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Tag:Pacers
Posted on: January 22, 2009 12:09 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2009 12:30 pm
 

Raptors - Week 11/12 review - late

I must admit, it has become harder and harder to write about this Raptors team that continues to struggle at pretty much every part of the game night after night. After the two losses to the Celtics in which Ray Allen and Paul Pierce took turns destroying our already thin back court defense, week 12 continued with losses against the Bulls, the Pacers and the Suns leading into week 13 which has brought us losses against the Pistons and the Hawks. Here is how I saw those games.

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009 – Raptors vs. Bulls

Raptors – 98
Bulls – 102

Having built up a 71 – 68 lead after 3 quarters, the Raptors found a way to let Derrick Rose score 17 points in the 4th to post a come from behind win on the road. On a night when the Raptors enjoyed Andrea Bargnani dropping a career high 31 points to go with 10 rebounds including 3 offensive boards, they allowed the Bulls to tally 33 assists while being outrebounded 26 – 11 in the first half finishing the game -10 on the glass. The Bulls exploited our awful perimeter defense all night and finished with 25 points and 10 assists while Kirk Hinrich added 12 points and 6 assists off the bench. Luol Deng had a huge game with 16 points and 14 rebounds and was offered little resistance on either glass and was one of the reasons this game turned in the 4th as we could not find a way to keep him off the boards and maintain ball control as the Bulls took over. One of my favorite players, Joakim Noah didn’t bite on a Chris Bosh pump fake and blocked his shot late to seal the game. 5 offensive rebounds won’t win you a game in High school let alone the NBA. Jermaine O’Neal missed his 9th straight game and Jose Calderon was out again and the back-court of Will Solomon and Roko Ukic 9 points, 9 assists and 1 turn over. Anthony Parker had a solid game with 15 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists in a losing cause. The Raptors gave up 44 points in the paint and were -18 in the paint, so much for the over-whelming front court attack the Raptors hoped to present as this has become the norm for this team as we can’t seem to consistently score inside, which allows teams to harass our shooters all night long. Simple basketball is killing this team.

Friday, January 16th, 2009 – Raptors @ Pacers

Raptors – 107
Pacers – 111

This game was over very early in spite of what the score says. The Raptors scored 39 points in the final quarter to make a run at the Pacers, but could not tie or take the lead as the closed within one point of the home team. Troy Murphy who dropped a 20/20 performance on the Raptors the last game they played settled in for a tidy 15/15 game as Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy provided 23 and 22 points for the Pacers. Jarrett Jack provided 17 points and 7 assists and T.J. Ford added 12 points to the game against his former team. Jermaine O’Neal played his first game in about 3 weeks and looked tired. I suspect he was not ready as he sat the next game, but was able to 7 rebounds and 2 points while Andrea Bargnani and Chris Bosh scored 20 and 25 points while Chris grabbed 16 rebounds, but committed 4 turnovers. With only 22 points off of the bench, this team just does not have the scoring second unit that it needs nightly to compete at the level expected of them with any consistency. The Raptors were down by 24 heading into the 4th quarter and looked lethargic at best most of the game. On a night when they dominated on the glass ending the game +11, the Raptors were beaten by the back court’s inability to score and defend. Ford, Jack, Dunleavy, Stephen Graham and Danny Granger combined for 83 of the Pacers 111 points, while our back court and SF’s scored 57. Jason Kapono scored only 8 points, Joey Graham added only 8 as well. The score flatters this team as it was not really that close at all, but with one quarter of play, they were able to score 39 points, but the Pacers play less defense than we do, so, take it for what it is worth.

Sunday, January 18th, 2009 Raptors vs. Suns

Raptors – 113
Suns – 117

Steve Nash brought lust to the hearts of Raptors fans everywhere with his 18 assist performance as he has stated he would love to end his career north of the 49th parallel. Amar’e Stoudemire scored a game high 31 points and Grant Hill collected a team high 9 rebounds as the Suns needed every part of their game to work as the Raptors played a balanced game and were in a position to steal a win until Nash scored with less than 30 seconds left after an Anthony Parker miss. Parker had his best scoring game in a long time with 26 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists while starting at the PG spot. Jamario Moon added 16 points Andrea Bargnani had 15 while Chris Bosh scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, but committed 5 turnovers. Kris Humphries had 6 while the entire bench offered only 14 points with the Raptors dressing only 9 players. Joey Graham had 22 points and 7 rebounds while Shaquille O’Neal was limited to 16 points and 4 rebounds, Matt Barnes had 16 and Leandro Barbosa had 14 off the bench for the Suns coming off a tough loss to the Timberwolves. Again, the Raptors were -18 in the paint and -10 in points off of turnovers as Jason Richardson added 17 to the Suns total.

