Travis Diener (P), Jeff Foster, Stephen Graham, Rasho Nesterovic
 

 

Clippers - Ricky Davis (P), Steve Novak, Brian Skinner
Jason Hart
 

 

 

Lakers - Coby Karl
Trevor Ariza, Kobe Bryant (ETO), Chris Mihm, Lamar Odom
 

 

Grizzlies - Juan Carlos Navarro, Hakim Warrick
Antoine Walker (ETO)
 

 

 

Heat - Stephane Lasme, Joel Anthony
Mark Blount (ETO), Shawn Marion
 

 

Bucks - Ramon Sessions, Charlie Villanueva
Malik Allen (P), Tyronn Lue, Desmond Mason
 

 

 

Timberwolves - Rashad McCants
Calvin Booth, Jason Collins
 

 

Nets - Nenad Krstic
Trenton Hassell (ETO), Jarvis Hayes (T), Stromile Swift
 

 

 

Hornets - Melvin Ely, Mike James (P)
 

 

 

Knicks - David Lee, Nate Robinson
Jamal Crawford (ETO), Eddy Curry (ETO), Jerome James (P), Stephon Marbury, Quentin Richardson (ETO), Malik Rose
 

 

Thunder - Johan Petro
Adrian Griffin, Chris Wilcox, Damien Wilkins (ETO), Donyell Marshall
 

 

 

Maqic - Marcin Gortat
Keith Bogans, Brian Cook (P), Adonal Foyle, Anthony Johnson (P), Hedo Turkoglu (ETO)
 

 

76ers - Royal Ivey (P), Andre Miller, Kareem Rush
 

 

 

Suns - D.J. Strawberry
Matt Barnes, Grant Hill

 

 

Trail Blazers - Ike Diogu, Channing Frye, Martell Webster
Raef LaFrentz

 

 

Kings - Bobby Brown (P), Francisco Garcia
Shareef Abdur-Rahim (ETO), Bobby Jackson
 

 

 

Spurs - Ime Udoko, Jacque Vaughn

 

 

Raptors - Carlos Delfino, Joey Graham, Jamario Moon, Will Solomon
Jermaine O'Neal (P), Anthony Parker

 

 

Jazz - Paul Millsap, Kyrylo Fesenko (T)
Carlos Boozer (P), Jarron Collins, Brevin Knight, Kyle Korver (ETO), Mehmet Okur (ETO), Ronnie Price

 

 

Wizards - Etan Thomas (ETO)

Posted on: December 21, 2008 12:59 pm
 

Raptors - Week 8 In Review - A season on the edge

Week 8 for the Raptors was a week of frustration for the fans and a week of tough losses for the team. After 3 losses at home during which the fans have begun the boo-birds have made their presence felt, the team has continued to seem lost as a group. I won’t turn this review into whine fest as that is for other forums and blogs. So, here is a review of the past week for the Raptors, as I saw it.

After ending last week on a high winning two games against the Pacers and the Nets, they ended last week 10 – 12 with a 3 game home stand to start the week in anticipation of the start of a 6 game swing through the western conference.

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

Hornets 99 Raptors 91

The Raptors entered this game looking to keep the points in the paint under control by keeping Chris Paul from driving through the key. The game plan was to allow the Hornets shooters to win or lose the game as the Raptors interior defense continued to mature and close the lane off with a combination defense of a soft zone and match up zone defense to keep the drivers moving toward the automatic help that is provided on the rotations. What that allowed, unfortunately, was the outside shooters hit 12 3 point shots, which was enough to keep them out of reach down the stretch as the Raptors could not find a way to stop them. David West scored 29 points and grabbed 9 rebounds, but the real hero of the game was James Posey who hit 5 of 5 3 points off the bench in the 1st half ending with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Rasual Butler was 4/9 from 3 point range ending the game with 16 points. Chris Paul and Jose Calderon had similar games with Chris Paul scoring 12 points and handing out 12 assists while Jose Calderon scored 22 points but only 7 assists. Both controlled the game with solid distribution of the ball and seemed to find the correct pass most of the night. Jose went 8/8 from the field and 5/5 from the line and had 1 turnover. Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal had 25 and 19 points and 15 rebounds between them on an afternoon when the Raptors played a solid game on defense overall, but just couldn’t seem to close out the perimeter shooters well enough.

