Posts Tagged ‘Anthony Parker’

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.

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]

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.

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.

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?

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

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?

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

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.

GAME REVIEW: Raptors vs Blazers [Dec 07]

December 8, 2008

The Raptors main problem this season is not going to be solved by the unjustifiable firing of Sam Mitchell.

FINAL SCORE: Raptors 97, Balzers 98
Game Info

48 Rebounds for the Blazers … with 18 of those coming at the Offensive end.

31 Rebounds for the Raptors …  with only 4 Offensive Recaptures.

That is everything you really truly need to know about the way in which this game was lost, from the home team’s perspective.

Adding Jermaine O’Neal [and Nathan Jawai, C, out indefinitely with a heart condition] this summer, at a salary of $21 Million/per, was the wrong move for this team to make. Period.

Until the Raptors address the glaring deficiencies they have in their current roster, which include …

* No credible back-up PG [outside of Anthony Parker, who they refuse to play at this spot]

* No credible back-up C [outside of Jermaine O’Neal, of course, who they refuse to play at that spot … because of the $$$ they are paying him; and, possibly, Andrea Bargnani, who they also refuse to play at that spot … because he is the former No. 1 Selection from the 2006 NBA Draft]

* No credible back-up OG [outside of Jamario Moon, who they refuse to play at that spot … despite the fact he has improved his shooting noticably this season: [i] FGM-A/% = 42-90/46.7%; [ii] 3FGM-A/% = 12-33/36.4; [iii] LS-FGM-A/% 14-21/66.7% [LS = from outside the lane on the Left-hand side of the floor]; and, [iv] LS-3FGM-A/% = 6-9/66.7%]

related to the domino effect of that transaction, they are going to lose a slew of games like this, this season.

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

re: the Raptors’ Defense and Rebounding on the Blazers’ final two possessions

2nd Last Possession

* Parker did a solid job on Brandon Roy
* Chris Bosh did a solid job coming to help, providing a shot-blocking presence [he may have actually blocked the shot] in arears of AP [which was a necessary rotation given the move which Roy attempted to make]
* O’Neal did a solid job “Middling” LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden, i.e. the two players he was responsible for defending in that specific situation
* Unfortunately the ball was tipped and ended up deflecting to Oden
* O’Neal recovered well and challenged the shot by Oden, forcing a miss
* Because of their initial defense on the drive by Roy, neither Parker nor Bosh were able to establish solid inside position, vs Roy & Aldridge, respectively, and the ball was tipped out to Fernadez on the perimeter [Joey Graham was in the key attempting to rebound as well]

Last Possession

* The error Jose Calderon made was not forcing Blake to penetrate inside the arc for the pull-up J … but, given the time & score and the way he contested that Final shot, the inidividual D he played was acceptable.

Steve Blake hit a tough shot, off the bounce [with the benefit of an offensive foul that wasn’t called, to give the Blazers the lead; but, the Raptors still had more than enough time left to win the game.

————

Unfortunately, the Raptors then ran an in-bounds play poorly and lost the game instead; something which happens every day/night, in the NBA.

Time to move on … because they are going to have their hands full in Cleveland. 😦

Deciphering the correct code for the Raptors

December 3, 2008

FINAL SCORE: Raptors 93, Nuggets 132
Game Info

Jeez-louise … that one was ugly.

Three points to make.

1. The person responsible for the Raptors’ current situation is not Sam Mitchell, the team’s head coach … it is Bryan Colangelo, the team’s President/GM, who has made the decisions which have led this franchise dangerously close to “Treadmill Status” [right now], something that was relatively easy to see as a likely predicament for this group of players since this past summer, at least, for those who have not been drinking of the Kool-Aid from MLSE.

It’s not necessary to re-hash that long list again, is it?

[Let’s hope not. 🙂 ]

The 2nd-3rd week of December is approaching quickly, and the FACT IS … the man has a history of changing head coaches during this first part of the regular season, if/when there’s a need for a scapegoat to be found to explain the sorry plight of a team which he has been responsible for constructing in the first place.

