I’m proud of you folks. A good week of legit questions, few rants, solid spelling and grammar.
There’s a few left after this compilation of Wednesday and Thursday offerings, I’ll get ‘em up in the now - typical bonus Sunday offering, so don’t despair.
And to all of you who’ve asked about a permanent link somewhere on the page to send questions, I’ll ask the powers that be about it sometime today. For now, just click here in your usual manner.
Q: Thanks again for letting us in on bits of your family and travel life. I loved the comments on Orlando vs. Miami. You expand the blog's reach when you offer travel, consumer tips (Marriott vs. Air NOCANDO-A) and family-snow shovelling duties. It's all good - hope it portends more writing from you (the Smith-Mitchell co-authored story of the improbable(?) rise of the Raptors under his coaching).
Hoops Question: What should we be watching for as the coaches attempt to solve our team's challenge with defending strong shooting wing players? What are the standard ways to think about this issue: double team before or after they start to dribble? Is it possible to deny them the ball? More challenge to opposing guards BEFORE they get the ball to great wing players? This problem has killed us this year. We hope that Jamario will learn to defend better out on the wing - at the same time we know that 1 on 1 defence is never enough to stop these guys from torching us. Please help us learn what to watch for by way of solutions in coming month or two.
Charles N, Toronto
A: Not sure if you’ll see many adjustments in the last month or so, they’ll want to keep what they’re planning for the playoffs as much under wraps as possible. You’ll see snippets so they can work on things at game speed, but not a constant diet of what they’ll do.
I don’t know what exactly they’ll do but some things to ponder and watch for:
Do they double the guy immediately on the catch beyond the three-point line? The danger being that a guy like LeBron can hit open teammates immediately and open NBAers generally make shots.
Do they double on the first dribble, which is what I think they’ll eventually do with James.
If they double, do they send a big or a wing player or a point guard? If it’s Dwight Howard, do they double from the side or the top, or do they switch it up to make it more confusing for him?
I think those are some of things you can watch for and maybe see the rest of the way.
But I’ll tell you this: In games against Orlando, Cleveland and Washington the rest of the regular season, they will not do what they are planning to do in the post-season.
Q: Just wondering, do the Raptors have both their first round and second round pick for 2008? I can't remember if they traded away their 2008 second round pick.
Jason O, East York
A: They have their own first round pick this year but traded away their second to San Antonio for Giorgos Printezis last June.
Q: I was thinking the other day I don't get to see any Andrea Bargnani interviews anymore on post-game (even when he plays well). So I figure he's a bad interview and no one in the media wants to interview him. So I'm just wondering who on the Raptors is a good interview and who's a bad interview.
Akshay K, Toronto
A: He’s quoted in the papers every now and then but not often ‘cause we don’t get a lot of good insight from him. Of the guys who play? I’d put T.J. at the top of the interview list with Bosh second. The rest of ‘em are tied, really; none are bad, but most are far from terrifically quotable.
Q: While it is only three games, is TJ somehow affecting Jose's confidence? Does he "school" him in practice? Is he just tired? Because it seems after playing so well once the injury to TJ happened, Jose appears to now be playing worse now that he is back.
Geoff H, Toronto
A: Coincidence, pure and simple. Read nothing into it other than that. Jose’s a little worn down, has nothing to do with T.J.
Q: As you are well aware (and constantly mention), Toronto fans are known to be...well...fanatical. Jumping from one extreme to another, and coming up with some of the most ridiculous trade ideas and coaching plans that I've ever seen.
Can you give us a breakdown of the emails you get every day? How many are fanatical? How many are thoughtful? How many are truly looking to learn more about basketball, the team, etc? And how many are just random questions about the Leafs, and why they suck so much.
Bonus question (just between us fat guys): My wife and I are thinking of taking a long weekend and coming to TO for some R&R&R, where at least one of those 'R's is a Raptors game. Where's the best place to go for a pre-game dinner with great food, and good value?
Dale H, Waterloo
A: Wednesday (when I did this one) was a good day. Between 10 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. as I type this, I got about 45 e-mails and I’d say 35 of them were legitimate questions. Many of them I’d answered before, but I don’t expect everyone to read everything every day, even though they should. Not one ‘Trade TJ’ rant in the bunch.
