Seriously, our last, last, last pre-playoff mailbag
No, really, this is it before the series starts, which is in about five hours. It was relatively calm around these parts here Saturday, I’m guessing everyone was getting nervous. Or ready. Or something like that.
Anyway, check back here tonight and tomorrow morning for the usual fare.
And have a lovely day.
Q: Hi Doug, I'm watching the Suns vs Spurs game right now and they just showed a glimpse of the Suns huddle where Steve Nash picked up the marker and started drawing up a play. Have you ever seen a player do this before? Or is it just an ultimate sign of respect between coach and player that Nash has earned
Alex H, North York
A: No, that’s not all that unusual. If a coach draws up a play and a player has a suggestion to modify it, he’ll grab the marker and do it. Or a player may suggest something and then the coach will tweak it a bit.
Q: For a team that defends the perimeter so poorly, I find it interesting that the Raptors don't go zone more often. I know you've said that they use a variation of zone defense, but do you think they might use more of a pure zone in the playoffs? Particularly if they continue to struggle with dribble penetration?
Brian J, Scarborough
A: I think you’ll definitely see some zone. They like to use it for six or seven possessions to throw a wrinkle into the game. They won’t use it for six or seven minutes at a stretch, though.
Q: Three quick ones for whenever:
1) Was there a main sports page link to your playoff preview article? If there was, I missed it. Luckily, I happened to notice the link off to the side of another article I was reading.
Don't the tall foreheads realize that the only reason most people visit thestar.com is to read your blog??? And then, as happened with me, before I saw the link to the playoff preview, I check out other articles. They should realize that ANYTHING you write should be front and centre if they want to keep people coming here!
2)Your playoff preview leads to my second question: You mentioned that Shane Battier is (possibly? - I can't remember exactly) the best defensive player in the league. So, a BB101 question - why? What makes a player a better-than-average defensive player in the NBA?
Finally, 3) This just occurred to me (DUH! After how many months??) - I am pretty sure that when you submit a story for the newspaper side, it's sent to an editor, who, naturally, edits it. But - and I'm guessing here - the blog (including mailbag and comments) is ALL YOU??? In other words, you do the job they pay you to do (nowhere NEAR as well as they should!), and then you add on all that EXTRA work, just so you can satisfy us rabid, pro-then-con Raptors' fans?
Tim H, Windsor
A: Oh yeah, we’re pretty much a one-man show over here, except for the excellent editor who finds the cool pictures.
Battier’s a great defender for a couple of reasons. He’s a workhorse who never seems to get tired, he’s smart because he knows the tendencies of the guy’s he’s guarding plus he’s big and strong. It’s a complete package few have.
Q: Hey Doug, always enjoy this blog, it's really become a part of my daily routine. Keep up the great work.
Just wanted to share a very nice interview I found on si.com with Celtics legend Bob Cousy. He gives some great insight about the Celtics today, interesting bits about Red Auerbach, and also the modern Association and its players as a whole. Hopefully this can make your blog before the game and people can take a look, it's quite a great read for a basketball fan at any level.
Simon S-G, Toronto
A: A fine little read indeed, I pass it along gladly.
Q: I saw the results of the tiebreakers done today for the draft with teams that have identical records. They mentioned 4 ties, but that did not include the Raptors and Trailblazers which both finished 41-41. Was there a reason that they did not have a tiebreak for them? or were the results just not published in the press release? Thanks,
Curt L, Toronto
A: They didn’t need to break the tie because the Blazers are in the lottery and the Raptors aren’t.
Q: Hey Doug, thanks for keeping us pumped for the up coming playoffs with all your extra work on the blog lately! Definitely is appreciated! With all this recent mailbag love for Joey G and "Gangster" I thought I'd ask for your quick assessment on another under-used big, Maceo Baston. I imagine he must have lacked a lot of skills on the practice court, because after skimming over this years box scores all I see is DNPs or a couple garbage minutes. How did Maceo go from this physical presence we were lacking in the off-season, to not even worthy of matching minutes with Primoz or even the "Bad Joey"?
Caleb H, Ottawa
A: I’m not sure where it went off the rails for Baston; in fact, I don’t know that it ever was on the rails. But he was never going to be a “physical presence” he’s more finesse than power. The coaches hoped he’d find a way to force himself into the rotation but he never showed enough in practice to warrant playing time. Except for that one ill-advised start early in the season, which had more to do with bringing Bargnani off the bench than with Baston starting.
Q: Another batch of questions for you (if you have not answered them already) -- Who do you think are the best off-the-ball defenders on the Raptors? And are any of them above-average by NBA standards? And who is the better off-the-ball defender, between TJ and Jose?
And as long as I am talking about defense, what do you think is the Raptors bigger problem, man-to-man or off-the-ball defense?
Mark R, Seoul
A: Rasho’s the best off-the-ball defender they’ve got. He knows how to anchor a defence, by communicating and moving, and he’s seldom out of position. I’d certainly put him in the top third of post defenders in the league.
Of the two guards? My opinion is Jose because he’s a bit bigger and plays passing lanes a bit better. But neither of them are above average.
Toronto’s defensive woes start and stop with the inability to keep people in front of them. And once a guard or a small forward beats his man one-on-one, it scrambles the rest of the Raptors and results in breakdowns and easy baskets.
Q: Hey Doug, loved reading your analysis of the series. Just have a random question. I know the execs at NBA and ABC want a Lakers/Celtics final because that would lead to higher ratings, thus more money. If the Raptors, one day, make the finals would the NBA, from a pure financial and ratings standpoint, frown on that or love it? I'm thinking since Toronto is one of the largest Metropolitan cities in North America that the NBA would not mind if Toronto made it. Your thoughts?
Dave R, Markham
A: I think any time a franchise makes its first appearance in a championship series, the league would hype that incredibly. Lord knows when it’ll be, but it’ll be fine with the powers that be.
Q: Hey Doug, this isn't a question, just a comment on the other questions. For the love of all that is good and holy, can we please institute a rule that every query that makes any reference whatsoever to previous questions being unanswered shall be ignored with all possible haste? Some of these people whine more than the Leaves.
Also, please post this. It would please me so much to see something I wrote appear on The Internets.
Steve Z, Toronto
Q: Regarding the question about the use of "downtown" for a 3 ball -- might the phrase come from "downtown" Freddy Brown from the old Sonics days? Just a thought...
Daniel M, Peterborough
A: As good a thought as any.
Q: With the NBA board of governors voting 28-2 (Portland and Dallas against) in favour of the move from Seattle to OKC, I was wondering if you had any insight into the reason MLSE voted in favour of the move. I realize that this isn't strictly a Raptors question, but my formative NBA years were the early 90's, and I loved the Kemp-Payton-Detlef teams (especially in NBA Jam) and personally I hate to see Seattle go, and you yourself have often lauded it as a great NBA city.
Is it simply a matter of MLSE trying to curry favour with King Stern in hopes of getting an All-Star game? Is it a case of MLSE really having no opinion and going along to get along/not rock the boat?
Or does someone in the ivory tower (that they're building next to the ACC) really think OKC is better than Seattle for the NBA and basketball in general?
Josh S, Waterloo
A: The league sort of wants one voice on this issue, and that will be the voice of the boss so I don’t know for sure. But I’d imagine the Raptors listened what Clay Bennett had to say and made a decision based on the business interests of a partner.
It is, though, the worst trade in the history of the NBA.