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: 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: November 6, 2008 9:43 am
Edited on: November 7, 2008 7:17 pm

Pistons game impressions

well, here are some thoughts about last nights game after a good nights rest and some guitar playing to soothe the pain!

The Raptors seemed to have no answer for Tayshaun Prince who had 27 points, 9 rebounds and 3 assists. He was a bother to the front court off the double team and was a pest on the perimeter. He plays the game some feel Jamario Moon would be capable of playing should he ever become a consistant scoring threat! Prince was allowed to shoot over screens all night long and if you pressured him off the screen he took it to the whole as the weak side rotation broke down way too much to contain such a superb athlete.

Rasheed Wallace was able to get into Jermaine O'Neal's head and stayed there the whole game! he pestered him off the ball continuously so when he did get the ball, he was pretty much brain mush to play! 11 points and 12 rebounds were enough to be the difference and his Magic pass to i think Walter Herrmann was a pleasure to watch. i am not sure why he is seldom mentioned as a top level all-star contender!

The Pistons guard situation has suddenly become very much a top rotation in the east! last night Rodney Stuckey showed himself as a top 10 guard in this league! when Allen Iverson plays, Stuckey will get less minutes but with Richard Hamilton sharing minutes with both, this back court will outplay most teams most nights.

Amir Johnson is an adequate replacement for Antonio McDyess and with Jason Maxiell giving solid minutes, this Piston team is easily 10 players deep again this year! Chauncey Billups brought it every night! i know AI will also and he will add scoring to a team that is already averaging 100 points every game! I think the Celtics and the Cavaliers and the Magic and the Hawks will find out what we did last night! this is a very solid, balanced team! they won't be outplayed at any one position by any team - even Kobe Bryant and the Lakers!

as for my Raptors, Chris Bosh was playing very much alone last night in the front court! he had little room to move yet still scored 26 and grabbed 13 boards while JO could only score 8. Andrea Bargnani looked good adding 12 points and 4 rebounds but looked out of place on defense as he could not seem to adjust to the correct man in the rotation and gave up too many easy buckets as guys ran past him! Jose Calderon played a solid game scoring 24 and adding 8 assists. it is tough to keep passing to guys who don't want to work at getting open! Jason Kapono was a non-factor and he needed to step in and open the floor with some outside pressure but he was covered all night by a team that knows how to rotate to the perimeter. i can't think of too many times the Raptors had wide open looks off a pass in the offense! Will Solomon played well, but i think they kept him in too long in the second and i think it cost us the game as the Pistons went up by 16 and we could never recover. we came close, but we couldn't get there.

overall, we rebounded the ball okay defensively but gave up 10 offensive boards and were -4 on that stat. losing by 3 baskets, we see how critical those were. we were also -4 in turnovers! against a team like the Pistons, ball control is critical! hopefully we can learn how much 1 turnover and 1 rebound can be and move on. as i stated before the game, a #4 ranking was a bit premature. i still think this team has a lot of work to do before they can compete night in and night out with the top 5 teams in the league, but they are getting closer!

Category: NBA
Tags: Pistons, Raptors
Posted on: November 5, 2008 10:40 am
Edited on: November 5, 2008 10:41 am

Raptors - Pistons game preview

Well, game night is here! Raptors at 3 - 0 and the Pistons at 3 - 0. Chris Bosh and the Raptors are looking to hit 4 - 0 for the first time as a team. the Pistons welcome Allen Iverson to the fold and look to him to provide an intensity on offense that was lacking!

the Starters look like this.


Chris Bosh: a solid start averaging 26 and 11 a game with 4 assists.

Jose Calderon: after dropping 25 against the Bucks he is averaging 18 points and 10 assists a game and is in control of the team with a capable backup in Roko Ukic who is getting better every game!

Anthony Parker:  averaging 14 points per game while playing tough defense in every corner of the floor!

Jermaine O'Neal:  a huge part of a very active front court that can score off the drive or inside! had a tough game against the Bucks, but has provided the ROOM that CB4 has needed and has provided almost 3 blocks a game!

Jamario Moon: averaging nearly 11 points per game but has been a beast on defense on the wing! if he can start grabbing 8 - 10 boards a game this starting 5 would be a tough match against any team!


Allen Iverson: a career 27+ points per game scoring machine! not much room to criticize the man's skills, but worry that his shoot first style, and second and third at times could bring an uneasy situation to a very stable locker room. giving up Chauncey Billups who has kept this team focused on offense will require some adjustment! so far he is averaging 18 points and 7 assists per game.

