How's everyone feeling today? A wee bit better?
Join Doug Smith for a live Q&A at noon today, as the Raptors prepare to take on the New Jersey Nets.
My good Lord, you people are angry.
Seriously, there was some major league venom in those comments yesterday. Maybe even eclipsing those after the Atlanta game. If they lose tonight, not sure I’m even going to turn on the machine tomorrow.
But, for now, we soldier on …
You know me, all “let’s wait, give it time, it’s too early to go all crazy and nutty and fire this guy, trade those six guys, bench those other nine guys and WHY THE HELL DOESN’T POPS PLAY MORE!”
Well, time’s up.
These next dozen games, eight against teams below .500, only one back-to-back and no horribly arduous travel, are the time to make a move.
Or a time to make some realize it’s time to make other moves.
The five that begin tonight – New Jersey, New Orleans, at Detroit Detroit back here and then Charlotte – is by far the easiest stretch of games they’ve had this season. Depending on how things shake out, it might end up being the easiest stretch of games they’ll have all year.
Now, you also know I think there’s plenty of talent on this team, more than enough to still legitimately challenge for fifth or six or seventh in the East (which is about where some had them at the start of the season).
Let’s say they go 4-1 here (and you know they’ll spit one up for sure). That gets them to, what, 15-19 15-18 on Jan. 1, which is about two games worse than I originally figured.
Can they go 4-1? Sure. No question. Will they? No idea. But it’ll be fun to watch.
If they do, do you think the season’s in the toilet then? No way. It’s not.
Now, if they go 1-4 here and are 12-22 12-21 when the calendar turns and it’s time to think about rushing to make some substantial change.
But if I’m them, I don’t even think about anything until a week or so into 2010.
This came in a few days ago in a game-day chat from someone or something known as Crackers and I promised to get to it here one day.
Doug, I'm with you with the "defense is a team effort" thing. Maybe you can elaborate more on why it is a team effort (individual skills aside)? Such as communication, bonding, knowing where a player will be in a given position, and such? Maybe that'll make readers understand the "team effort".
It boils down to this: The players, a vast, vast majority of them simply cannot be stopped one-on-one. At least not the majority of times. They are too skilled, they know where they want to and they are, honestly, very good.
So it is communication and system and here’s one example:
A guard runs a high screen and a defending team “shows” a big, that is stepping out to impede the progress of the attacking guard.
That generally means the offensive big who set the screen will roll to the basket and other defensive big, who is usually in the low post on the opposite side of the lane, has to leave his man to guard the guy going to the basket, or at least move towards him.
That big has to let the guy at the top of the key know, by yelling most of the time, that he’s got his man and to stay up with the guard.
Now, someone has to help him, and that’s generally the forward or the guard on the weak side, who has to slide over to take care of the big. He’s not only got to let his teammates know he’s going, he’s got to go quickly and to the right spot.
Here’s what happens all too often to Toronto:
The guard using the screen gets trapped, he kicks the ball to the wing and it’s passed to the corner while the Raptors defence is scrambling.
The big who “showed” on the screen has to get either down low or out to the corner while the weak-side forward has to get in position to guard someone under the basket.
How many times have you see them do a good job on the screen, close out on the shooter in the corner, only to have a missed shot drop into the lap of a weakside offensive player because the weakside defender was either too unaware, or too slow, to get inside the man he was supposed to guard and box him out under the basket? A million times? That’s bad communication and bad execution and why a good “team” defence is needed more than anything.
I have no idea if that answers your question but it’s all I’ve got for you now.
Oh, saw Bosh’s DVD thing the other night.
Sort of entertaining to me, it does present a look at the kid you won’t get anywhere else and I do know that Super Son, 13, was quite impressed with it.
There are no hugely startling revelations so don’t go looking for that but you do get a look at a guy wrestling with a decision to, well, in my opinion, deface his body.
Should anyone buy it?
I’m not going to tell you how to spend your money (unless it’s to buy me a nice gift or a cold beer) but it’s quite a unique look at an athlete.
Way back in the day, say six months ago, I imagine the vast majority of you would have been hugely interested in the goings-on with the Nets.
Atlantic Division rival, that No 15 guy, a team you loved to hate.
Now? Not so much.
But here’s one of this morning’s offerings about them just to get you up to date, although I notice my man Dave D seems to have enjoyed a day of rest and relaxation. Smart man.
Speaking of the Nets, we all recall that yesterday was the anniversary of what has to be the single worst player transaction in franchise history. That’s when you take several factors – return obtained, short-term implications, long-term implications, blows to collective psyche – into consideration because there have been other doozies (hello Araujo over Iguadala, which actually started this downward trend).
It got me thinking, which is often a dangerous proposition.
What was the single best?
And after careful consideration (okay, some time on the couch watching Heat-Magic and a few minutes while driving for coffee) this is what I’ve come up with:
Antonio Davis for Jonathan Bender.
Say what you will about AD, and you bashed him ferociously when he left just as you lauded him greatly when he was here, he gave them an edge and inside presence and a sidekick for Oak that was just what they needed.
Bender? Well, too bad it didn’t work out for him.
The other to consider would definitely be Oakley for Camby but considering what Marcus went on to achieve in his career, it has to come in second.
Sound about right to you?
A couple of writers scribbled yesterday to the mailbox wondering how on earth the Raptors could have taken the day off.
They needed it.
Back-to-backs in Florida to end three games in four days and four in six; late flight back from Orlando that would have got in during the wee overnight hours; the theory of diminishing returns.
Now, know this: A handful of players – the rookie among them – would have got into the gym to get a workout in so it wasn’t like everyone went home to play video games all day.
The idea of a “punishment” practice, while sweet, is best saved for some future time. It’s not like they should have beaten Orlando, or that they lost by 60 in Miami.
They lost to one better team and one that, at the moment, is better than them and probably ends up on par with them at the end of the year.
I have no problem with them not having a practice scheduled yesterday at all.
Speaking of mail, last chance to get some in. Pretty full over there now but I don’t have a lot going on Saturday so there’s time to answer a few.
All right, don’t forget: Game-day chat at noon my time, in-game blog at 7. Be there, or be square.