Archive for the ‘Analytics’ Category

The reason the Raptors cannot Rebound the ball

December 19, 2008

In contrast to what you might read elsewhere on the net,

e.g. Raptors Rebounding Woes Continue

in the NBA, the inability to REBOUND the basketball on a consistent basis, as a TEAM, is not a “Concentration” issue; nor is it an issue of “failing to get into [opponents’] bodies”.

At this level of competition …

A team’s ability to REBOUND successfully is a “Personnel” issue. Period.

Relative to the position they are playing:

“++” Rebounders are major contributers;
“+” Rebounders are positive contributers;
“0” Rebounders are neither positive nor negative contributers; and,
“-” Rebounders are negative contributers.

When you look at the Raptors’ roster, this is what you see:

PG /Calderon 0
OG/Kapono –
SF/Moon +
PF/Bosh +
C/O’Neal 0
———————
PG/Ukic 0
OG/Parker 0
SF/Graham +
PF/Humpries +
C/Bargnani –
———————
PG/Solomon 0
OG/Adams 0
PF/Jawai 0
C/Voskuhl –

A good Rebounding team in the NBA needs to have at least three [3] “+” Rebounders on the court at all times.

With their current roster, the Raptors do not fit into this category … plain and simple … because:

1. Specifically, given the “+” Rebounders they DO have on this team, the Raptors are choosing to play the WRONG players in combination with one another, so far this season;

and,

2. In general, there are NOT ENOUGH “+” Rebounders on the Raptors’ roster in the first place.

Until the Raptors fix THIS issue they will not be able to solve their Rebounding problem.

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Oh, Thunder Road

December 19, 2008

Raptors fans …

So you’re scared and you’re thinking
That maybe we ain’t that young anymore
Show a little faith there’s magic in the night
You ain’t a beauty but hey you’re alright
Oh and that’s alright with me …

Going into tonight’s game, which of these two player rosters would you prefer, if you were a working GM in the NBA?

Oklahoma Thunder Active Roster
 No. Player Pos Ht Wt DOB Exp College
 4 Collison, Nick FC 6-9 255 10/26/80  5 Kansas
 35 Durant, Kevin GF 6-9 215 9/29/88  1 Texas
 22 Green, Jeff F 6-9 235 8/8/86  1 Georgetown
 51 Hill, Steven FC 7-0 245 11/14/85  R Arkansas
 34 Mason, Desmond GF 6-5 222 10/11/77  8 Oklahoma State
 27 Petro, Johan C 7-0 247 1/27/86  3 None
 18 Sene, Mouhamed C 6-11 230 5/12/86  2 None
 7 Smith, Joe PF 6-10 225 7/26/75  13 Maryland
 31 Swift, Robert C 7-1 270 12/3/85  4 None
 25 Watson, Earl PG 6-1 185 6/12/79  7 UCLA
 5 Weaver, Kyle G 6-6 201 2/18/86  R Washington State
 0 Westbrook, Russell PG 6-3 190 11/12/88  R UCLA
 3 White, D.J.  + PF 6-9 251 8/31/86  R Indiana
 54 Wilcox, Chris FC 6-10 235 9/3/82  6 Maryland
 21 Wilkins, Damien GF 6-6 225 1/11/80  4 Georgia
 Toronto Raptors Active Roster

 

 No. Player Pos Ht Wt DOB Exp College
 3 Adams, Hassan GF 6-4 230 6/20/84  2 Arizona
 7 Bargnani, Andrea FC 7-0 260 10/26/85  2 None
 4 Bosh, Chris FC 6-10 230 3/24/84  5 Georgia Tech
 8 Calderon, Jose PG 6-3 205 9/28/81  3 None
 14 Graham, Joey GF 6-7 230 6/11/82  3 Oklahoma State
 43 Humphries, Kris F 6-9 255 2/6/85  4 Minnesota
 21 Jawai, Nathan FC 6-10 285 10/10/86  R Midland College
 24 Kapono, Jason GF 6-8 215 2/4/81  5 UCLA
 33 Moon, Jamario SF 6-8 200 6/13/80  1 Meridian (MS) CC
 6 O’Neal, Jermaine FC 6-11 260 10/13/78  12 None
 18 Parker, Anthony GF 6-6 215 6/19/75  11 Bradley
 5 Solomon, Will PG 6-1 180 7/20/78  7 Clemson
 1 Ukic, Roko G 6-5 190 12/5/84  R None
 23 Voskuhl, Jake C 6-11 255 11/1/77  8 Connecticut
 

 + – Player injured

——————————————-

One is $12.7 million over the Salary Cap; the other is $1.1 million under the Cap.

