Sorry I’m late. Damn time zones. You miss me? Didn’t think so.
Haven’t seen a starlet or a thespian yet, guess they don’t stay at airport hotels. What a drag. Did see campus of UCLA yesterday when the lads practiced there, not one street or building named after Darrick Martin, Jason Kapono or even Tracy Murray, for that matter. Maybe I just didn’t look hard enough. Or maybe not.
So, what’s a realistic expectation for this trip?
How about a win. One. That’s it. If they get two, it’s a huge surprise.
|Is there a worse way to kick off a road trip than this?|
Don’t get all crazed back home, either; one win brings ‘em back over .500 to face a tough stretch (at Cleveland, Denver and Detroit) and that’s no picnic. But one’s better than none and you take away 22 points (not to mention the defensive contribution Bosh makes as you all read in today’s paper, right?) and winning gets exponentially harder.
Last season, Toronto came out west without Bosh and T.J. Ford won them two games, a buzzer-beater against the Clippers and a pass to Bargnani up in Portland at an overtime buzzer. Don’t see that happening.
Right now, without a guy who can truly, truly create his own shot in a one-possession game, I don’t see these guys winning at the buzzer by making plays. Maybe by having an opponent miss, yes; but doing it themselves? I don’t think so.
It’s folly to guess at wins and losses the rest of the way but there are times I’m all about folly so I’m guessing they get 12 wins the rest of the way.
That leaves ‘em with, what, 46? Not a bad season given they lost T.J. for eight weeks, Bosh for what will be almost three, probably; and Garbo for the whole year.
And 46 gets ‘em fifth, I’m thinking.
Not sure what to make of this Dwyane Wade thing, guess it makes sense for him to shut it down, glad I hadn’t bought tickets to watch the Heat play at home or in Toronto either of the times.
If they laid down before, imagine how bad it’ll be now?
One thing about Wade. Watching him a few times this season, maybe he can use the next few months to get on a diet; he looked a bit, um, chunky, didn’t he?
We’re standing there talking to Sam after practice yesterday and, shockingly, the conversation gets around to Kobe and 81
"I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he jokes.
Off we go to chat with Chris Bosh about it and he says he was a spectator. I’m pretty sure he played so we ask, ‘huh?’
"I mean, everybody was a spectator on the court, we weren’t playing any defence,” he said. “You do have to give it to him, he hit a lot of tough shots but I mean maybe he could have hit 50 not 80, we gave him a lot of easy baskets, too.”
Is that what it’s come too? You hope you can hold him to 50?
Let’s get into the mail for one:
Q: Something I've wondered for a while: You're a professional journalist, and covering this team is your job, but do you also consider yourself a fan? Do you get excited when the team is doing well? Are you disappointed when they lose? Or do you have to maintain an emotional distance in order to do your job properly?
Ken H, Toronto
A: You can’t be a fan, it clouds your judgement and impartiality and that can’t happen.
I can say I’m a fan of the game, there’s nothing better than a close game well played and it’s always more entertaining to watch than a blowout but as for being a fan of a team, even one you don’t cover? Can’t happen. Not saying it doesn’t with some guys, but it shouldn’t.
Seems the Lakers aren’t all that panicky after losing at home to the Kings but I still wouldn’t want to go out and face them tonight ‘cause they’re sure to be onery.
Regular reader Bo K out in Hazelville wonders:
In addition to your "Three Big Men" (Bargnani, Bosh & Nesterovic) would you make your 'Five Little Men' Moon, Parker, Calderon, Delfino & Ford come playoff time?
You know, maybe it’s just me but I see a Six-Pack in the post-season. Toss Kapono in there but I’m sure Sam’s not going to abide by any defensive screw ups and after the first couple of times they leave three-point shooters (Szczerbiak, Turkoglu) they’ll end up on the bench.
Agent Zero’s back at it; an interesting take on point guards in here.
Another regular from the mail (and the rest of you letter writers don’t worry, all your stuff from Sunday and Monday is still in the hopper and I’ll get most of it answered in the next day or two)
Q: Doug, competing with big fellas re who gets through airport security first?! Sounds to me like it is time for a sabbatical.
Rasho gets 6 assists. Bargnani had a few the other night. Many have commented on the predictability of high screen and roll when Bosh is in the lineup. Are we starting to see some new arrays that Coach Mitchell may use come playoff time:
- TJ for making plays
- Point centres making assists to cutters.
In this way the opposition has to prepare for three different Raptor offences - not an easy task. Do other teams have such different offensive sets?
Charles N, Toronto
A: Not sure how ‘new’ they are but there have been some tweaks and some sets used we haven’t seen in a while. The one for Rasho was interesting. They post the ball to him about mid-post, Bargnani comes up from the corner to set a screen for the point guard and that gets to the top of the circle where he sets another one for the forward on the other side of the court. Somehow, somewhere, some defender is going to switch when he should, not switch when he should and someone’s going to get open.
I asked Magic, er, Rasho, about it after Sunday’s game and he said “it’s getting movement, getting the defence running around so they get lost.”
You know, sort of what every team does to Toronto?
Lots of teams put new stuff in, or wrinkles on existing sets, for the playoffs. That’s why the post-season is a game of mid-series adjustments, seeing what teams have done to change things and finding ways to adapt to it.