Archive for February, 2008

The 10 worst words heard in Raptorland …

February 29, 2008

… were just uttered, a few moments ago, live on-air, during this evening’s TV broadcast of Toronto’s game (at home) vs Indiana … in the aftermath of Chris Bosh being substituted out (in favour of Jason Kapono) at the 02:23 mark of the 1st Quarter (TOR 17, Ind 26), with what looked to be an injury to his right knee:

2nd Quarter
08:47 … Chuck Swirsky (Toronto’s Play-By-Play Announcer, reading an official report passed along from the team’s locker-room): Chris … Bosh … with … a … sore … right … knee … will … NOT … be … back. (TOR 29, Ind 43)

Yes, it’s still early and, hopefully, this is simply a ‘cautionary’ move by the Raptors’ athletic training staff …

but, on the same day that John Hollinger (Espn.com) annoints the Raptors as one of the dark-horse teams (from the Eastern Conference) to make it to the NBA Finals this spring … this news bulletin strikes with ‘Lethal Force’ to Toronto’s playoffs aspirations this season.

If Chris Bosh is forced to miss any significant number of games for the Raptors this season, from this point forward, this team:

i) Will not be able to secure the #4 spot in the Eastern Conference Standings;

and, without home-court advantage in the 1st Round of the Playoffs

ii) Will not be able to advance to (at least) the Conference Semi-finals this year.

The next 24-48 hours … awaiting formal diagnosis of Bosh’s injury, will hold the key to the Raptors’ long term prognosis as an elite level team in the NBA. 

Everyone who’s a fan of CB4, specifically, and the Raptors’, in general, should be holding their collective breath until then.

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Distancing themselves from the (Eastern) pack

February 29, 2008

With player personnel moves like these …

Detroit – Ratliff leaves Wolves, heads to Detroit
Boston – Brown in town to lend depth & Clippers cut Cassell

the Celtics and the Pistons are continuing to tighten their strangle-hold on the Eastern Conference … intent on amassing enough (i) Offensive fire-power, (ii) Defensive strength, and (iii) Rebounding tenacity, to successsfully repel an all-out assault by the other in an effort to reach the NBA Finals this season.

With these three additions – arrived now or pending – each of these two rosters …

http://www.nba.com/celtics/roster/
http://www.nba.com/pistons/roster/

now has the goods to go the distance this spring!

Stories behind the game (1)

February 29, 2008

And then Louis Mulkey was gone, leaving behind a fire department, a family, a wife and a group of mourning athletes …

* Wright Thompson, ESPN.com, Storybook season found spark in firefighter’s lost life

Re-tooling in New Jersey, Game 1

February 29, 2008

NEW JERSEY 120 vs Milwaukee 106

As I’ve said before …

J-Kidd for Harris, Diop, plus two #1 draft picks – First thoughts

with his trade for Devin Harris (PG) – plus two (2) 1st Round Draft PicksRod Thorn (President/GM) has immediately re-stocked the cupboard for the Nets, while still giving this year’s team a terrific chance to qualify for the playoffs.

If healthy … (#8) New Jersey, (#7) Chicago & (#6) Washington are three mid-level teams in the Eastern Conference that would give (#1) Boston, (#2) Detroit & (#3) Cleveland very solid competition in the 1st Round of this year’s Playoffs … emphasizing, yet again, just how important it is, in the NBA, to have a solid GM at the top of a team’s management staff.

The Offensive Martial Art

February 28, 2008

Courtesy of …

J.E. Skeets, Ball Don’t Lie: Kobe Bryant’s ‘Way of the Intercepting Fist’

Jeet Kune Do … “about Striking First and always visualizing where the Opponent will go next.” 

The hidden Mantra of K. B. Bryant.

