Suns hurting; is it a help or a hindrance?
Well, I’m getting a wee bit better on the time zone thing but it’s going to take me another day, at least, to get used to working outside in the 20C sunshine. But I’ll try to improve, promise.
What’s the difference between smart basketball, which the Raptors are trying to play, and run-and-gun basketball, which is exactly not what they’re trying to do? Let Jay explain it:
“We’re not necessarily running to take a shot in five or six seconds. We’re running to look for an advantage and create tempo and flow and not hold on to the basketball. That’s what our focus has been and we’ve been pretty good at it the last little bit.”
So, heretofore, the phrases ‘run-and-gun’ and ‘Phoenix North’ are forever banned.
It used to be, back in the day, you’d get into the end of an NBA practice and more often than not see some three-point shooting contest, perhaps with some buttons on the line, between players and players and players and coaches or players and trainers or equipment guys.
Now? Not so much.
Now it’s halfcourt shooting games or H.O.R.S.E. competitions that we see and they’re even relatively rare. Sam used to get into a guy’s pocket every now and then – Fred Jones was his particular patsy if my memory’s is correct – and Jay as an assistant used to horse around a lot more than he does as the head coach.
The issue came up yesterday because as practice wound down, I was trying to develop the three-point streak story for the paper. It was impossible to find anyone who could remember those three-point post-practice contest and, given that every player in the NBA has recently sat through an anti-gambling meeting, no one was interested in talking about friendly wagers.
Of course, who’s the first guy to go to? Jason.
“No, it’s more halfcourt games or trick shot games like HORSE. No one really does a three-point game, especially now that I have a couple of trophies.”
The best post-practice halfcourt shooter in these parts? Mo Pete, by far. But Jay isn’t too bad, either.
So what are we reduced to for entertainment while waiting for guys to come over and chat? Yesterday, it was a school-yard shooting game between the true brains of the operation: Equipment and travel gurus Kevin DiPietro and Paul Elliott, fitness magician Keith D’Amelia and the video genius Casey Whalen.
“Look,” one guy said. “A game of midget Bump.”
The word out of Phoenix is thatSteve Nash is “questionable” for tonight, which has to warm the cockles of your hearts, right?
Not sure how many of you were able to watch the Suns last night in L.A. (was it a TSN2 debacle?) but let me tell you they are “questionable” without him. Leandro Barbosa, who killed Toronto earlier this year as I recall, is a fine, fine player but he’s not a front line NBA point guard in the Nash mould. The Suns just didn’t look close to the same team.
But having an advantage over an injury-bothered team is nothing the Raptors have shown they can live with. Remember the times they’ve played teams – New Orleans and Memphis come quickly to mind, so does Milwaukee – that were missing key players?
That sure worked out well.
Hey, you know how you hear all the time about coaches going in after games and ripping their players or praising them or making some heartfelt speech that rallies the troops for the next game?
Doesn’t happen with the Raptors.
This isn’t new at all, but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this before. Jay, after games, doesn’t talk, he calls the players in, says stuff like ‘okay, tomorrow at 11’ and then retreats to his office.
As he put it to us once:
“I may praise ‘em for the doing the wrong thing, I might criticize for the right thing. I need to sit back and see the tape before I really say anything.”
Makes sense to me, actually. Why say something in the emotion of the moment and then have to either backtrack or apologize after closer scrutiny.
This is getting out of hand:
Q: I heard that Shawn Marion's underperformance is caused by him having a hard time adjusting to the cold weather north of the border. Is this true or just another rumor spread by the Raptors faithful?
Jonathan M, Thornhill
A: At first, I thought this was a joke and then I started thinking, ‘no, this is obviously the kind of crap that’s out there’ and it needs to be dealt with. And it’s not just you so don’t take it personally.
Marion made a joke about the Toronto weather, like we all do, and like something that can be fully expected from a guy who’s lived the past decade or so in Vegas, Phoenix and Miami.
He has nothing to do with his future, it has nothing to with your ill-conceived notion of “under-performance.” It has nothing to do with anything.
It was a throwaway line in a conversation and now it’s an issue?
I don’t know where you “heard” it but you’ve got to listen to other people.
My goodness, people have to chill.
It’s official. I believe Don Nelson has lost his mind.
And, if this continues, making a mockery of the game.
I understand the need to see what young players have, especially if you’re a going-nowhere team playing out the string.
But the generally accepted practice, in basketball and in every sport, is to rest your best players much later in the season and only in games against equally inept teams playing for nothing.
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Charlotte wins tonight because the kids who replace Jamal Crawford suck. And then let’s say, for the sake of argument, the Bobcats go on to finish, oh, I dunno, eighth in the East by one game or by a tiebreaker, over someone like New Jersey or New York. Or even Toronto.
Will this game matter? It sure would.
Not sure what anyone can do but what Nellie’s doing is a shame.
Riddle me this, Batman.
A broken leg?
See ya later, Nate.
Q: With Nathan assigned to the D-League, doesn't that take Toronto down to 12 players? How long can a team operate below the 13 player minimum? Is anyone being bought out of interest to this team? Keep up the good work.
Richard S, Lethbridge
A: Nate (and I actually asked him which he preferred, Nathan or Nate, and he said Nate) is still on the official roster, which keeps Toronto at the league-minimum 13. He’ll just be on the inactive list for as long as he’s in Idado (lucky soul), which might be three weeks or so.
And I don’t think a anyone being bought out is of any interest here.
They could do a guy for a 10-deal and even sign a free agent to a pro-rated minimum contract for the rest of the season and stay under the tax threshold but I’m not hearing there’s any significant interest in any one player right now.