Monday, December 15th, Raptors vs. Nets @ Toronto

Nets 94 Raptors 87

Vince Carter had 20 points and 10 rebounds while Devin Harris scored 20 points, 16 in the 4th quarter including 10 – 11 from the free throw line as the Nets returned the favor and beat the Raptors in front of a cranky crowd. Ryan Anderson scored 21 points for the Nets while 6 Raptors scored in double digits, but missed their first 14 shots in the 4th quarter after leading 70 – 63 after 3 quarters. The key to the game was second chance points as the Raptors again were dominated on the glass, especially the Offensive end giving up 54 rebounds while grabbing 38. That alone is enough to lose most games in the NBA, but the Nets grabbed 11 more offensive boards which was translated into 28 points in the paint and 26 second chance points. The Raptors were only able to score 18 points in the paint and a pathetic 2 second chance points on 7 offensive rebounds. Still, Chris Bosh and Jason Kapono scored 17 each, Jose Calderon scored 15, Jermaine O’Neal scored 14 while Jamario Moon and Andrea Bargnani scored 10 each. By the numbers alone, the game seemed to be the Raptors to lose as they shot better as a team from the field – 40% to 38.1% for the Nets, better percentage from 3 point range – 42.9% to 38.1%, but the Raptors gave up 84 shots while taking only 70 which allowed them to keep the Raptors from coming back as they just couldn’t grab a rebound it seemed in the last 2 minutes. This game was a tough lose as they worked hard to build up a lead in the 3rd and just could not find a way to get the ball into the hands of the hot players in the 4th as the Nets forced us into a jump shooting game and just out played us on the glass.

Wednesday, December 17th, Raptors vs. Mavericks @ Toronto

Mavericks 96 Raptors 86

On a night when the Raptors outscored an opponent 30 – 14 in the paint, the Raptors were again exploited from the outside as the Mavericks ended the game 50% from the field as a team. Dirk Nowitzki scored 27, Jason Terry scored 27 and Josh Howard scored 20 as they went 29/51 or 56% as a trio while grabbing 18 rebounds as a trio. As a team, the Mavericks scored 9 3 point shots on the night while the Raptors hit only 4. Jermaine O’Neal scored 19 and grabbed only 7 rebounds on a night when the Raptors were outrebounded again 47 – 37. Chris Bosh struggled all night against Josh Howard ending up with only 12 points but grabbed 9 rebounds including 3 offensive rebounds. Jose Calderon had another double double with 11 points and 10 rebounds as well as 5 rebounds. Jamario Moon scored 13 points and ended up with 9 rebounds. There are not many teams this Raptors team will beat allowing them to shot 50% from the floor.

Friday, December 19th, Raptors vs. Thunder @ Oklahoma City

Thunder 91 Raptors 83

"It felt like we won a championship," forward Desmond Mason said.

The Thunder came into the game with a 2 – 24 record and were allowed to out play the Raptors in just about every aspect of the game and there isn’t much more to add to that. The Raptors shot 2 – 11 from 3 point range or 11% and were out rebounded again. Kevin Durant scored 24 points, Russell Westbrook scored 19, Jeff Green scored 13 and Nick Collison scored 10 while the Raptors had Chris Bosh scoring 22 with 16 rebounds, Jermaine O’Neal left the game with a sore shoulder and was limited to 5 points while Andrea Bargnani scored 16. After losing JO, the Raptors were outscored in the paint 40 – 32 and shot 44.4% from the field.

Saturday, December 20th, Raptors vs. Spurs @ San Antonio

Spurs 107 Raptors 97

The Raptors came into the game looking to at least show they could compete with this Spurs team that seems to be struggling having lost 2 in a row to the Magic and the Hornets. At this point in the season, the Raptors were looking to turn around a 4 game slide and came out sharp leading the game 25 – 20 after the first. The 2nd quarter saw the Spurs outscore the Raptors as the shooters seemed to not only be open, but couldn’t miss outscoring the Raptors 36 – 23 in the quarter. The Spurs relied upon a franchise record 16 3 point shots including Matt Bonner who went 4/7 and Roger Jr. Mason who went 4/6 scoring 14 and 16 points against their former team. Tony Parker scored 24 points, handed out 10 assists and grabbed 8 rebounds and was in total control of the game hitting open guys all night as the Spurs constant ball movement kept the Raptors off balance all night and kept them running to guard open shooters all night long. Tim Duncan scored 19 points on a quiet night for him while Jermaine O’Neal scored 24 and Chris Bosh scored 17. Perhaps a good sign for the Raptors is both men had 10 rebounds in the game with Jermaine O’Neal grabbed 4 offensive boards. However, the Raptors still were outrebounded and out shot, but they did play with a lot more resolve and were in this game until the final 2 minutes. A couple of stats the Raptors would probably find very interesting are the fact that Jake Voskuhl, signed earlier this week, played his first 6 minutes for the Raptors and outscored Jamario Moon and Andrea Bargnani scoring on two nice turn around jumpers in the low post over Tim Duncan. At this point, any sign of growth is huge for this team. For the Spurs, Michael Finley scored 14, and Manu Ginobili scored 13 while Kurt Thomas grabbed 12 rebounds. Jose Calderon scored 16 but could only manage 4 assists while Jason Kapono scored 12.

