The Morning After The (Last) Night Before
Okay, please, everybody, listen up: Do not read anything into last night’s game. Nothing. It was a going-through-the-motions affair, Bulls going nowhere, Raptors playing not to get hurt. The starters looked okay, the main backups – Bargnani, Calderon primarily – were okay although Delfino looked pretty average.
They got a run in, they worked on some things and then they watched. It was no big deal. At all.
Still, there were some moments, as usual
Three Things I Learned
Thank you NBA
Now, that’s a great schedule from a purely selfish point of view.
Two afternoon games in the first four lets us sit back and put some context to the next day stories for the newspaper and the two 7:30 p.m. starts for Games 3 and 4 ease the deadline pressure. And a game every other day for the first five? Outstanding for the rhythm of a series.
And it’ll be good for the web, too; get game stories up quickly, maybe we can do blogs the night after the afternoon games and then get to some mail in the morning. We’re still trying to cipher exactly how we’ll do it but you’ll be well served.
Shield your eyes
You can tell it’s the 82nd game of the regular season when you look up in the first quarter and see Jose Calderon, Jason Kapono, Kris Humphries, Andrea Bargnani and Primoz Brezec on the court.
No, you will never, ever see that group again. Ever. I hope.
That’s the kind of night it was.
Stop the cards and letters
Please, the next time anyone out there is prepared to write and ask why they don’t play Joey any more, or whether they should re-sign The Gangster or whether The Hump’s getting a raw deal, take a DVD of that game and watch it.
And then delete the missive you were about to send.
All of those guys may be great guys and their athletic ability and basketball skill are so superior to anyone you know that it’s not even funny but if there’s ever been a reason they are the 10th, 11th and 12th men on the active roster and to be used only in emergencies, last proved it.
Here’s a quick look at what B. Schmitz wrote today.
And one from the mailbag:
Q: I'm a basketball player and I understand the concept of playing how you practice. Recently the Raptors have been slumping (that might be an understatement) but could it be that they haven't practiced hard enough, thus they have been playing poorly? Also I have another question: When playoffs come around do teams practice more or take days off? If they do practice is it more intense than regular season practices?
Stephanie C, Toronto
A: I hope you practice a lot, enjoy the game, have fun every time you play and shoot hoops for years and years to come.
The fact of the matter is they practice as hard as they can, as often as they can but in the grind of the regular season there’s not nearly enough time to get into the gym as often as coaches would like. Back-to-backs, three games in four nights and the bumps and bruises that pop up late in the year all conspire to cut practice time down. What they do, generally, is a lot of shooting work and other drills with maybe some scrimmaging thrown in. But the last thing any coach, or player, wants is someone turning an ankle, tweaking a groin or twisting a knee in a practice scrimmage with such short time between games.
Now that the playoffs are here and the schedule is out, I know they’ll go hard and long on Friday because they’re taking Thursday off (although I’m sure a lot of players will either get in the gym or the trainer’s room for treatment) and then ease off a bit Saturday.
On the off-days between games, practices will include a lot of video work and a lot of walking through their own sets and working on defending what they saw the night before.
You know, refereeing in the NBA is, as I’ve mentioned, the toughest officiating job in all of sports in my opinion. No home games, a judgement call on nearly every possession, and a physical grind.
Must be nice to relax when you’ve got a chance. And be a helluva dad in the process.
I’m told by Someone Who’d Know that a couple of NBA refs, in Chicago on an off-night Wednesday before a pre-playoff union meeting on Thursday, managed to find themselves at Wrigley Field.
One, well-respected ref Scott Wall, took the opportunity to do something so cool for his kids that it can’t go unmentioned.
Flat Stanley, one of the great kids ideas of our time, took in the game, too. And will no doubt provide all kinds of great stories for Scott’s two kids.
That’s a very cool dad thing to do.
I now believe with all my heart that thunderstix are the second-worst in-game schtick ever invented. Morbidly obese men taking their shirts off and jiggling is No. 1 by far. Someone, please, ban that. My retinas hurt.
There’s nothing like seeing an opponent up close in personal.
Not only did the Raptors have advance scout Micah Nori in Atlanta on Tuesday night to scout the Orlando Magic, they also sent assistant coach Jay Triano down there to see just what the Magic are doing these days.
Triano flew down, caught the game and then headed to Chicago early Wednesday morning to get his report ready for Sam and the rest of the staff and be in his usual place for the game against the Bulls.
Last one from the mail, the wakeup call’s coming in about two hours I gotta crash:
Q: Doug, if you were given one choice for your franchise point guard, who would it be among: Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, D. Williams, Steve Nash (Prime), or Jason Kidd (Prime)? Thanks for answering my question
Ty D, Hamilton
A: That’s blatantly unfair because I don’t think we’ve seen Chris Paul or Deron Williams at their prime and no one has any real idea how good Derrick Rose might be.
So, I’m going Nash, Kidd, Paul, Williams, Rose. That’s a bit of cop out and maybe one day Paul moves to the top of the list but not at the moment.