Will he do it again this year?

Hmmm …

For the sake of the Raptors’ long term goal, which should be trying to eventually bring a NBA Championship to the City of Toronto, let’s hope not.

2. That said …

There are some individuals in this world who are positive thinkers … despite what certain others might have to say about them and their ideas, which can sometimes be complex and difficult to understand, especially at first glance … and incapable of ever accepting a No-win Situation, for what it appears to be, on the surface. These individuals, IN FACT, are properly characterized as out-of-the-box-thinkers who have learned the lessons well of Sun Tzu, and knowing both themselves and their opponent, at all times, are able to “Make chicken out of chicken salad”, on a regular basis, because it’s who they happen to be and what they happen to do in this world. Different strokes for different folks.

Finding THE WAY OUT for this year’s team is akin to the classic “trap scenario” involved with the single room, two doors [one which leads to eventual escape and salvation; the other which leads to death and damnation], two gate-keepers, one who always tells the truth and the other who always tells a lie; and, the single question which you, as the solo game player, must be able to ask correctly, of either gate-keeper, in order to choose the one RIGHT door, without knowing in advance which keeper is the truth-teller and which is the falsemaster.

i.e. All the pieces to the puzzle have been laid out in front of you already; what you have to do is decipher them correctly. Once the answer to the riddle has been told to you, it makes perfect sense. It is not earth-shaking, in any sense. It is simple “common” sense; which really isn’t common at all, at least, not until everyone IN FACT has it “in common” with each other, which unfortunately not all do in this topsy turvy world. Still, if you think it through carefully, there is nothing preventing you, or anyone else for that matter, from arriving at THE correct answer for yourself. One of the keys? “See” and “listen” very carefully, as “Looking” and “Hearing” alone, won’t get you very far. The answer to the riddle is always to be found in the original source material. Sorta like THE pudding and THE eating. 😉

When a team’s roster of players looks like this:

Calderon, Parker, Bargnani, Bosh, O’Neal
Ukic, Kapono, Moon, Graham, Humphries
Solomon, Adams, Jawai

a coach who is incapable of negotiating his way through the labyrinth correctly SHOULD NOT be held accountable for failing to be an out-of-the-box-thinker, in the first place …

as the simple FACT IS … relatively speaking, few men/women are, including the President/GM responsible for the operation of the Toronto Raptors.

3. There are some NBA observers who actually do know what they’re talking about when it comes to understanding, both, the League, in general, and the Raptors, specifically. If you wish to disregard what they have to say, on a regular basis, that’s your decision to make.

Complex, out-of-the-box-thinking is not everyone’s preferred method of operation.

GAME REVIEW: Raptors at Lakers [Nov 30]

December 1, 2008

When you read other reports today that detail the Raptors’ loss to the Lakers, pay close attention to which ones focus on the ineffective play of Chris Bosh and the absence of Jermaine O’Neal …

FINAL SCORE: Raptors 99, LAKERS 112
Game Info

as the principal reasons for the eventual L, and which ones do not.

Yes, Chris Bosh, the Raptors’ best player, had a sub-standard performance [i.e. 36:54/MP; 4-13/FGM-A; 3-4/FTM-A; 12 Pts; 6 Rebs; 3 Ast; 1 St; 4 To]; and, yes, Jermaine O’Neal was missing from their line-up.

However, these are NOT the main reasons the Raptors lost yesterday’s game.

—————————–

Beginning at the 10:00 mark of the 4th Q, in what was then a 6-Pt contest, this is the specific sequence of Possession Outcomes which determined the eventual outcome.