Overall, it was a much better game by the Raptors with many good signs this team could be close to turning the corner as a team. Joey Graham and Roko Ukic continue to improve, Will Solomon contributed some solid minutes against the Spurs as Jose struggled with an upset stomach, so there are some good things happening. We shall find out as this team continues it’s trip through the west with games against the Clippers, the Kings, the Trail Blazers and the Warriors before they return home New Year’s eve to host the Nuggets, then play the Rockets and the Magic in the first week of the new year.

Posted on: December 17, 2008 11:00 am
 

Raptors - Mavericks - A Game Preview

Tonight, the Raptors host the surging Dallas Mavericks who have won 7 of their last 10 games with wins over the Grizzlies, the Bobcats, the Suns, the Hawks and the Pacers. They are 3 games above .500% right now and are .5 of a game out of 8th in the tough Western Conference. Having lost to the Nuggets in Dallas on Monday, they come into Toronto to start a short 2 game eastern swing, with the Nets hosting them on Friday, home to the Grizzlies again on Sunday, then they head out on a tough pre-Christmas tour of the West with games against the Trail Blazers, the Jazz and Clippers. They are looking to Toronto to be the start of a push back up the ladder in the West.

The Raptors are coming into the game with the memory of two stinging losses fresh in their minds losing to the Hornets on Sunday and the Nets on Monday. Both of those games the Raptors seemed to play aspects of the game well but could not play well in others and it cost them. Sunday, they were able to use their new defensive schemes to contain Chris Paul and hold him to 12 points and Peja Stojakovic was held to 10 points, but James Posey was left virtually alone all the time and scored 20 on 6/10 3 point shots and David West outplayed Chris Bosh scoring 29 points from the low post area. The Nets game was very much the same thing as they were forced to shoot and shot only 38.1% as a team, but when Ryan Anderson outscores Chris Bosh in the PF position, something is not right. Offensive rebounds allowed have become the team’s demise. The lack of rebounding coupled with a 0 – 14 shooting stretch in the 4th quarter allowed this game to get out of reach.

Tonight, the Raptors will be looking to Jermaine O’Neal and Andrea Bargnani to provide some solid work in the post as the Mavericks have been running a 3 guard offense and Eric Dampier averages only 6 points and 8 rebounds a game. Dirk Nowitzki leads this team with 26 points per game and with Jason Kidd on the floor, the duo looks to make sharp passes and find cutters and hit open shooters off dribble penetration which has been the weakest aspect of the Raptors defense all season. With Devean George and Jose Juan Barea on the floor, this Mavericks team looks to feed Nowitzki who is always happy to shoot.

Chris Bosh needs a break out game and tonight would be a good time to find it. With Jamario Moon or Joey Graham at the 3 spot, Chris should have the room he needs and if we can keep Dirk out of the paint, I like our chances. Jose Calderon and Anthony Parker as well as Roko Ukic should all have good nights as a group, but will need to continue to improve closing out on shooters on the perimeter. I think that this game will go a long way to revealing the character of this team and I hope the guys are up to it.

 

Posted on: December 15, 2008 1:13 pm
 

Raptors - Week 8 in Preview - Another tough week

Week 8 for the Raptors feels like more waves of a tsunami as we have the Nets again in Toronto, then Wednesday we host the 13 – 9 Mavericks who play the Nuggets tonight. Friday we are in Oklahoma to play the Thunder then head south to play the Spurs. Combined records of the Spurs, Mavericks and Nets – 39 – 28. We start the week 10 – 13 in 4th place in the Atlantic division and 10th overall in the Eastern Conference with the Knicks and the Bulls 1 game up and the Nets 1.5 games ahead of us for 8th spot. Considering all this team has gone through, we are still positioned well at this point and a few wins now would help not only mentally but over all in the playoff race as well.