One has an average age of 24.7; the other an average age of 26.6.

One has 2 No. 1 [overall] NBA Draft Picks on it; the other has 1.

Both are led by first-time, interim head coaches.

Objectively speaking, when you’re hard-pressed to distinguish between the authentic talent levels of two teams in the NBA with respective W-L records as far apart as these … i.e. Toronto is 10-15, .400; Oklahoma is 2-24, .077 … it does not portend well for the squad with the higher win percentage, if it’s also playing away from home.

As the first game in a 6-stop Western road trip, this is now a crucial get for the Raptors. 

* Win tonight … and the up-coming match-ups against the Clippers, Kings and the Warriors will not look nearly so daunting.

* Lose tonight … and the Dinos will be staring straight into the abyss of a calamitous 10-game losing streak:

Sun Dec 14 vs New Orleans/15-7, .682 – LOSS
Mon Dec 15 vs New Jersey/12-12, .500 – LOSS
Wed Dec 17 vs Dallas/14-10, .583 – LOSS
Fr Dec 19 at Oklahoma City/2-24, 0.77 – ?
Sat Dec 20 at San Antonio/15-10, .600 – ? [L]
Mon Dec 22 at LA Clippers/7-18, .280 – ?
Fri Dec 26 at Sacramento/7-19, .269 – ?
Sat Dec 27 at Portland/17-10, .630 – ? [L]
Mon Dec 29 at Golden State/7-19, .269 – ?
Wed Dec 31 vs Denver/17-8, .680 – ? [L]

from which they might not be able recover this season.

On the road, in the NBA, is where a team – especially one that’s struggling – finds out exactly what it’s made of … and, whether it should either:

A. Sit tight, [and] take hold

or

B. Trade in these wings on some wheels.

Key early season games for the Raptors
Key early season games for the Raptors: Part II

Come Jan 01 2009, the Raptors will have their answer.

————–

“The door’s open but the ride it ain’t free.”

Thunder Road [Bruce Springstein]

What it’s all about …

December 19, 2008

Those who are able to watch this video clip and then try to blame the Captain of the Toronto Raptors for the current state of affairs with this team simply indicate their own lack of basketball acumen and sophistication: 

Although this young man can definitely score the ball, in this League, he is not a Prime Time scorer, per se.

What he is, at 24 years of age, in his 5th NBA season, is wise beyond his years, and made of championship material.

1. Find him the right teammates to play beside … like Jose Calderon, for example;

2. Use him at his best position, which is CENTER;

3. Make him focus on his individual strengths, as a person and a player … which include his intelligence, his imagination, his curiousity, his sense of team, his Rebounding, his off-the-ball Defense, his Shot-blocking, his transition game, his quickness and his agility;

4. Help him to better understand his place within the history of the game, and where it is he fits today within the panoramic landscape of Big Men … like Russell, Reed, Cowens, Hayes, Walton, Sikma, Abdul-Jabbar, Moses, Parrish, Laimbeer, Olajuwon, Robinson and Duncan … each one an unique center-piece for a championship team;

and what you will end up with is an extended run in the upper echelon of the NBA … if you really do know what you’re doing, in terms of building a TOP NOTCH organization, from the gound floor up, in the world’s best professional basketball league.

Fail to heed these words, however … and, instead, ask/demand/expect of him to be something which he is not … and it will simply be Just Another Lost Opportunity for the Toronto Raptors Basketball Club.

Players like this … with this sort of ability, stability and strength of character … only come around every so often Where Amazing Happens!

Legitimate Contenders in the NBA [2008-2009]: Part I

December 16, 2008

The 2008-2009 NBA regular season schedule has reached the 1/4 pole, as all 30 teams have played at least 20 games. Given the history of this league and …

What it takes to win the NBA Championship

… it is helpful to evaluate where they rank against one another at this juncture.

