Rebounding, Sioux Falls Sam and what about the Huskies?
While the Raptors and their travelling party of merry gentlemen were frolicking in the sunshine of Orlando yesterday – and they will this morning, too – some of us were back here dreaming up ways to entertain you.
And, before I venture off to Gotham, here’s how that all worked out:
|ANDREW WALLACE/TORONTO STAR|
|Hard to believe what we're seeing on the glass right now.|
You know what I wish I knew?
Why the Raptors have of all of sudden become one of the better rebounding teams in all of basketball.
They’ve out-rebounded every opponent in this five-game winning streak and are something like plus-69 on the boards in that time. That’s entirely unusual.
Here are two theories:
Shawn Marion, after something that was like a mini-hiatus from playing well, has re-emerged as arguably the best rebounding small forward this team has ever had, that boosts the total.
And, frankly, The Legend has something to do with it, too. Pops gives the second unit an athleticism it hasn’t had, really, all season and that boosts the total, too. I know he missed a game in there and was ineffective in a couple of others but the numbers he gets help, too.
One more that can’t be discounted? Their rebounding prowess is helped immensely by their relatively high-powered offence. Since they’re scoring so much, they’re able to get back and set up their defence rather than being beaten down the court in transition, having to scramble and giving up all kinds of offensive rebounds because they start the possession out of position.
Oh yeah, news!
Regulars here will know that I’m not a big proponent of neutral site exhibition games – Rome and Madrid being the two notable exceptions – so it was with great consternation that I learned yesterday that we’re going to some place called Sioux Falls (which I think might be in Idaho, that garden spot) next fall.
Generally for neutral site games, the arenas and working conditions are sub-standard, the cities are small and uninteresting (again, Rome and Madrid being the exceptions) and it’s just an overall pain in the bum.
The only good thing about this one?
They’ll be playing the Minnesota Timberwolves (it’s Minnesota’s home game and they move around to such joints as Sioux Falls and – yikes! – Billings to fulfill some goofy bank sponsorship) and that means there’s a chance we’ll get to see The One And Only Sam Mitchell and his return to the NBA coaching wars.
We can only hope.
Did anyone notice that a bunch of NBA teams are wearing green warmups and Denver had green jerseys last night in the league’s latest Save The Planet campaign.
No one, as far as I can tell, has whined about them stealing the Celtics colours to further their cause.
Just in case you were wondering, and many were given the tank-no tank, lose-win, increase your chances at blowing a draft pick in the back end of the lottery, here are the percentages of winning the thing depending on where they finish among lottery teams:
Eighth: 2.8 per cent
Ninth: 1.7 per cent
Tenth: 1.1 per cent
Eleventh: 0.8 per cent
Twelfth: 0.7 per cent
Thirteenth: 0.6 per cent
Fourteenth: 0.5 per cent.
And, seeing how I figure they’ll at least remain ahead of New York and likely catch New Jersey in the last week and a half and they’re ninth now, a couple of wins takes them from a 1.7 per cent chance of winning to, perhaps, 0.8 per cent.
That’s what? Nine-tenths of one per cent? Big whoop.
Please, do me a favour?
Someone slap me the next time I even contemplate making a wisecrack about an April Fool’s Day prank I didn’t witness with my own eyes.
Seriously, if the Washington Wizards can show up with “Zephyrs” uniforms on (a nod to the Chicago Zephyrs, who moved to Baltimore in 1963 and eventually became the modern day Wizards), next season Toronto can trot out some Huskies jerseys?
People have been asking about the possibility for years and years now and while I’m loath to suggest ways Maple Leaf Sports can make more money, this is a no-brainer if they’re going to “celebrate” a team from ’62 that played in another city, surely they can “celebrate” a team that played in the league’s inaugural season.
Here’s a topic a few people have broached:
Is there any way the Raptors can send Nate to an elite Euro team next season to play a lot and develop his skills and still retain his N.B.A. rights? Surely that would help him more than either the D League or infrequent garbage time minutes. And someone like Rasho or Jake would be a better known quantity as the last big in the short run. Thanks.
Dave R, Aurora
The only place they can send Jawai next season is the D Leauge, they cannot assign him anywhere else except to the team in the minors they have an affiliation with.
The only way he could wind up in Europe is if Toronto waives him and buys out the last year of his contract and I cannot imagine that happening.
Oh yeah, forgot yesterday ‘cause this stupid cold is still bothering my brains but the DWTS departure of the computer nerd and Playboy bunny means people finally got things right.
Just about every time we’ve wondered this season about the mental toughness of this team and how it would respond to serious challenges, we’ve found it lacking.
And that’s why I really can’t wait to see how things unfold at Madison Square Garden tomorrow afternoon.
Remember Feb. 20? The Raps had come off the all-star break ready to make their move, talking tough and proud about how it was there time to charge up the standings and become something of a factor in the Eastern Conference race. They had a day of practice, were well rested and facing a Knicks team that is far from, you know, good.
Knicks 42, Raptors 22 after one.
Knicks 127, Raptors 97 final.
The word “embarrassment” was thrown around incessantly in the aftermath, quite rightfully so, and while I know there are few statements to make at this time in a lost season, it would behoove them to come out with even a modicum of energy and effort tomorrow, if for no other reason than pride.
Yes, it shall be interesting.
Speaking of the Knicks, it says here that they’re getting ready to give Eddy Curry some burn at home and if I recall correctly, they booed his under-achieving, overweight self the last time they saw him and I don’t presume fans have become more charitable in the interim.
Might make for an interesting afternoon.
And a last one from the mail until tomorrow morning when I’m hoping to have a big ol’ mailbag for you to digest ‘cause Sunday’s little corner should be taken up with whatever hijinks occur tomorrow afternoon.
Q: Hey Doug: Got a Sports/SocioEconomic question for you. If Michigan State makes it to the National Championship game on Monday night, what do you think will cost more, an average lower bowl ticket at Ford Field, or an average house in foreclosure in urban Detroit? For reference, the CBC had a report on their newscast a few nights ago saying the average foreclosed home in Detroit was going for about $500, just so banks could get them off their books. Sadly, if MSU makes the final, I think the cost of an average lower bowl ticket will be more than one of those foreclosed houses.
Roger B, Toronto
A: I’m sure you’re right. But I don’t think it’s all that unexpected, seeing the skewed place sports occupy in our society.