Odd substitutions and a visitor from the past
Seven down, one to go.
THREE THINGS I LEARNED
An odd decision
Given that Jay had said before the game that he was planning on going to as close to his regular rotation as he could, I was entirely surprised to see the first sub of the game be Sonny Weems for Hedo Turkoglu and the second be Amir Johnson for Bosh.
The only thing I can think of is that it had more to do with conditioning than strategy because I will be utterly shocked if that’s how it is on Oct. 28.
Then, I expect it to be someone – Antoine Wright, maybe – for DeMar DeRozan.
Checking in, then out
Did you see the moment with about six minutes left when Jose, Bosh and, I believe, Turkoglu got back up off the bench and started to saunter to the scorer’s table to check back in.
The game was effectively over and all I could think of was Jay was thinking about getting them a few more minutes for conditioning purposes alone. He wasn’t ticked at them, there was scant chance of some miracle comeback in a meaningless pre-season game so that’s what it had to be, right?
Yes, it was, but then, in a moment of clarity, he called them back during a timeout.
“I was going to put them in to push their conditioning but when I saw the lineup they had in, I thought why push it against these guys? I don’t know what they were going to get in the last six minutes of the game other than injured.
“We can take care of the minutes and conditioning (today).”
A good call, surprisingly
You may have noticed that I’m not a fan of The Replacements (and yesterday’s fascination with moving screens, along with 54 fouls and 52 free throws, kind of vindicates me, I believe) but hey did get one right.
But it was odd.
It what looked an awful lot like Basketball Dominos, Paul Pierce pushed a teammate into Chris Bosh who tumbled into Sonny Weems, who missed a shot because he was being smacked by his teammate.
(Whether he would have made it had he been left all alone is open for debate, of course).
But The Replacement got Pierce for the foul in the correct call, even if it was a tad confusing.
And now, for the rest of the story
M. Grange ™ and I are standing by the bench pre-game when this visitor from the past wanders by, looking a bit worn out, I must admit.
We both do a double take and wonder, ‘hmm, what’s this all about?’
It was Dave Hopla, the shooting guru/consultant who worked here a couple of years ago and is back, he tells me, just for a couple of days to see what’s up and if he can help.
He’d been an assistant in Washington who got whacked when Flip Saunders came in and cleaned house.
Now, Dave’s a good guy but to think he’s going to magically turn Sonny Weems or DeMar DeRozan into Ray Allen is ridiculous.
Those two kids need to work on their shots and the Raptors must think some gentle coaxing from Hopla is in order.
Here’s what the Boston fellows, or at least one of them, had to say about that affair.
Wow, a guy agrees with Kobe Bryant on AP and all of a sudden a storm breaks out.
Let me explain my logic, and, as I may have mentioned, call me in May and if I’m wrong I’ll say so.
I believe Shaq will get hurt and miss a bunch of games, I believe he will, at some point, whine about his role in the offence and create a distraction for a game or two, I don’t for a second think he and Ilgauskas will give them more than they got from Ilguaskas alone last year. I believe that Shaq, on a team with a staid, creativity-free offence, will clog up the very area – the paint – that the James fellow likes the best.
AP, on the other hand, provides some things they do not have, and desperately need. Outside shooting, solid if unspectacular defence (and I know this will irk many, but the people connected to the game and far, far, far smarter than you or I think he’s a pretty good defender) and locker room leadership.
And on a legitimate championship contender, I, and many others, don’t have any faith whatsoever in the gaggle or so-so wings on that team. Boobie Gibson? Give me a break. Mo Williams? Tiny shooter who can’t guard you.
Seriously, what was the fatal flaw with the Cavs last year? They couldn’t make an open shot to save their souls (Sasha Pavlovic and Wally Szczerbiak were horrible in the post-season) and they had no old head to get them through tough times.
Around the East? Vince Carter? He’ll have a great year, I bet, he’d be second on the list.
Rasheed Wallace? I’m told he’s semi-retired.
Hedo? Yeah, going from 33 wins to the playoffs – if they get there – is big; AP’s got a chance to help a team get from the conference finals to the finals.
Like I said, I could be wrong, but I doubt it. Talk to me in May.
Ledes I wish I had written, courtesy of today’s New York Times on one of the oddest happenstances I can think of.
Having watched DeMar DeRozan for five games now, I firmly believe the Raptor record for assists by a rookie will not be challenged.
You don’t think coaches like to play possum in the pre-season.
Check out this post-game Doc Rivers quote:
“I actually did like the lineup up Marquis, Ray and Paul with Rasheed and Kevin. It was a very difficult matchup … We didn’t stay with it long because I liked it, so I got out of it.
“What we felt would happen, happened. They had to try to figure out who they were going to put on Marquis and who they were going to play on Ray. We got a couple of baskets before they could do that, so that was good for us.”
Having seen three of four home pre-season games live, I can only say this:
I hope the game ops people have some new hijinks to show off once things start for real in 10 days.
So far, very boring, very old school, very non-innovative.
Surely to goodness they’ve got something extra to show on Oct. 28.
Let’s see, off-days to cover today, tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday along with next Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
Hmm, this is a taxing time for a beat grunt, too, trying to come up with stories that are even marginally informative and entertaining.
Wish me luck.