QUALITY RATING & QUALITY INDEX RANKING

NBA 2008-2009
[as of Mon Dec 15 2008]

Team

W/L

Win%

PDR

PAR

RDR

QR

QIR

EC

WC

Cavaliers

20/4

.833

1

1

3

5

1

2

 

Celtics

23/2

.920

3

2

1

6

2

1

 

Hornets

13/7

.650

6

3

10

19

3

 

4

Blazers

15/10

.600

10

9

1

20

T-4

 

7

Rockets

15/9

.625

8

5

7

20

T-4

 

5

Lakers

20/3

.870

2

14

6

22

6

 

1

Spurs

15/8

.652

7

6

11

24

7

 

3

76ers

10/14

.417

16

8

4

28

 

11

 

Jazz

15/11

.577

9

11

9

29

8

 

8

Mavericks

13/10

.625

11

16

7

34

 

 

9

 

Nuggets

17/7

.708

4

15

16

35

9

 

2

Hawks

15/9

.625

12

7

17

36

10

4

 

Magic

19/6

.760

5

10

24

39

11

3

 

Bucks

11/15

.423

18

17

5

40

 

10

 

Pistons

13/9

.591

14

12

22

48

12

5

 

Suns

15/10

.600

13

22

14

49

13

 

6

Bobcats

7/18

.280

24

4

22

50

 

14

 

Heat

12/12

.500

15

13

25

53

14

7

 

Nets

12/11

.522

20

24

12

56

15

6

 

Bulls

11/12

.478

17

21

18

56

16

8

 

 

Pacers

8/16

.333

21

25

13

59

 

13

 

Grizzlies

9/15

.375

22

18

19

59

 

 

10

Timberwolves

4/20

.167

28

23

14

65

 

 

14

Clippers

6/17

.261

25

19

25

69

 

 

13

Raptors

10/14

.417

23

20

30

73

 

12

 

Thunder

2/23

.080

30

26

20

76

 

 

15

Knicks

11/13

.458

19

29

28

76

 

9

 

Kings

7/18

.280

29

28

20

77

 

 

11

Wizards

4/18

.182

27

27

27

81

 

15

 

Warriors

7/18

.261

26

30

29

85

 

 

12

Legend:
W-L – Won Loss Record; Win% – Winning Percentage; PDR – Points Differential Rank; PAR – Points Allowed Rank; RDR – Rebound Differential Rank; QR – Quality Rating; QIR – Quality Index Ranking; EC – Eastern Conference Playoff Position; WC – Western Conference Playoff Position 

Note:
1. Since 2000-2001 each NBA Champion and Finalist has had a QR ≤ 34.
2. Since 2000-2001 each NBA Champion has had a QIR ≤ #9.
3. Since 2000-2001 7 of the 8 NBA Champions have had a QIR ≤ #4. 

Take note of where your favourite team stands today … and where it will need to get to, over the course of the next five months, in order to be considered a legit contender for the 2009 NBA Championship.

GAME REVIEW: Raptors vs Nets [Dec 15]

December 16, 2008

NBA games can change dramatically depending upon the substitutions a team makes, or not, and the combination of players it has on the court, at any point in time, versus an opponent’s specific 5-Man Unit.

Such was the case last night when the Raptors faced the Nets.

At the 05:00 mark of the 3rd Quarter, New Jersey led Toronto by a single point, 58-57, when the following series of substitutions were made for each team:

SUBSTITUTIONS, TIME, SCORE & RAPTORS’ +/-

[Raptors vs Nets, Mon Dec 15 2008]

Nets

3rd Q

Raptors

PG

OG

SF

PF

C

Time
Score

+/-

PG

OG

SF

PF

C

DH

VC

BS

RA

JB

05:00

58-57

-1

JC

JK

JM

AB

CB

KD

VC

TH

 

 

03:25

60-64

+4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

02:32

60-66

+6

 

AP

 

JG

AB

 

 

 

 

 

00:10

63-70
+7

 

 

JK

JG

 

 

4th Q

 

DH

KD

 

 

 

12:00

63-70
+7

RU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

09:18

66-72

+6

JC

 

 

CB

JO

 

 

 

 

 

08:48

70-72

+2

 

JK

JM

 

 

 

VC

 

 

 

06:21

74-72

-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

05:39

74-72

-2

 

 

JG

AB

CB

 

 

 

 

 

03:26

84-74

-10

 

 

JM

CB

JO

 

 

 

 

 

02:44

88-74

-14

 

 

AP

 

 

Legend:

AB – Andrea Bargnani; AP – Anthony Parker; BL – Brook Lopez; BS – Bobby Simmons; CB – Chris Bosh; DH – Devin Harris; JB – Josh Boone; JC – Jose Calderon; JG – Joey Graham; JK – Jason Kapono; JM – Jamario Mooon; JO – Jermaine O’Neal; KD – Keyon Dooling; RA – Ryan Anderson; RU – Roko Ukic; TH – Trenton Hassell; VC – Vince Carter

When the bleeding finally stopped for the Raptors, at the 02:44 mark of the 4th period, the Nets had established a 14-point margin that eventually proved to be insurmountable for the home team.