Richard Hamilton: his back court mate, is averaging 19 points and 5 rebounds and 4 assists. he gives them a very solid back court with Rodney Stuckey able to step in when needed.

Tayshaun Prince: is averaging 12 points and 5 rebounds and will be looked upon to be a defensive stopper on the outside and provide some extra help inside!

Jason Maxiell: averaging 9 points and 4 rebounds per game. he will be looked upon to step up his game in a big way!

Rasheed Wallace: an underated big man who will torment you inside and out!

I look for this to be a great test of both lineups! i would love to see the Raptors pick up the Win as it would bring a bit more credibility to some of the lofty rankings they have received! i won't rate them in the top 5 until they BEAT a team considered top 5! i am sorry but the Warriors, Bucks nor the 76ers are there yet!

this should be a great game with many interesting plots!

all thoughts welcome!

Posted on: November 3, 2008 11:00 am

3 games, 3 wins - a good start for the Raptors

So, after the first 3 games of the 2008-09 season, we find the Raptors at 3-0 tied with the Lakers and the Rockets and the Hornets with the same record. I know it is early and that we beat “weaker” teams in the 76ers and the Warriors and the Bucks, but it is still a good start to a year that was to see them fall down the Eastern Conference standings with the rise of the Hawks and the 76ers and the recovery of the Bulls. This was the season that the Cavaliers were to dominate the East with LeBron James over-powering every team he played. So far, we see in the East that the Raptors are 3 – 0 and the Hawks are 2 – 0 as are the Pistons, who were supposed to be too old to compete!

I think one thing we are seeing this year is a general upgrade in the over-all play of all the teams! I have seen a trend toward tough interior defense and forcing teams to shoot outside. That has been the formula the Raptors have used so far this year. The game against the Warriors showed us that this team can run with teams and wear them down even with an 8 man rotation, this team does not lose a lot with the “second unit” on the floor. Well, the second unit has at times shown us Andrea Bargnani, who is scored 19 against the Warriors, but is averaging 5 rebounds a game and a little better than 2 blocks a game off the bench! It was his play in the 4th quarter of the Warriors game that helped tie the game with a couple key blocks. He did the same in the Bucks game! Should he continue to score and get closer to 10 or 11 points per game off the bench, this team will be very hard to match up with. Sam Mitchell has become fond of sticking either Jermaine 0’Neal or Chris Bosh in with the rest of the second wave with Joey Graham or Jason Kapono and Roko Ukic who has quickly become a solid presence on the floor. These minutes he can play and develop his calm steady play will only help this team in the spring as Jose Calderon can keep his legs fresh! The play of Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker has been welcomed to say the least. It is good to see Jamario not drift when he is not scoring and has been rewarded with 10 points, 2 assists, 2 blocks and about 2 steals a game. Anthony Parker has been playing some of the best ball he has played in a Raptors uniform dropping 14 points per game and averaging 2 rebounds, 2 assists and nearly 4 steals a game. Against the tough inside game of the Bucks on a night when Jermaine could not get moving, Calderon and Parker combined for 36 points and 12 assists. The margin of victory was 4 points and the Jose and Anthony out scored Michael Redd and Ramon Sessions by 5!!!

This team so far this season has focused on team defense! Sam and Chris Bosh have committed themselves to this style and we saw in the overtime win against the very short benched and very tired Warriors that this style can and will wear opponents down! A 6 – 0 run to start the OT with 3 steals by the Raptors sealed the win!

This week, we face the 2 – 0 Detroit Pistons who are coming off a 117 – 100 win over the Wizards and the not too surprising Atlanta Hawks who are 2 – 0 after beating the Magic in Orlando and the 76ers at home. The Hawks play the Hornets on Wednesday night and that should be a fun game to watch with Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler and David West hosting them. The Hawks offer Joe Johnson averaging 30 points a game, Mike Bibby and Josh Smith averaging 15 each. Al Horford is young and should be a very active presence underneath giving our front court all they can handle!

The Pistons bring their starting 5 of the past 4 or 5 seasons I think of Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Chauncey Billups and Antonio MacDyess or Jason Maxiell. Walter Hermann I think is playing good right now, but I think they will present Rodney Stuckey, Arron Afflalo and Kwame Browne and suddenly, the team that is too old is 10 or 11 deep! I would love to see the Raptors win both of these games and they could, but they will have to play spectacular team defense and NOT turn the ball over 19 times!

So far this year, the Raptors have played steady ball control ball. That has proven very successful. This week we shall see how committed this team is to the team game at both ends of the floor! After the Hawks, we will see the Bobcats, the Celtics and the 76ers again, this time at home. This young season starts with some critical divisional games and so far they are on top with the Hawks. This next week will be very much a litmus test for the conference.

