What's it all mean? We don't know quite yet
|LUCAS OLENIUK/TORONTO STAR|
|Enjoy it while you can because you never know when the Raptors are going to fall down again.|
So they batter the Bulls and crush the Kings and all’s well in the world, right?
Maybe. Maybe not.
This is a pretty telling week coming up, the Nets on the road, Bucks and Magic at home and check back here during the Super Bowl to find out whether this thing is turned around or if beating two weak opponents was nothing special.
I have a feeling that it's more turned around than anything but, as we’ve seen a lot this year, sometimes this group doesn’t handle success as well as it should. But today’s a good day in Raptor land and enjoy it while you can.
On to the stuff:
Action: JO’s double-double.
Reaction: They were watching in Miami.
Make no mistake about it, if Pat Riley calls today and says the O’Neal-Marion-bit parts deal’s a go, Bryan signs off immediately.
Yes, the injury to Hump clouds the front-court issue in Toronto if Jermaine ends up with the Heat but the GM here can’t be all that worried about the next month when it comes to getting the financial flexibility – not to mention a 30-something game upgrade at the small forward spot – afforded by the proposed trade, which is very, very much still on the front burner.
If Toronto had to go a month or so with a frontcourt rotation of Bosh, Bargnani, Voskuhl with Marion sliding to the four for a few minutes a night, I’m pretty sure they could live with it given what they’d be able to do with player acquisitions in the summer.
And I will reiterate one more time: Having substantial cap room this summer is not only about signing free agents so if you look at the list and are underwhelmed, don’t worry.
It’s more about having the chance to obtain guys in trades as anything which opens up a whole raft of other possibilities.
O’Neal looked exponentially more comfortable yesterday than he did on Friday in Chicago or Wednesday in Detroit and you can be sure there’s a tape of the game floating around the Heat offices.
How much of a grind has it been lately? Not having games today or tomorrow is the first time the Raptors have had more than one day between games since they were off Dec. 23, 24, 25.
I know us grunts are glad to be not getting on a plane or going to a game for 48 hours, I can just imagine how welcome a break this is for the guys who actually have to take the pounding on the court night in and night out.
Action: Bargnani’s rebounding
Reaction: Everybody chill
Much has been made about the kid’s rebounding prowess but, really, there’s much more to it than just his numbers.
In the 15 games he’s started since Dec. 31, when Jermaine O’Neal first missed a game with the knee injury, not only has he averaged about seven boards a game (not bad for a third year centre who does his best work about 20 feet from the basket), Toronto’s out-rebounding the opponent in nine of those games.
A couple of times yesterday, and a couple I remember clearly in Chicago, he’s held his man off by effecting boxing out while someone else got the board, which is just want you’d want him to do.
No, he’s not an Italian Rodman or anything but he’s certainly not a huge liability on the boards.
A question of time:
Q: Nice back to back wins.. Now that Jose is back and AP is handling the majority of the backup PG minutes, do you think that coach Triano will think about deactivating Solomon or Ukic (probably Solomon at this point)? Seems like a waste to have 2 backup PGs on the bench that aren't playing that much.
Tommy P, Edmonton
A: No reason to de-activate anyone, they can dress 12 and someone’s got to play the final 90 seconds of a rout. Besides, deactivate them for who? With Hump hurt, they’ve only got 12 guys.
And I think Roko’s going to keep getting four or five first-half minutes a night as they balance the Calderon-Parker minutes.
But from now on, with so much in the balance over the final 36 games, AP’s going to be the primary backup.
I know the Oklahoma Thunder have one less victory but to these eyes the Sacramento Kings are the worst team in the NBA by a wide margin. A very wide margin.
And I have no idea how they’re going to get better. Sure, Kevin Martin’s okay (he’s a pure scorer and having one of them always helps) but beyond that? Marginal talent, at best.
Once John Salmons puts his head down and starts dribbling he never, ever passes (maybe God did everybody a favour by, as he puts it, telling him to renege on the Raptors); point guard play is spotty at best, Brad Miller’s at the end of a pretty good career and the bench is brutal.
That team’s a long, long, long, long way from even sniffing the post-season.
Oh, and here’s how they wrote up yesterday’s affair.
Back to the mail:
Q: Hey Doug, is Jeff Van Gundy losing his mind, or does he just try to be funny? Aside from his preference for Varejao over Bosh for the All-Star Gme he always seems to have odd suggestions and opinions about the game. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but with some of the things he suggests, I don't know if he is nuts or some sort of visionary.
Alessio G, St. Catharines
A: I heard that Jeff said he’d take Varejao over Bosh and wonder what kind of hallucinogens they’re putting in the ABC catering truck. Anderson Varejao’s a pretty good player but he can’t tie Bosh’s shoelaces.
But Jeff’s an entertaining analyst and, if he gets people talking, isn’t he just doing his job?
There is nothing quite like garbage time in the NBA, is there? I don’t imagine too many of you saw it, but sitting in this place with lots of TVs late last night, the end of the Clipper-Golden State game was hilarious.
Only at the end of a blowout would you see 7-1 Clipper Chiekh Samb hoist a three-pointer and get up about three shots in the final minute of a game or watch Marcus Williams of the Warriors throw some goofy behind-the-back pass to someone sitting in about the second row of the seats.
Classic garbage time.
Speaking of classic garbage time, I love Nate Jawai and hope he has a good and long career but his Toronto debut isn’t going to be memorable.
A foul, an airball and getting dunked on in less than two minutes isn’t going into the highlight Hall of Fame.