Closeer examination of these events reveals a number of interesting things about the mechanics of last night’s contest.

———————————————————–

After relinquishing the lead to the Raptors’ 5-Man Unit of …

Calderon-Kapono-Moon-Bargnani-Bosh,

the Nets made their first key substitution at the 03:25 mark of the 3rd Q, when they replaced Harris/PG & Simmons/SF with Dooling and Hassell, respectively, although they were trailing by 4 points [60-64], at the time.

What this substitution did was change The End of the 3rd Quarter/Beginning of the 4th Quarter Match-ups for each of the teams at the PG position.

Despite playing without their starting PG, the Nets were able to stay within striking distance of the Raptors, while buying valuable rest time for Harris to begin the 4th Quarter versus Ukic, the back-up PG for the Raptors.

Conversely, the Raptors made their first key substitution at the 02:32 of the 3rd Quarter when they replaced Kapono/OG and Bosh/C with Parker & Graham, respectively, while leading the Nets by 6 points, 60-66.

What this substitution did was create a most unusual line-up for Toronto that has rarely, if ever, seen the court this season [either under Sam Mitchell or Jay Triano]:

Calderon-Parker-Moon-Graham-Bargnani

It was this unit which failed to open up a wider working margin for the Raptors versus the Nets, playing without Harris.

Then, at the 3rd Quarter interval, was when both teams made their second set of key substitutions:

New Jersey … used Harris & Dooling together, in conjunction with Lopez, Anderson & Hassell; while resting Carter.

Toronto … replaced Calderon with Ukic, and kept their other four players [who finished the 3rd Quarter] on the court.

What these two sets of subs did was:

1. Prevent the Raptors from establishing a wider working margin over the Nets, while New Jersey was buying rest time for Carter;

2. Establish Harris [who scored the first 5 points of the quarter playing versus the Raptors’ back-up PG] as the Offensive Focus for the Nets during this segment of the game.

The third key substitution for the Nets was made at the 06:21 mark of the 4th Quarter when they replaced Dooling/OG with Carter, who was rested for the stretch run, after the Nets had already regained the lead from the Raptors, primarily, on the back of Harris and Lopez.

The third key susbstitution for the Raptors was made at the 05:39 mark of the 4th Quarter when they replaced Moon/SF & O’Neal/C with Graham/SF & Bargnani/PF, respectively, shifted Bosh to the Center position, in conjunction with Calderon and Kapono [who played all 12 minutes of the 4th Quarter]. 

It was this line-up that was outscored 10-2 by the Nets between the 05:39 and 03:26 marks of the 4th Quarter, which allowed New Jersey to establish a 10 point lead on the Raptors, 84-74.

The fourth key substitution for the Raptors was at the 03:26 mark of the 4th Quarter when Toronto replaced Bargnani/PF & Graham/SF with O’Neal & Moon, respectively, after which the Nets increased their lead to 14 points, 88-74.

In fact, it was during these two specific segments of the game that the following  16 Key Possession Outcomes occurred and determined the eventual Winner/Loser of this match-up:

KEY POSSESSION OUTCOMES

[Raptors vs Nets, Mon Dec 15 2008]

 

Nets

4th Q

Time

Score

+/-

 

Raptors

 

05:39

74-72

-2

 

#1. Carter, Made Driving Layup [2+1], Fouled by Bargnani

05:31
77-72

-5

 

 

05:12

#2. Kapono, Missed J3

#3. Harris Made Two FT’s [1+1], Fouled by Graham

04:48

79-72

-7

 

 

04:42

79-74

-5

#4. Calderon, Made Two FT’s [1+1], Fouled by Lopez

#5. Carter Missed J2

04:22

 

 

04:17

#6. Calderon, Turnover/4

#7. Harris J2 [2]

04:06

81-74

-7

 

 

03:52

#8. Kapono, Missed J3

#9. Anderson, Made J3 [3]