Tracking the Raptors’ Key Stretch of 19 Games (#18)

February 28, 2008

The Anatomy of Wins and Losses in the NBA:
Breaking Down Key Possessions

Game 18 – TOR 107 vs Min (11-43) 85, W 12-6 … Full Play-By-Play
Game 17 – Tor 102 @ IND (22-34) 98, W 11-6 … Full Play-By-Play
Game 16 – TOR 115 vs Nyk (17-38) 92, W 10-6 … Full Play-By-Play
Game 15 – Tor 99 @ NYK (16-38) 103, L 9-6 … Full Play-By-Play
Game 14 – TOR 127 vs Orl (34-21) 110, W 9-5 … Full Play-By-Play
Game 13 – TOR 109 vs Njn (22-30) 91, W 8-5 … Full Play-By-Play
Game 12 – TOR 88 vs Sas (33-17) 93, L 7-5 … Full Play-By-Play
Game 11 – Tor 105 @ MIN (10-38) 82, W 7-4 … Full Play-By-Play
Game 10 – TOR 98 v Lac (15-31) 102, L 6-4 … Full Play-By-Play
Game 9 – Tor 114 @ MIA (9-36) 82, W 6-3 … Full Play-By-Play
Game 8 – TOR 101 vs LAL (28-16) 121, L 5-3 … Full Play-By-Play
Game 7 – TOR 122 vs Was (24-19) 85, W 5-2 … Full Play-By-Play
Game 6 – Tor 104 @ WAS (23-19) 108, OT, L 4-2 … Full Play-By-Play
Game 5 – TOR 106 vs Mil (17-26) 75, W 4-1 … Full Play-By-Play
Game 4 – Tor 114 @ BOS (33-6) 112, W 3-1 … Boxscore 
Game 3 – Tor 95 @ PHI (15-25) 99, L 2-1 … Full Play-By-Play
Game 2 – TOR 89 vs Atl (17-18) 78, W 2-0 … Boxscore, Full Play-By-Play
Game 1 – TOR 116 vs Sac (15-21) 91, W 1-0

Record vs >.500 Opp: 3-3 (.500)
Record vs .500 Opp: 9-3 (.750)

===============================================

Key Possessions which determined the W-L result:

Some NBA games are decided during a specific ’sub-set’ of possessions during the 2nd Quarter … like this one, when

(after Jose Calderon subbed back in for TJ Ford … 04:10)

during these 7 trips up & down the floor …

TOR 44, Min 41

02:53 … (1) TOR/Bosh was fouled & made 1 of 2 FTA’s
02:40 … (2) Min/Jefferson made a 2FGA
02:24 … (3) TOR/Moon made a Layup (Assist, Parker)
02:09 … (4) Min/Jefferson made a TO (Steal, Calderon)
01:57 … (5) TOR/Bargnani made a Layup (Assist, Calderon)
01:39 … (6) Min/Jefferson made a TO (Off. Foul)
01:33 … (7) TOR/Bosh was fouled & made 1 of 2 FTA

and the Raptors extended their lead to 8 pts (TOR 51, Min 43 … prior to Halftime … a deficit from which the T-Wolves never recovered)

Key Raptors: Jose Calderon (1 Ast; 1 Stl), Andrea Bargnani (1-2, FGA/50.0%; 1 Rb), Anthony Parker (1 Ast), Jamario Moon (1-1, FGA/100.0%) & Chris Bosh (0-1, FGA/00.0%; 3-4, FTA/75.0%) 

Vital Components:
– Toronto scored on 4 consecutive possessions (4-4, 100.0%) while allowing the T-Wolves to convert only 1-5 possessions (20.0%/1 made 2FGA) during this critical stretch at the end of the 2nd Quarter vs an inferior opponent.

Next Game:
vs Indiana, 22-36 (Fri Feb 29)

1st Class Tales of Hoop (1)

February 28, 2008

For the benefit of all …

David Neiman, SportsHubLA.com, The Evolution of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant: How a Leader Was Born

A tremendous ‘Work of (Literary & Sport) Art’.

A Great Warrior …

February 28, 2008

For all those who may not have seen this yet … All Hail the (truly) Great Ones in this world.

The stuff that (real) NBA Legends are made of.

A new M.O. is (finally) etched in stone for the Raptors

February 27, 2008

According to head coach, Sam Mitchell – interviewed on Raptors TV (Tue Feb 26) – Jose Calderon is now expected to be the team’s starting Point Guard for the remainder of the season with TJ Ford in a new role, exclusively, as the leader of the team’s ‘2nd unit’ (i.e. without Chris Bosh on the floor).