Here are my thoughts on the play of the team so far!

Chris Bosh – averaging 42 minutes, 26 points, 10 rebounds and almost 4 assists per game! I am beginning to agree with the MVP threads I have seen on these boards! He has played unselfish ball leading the team in all aspects of the game. He has made some tough plays on defense, has distributed to the open man after he gets the ball where he wanted it keeping his team mates playing at both ends, he has played well when on the floor with the so-called second line which is a term I am beginning to look to replace! His intensity at both ends has allowed Jermaine O’Neal room to move again. Over all, Bosh’s play should be considered among the elite in the league.

Jermaine O’Neal – averaging 11 points and 7 rebounds as well as 3 assists a game. He has brought a breath of life to this front court by creating 2 double team options low. He is struggling a bit on offense, but he has averaged 2 blocks a game and is a defensive force to be sought when entering the key. He has provided the presence we were looking for to off-set Chris Bosh in the front court and he has given us a very tough interior defense that has allowed the team to tighten up outside which killed them last year!

Jose Calderon – Jose has become a solid point guard in this league! I would consider him a top 10 guard at this point as he does not focus on his own scoring, but as we saw against the Bucks, can step up as he needs to! I believe that we shall see this team rewarded by making him the starting PG! His steady demeanor on the floor has a calming effect on everyone out there. He leads with his heart and his team responds very well to his leadership! With Roko Ukic off the bench giving him some solid minutes of play while he rests, this team looks very good at the #1 spot! Averaging 19 points and 9.7 assists, he is off to a flying start. As he continues to score, teams will not be able to collapse or they will pay the price!

Anthony Parker – Jose’s back-court mate is off to a great start averaging 14 points and 2 assists and 2.3 rebounds and 3.33 steals. A very solid option off the wing as he is often guarding the other teams top scorer, he has acquitted himself well not letting anyone out play him so far this season! Whether he is on the starting rotation or the other rotation, he continues to play consistent intense defense and has been a pest to the 3 back-courts we have faced this season.

Jamario Moon – I feel he still can be a major contribution to this team, but he will have to figure out how to offer at least 15 points a game to stay in this lineup with Jason Kapono on the bench waiting! He is exciting to watch, but seems unable to consistently finish but when he does just let the ball fly, he can score in this league! He is still young mentally though at 28, the experiment has shown flashes of brilliance and some signs of concern. When he is firing from outside, this team can go on deep runs as he has stepped up his defense this year but needs to become way more active on the glass!

Andrea Bargnani – Is this the same kid who wore #7 last season? Where did he get the tough from? What a joy to watch him score 19 against a quick strong Warriors team, only to see him vanish against the Bucks! If he can continue to play solid defense, then the Raptors can find scoring, but if he can find a way to drop 10 a night, this team would be very hard to match to 8 or 9 players. I would love to see him grab 5 or 6 boards a night and keep his head in the game in the paint. That would allow that step out game he has to flourish.

This week should show us a bit more of the heart of this team! the games will be against 3 teams expected to be at or near the top of the Eastern Conference! Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will give this team all they can handle! enjoy the games!

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!

Posted on: February 21, 2008 1:15 pm

The Morning after blog writing

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Okay, what a great night of basketball that was!!! Congratulations Lakers fans that was some game last night. here is what i saw last night watching the new teams in the West and how i think the trades will affect the balance of the season.

First, i gotta give props to the Raptors who pasted the Magic last night. Chris Bosh dropped 40 points shooting 14/16 and 11/11 from the line and he hit a 3 pointer in there as well. Dwight Howard scored 37 but Bosh was scoring from anywhere on the floor he wanted. Jose Calderon had another spectacular game going for 19 points and 13 assists with only 1 Turnover... wow when this team is shooting, they can be a very scary bunch...

okay, that being said... let's talk about the Suns/Lakers game. going in it was billed as the Shag/Kobe Bryant duel. as the game wore on, we saw a Suns team struggling to find itself on offense - to the tune of 124 points... the problem was the inside strength that the Big Fella was to provide was not there... sure he grabbed 9 boards, but the Lakers attacked the middle all night and scored at will as Pau Gasol lit up the Suns for 29. that being said, i still feel that Shaq will find a way to contribute at both ends of the floor as the rust will come off and by May/June, this team will be ready... was Amare Stoudemire not fantastic last night?? wow

Mavericks/Hornets and the return of Jason Kidd. we saw last night what most of us suspected.. that Jason Kidd can't be effective as an interior threat anymore... he looked slow and scared to attack... 8 points, 5 assists will not be enough to help the Mavs push over the top... i understand it is still early in the new season for him, but he didn't have a good sense of what the Mavs are about... and Chris Paul was awesome with his 31 points and 11 assists... probably the most consistant guard this year.