PositionLAKERS—-vs—-Raptors
PG/1——Farmar———-Ukic
OG/2——Vujacic———-Kapono
SF/3——Ariza————Moon
PF/4——Odom———–Graham
C/5——-Bynum———–Bosh

LAL 90, Tor 84

#1. LAK Poss 1 – Vujacic beats Kapono off the bounce; Makes twisting Layup slicing between Moon & Graham … LAL 92, Tor 84
#2. RAP Poss 1 – Graham Misses a Pull-up Jumpshot
#3. LAK Poss 2 – Odom fouled while posting-up vs Graham
#4. LAK Poss 3 – TO [Ariza]; Steal by Bosh
#5. RAP Poss 2 – TO [Ukic]
#6. LAK Poss 4 – Farmar Misses Jumpshot [vs Ukic]; Team Rebound to LAL
#7. LAK Poss 5 – Ariza Makes Turn-around Jumpshot/hook vs Moon … LAL 94, Tor 84 
#8. RAP Poss 3 – Ukic Misses Jumpshot
#9. LAK Poss 6 – Bynum Makes Dunk on lob pass; Bosh helping vs Odom [fronted by Graham] … LAL 96, Tor 84 
#10. RAP Poss 4 – Graham Makes Layup vs Farmar … LAL 96, Tor 86
#11. LAK Poss 7 – Ariza Makes Jumpshot vs poor switch by Moon [with Graham] on the ‘Post-Split’ action … LAL 98, Tor 86
#12. RAP Poss 5 – Graham Missed Turn-arond Jumpshot/Layup vs Odom
#13. LAK Poss 8 – Bynum Makes Dunk + fouled on rejected Pick & Roll with Farmar; Graham late arriving with weak side help [coming off Odom] … LAL 101, Tor 86

07:26 mark of the 4th Q … Calderon replaces Ukic; Bargnani replaces Graham

—————————–

What should you have noticed from these 13 possessions?

In General:

* The Lakers were able to generate 2 extra possesions. One, when Odom was fouled, in the Low Post by Graham; and, two, from their Team Rebound.

* The Lakers were too quick, athletic and physical for the Raptors to handle [which ultimately resulted in a decisive Rebounding edge over the course of the entire game, i.e. Total Rebounds: LAL 54, Tor 36].

Specifically:

#1. Jason Kapono is an inferior NBA athlete, in comparison with Sasha Vujacic.
#2. Graham’s strength is not his Pull-up Jumpshot. As a perimter player, Graham is effective when he can ‘Catch & Shoot’.
#3. Odom vs Graham, in the post, is a mis-match [despite the fact that Odom picked up an offensive foul earlier in the quarter, in this situation]. Graham should not be defending Odom.
#4. Bosh is a capable Post defender … when he uses his quickness.
#5. Ukic is an inexperienced PG who sometimes makes poor decisions with the ball.
#6. Ukic is a solid NBA athlete at the #1-spot. The Lakers size & athleticism is difficult for the Raptors to handle … especially with Kapono [too slow vs Vujacic] and Moon [too weak vs Ariza] and Graham [under-sized vs Odom] on the floor together … the Raptors have difficulty gaining possession of loose balls.
#7. Ariza is too strong for Moon to handle on the block. Moon needs to check Vujacic. Graham needs to Ariza. Humphries needs to check Odom.
#8. Kapono cannot dribble the ball vs Vujacic. Ukic is a poor perimter shooter.
#9. Graham should NOT be checking Odom.
#10. Graham is a solid Low Post option for the Raptors.
#11. Moon is not a strong enough player to check Ariza.
#12. Graham is a solid Low Post Option for the Raptors. Odom, however, is too big for him.
#13. Bynum is among the VERY BEST ‘Aerial Finishers’ in the NBA. Graham should not be cheking Odom. 🙂 Graham should be checking Ariza, with  Moon checking Vujacic, and Humphries in the game, checking Odom.

At this point in the regular season … with these two player rosters assembled by their respective GMs:

* The Lakers are 14-1 and poised to amass 70+ wins; as forecast by this corner last season, prior to their predicted loss in the 2008 NBA Finals;

while,

* The Raptors are 8-8, on pace to put up approximately 40 wins; and, in all likelihood, finish in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference.