Monday, December 15, 2008 – Raptors vs. Nets @ the ACC

Not much more to add from Friday’s game. Devin Harris and Vince Carter will have to be held to 17 points again and the Nets as a team need to be held to 31.1% shooting again. Can it happen? Sure it can. With Jose Calderon and Jason Kapono not having to guard players man on man for extended minutes, this Raptors team has developed a solid interior defense that has cut the points in the paint for the opposition to under 30 a game the past 3 games. A far cry from the almost 50 a game they were allowing. With Josh Boone back in the lineup and playing near 100% again, this will be a tougher Nets team who will be looking to rebound from the loss in New Jersey.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008 – Raptors vs. Mavericks @ the ACC

The Mavericks are sitting in 8th place in the tough western conference, .5 of a game ahead of the Suns who have 14 wins. Dirk Nowitzki is averaging 26.3 points per game and Jason Terry is averaging 20.8. Beyond those two, they have no one over 10 with Jason Kidd averaging 9.7 points per game. They have a weak spot at Center offensively but Eric Dampier continues to be a solid defender and provides them strength up the middle. With guys like Antoine Wright and Gerald Green and Brandon Bass, this team has a solid group behind Dirk and JT. This will be a huge testing game for Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Bosh and will reveal whether or not or to what extent our interior defense has developed since December 3rd.

Friday, December 19, 2008 – Raptors vs. Thunder

At 2 – 23 and only 1 game this week against the Clippers, this Thunder team has almost a week to prepare for this game. The starters look solid as a group with Kevin Durant, Jeff Green, Nick Collison, Damien Wilkens, and either Johan Petro or Russell Westbrook, this team has solid offense but struggles defensively sitting at 25th in the league in opposition scoring per game.  The Raptors are currently sitting 20th which is improving every game. This is a game we should win and I look to our defense to stifle the Thunder all night long. I suspect that Jay will prepare them a bit more than that!

Saturday, December 20, 2008 – Raptors – Spurs

Rumors of the demise of this Spurs team were swirling as Manu Ginobili started the season hurt then Tony Parker went down. Too old, too slow, no one other than Manu could lead this team. Tim Duncan just wasn’t enough. Well, after 23 games, Manu is back, Tony is back and since starting 1 – 4, this team is 14 – 4 sitting third in the West with 6 straight wins over the Mavericks, the Nuggets, the Hawks, the Warriors, the Timberwolves and the Thunder. In the past 10 games they are 8 – 2 with losses to the Pistons and the Rockets. Aside from Tony and Manu and Tim, this team has more players averaging 10 or more points per game. Tony Parker averages 21.3, Tim Duncan 21, Manu Ginobili 15.5, Roger Jr. Mason 13.3 and Michael Finley averages 10.3 points per game. George Hill sits at 9.9 so that is 6 players at 10 or more points. Balance on offense and hard work on defense keeps this team at or near the top every season and why they can beat teams when one or two “star” players are not 100%. This will be a tough game for the Raptors as we don’t play well in San Antonio as a rule. The Spurs play two on the road this week at the Hornets and the Magic.

The key for the Raptors this week will be to allow the system the chance to work. Defensively we have come along way since December 3rd. We can now shut aspects of teams down and as we continue to work on the defensive game, we will develop that transition game that the good teams use to score the easy break points. Our rebounding needs to improve as it did cost us the game Sunday against the Hornets. A rebound at either end, and a couple of free throws were all we needed to win that game. Quality minutes from our bench seems to be the trend and this week we will need them to continue to improve and contribute more scoring as well as work hard defensively to keep games in check. They will not be able to let teams come back into games we are leading or let teams pull away from us and they have been doing both very well this past week.

Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal need to develop more desire to drive the ball. The 15 foot shots are nice, but they are then out of position for the short boards that often result from the mid-range shots. Andrea Bargnani will be looked to from the bench and perhaps the addition of Jake Voskuhl will add some grit underneath. Jose Calderon looks much more at ease with a guard for a coach and seems to be freer to shoot when he sees the spot. Let’s hope that guys like Jamario Moon and Jason Kapono continue their improvement and work to stick their bums on people and box out at both ends. Anthony Parker I suspect will be hard pressed to get back into the lineup any time soon as the team suffered during his minutes on the floor on Sunday afternoon. Roko Ukic looks very good and relaxed with the ball and seems to be the only one who still drives the ball on this team. Should be a very interesting week for the Raptors.

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.

 
 
 
 
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