Of pressure and who plays when, among other things
A bit later than usual today, the pillow just felt sooooo good.
But it's worth the wait.
THREE THINGS I LEARNED
A little pressure’s a good thing
If you saw the second quarter against Houston, you saw them work a kind of full-court-press-trap-where-you-can defence as well as they have at any time this pre-season.
It had Johnson and Jack trying to trap the ballhandler in the backcourt, Belinelli and Weems lurking in the passing lanes and Bargnani anchored under the basket.
It worked well on a couple of possessions, Belinelli had a steal of a hurried pass on one play I remember well.
Jay said it was to change tempo because the starters were lethargic but it is something we’ll see a lot more of this year because, especially with that second unit, it’s a sound strategy.
It’s not done to create steals, per se, but more to scramble the game, put some pressure in the backcourt that runs time off the shotclock and get the game going at a quicker pace.
With guys like Jack, who’s a good on-ball-defender and Belinelli, kind of a “sneaky” defender, it’s very good use of personnel.
Jose’s new home, sometimes
It was one play, I think early in the third quarter, that you’re going see a lot of this year.
Dribble handoff from Jose to Turkoglu at the top of the circle, Jose runs around a screen to the left hand corner. Turk runs pick and pop with Bargnani on the right side, Bosh is on the block and DeRozan’s lifted on the left side.
Turk turns the corner, Jose’s man cheats to the middle to give some support to the guy covering Bosh and Calderon’s wide open in the corner.
Turk hit him with a perfect cross-court pass on the play I remember and while Jose didn’t make the three-pointer on that occasion, that shot’s going to be there all season long.
It’s one of the big benefits of having a ball-handling forward who can make good decisions.
Time to get serious
Jay alluded to this in his post-game debriefing and it’s going to make the last two pretend games at least a bit more interesting to watch.
He said it’s time to tighten the rotation, which means the starters get stretched out, the substitution pattern will be like the regular season and we’ll finally see how this puzzle might fit together.
Me? I start the usuals, the first guy off the bench now is Johnson for Bargnani, then I go with Jack for Calderon, Belinelli for DeRozan and bring Bargnani back for Bosh to start the second quarter, when I also go back to Jose for Turkoglu, giving you Jack, Calderon, Belinelli, Bargnani and Johnson for about five minutes.
Then I go back to Bosh and Turkoglu for Johnson and Jack, leaving four starters and Belinelli to finish the half.
And, depending on the size of the other team’s backcourt, I might leave Jack out there with Jose for the bulk of the second quarter.
(The other possibility, and it would depend on matchups and the inevitable foul trouble Johnson would find himself in is to use Rasho in that backup big role).
I know there no Weems in this little scenario but I’m not sure where he fits; I guess he could get the Belinelli minutes but you need Marco’s halfcourt offence.
Now, the rest of the story:
Please, anyone out there who’s worried about the outcomes of these games, read these words from Jay.
“In the pre-season, we’re trying to evaluate where guys fit into rotations as well. There’s not a lot of hanging heads right now. Would we like to win? Yes. Would we like to play better? Yes. Would I be playing some of these guys if we were trying to win the game right through? No.
“This is part of evaluation and where guys are going to fit into rotations with our team as well. They have to understand, they’re on trial for where they’re going to fit within this team. At both ends of the floor.”
I could use some mail but a word of warning: It’s time to cull the weekly mailbag, no more 5,000 word offerings, it’s too much for me and I imagine it’s too much for some of you.
You know how sometimes I goof around and try to coach? Happens a lot in the in-game blog in a rather facetious way.
Well, sometimes, it seems, Jay tries to write.
(I joke, sort of).
He’s got a new book out these days, called Basketball Basics, How to Play Like The Pros.
Good looking tome, full of instructions and drills and the like. He’ll be autographing copies at the Indigo Eaton Centre at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Tell him I said hi. And to keep to his own gig.
Legend Lovers Alert!!!!!
The Houston Chronicle says this about that.
I’ve seen a lot of things in my years around the arena here but last night was a first.
Wandering through the concourse, I saw a woman wearing – get this! – a Chris Garner replica jersey.
Seriously, No. 00, the old white pinstripe jersey.
I imagine it was a game-worn one she got at some charity event because I cannot imagine they ever, you know, made one to sell.
Outside of the little kid I once saw wearing a replica Chicken jersey, the Garner one takes the cake.
Hey, a day off for them means kind of a day off for me. Knock off this Hedo profile I’m trying to work up for tomorrow’s newspaper and chill. I like this day off thing quite a bit.