03:33

84-74

-10

 

 

03:26

Time-out/20

 

03:18

#10. Bosh, Missed Driving Layup

 

03:15

#11. O’Neal, O-Reb, Missed Two FT’s, Fouled by Anderson

 

03:13

#12. Bosh, O-Reb, Missed Tap-in

#13. Lopez, Missed Layup, Blocked shot by O’Neal

03:00

 

#14. Anderson, O-Reb, Made Tap-in [2]

02:55

86-74

-12

 

 

02:48

#15. Calderon, Turnover/5

#16. Anderson, Made Two FT’s, Fouled by Moon [1+1]

02:44

88-74

-14

 

Time-out/Full

02:44

 

i.e. New Jersey converted 6 of their 8 Possessions [75.0%] into 14 points; while Toronto converted only 1 of their 8 Possessions [12.5 %] into 2 points. 

Of particular interest to this corner are the following facts:

* The Raptors LOST the Battle of the Boards last night, 38 to 54. 

* During these 8 Possessions the Raptors’ output consisted of:

  • 2 Missed J3’s by Kapono
    2 Missed Layup/Tap-in Attempts by Bosh
    2 Turnovers by Calderon
    1 Set of 2 Missed FT’s by O’Neal
    1 Set of 2 Made FT’s by Calderon

* During these two key segments of the game, the Raptors chose to ignore the line-up they used last week versus the Pacers to close out their first victory under Jay Triano, i.e. Calderon-Moon-Graham-Bosh-O’Neal, that is by far the best REBOUNDING & Team Defense 5-Man Unit which Toronto can put on the floor.

———————————————————–

In general …

How a team uses its substitutes, at important moments within a specific NBA game, can be a crucial factor toward determining the eventual Winner/Loser of that contest.

Such was the case last night, at the ACC, when the Raptors forgot just how vital REBOUNDING & Team Defense are … especially, during the 4th Quarter of a close game, in this league, versus a dangerous opponent.

Gooden … plenty … good enough

December 12, 2008
Co-Captain for the Bulls

Co-Captain for the Bulls

As an elite level NBA player, this corner of the net does not have a real appreciation for the individual game of the Bulls’ current #90, who is not the type of PF these eyes prefer, on a regular basis, e.g. like The Worm, Worthy, McHale and Lucas.

That said …

There are several reasons why Chicago seems to play better when he’s on the court this season …

Bulls’ Best 5-Man Units [2008-2009]

———-

Bulls’ Joakim Noah frustrated with individual play
One day after Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro doled out some uncharacteristically stern words regarding Joakim Noah and Tyrus Thomas, fellow big man Drew Gooden said it was unfair to compare the former high draft picks to rookie wunderkind Derrick Rose.

“[Rose] was handed the ball and told, ‘Lead this team.’ ” said Gooden. “I don’t think it’s fair to say Tyrus and Joakim should match what Derrick is doing. It takes more time for certain people. … You have different roles.”

Del Negro said that Noah and Thomas must focus better and work harder.

“It takes a while,” Gooden said. “I went through my growing pains. There’s not one guy in this league who hasn’t.

“This is a job. This is a work atmosphere [compared to] going to college and playing basketball basically for your education. This is your living and this is a business.

“[Noah and Thomas] understand it. … They will grasp it sooner or later. … They’re still young. They have a lot of potential.”

———-

not the least of which is the fact that he’s a first-class teammate, who says stuff like this ^^^, in support of his younger struggling and still largely erratic teammates. 

If the Baby Bulls do actually end up “getting it”, sometime during the latter half of this season, they just might be able to sneak into the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Related: The Better Half in the NBA – Day 1

Solving the Riddle in Raptorville, in advance

December 11, 2008

Regular readers of this space already know that the Raptors should not have:

* Traded Rasho Nesterovic [PF/C], TJ Ford [PG], Maceo Baston [PF] and the 2008 No. 17 [overall] Draft Pick to the Pacers in exchange for Jermaine O’Neal [PF/C] and the 2008 No. 41 [overall] Draft Pick;

* Bought out the contract of Jorge Garbajosa [PF/SF/C];

* Failed to re-sign Carlos Delfino [SF/OG/PG];

* Signed Roko Ukic, as their back-up PG;

* Signed Will Solomon, as their insurance 3rd-string PG; and,

* Signed Hassan Adams, as their reserve Wing Player;

as it put their team in a highly vulnerable situation for this season, whereby, they:

* Are Over the Salary Cap;

* Are only $1,100 below the Luxury Tax Threshold; and,

* Only have a 13-man roster, in a league with a 15-player limit.