Despite a less-than-stellar performance yesterday by the Dinos, the signs are there, however, that this group of players [at these positions] …

Starters
1/Calderon + 2/Moon [3] + 3/Graham + 4/Humphries + 5/Bosh

Key Bench Subs
1-2/Parker + 4/Bargnani [3]

Situational Subs
1/Ukic, 2/Kapono [3], 5/O’Neal [or a different veteran Big]

either [i] without JO altogether, or [ii] with him in a decreased role …

has the capacity to become a solid contender for a playoff spot in the EC, down-the-road, if those responsible for running the basketball operation at MLSE, in fact, [A] know what they’re doing, and can [B] begin to make the best use possible of the resources at-hand [i.e. current players & draft picks, plus coaches].  

In the NBA … every organization has access to a similar set of ingredients. What separates the performance of one from another is the manner in which their Head Chefs choose to combine those ingredients in their recipe.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”
Anonymous

Opportunity Lost … for the Toronto Raptors

November 27, 2008

The Raptors’ team that beat the Bobcats last night … Box Score … was indicative of the roster Toronto SHOULD have been playing with from the opening tip this season … minus, of course:

* Rasho Nesterovic
* Rodney Carney
* Royal Ivey
* Jorge Garbajosa
* Carlos Delfino [depending on his interest in returning]
* the 2008 No. 17 [overall] Draft Pick [e.g. Roy Hibbert, CDR, Joey Dorsey, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute]

That line-up … right there … is a top 6 contender in the Eastern Conference, with a legit shot at winning a 1st Round Playoff series this spring and enough flexibility moving forward to become a perennial contender for a spot in the NBA’s FINAL FOUR annually for the balance of Chris Bosh’s career.

That’s the type of line-up a TOP NOTCH President/General Manager would/could/should have been able to put together heading into this season on behalf of the Toronto Raptors given the list of assets which this organization had at its disposal the day before the 2008 NBA Draft.

When this speaker talks of Opportunities Lost, on behalf of this organization, over the years … i.e. since the transfer of ownership from Mr. Steve Stavro to MLSE and the subsequent dismissal of Lenny Wilkens & then Glen Grunwald … this is the type of situation that is being referenced.

* THE problem with the current Raptors
* Of scorpions, frogs, GMs & coaches
* Staying the course in Raptorville
* More Smoke & Mirrors
* 20/20 Vision of the Toronto Raptors
* The next step for the Toronto Raptors
* Understanding Bryan Colangelo’s method of operation [good & bad]
* Toronto Raptors Player Roster 2008-2009

OH, WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN, IF THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE FOR RUNNING THINGS AT MLSE HAD JUST KNOWN WHAT THEY WERE DOING IN TERMS OF BUILDING A CHAMPIONSHIP CALIBRE PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL FRANCHISE.

It’s enough to make a knowledgeable NBA observer sick to his/her stomuch.

What you’ll see tonight is just how little the Raptors need their new $21 Million Man

November 26, 2008

It’s half-time of tonight’s Raptors [6-7] vs Bobcats [4-9] game, and this is what the Box Score looks like:

———————————————

Bobcats
  Field Goals   Rebounds  
  pos min fgm-a 3pm-a ftm-a +/- off def tot ast pf st to bs ba pts
E. Okafor F 11:13 1-2 0-0 2-2 +1 1 5 6 1 2 2 0 1 0 4
G. Wallace F 16:57 5-8 0-0 7-11 -2 0 3 3 1 2 1 1 0 1 17
A. Ajinca C 04:00 1-4 0-0 0-0 -3 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 2
D. Augustin G 21:18 1-2 1-2 3-3 -5 0 0 0 2 0 1 5 0 0 6
R. Felton G 20:01 2-5 0-1 0-0 -2 0 1 1 4 0 1 1 0 0 4
J. Dudley   12:00 3-3 0-0 0-1 -6 1 1 2 1 1 1 0 0 0 6
A. Morrison   08:50 0-4 0-3 0-0 -6 1 1 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
M. Carroll   06:41 1-4 0-2 1-1 -3 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 3
N. Mohammed   07:29 0-1 0-0 0-0 -2 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 0
S. May   06:25 2-2 0-0 0-0 +5 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 4
R. Hollins   05:06 0-1 0-0 0-0 -2 1 1 2 0 2 0 0 0 1 0
S. Brown   00:00 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
 
