|ANDREW WALLACE/TORONTO STAR|
|Big matchup in Orlando tonight. Literally.|
So I wake up this morning, wander to get the daily paper outside the door and notice the frost on the car and the chill in the air and it’s like, ‘hey, this isn’t Orlando!’
No, it’s not. Taking this trip off, too (two more of the 16 or so road games I’ll miss go past the board) which kind of blows because it’s not, you know, warm here.
But the show must go on. And on it shall go. We’ll be in the home watching and blogging the games tonight and tomorrow so do not worry (and I know you all are).
This should be an interesting one against the Magic.
I still think Orlando’s due to step back from the 50 wins a year ago because that bench is a big concern but as a measuring stick for the new-look locals, the game has some extra juice.
Six bigs, all with diverse skills, clogging the court. If Jose can go (and we won’t know until right before the game, I don’t imagine) an interesting matchup with the guy who killed them last year in the playoffs, Jameer Nelson.
What we should see is how far Bargnani has really progressed defensively. He really didn’t get the job done in the aborted start as a small forward last year but he was just thrown in there back then. He’s a better defender now, I don’t think he’ll as much trouble keeping Turkoglu or Lewis in front of him as he did last spring. The one thing I noticed most of all about Bargnani on Sunday was they he was able to move his feet and cut off the smaller, quicker Daequan Cook in that mismatch.
Sam told us yesterday this Three Bigs (notice it’s not the Big Three) is here for a while so Bargnani better get used to guarding small forwards.
Here’s one of your more interesting Dwight Howard stats: He’s got a higher field goal percentage (60.3 per cent) than he does free throw percentage (52.1 per cent). That, even to someone who isn’t all the concerned about numbers, is telling. Hope Hump uses his six fouls wisely.
A visit to the mail:
Q: I was at the game against Miami Sunday which your story describes as a "sellout". At any given time about a fifth of the seats in the building seemed empty to me. What qualifies as a sellout and who decides?
Sam S, Toronto
A: It’s all about tickets sold. That’s what determines sellouts, not bums in the seats. Easiest way for us to tell? We look up in the corners of the upper deck, if those seats are filled, the joint’s sold out.
Can we all, please, throw cold water all over anyone’s idea that the Raptors will have any interest whatsoever ever in renting Stephon Marbury for the rest of this season if he gets a buyout from the Knicks.
The dude is toxic; he’s still got game, but he’s toxic. Can you imagine him playing backup to Jose Calderon in a contract year and liking it? Not a chance. No way.
He would, however, become the first Raptor with a tattoo on the side of his head. Of a shoe company logo. ON HIS HEAD!
Wonder what they’re saying about this game down in Orlando? Glad you asked.
And I note with great glee that another story in that paper suggests the temperature will dip into the 30s (F) tonight. Tee-hee!
The Chicken, everyone's favourite stuffed animal, makes it to the big time. Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen’s a friend and one of the very best NBA writers out there and now he’s really starting to do some investigative work. Nice yarn here.
Q: Love the post game dissection, well done. I have a question about scouting reports? Do you ever get to see them? After reading your man Ira's article, I see that the Heat was surprised by our prowess on the boards Sunday. Do you think that the Magic will connect the dots or be caught off guard? Do you think that the "Big 3 Combo" will turn the tide on the rebounding woes?
Tom B, Uxbridge
A: The Heat wasn’t the only group surprised by Toronto’s rebounding prowess on Sunday; you can put the Raptors in that category, too.
We don’t see the actual written scouting reports, although we do normally get a glance on the locker room whiteboard at the plays that day’s opponents run.
But trust me, Orlando has seen everything the Raptors did on Sunday and have dissected it like mad over the last 24 hours.
The weekly (some say weakly) dancing digression:
Warren Sapp, baby. Warren Sapp. Hope you voted early, and voted often.
My initial reaction to Mark Cuban being charged with insider trading?
There’s no way in the world he’s that stupid to set himself up like that.
Of course, the only thing I really know about finance is if I put my bank card in the machine and hit some buttons money comes out but it’s inconceivable to me that a guy with so many varied business interests and so much money would make such a stupid, and obvious, mistake.
Now, I’m not a huge Cuban fan as a team owner for a variety of reasons. I think his over-the-top antics helped cause the meltdown in the final against Miami and I think his spoiling of players is more about him showing off than anything since he’s never attracted a high price free agent to Dallas but he’s obviously a brilliant businessman.
Way smarter than to do something that dumb for such a relatively small amount of money.