——————————————

What even these regular readers might not realize, however, is THIS CORNER’S:

* Antipathy towards the countless Woulda, Shoulda,  Coulda’s that are articulated by others, for the most, in hindsight only, after-the-fact;

* Focus on:

  • Learning … from What’s Happened Before;
  • Awareness & Appreciation for the Here & Now; and,
  • Providing a Legitimate Prescription for Future Success, Short and Long Term.

In this regard, here is some of what’s appeared in this space, about the Raptors’ situation, this season, once their present roster was finalized this summer, given the strengths and weaknesses of the 13 players on their team.

* Raptors’ line-up … tough enough [or not] [Sep 08]
* Toronto Raptors’ Best 5-Man Unit [Sep 11]
* First good news out of Raptors’ camp [Oct 01]
* Second good news out of Raptors’ camp [Oct 02]

——————————————-

Now …

* After losing to the Lakers, in Los Angeles
* Getting embarassed by the Nuggets, in Denver
* Firing their head coach, Sam Mitchell
* Losing miserably to the Jazz, in Utah
* Getting nipped at the wire by the Blazers, at home, and
* Getting hammered by the Cavaliers, in Cleveland

Here’s what the Raptors’ rotation was last night:

Raptors

1

2

3

4

5

+/-

1st Q

Starters

Calderon

Kapono

Moon

Bosh

O’Neal

-2

Sub 1

 

 

 

Bargnani

Bosh

0

Sub 2

 

 

 

Graham

 

+6

Sub 3

 

 

 

 

O’Neal

0

Sub 4

Ukic

 

 

 

 

0

Sub 5

 

Solomon

 

 

 

 

2nd Q

Sub 6

 

 

Graham

Bargnani

 

-4

Sub 7

Calderon

Kapono

Bargnani

Bosh

O’Neal

+2

Sub 8

 

 

Moon

 

 

+7

Sub 9

 

 

 

Graham

Bosh

0

Sub 10

 

 

 

 

Bargnani

 

3rd Q

Sub 11

 

 

 

Bosh

O’Neal

+4

Sub 12

 

 

Graham

Bargnani

Bosh

-4

Sub 13

 

 

 

 

O’Neal

 

Sub 14

Ukic

 

 

 

 

 

Sub 15

 

Kapono

 

 

 

+2

4th Q

 

 

 

 

 

 

-1

Sub 16

Calderon

 

 

 

 

 

Sub 17

 

 

 

Bosh

 

 

Sub 18

 

 

 

Bargnani

Bosh

+3

Sub 19

 

 

Moon

Bosh

O’Neal

-5

Sub 20

 

Moon

Graham

 

 

+3

Sub 21

Ukic

Solomon

Adams

Bargnani

 

 

Which, in turn, reveals the following things:

1. Calderon, Kapono & Moon … can, ideed, be a Solid Threesome for this team, with JC as the Facilitator, JK as the Designated Shooter & JM as the Designated Defender/Rebounder.

2. Calderon, Moon & Graham … can, indeed, be a solid Closing Group that makes the Raptors into a “bigger” Rebounding and Defensive team, especially, in combination with O’Neal/Bargnani [at #4/PF] and Bosh [at #5/C].

3. When the Raptors do NOT make the mistake of playing Anthony Parker + Jason Kapono together with Jose Calderon … and, especially, in conjunction with Andrea Bargani … then, they can, indeed, be an effective team, in terms of Rebounding, Team Defense & Shared Team Offense.

4. When the Raptors do NOT use Bargnani at the #3/SF position … or, at least, use him there as little as possible … then, they can, indeed, be something other than an atrocious defensive team, especially in transition.

——————————————–

Once Kris Humphries and Anthony Parker return to good health, if the Raptors use them in the proper way …

i.e. with Parker as their back-up #1-2/PG-OG and Humphries as their Starting #4/PF …

within the parameters of what’s written here … re: #1, #2, #3 and #4, above, and the suggested rotations … there is every reason to believe that this team should be able to qualify for the Eastern Conference Playoffs this season.

———————–

The answer to the riddle is always to be found in the original source material.