Total   120 16-36 1-8 13-18   5 14 19 12 10 7 9 1   46
  44.4% 12.5% 72.2%   Team Rebs: 4 Total TO: 9
Raptors
  Field Goals   Rebounds  
  pos min fgm-a 3pm-a ftm-a +/- off def tot ast pf st to bs ba pts
C. Bosh F 23:07 9-10 0-0 6-6 +1 1 3 4 0 2 1 1 2 0 24
J. Moon F 12:06 1-3 1-1 0-0 +3 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 3
A. Bargnani C 20:49 2-9 0-1 1-2 +2 2 4 6 2 2 0 2 2 1 5
J. Calderon G 16:52 1-5 0-2 0-0 +4 0 2 2 4 1 0 2 0 0 2
A. Parker G 18:02 2-3 1-2 0-0 0 1 1 2 2 0 2 2 0 0 5
K. Humphries   08:49 0-3 0-0 0-0 +6 0 2 2 0 1 0 1 0 0 0
J. Kapono   07:28 1-1 0-0 0-0 +3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
R. Ukic   07:08 1-2 0-0 0-0 +1 0 1 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 2
J. Graham   05:39 2-2 0-0 4-4 +5 1 2 3 0 2 0 0 0 0 8
H. Adams   00:00 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
W. Solomon   00:00 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. O’Neal   00:00 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
 
Total   120 19-38 2-6 11-12   5 15 20 11 10 4 8 4   51
  50.0% 33.3% 91.7%   Team Rebs: 2 Total TO: 8
 Technical Fouls
TOR 2nd Qtr5:39 Chris Bosh
 Scoring
Lead Changes : 16
Times Tied : 12
ARENA STATS

 

Arena:
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, OT
Officials:
#50 O. Poole, #10 R. Garretson, #51 L. Richardson
Attendance:
Duration:
0:58

 

———————————————

Tonight marks the first game this season, the Raptors will be without Jermain O’Neal in their 12-man line-up.

Since their blockbuster trade with the Pacers was consummated this past summer, this corner has repeatedly said that the Raptors did not NEED to make this acquisition at this point during their attempted climb up the Eastern Conference standings.

Well, with O’Neal in their line-up, this team has performed at a .461 pace so far this season.

It says here & now that as long as O’Neal is not healthy enough to play for the Raptors this season … and, instead, their other younger and/or more athletic players [i.e. Andrea Bargnani, Kris Humphries, Jamario Moon, Joey Graham & Roko Ukic] get those available minutes of floor time … this team will perform in a similar or slightly better way as they’ve done to this point with JO as their Starting Center.

THAT’S how little this Raptors’ team actually NEEDS Jermaine O’Neal on the floor.

—————————-

UPDATE:

  • The Raptors are up by 5 points with 4:58 remaining in the 4th Q.
  • They are being hurt right now by keeping Kapono on the floor with Calderon, Parker, Bargnani & Bosh. J-Killa is simply not athletic enough to play beside Calderon and Parker and Bargnani, none of whom are High End NBA Athletes in their own right.
  • Returning Graham to the game, for Kapono, or going with Moon, instead, will address this problem.
  • Graham returns for Kapono.
  • Raptors now ahead by 3 pts.
  • Okafor with a hoop, Raptors now ahead by 1pt.
  • Bosh hits a jumper from the TOTK. Raptors ahead by 3 pts.
  • Calderon to Graham at the front of the rim for a dunk. Raptors ahead by 5 pts. Time-out [Full] Charlotte.
  • Felton, offensive foul. Drawn charge by Bargnani.
  • Augustin misses with a runner. Shot altered by Bargnani & Bosh in the lane. 
  • Calderon makes a dribble left pull-up jumper over Felton. Raptors ahead by 7 pts.
  • Steal by Graham.
  • Raptors win, 93-86.

——————

Here’s the final Box Score and the in-game Play-By-Play for you to examine for yourself.