Although, there was this, and I’ll not use the name because I don’t want to encourage him:
Hey Dougy it’s me again....(name withheld)!!!!!! You told me get my prescription refilled...haha, not funny. Mark my words DougMan Bargnani’s a bust. So I’m starting a campaign. Bogut 4 Bargnani!!!!! I’m praying that BC can somehow con Larry Harris into trading Andrew Bogut for Andrea Bargnani aka Hoffa jr. Anyone with half a brain knows this is a genius move. We would be instant Eastern Conference contenders. The Pistons, the Celtics, the Cavs, the Magic....bring em on! Now you can do your part in helping the summer campaign. Say it loud with me....Bogut 4 Bargnani, Bogut 4 Bargnani, Bogut 4 Bargnani, Bogut 4 Bargnani!!!!!
Anyway, to your other question. Perhaps you’ve heard me mention the Harbour Sports Grille before? Seriously, it’s close (just south of the arena), has a wide selection of adult beverages and I’ve never had a bad meal there. Reasonably priced, too.
There are a handful of other places north of the ACC on Front (Jack Astor’s would be my pick because I’ve been at a Jack Astor’s in Etobicoke and it’s excellent) and if you really, really wanna splurge, Harbour 60 steakhouse is very high end.
Have a good weekend, whenever it is.
Q: Three for you:
1) George Karl is a good coach, but would Denver be better off with a new coach? I don't think Karl is using Iverson and Melo well enough. Larry Brown anybody? hmmm? HMMMMMM?
2) So the Raps need a better consistent starter at the 3. And if I remember correctly, Charlie V was pretty solid when he played alongside CB4 and Loren Woods/Hoffa. So what would it take for BC to get him back in a raps uniform in the future? Yes he sucks now but you can't deny what he did when he was on Sam Mitchell's team.
3) Wouldn't the Bucks be better off with a new coach? George Karl anyone? hmmmmmm? Remember when the Bucks had Ray Allen, Cassell, Glenn Robinson, Ervin Johnson, and Tim Thomas? Kinda sorta like Redd, Williams, Charlie V, Bogut, and D. Mason.
Veronica S, Winnipeg
A: Little Bucks or former Bucks-centric, aren’t we?
If Larry Brown coaches next year, I’m betting on Chicago, with Atlanta in the running. And I think George Karl’s a good coach, maybe he just needs a couple of different players.
It would take Bryan having a seizure and an uncharacteristic loss of his mind. Charlie V is not coming back, ever. Sorry.
Yes, the Bucks would be better off with another coach, and another GM, and I believe they’ll have both by next season.
Q: Hey Doug, I read a blog by Bill Simmons from ESPN about the Sam Cassell to Boston deal, (cons and pros). In his article Bill actually makes fun of Raptor fans saying they are too easy to stir up. Are we that bad that we are actually gaining a rep around the league? Because that will be something to be proud of).
Rob S, Victoria
A: Gaining? Never mind gaining. You’ve got a rep. Read Simmons or John Hollinger or here. You people are nuts (I keed, I keed – a little).
Q: I have always been curious about players like Graham who are constant CD-DNP. What is their REAL mindset of not playing in real games for maybe weeks? Are most unhappy but take the money to shut up? Or are they very moody?
Brad W, Waterloo
A: The DNP-CDs around here, and the guys on the inactive list, are not happy with their lot in life, they all want to play and think they should. But they aren’t drags on the team in any way, shape or form. I think they know Sam, and Bryan, wouldn’t appreciate that very much.
Q: Doug, I really do enjoy you and M Grange™ providing comprehensive coverage on our beloved Raptors. Good to see both of you embracing the Internet with some good ol' blogging and mail fun with a good/wacky sense of humour. So are you Batman and Grange™ is Robin? Or are you guys doing the Forderon thing, and as long as the team (readers) win, everyone is happy? Your informative mailbags are much appreciated since it must take tons of time to answer.
For the actual question, of the expiring contracts after next season (Rasho, Graham, Baston, Moon, Parker, Greta), who do you see remaining with the Raptors? I'm guessing Moon (albeit with a significant raise) and maybe Garbo, and the rest is used as trade chips or cleared to make a run at 2009 free agents. I think Delfino can take over Parker's role.
Michael S, Thornhill
A: I like to think of us as Laurel and Hardy, or Martin and Lewis.
The real question about those guys is who’ll be with the team after the trade deadline next season, not the end of the season. And I have no answer for that question.
But, and this is purely me thinking out loud, I’d imagine that Moon, and maybe Parker, are with the team in 2009 if they survive the trade deadline a year from now.