Key early season games for the Raptors: Part II

December 9, 2008

On Oct 03, this corner of the blogosphere identified for you two key stretches of games this season for the Toronto Raptors:

1. The first 6 on the schedule;
2. The set of 15 from Nov 30 to Dec 27; and,

said the very real possibility exists that this team, with its roster as is, might in serious jeopardy of missing the playoffs entirely, despite the fact others [i.e. NBA observers and the team’s general fanbase] were considering it to be a “legit contender” for a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals this spring … based, primarily, on their off-season acquisition of a former 6-time League All-Star, Jermaine O’Neal [C].

In addition, a variety of different W-L scenarios were developed that explained just how this possibility might come to fruition this season for the Raptors, a team most NBA observers had put into the up-and-coming category, based on their Atlantic Division Title, 2 seasons ago, and their 2nd consecutive appearance in the EC Playoffs last year.

Key early season games for the Raptors

Should the Raptors happen to lose this evening, to the Cavaliers, in Cleveland, a likely scenario … considering they are +11.5 point underdogs … this would then give the Dinos a rather inauspicious 8-12 [.400] W-L record at the 20-game mark of the regular season schedule [i.e. approximately at the 1/4 pole of the NBA’s Playoff Race].

While the Raptors were able to get out to a quick start, winning their first 3 match-ups, they eventually finished that initial stretch of key games with a 4-2 mark. 

October Opponent Result
 Wed 29 [#1]   @ Philadelphia   W 95-84, 1-0
 Fri 31 [#2]  vs Golden State   W 112-108, 2-0
November Opponent Result
 Sat 01 [#3]  @ Milwaukee   W 91-87, 3-0
 Wed 05 [#4]  vs Detroit *   L 93-100, 3-1
 Fri 07 [#5]  @ Atlanta *   L 92-110, 3-2
 Sun 09 [#6]  @ Charlotte   W 89-79, 4-2
 Mon 10  @ Boston *   L 87-94, 4-3
 Wed 12  vs Philadelphia   L 96-106, 4-4
 Sun 16  vs Miami   W 107-96, 5-4
 Tue 18  @ Orlando *   L 90-103, 5-5
 Wed 19  @ Miami   W 101-95, 6-5
 Fri 21  vs New Jersey *   L 127-129, 6-6
 Sun 23  vs Boston *   L 103-118, 6-7
 Wed 26  vs Charlotte   W 93-86, 7-7
 Fri 28  vs Atlanta *   W 93-88, 8-7

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* Indicates game against a plus .500 Opponent
—————————–

That said …

it’s the 2nd stretch of key games … several of which fit into the winnable category [i.e. against less-than-stellar opponents] … that might prove to be the Raptors undoing this season:

November Opponent Result
 Sun 30 [#1]  @ LA Lakers *   L 99-112, 8-8
December Opponent Result
 Tue 02 [#2]  @ Denver *   L 93-132, 8-9
 Fri 05 [#3]  @ Utah *   L 87-114, 8-10
 Sun 07 [#4]  vs Portland *   L 97-98, 8-11
 Tue 09 [#5]   @ Cleveland *   ? [L-?]
 Wed 10 [#6]  vs Indiana   ?
 Fri 12 [#7]  @ New Jersey *   ? [L-?]
 Sun 14 [#8]  vs New Orleans *   ?
 Mon 15 [#9]  vs New Jersey *   ?
 Wed 17 [#10]  vs Dallas *   ?
 Fri 19 [#11]  @ Oklahoma City   ?
 Sat 20 [#12]  @ San Antonio *   ? [L-?]
 Mon 22 [#13]  @ LA Clippers   ?
 Fri 26 [#14]  @ Sacramento   ?
 Sat 27 [#15]  @ Portland *   ? [L-?]

Survive this 2nd set of 15 games … under the direction of their new head coach, Jay Triano … for example, with a humble 6-9 W-L record … and the 2008-2009 season remains salvagable for Toronto.

Fail to capitalize on the winnable games in this set, though, and the Raptors might just be better off … from a long term development standpoint … focusing their efforts [under Bryan Colangelo, President/GM] on, How exactly to get into the NBA’s Draft Lottery Again, without really trying to, as they did during the 2005-2006 season, under the direction of their vilified former GM, Rob Babcock.

Bryan Colangelo, unplugged [Dec 08]

December 9, 2008

“The answer to the riddle is found in the original source material.”
khandor

As a Raptors fan, you need to Listen to the whole thing.