This is a landmark decision, in the evolution of the Raptors franchise.

Since Calderon arrived from Spain, 3 seasons ago, this is the first time he has been identified, in this way, by his own head coach … although certain astute NBA obsevers have actually been calling for this move, since the early part of the 2005-2006 season. 🙂

Calderon is (at last!) being put into this specific role – as the team’s mainframe PG – which he should’ve had a long time ago, ahead of other erstwhile one-dimensional ‘starters’, Mike James and TJ Ford. 

In general, Calderon’s size, consistent decision-making skills, and Leadership attributes, make him ideally suited for this role with the Raptors … in sharp contrast to TJ Ford, whose lack of physical size, unique ‘little man’ skill set and occasionally erratic play severely hurt his chances of succeeding long term in this same role.

Kudos to Rob Babcock/former Raptors’ GM for bringing Calderon to the NBA, in the first place, and Sam Mitchell for finally seeing light!

What makes an (NBA) All-Star?
The Best Point Guards in the NBA: An Update

Top shelf PG’s, like El Matador, simply do not come along everyday, in the NBA.  

Washington Wizards: Where hard work meets top drawer NBA talent

February 26, 2008

Amongst the NBA’s boxscores from last night, astute observers should understand the significance of this score …

Wizards 95 @ Hornets 92 (Feb 25

When Washington (27-29, 2nd Southeast, 6th Eastern Conference) wins a road game, at New Orleans (37-18, 2nd Southwest, 5th Western Conference), it means more than just a W for the visitors.

Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: Behind the boxscore, where the Washington Wizards Care 

But, to simply view this collection of players as a ‘hard-working bunch’ is to actually de-value the job that’s beendone, to this point, by esteemed Wizards’ GM, Ernie Grunfeld, in constructing a high fine team that, despite some serious setbacks that might have put a lesser man, down and out for the count.

Grunfeld has put together a group of good sized, very athletic players with terrific complimentary skill sets, comprised of eight (8) 1st Round NBA Draft Picks & five (5) 2nd Round Selections, that can Rebound, Defend & Score the ball with as much proficiency & balance as any team in the NBA … when completely healthy.

Wizards Roster 2007-2008

Num Player Draft # POS HT WT DOB FROM YRS
0 Gilbert Arenas * 32 G 6-4 215 01/06/1982 Arizona 6
32 Andray Blatche 49 F 6-11 248 08/22/1986 South Kent Prep (CT) 2
3 Caron Butler * 10 F 6-7 228 03/13/1980 Connecticut 5
6 Antonio Daniels 4 G 6-4 205 03/19/1975 Bowling Green 10
33 Brendan Haywood 20 C 7-0 263 11/27/1979 North Carolina 6
4 Antawn Jamison 4 F 6-9 235 06/12/1976 North Carolina 9
8 Roger Mason, Jr. 32 G 6-5 212 09/10/1980 Virginia 3
5 Dominic McGuire 47 F 6-9 220 10/20/1985 Fresno State R
14 Oleksiy Pecherov 16 C-F 7-0 234 12/08/1985 Ukraine R
9 Darius Songaila 51 F 6-9 248 02/14/1978 Wake Forest 4
2 DeShawn Stevenson 23 G 6-5 218 04/03/1981 Washington Union HS (CA) 7
36 Etan Thomas * 12 C 6-10 260 04/01/1978 Syracuse 6
1 Nick Young 16 G 6-6 200 06/01/1985 USC R
* Injured

The fact that this group is continuing to perform at a level which will earn them a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, should they maintain their current pace for the balance of the season … in spite of serious injuries to Gilbert Arenas, Etan Thomas and Caron Butler – 2 starters and, overall, 3 of the top 8 players – is a testament to their outstanding character, the daily work of their coaching staff (Eddie Jordan & Co.) , and the basketball acumen of their GM.

Should the Wizards make it to the post-season, this year, with their full comportment of players … they will be another very dangerous ‘bottom-end’ team for one of the top dogs in the East to contend with.