Monday, January 19th, 2009 Raptors @ Hawks

Raptors – 84
Hawks – 87

Joe Johnson scored 28 points including one with 12 seconds left while Mike Bibby added a couple of late free throws while scoring 23 to over-take the Raptors and ring up the win. With only 9 players dressed, Center Al Horford, Speedy Claxton, Marvin Williams and Randolph Morris all were not dressed but they were able to battle through and secure the win while the Raptors again could not find anyone able to take the final shot and make it count. Andrea Bargnani scored 20, Chris Bosh, 22 while they both had double doubles, Anthony Parker scored 12 and collected 9 rebounds and had 9 assists for a second solid game in a row. With 17 points off the bench, this was a game we should have won, but hitting must have shots is not a strength this team has as we can’t seem to figure out who to get the ball to in that clutch situation. Overall, the game was very even, but the Raptors allowed the Hawks to settle outside and score 7/26 from 3 point range. Raptors scored only 2/18 for a pathetic 11%. Josh Smith added 22 points while Zaza Pachulia was kept off the scoreboard and played only 11 minutes the Raptors could not find a way, again to dominate the game inside with the Hawks playing small ball. This was the 6th straight loss in a row for the Raptors.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 Raptors @ Pistons

Raptors – 76
Pistons – 95

Richard Hamilton was moved to the bench, but that didn’t seem to help the Raptors at all as they once again allowed Tayshaun Prince to eat them up off the dribble. Amir Johnson started in place of Rip and the Pistons back-court of Allen Iverson and Rodney Stuckey combined for 28 points and 13 assists while Jason Maxiell had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Antonio McDyess had 10 points and 8 rebounds off the bench. The game was close after the first, but the Pistons outscored the Raptors 59 – 40 in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. The Raptors offered little resistance and very little effort being out hustled on the glass with the Pistons using their depth to destroy our very thin second line. Jermaine O’Neal offered 11 points and 1 rebound on his second game in the past 12 or so with trade rumors swirling between the Heat and Shawn Marion, this Raptors team looks like it is waiting for something huge to happen and they can’t seem to find a way to respond to anything on the floor.

The rest of this week offers the Raptors the Bulls again, the Kings who are 0 – 16 against eastern teams and the Bucks and the Nets. Unless something happens to change the intensity on this team, they will just keep losing. 

Category: NBA
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 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 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 10, 2008 12:47 pm
 

Raptors - Pacers - A Game

Well, tonight the Raptors return home to host the Pacers and one of the most beloved/hated players after Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter left town. T.J. Ford returns with Rasho Nesterovic and Danny Granger to take on a Raptors team with very little energy, very little offense and very little defense. After a thrashing last night at the hands of LeBron James and the Cavaliers, the challenge for this Raptors team will be to not run and hide. Yes, the Cavaliers are only ranked behind or with the Lakers and the Celtics, but there has to be a point where players have to decide that getting thrashed and embarrassed night after night has to stop. The Raptors have not hit that point yet and seem quite content to run around and score their 95 or 96 points a game while surrendering to who ever decides they want to control the game. Chris Bosh has disappeared from the team at both ends of the floor, and Jermaine O’Neal so far has shown glimmers of what he was brought in for, but has not been able to consistently help this team inside as ONE player won’t bring solid defense and a defensive mentality to the floor night after night. Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant and LeBron James give their teams that pressure to perform every minute they are playing and even when they aren’t, the team responds to their leadership. It is at this point, the Raptors have their biggest vacuum.

Is the season finished? I don’t believe so as I have seen improvement in the past week that has given me hope that this team will recover. The improvement of Joey Graham has been welcomed as has the development of Roko Ukic as a back up PG. Jose Calderon has struggled as teams are learning that he is slow and predictable and won’t push the ball. Bosh has again become the target of double teams on the entry pass and Andrea Bargnani is so out of place at the 3 spot that he can’t seem to find a way to contribute offensively. I believe Jay will take care of these issues, but man this is tough to watch! Here’s hoping we all show up on the same page tonight and Kris Humphries can play. I think that Joey should start at the 3 spot and Jamarion Moon should be the first choice off the bench as Jason Kapono has continued to be a one-dimensional player at best and he is not shooting at all these days and is useless on defense.

Thinking happy thoughts, I really am!
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.

Posted on: November 29, 2008 10:25 am
 

The TOP 20 expiring Contracts this season

As listed by Marc Stein on ESPN, here are the top 20 expiring contracts available:

1. Jason Kidd (Dallas Mavericks)
Expiring Salary: $21,372,000

2. Allen Iverson (Detroit Pistons)
Expiring Salary: $20,840,625

3. Stephon Marbury (New York Knicks)
Expiring Salary: $20,840,625

4. Shawn Marion (Miami Heat)
Expiring Salary: $17,810,000

5. Mike Bibby (Atlanta Hawks)
Expiring Salary: $14,983,603

6. Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Lakers)
Expiring Salary: $14,148,596

7. Rasheed Wallace (Detroit Pistons)
Expiring Salary: $13,930,000

8. Wally Szczerbiak (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Expiring Salary: $13,275,000

9. Raef LaFrentz (Portland Trail Blazers)
Expiring Salary: $12,722,500


10. Andre Miller (Philadelphia 76ers)
Expiring Salary: $10,333,334

11. Memphis Grizzlies Antoine Walker ($9,052,460)
12. Indiana Pacers Rasho Nesterovic ($8,400,000)
13. New York Knicks Malik Rose ($7,647,500)
14. Houston Rockets Ron Artest ($7,400,000)
15. Cleveland Cavaliers Eric Snow ($7,312,500)
16. Chicago Bulls Drew Gooden ($7,151,183)
17. Indiana Pacers Marquis Daniels ($6,864,200)
18. Oklahoma City Thunder Chris Wilcox ($6,750,000)
19. Sacramento Kings Bobby Jackson ($6,487,888)
20. Chicago Bulls Ben Gordon ($6,404,750)