Of Scorpions, frogs, GM’s and coaches [April 30, 2008]

Nothing more and nothing less than THAT.

The Raptors’ in-bounds play vs Portland

December 8, 2008

Given how the Raptors deployed their chess pieces …

What set Inbounds Play was Toronto trying to run yesterday during its final possession of the game vs Portland?

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Here’s the best read this corner has to offer:

Initial Player Alignment

PG/#1 – Jose Calderon [vs Blake] – Left Baseline Corner
OG/#2 – Anthony Parker [vs Roy] – Left FTL Extended
SF/#3 – Jason Kapono [vs Outlaw] – Inbound Passer, Right Sideline
PF/#4 – Chris Bosh [vs Aldridge] – Left Elbow
C/#5 – Jermaine O’Neal [vs Oden] – Right Elbow

First Offensive Action

* Parker was to cut above Bosh and O’Neal [who were to set stationary Staggered  Screens at the Elbows], in order to free himself in the Right Wing/Corner [outside the 3PT-line], to receive the 1st Pass from Kapono.

If Aldridge tried to Switch this screen, Bosh was to Dive toward the Right Low Post position for a direct entry pass from Kapono.

Second Offensive Action

* Kapono was to step in-bounds; then cut hard to his left, above O’Neal and Bosh [who were to set Staggered Back-screens], in order to free himself in the Top Of The Key area [outside of the 3PT-line, to receive a Flare Pass [the 2nd Pass in the sequence] from Parker.

* O’Neal was to set his Back-screen then Dive hard toward the basket.

If the defense tried to Switch this screen, O’Neal should have been open Slipping toward the basket.

* Bosh was to set his Back-screen, then step out beyond the 3PT-line as a potential pass recipient, if Parker was not able to pass the ball to either Kapono [for the 3PT-shot] or O’Neal [for the Layup inside].

If the defense tried to Switch this screen, Bosh was to Slip towards the basket, as well, in the wake of O’Neal’s into the lane.

* If Bosh received the pass from Parker, on the perimeter, he was to attack the basket towards the middle of the floor with his strong hand drive.

[Option I] If there was no Help coming off [A] Kapono [spotting up at the Left FTL Extended] or [B] Calderon [spotting up in the Left Corner], he was to [i] get to the hoop vs his defender, or [ii] get fouled on his drive.

[Option II]  If there was Help coming off either Kapono or Calderon, Bosh was to “Drive & Kick” to either of his two open teammates for the uncontested 3PT-shot.

* If all three passes of these passes were Hard Denied, Parker was to drive against his solo defender, in a 1-V-1 isolation play from the Right Wing/Corner. 

——————————————————-

What did the Blazers do to disrupt the play?

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First Defensive Action

* Travis Outlaw Sagged Off Kapono toward the Right Corner, denying an easy pass to that area on the floor.

Second Defensive Action

* Aldridge stayed with Bosh; held him, and prevented him from diving into the Right Low Post. 

Third Defensive Action

* As Parker cut above the first set of Staggered Screens, Oden Sagged Off from O’Neal to deter the easy pass from Kapono.

Given the Blazers’ First, Second & Third Defensive Actions vs this set play, Jason Kapono … remembering the difficulty the Raptors had inbounding the ball successfully against New Jersey, in a similar scenario two weeks ago … made the first available “safe” pass he could see, which was a direct entry to Jermaine O’Neal [stepping towards the ball].

For his part, O’Neal immediately recognized that the original play had been broken; quickly found and then got the ball to Bosh [the Raptors “best player”], at the Top Of The Key, and took his own defender away from the ball [by diving into the Right Low Post position].

For his part, when Bosh got the ball from O’Neal, he quickly recognized the situation and drove the ball towards the Left side of the floor, vs Aldridge [in a favourable match-up for the Raptors], using his strong hand.

For his part, Aldridge made a good defensive play, initially, by tipping the ball away from Bosh, when he changed hands with his dribble [beyond the 3PT-line], going from Left-to-Right; and, then defending CB4 by moving his feet, not reaching in, and not fouling Bosh, on his drive toward the basket. 

For his part, Blake did a solid job, Hedging in from the Left Corner vs Bosh’s drive to the basket, while remaining in a good position to still Close-out hard vs Calderon, if Bosh had tried to pass the ball to the Raptors’ PG.