The Nets won which has to be a good thing, so for them the trade was a success.

we know that Shawn Marion has helped the Heat and will probably be a good trade for them, but i am still not sold on Shaq in Phoenix...

the Spurs getting Kurt Thomas for almost nothing suddenly makes all our Power Rankings irrelevent. he will provide strength at both ends of the floor and could make the Spurs very tough to match up in a playoff series with Tim Duncan, a healthy Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli and Kurt on the floor, who do you double? Can't wait to see him play a game with the spurs

So here is how i see the new Western conference Power grid...

1) Hornets - now have the best record in the west and continue to amaze with solid offensive and defensive play and probably the 2nd best player in the league in Chris Paul as well as David West and Tyson Chandler and Peja Stojakovic who looks like he wants to play again... this team will destroy hopes and could end up 1st over all in the west

2) Lakers - this team looks like a championship team again.. and if Andrew Bynum comes back, this team will win most playoff matchups... Kobe, Pau, Derek Fisher and Lamar Odum form a great nucleus, and with Bynum in the mix, this team should get to the finals in the west

3) Spurs - i had written them off until the trade for Kurt Thomas.. this team will be in the final four again... but i am not sure they can out play either the Hornets or the Lakers for the title this year

4) Suns - I still naively believe that this trade will make them stronger if Shaq doesn't die first... Steve Nash, Amare, Leandro Barbosa... this group is solid, but i am not sure they have enough to get past the Lakers this year, they still seem to lack intensity and inside play from the wing position...

5) Jazz - a very solid team that could make noise in the playoffs if they get a good seeding.  Deron Williams, Andre Kirilenko and Carlos Boozer make this a tough team to keep up with.

6) Mavericks - second round loss will disappoint, but this team NEEDS Jason Kidd to perform at above the level he has been playing so far... i think he could do it, and this team could be the dark horse in the west playoffs

 7) Rockets - I think this team will stay hot and catch the 7th spot, which would draw the Lakers.. that would be fun to watch... Kobe vs. Tracy McGrady Pau vs Yao Ming...

8) Nuggets - i hope this team can figure out how good they are and start playing more consistently. Marcus Camby, Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson can play against any 3 on any team...

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here is my take on the East now

having had a bit of time to ponder, i have decided that i should do a list for the east as well... it might be a bit shorter

1) Celtics - i think they will end up first overall as Kevin Garnett gets healthy again this team will again roll through the East and dominate the west with it's stingy defense... Paul Pierce is flourishing with quality support from Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins... a very solid team that will be tough to beat in a 7 game series

2) Pistons - after a nice 9 game run they have dropped 2 they should have won... not worried though, this is a vetern team that is above average in every area and very solid defensively, i think they could beat the Celtics in a 7 game series only if they have home court... March 5th will be a huge step on that quest...

3) Raptors - after last night, i think this team could beat most teams but need too many things to work right for that to happen... With Chris Bosh playing like a beast and Jose Calderon commanding the floor - 1 turnover is sick!!! - this team can score outside at will.. what is missing is power on the inside... Kris Humphries had a decent game, but neither him nor Rasho Nasterovic can pound to the point of being a constant threat.. and as much as i like Andrea Bargnani, he needs to gain about 25 pounds to become a relevant player in this league...

4) Magic - they might have had an off night, but this team seems to rely too much on Dwight Howard to do everything... the lack of top quality guards will hurt this team.. and already has done so as this team had no consistant pressure from the back end.. Jameer Nelson is not a top level guard, but does have flashes... he is just too small to take on a large back court like the Raptors, Pistons or Celtics can floor.

5) Cavaliers - this team has a perpetual mvp candidate with LeBron James, but not much else... Daniel Gibson needs to be elevated beyond his years as this team needs another scorer.. if they can play defense like they did last year, they might challenge, but i am not sure the support is there for LBJ this year... this team really needed to make a move to challenge and haven't yet...

the rest don't have a shot as far as i am concerned and will lose in the first round to whomever they play...

so i see the Celtics and the Pistons going 7 games with the Pistons pounding out the victory at home... Celts win if it is in Boston...

so i will put Celtics and Lakers in the finals right now... if Shaq can play at even 60% the Suns might roll the west... but it will be a great second half..

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