The question today is, can you see your team making a move for any of these players and if so, what impact could they bring to your team. As a Raptors fan, acquiring Ben Gordon would look great with him beside Jose Calderon and allowing us to move Anthony Parker or put him on the wing and move Jason Kapono or Jamario Moon. Any thoughts and comments are always welcome.

Posted on: October 29, 2008 5:28 pm
 

Raptors 2008-09 Preview

Welcome to the 2008 - 09 NBA season! I trust the summer was too long and the Olympics a good preview to the upcoming season!

The Toronto Raptors head into the new season with hope and a belief that they can challenge in the Atlantic Conference. I will lay out what i believe are some of the good things they are anticipating, and a few apprehensions I feel at this point.

Here is the opening night roster:

7 Andrea Bargnani - PF
Chris Bosh - PF
43 Kris Humphries - PF 
21 Nathan Jawai - PF 
6 Jermaine O'Neal - PF
3 Hassan Adams - SF
14 Joey Graham - SF
24 Jason Kapono - SF
Jose Calderon - PG
5 Will Solomon - PG
33 Jamario Moon - SG
18 Anthony Parker - SG
1 Roko Ukic - SG

The first thing that strikes me is that they offer no true Center! i think that losing Rasho Nesterovic could be something that will haunt them down the road as they are left with a lot of PF's and no one who can bang underneath night after night! Jermaine O'Neal has the POTENTIAL to be the inside help that Chis Bosh has been waiting for, but we won't know that until we see how much and how intense he plays. He has battled the "great potential" tag his whole life and with the Pacers, he was stagnating! i hope that he can play to that potential we all saw his 2001-02 Most Improved Player year! At 30, life for a big man can become a series of aches and pains which we have seen. As much as i like the deal, i am a bit hesitant to say it was a great improvement over what we had! if he can play to his averages of 14.3 ppg and 7.7 rpg, he could fill the void in this talented Raptors front court!

Chris Bosh will mature even more this season and become a greater force as he edges his scoring and boards up, his team will rise the standings with him!

The tandem of Joey Graham and Jason Kapono have the potential to score from almost any part of the floor. The problem we ran into last year was a lack of commitment to outside defense! I am not sure that letting Carlos Delfino walk and bringing in Hassan Adams will help in either aspect, but we can only move on and see which of the 3 will step up and play some defense! I believe that the issue last season was a lack of intensity on defense from the front court including Chris Bosh, but for sure the perimeter defense let too many games slip by them and in the Atlantic Division this season, that won't be acceptable at all!

I would love to see Andrea Bargnani and Jamario Moon emerge as top level players and become 15 point 7 or 8 rebound a game guys which would see a huge increase in bench scoring or a more balanced starting 5 if Jamario and Anthony Parker platoon as they did last season. If Andrea struggles, i suspect he will become a failed experiment and i am sure there are teams that would love to have him wandering around the perimeter! With the wealth of PF's we have, he could be used to find another SF to shore up the perimeter.

With the offense now in the more than capable hands of Jose Calderon, the addition of Will Solomon could be a huge factor. He looks more than able to step in and run the show and should allow the Raptors an interesting up-tempo option off the bench with Moon, Joey Graham or Jason Kapono with Andrea cutting.

As i see this team at this point, there are many questions i find unanswered! I am not sure that they are a lot better than they were when the season ended in the spring, but the POTENTIAL to be better is left in the hands and hearts of this group of men. I think if Jermaine can play 70+ games, this team will win around 45 which is about what they won last year! The lack of true Center will hurt them in the Atlantic Division as they play teams like the Celtics with Kendrick Perkins and Glenn Davis - though both are undersized, they are very adequate playing and banging it out down low. the 76ers will offer Samuel Dalembert and the Nets will present the rookie Brook Lopez as well as Josh Boone. As the season plays out, I can see this team making a move for either a true post or a larger PF who can help O'Neal contend underneath. I think the SG position is very solid, and i think that the PG position could use another body.

SO, over all, i see the Raptors as a team that is unknown in a lot of areas with the loss of T.J. Ford and Carlos Delfino leaving holes that will be tough to fill. I also see potential as this team can now present a very solid front line of Chris Bosh, Jermaine O'Neal and Joey Graham or Jason Kapono. With Jose Calderon in the PG and either Moon or Parker, this team will be fun to watch! I see them ending up 2nd in this division with 47 wins. I see them 5th or 6th in the conference behind the Celtics, the Pistons, the Magic, and the Cavaliers. Tonight we shall see if Sam Mitchell is up to the task of guiding this team to play with their hearts.

Bring on the games!

 
 
 
 
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