Now how do you feel about the Celtics?
Good morning Celtics, er, I mean Raptors fans.
Much better than yesterday morning, I imagine.
And this will make it even better. Really, it will.
Sign of things to come?
I’m sure you all noticed that the Raptors used Hedo Turkoglu at power forward for a big chunk of last night and, you have to admit, it worked pretty well.
Eight more rebounds, eight more points (on six shots) and four assists but, most important, it created matchup problems that allowed Andrea and Amir to get going as well. There just seems to be more space for the bigs to operate when Turk takes a four out to the top to run pick-and-roll stuff.
I know it’s only being done because Bosh isn’t around and they are concerned about putting Reggie out for extended minutes because sometimes the offence bogs down when he’s on the court.
But it has looked good and I’m sure you’ll see more of it tomorrow night when the Knicks go with one of their unorthodox lineups at times.
You know these Raptors aren’t among the greatest of teams at finishing quarters, right? Sometimes concentration wanes in the final couple of minutes and what was a comfortable lead shrinks, the other guys get some momentum and games change.
That’s why it was it was quite unusual to see how the final 2:30 of he first half ended last night.
A Charlie V bucket had cut a 15-point deficit to nine, the Pistons seemed to have some life (and that’s a relative term because they really didn’t play with any intensity at all) and it was “oh, oh” time for Toronto.
Well, Jay calls a timeout, they get an open look for Turk to knock down a three on the ensuing possession, Andrea hits one the next trip and they end up finishing the half with a 12-point lead.
Might have saved an awful lot of angst and, perhaps, the game.
Shudder at the thought
There was a moment in the third quarter when the Pistons were trying to junk up the game a little bit by pressing and trapping and swarming the Raptors for 94 feet.
And when I looked up at one point and saw DeMar dribbling against the pressure in the backcourt, my immediate reaction was to close my eyes.
Now, the kid might eventually be very good, I don’t know for sure, but right now he is hardly Meadowlark DeRozan and the last thing he should be doing is dribbling against pressure.
A wee bit more? If you insist.
And this, courtesy of my good friend Mr. Bonnell, is why I respect Larry Brown:
“The Chicago game is going to be different. If that game means something to Chicago and Toronto, I think for the integrity of the league, we’ve got to have all our players available.”
Brown’s Bobcats didn’t use everyone in their win Monday in New Jersey because, as Brown said:
“I know New Jersey is not going to be in the playoffs so I don’t feel as bad not playing everybody.”
You know I’m not the biggest fan of the extraneous, um, stuff that goes on at NBA games, the in-host screamers, the zany contests, the sponsored this and the sponsored that.
Well, I saw one schtick last night that was hilarious. And should be mimicked in Toronto somehow.
During one of the late breaks, the played Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing at somewhere near ear-splitting decibels as part of a “singing bee” where they scroll the words on the bottom of the scoreboard screen, flash a camera on fans, who have to sing. But while they do it, a huge majority of the fans are singing, too.
It was great.
I know it’s not original (bless my Sweet Caroline-warbling Red Sox fans) but it’s really funny if the crowd plays along. Now, maybe that’d be an issue in Toronto, I don’t know. But they should try it with some song that’s got a catchy tune and that you can dance to.
Oh, and when they put the camera on Jack and Matt, I almost laughed out loud.
How are the Bulls feeling?
Okay, so you’ve had the defensive players and all-defensive team and the three post-season all-star teams.
Here’s how one ballot would fill out a few other categories
(and I’m saving MVP, rookie and coach until tomorrow because that might be a slow day)
Marc Gasol, Memphis; Aaron Brooks, Houston; George Hill, San Antonio
This is a tough one because it’s so nebulous. Does a guy get better because he gets more minutes? Or does he get better because he improves his game in every facet? I think Gasol did the latter.
Jamal Crawford, Atlanta; Manu Ginobili, San Antonio; Jason Terry, Dallas.
Not particularly difficult, in my opinion; this one could be a landslide.
Executive of the year
John Hammond, Milwaukee; Steve Kerr, Phoenix; Donnie Nelson, Dallas.
This is actually voted on by NBA GMs but we know they need all the help they can get.
Hey, the folks at Canada Basketball need your help still. Remember a few weeks back, I mentioned they were doing this easy-for-you fund-raising gig where you text a number and make an automatic $5 donation?
How easy is that?
Well, it’s still going on, they’ve got a lot of world championship mouths to feed this summer and every little bit helps.
Click here. Do it. You’ll feel good about it. Promise.
I have a new favourite NBA broadcaster, hands down.
Brent Barry of NBA TV.
No question about.
I did a little hit with him, Eric Snow and Matt Viner before the game and before they even starting grilling me about the Raptors and Bosh and all things Toronto, Brent says he loves Grunt TV!
How could you not love the guy? Seriously.
And, by (semi) popular demand, it’ll return tomorrow for giggles.
You’ll note, by reading this story out of today’s Boston Globe, that they’re talking a good game around the Celtics about everybody playing and playing hard and needing to finish strong because they’re still in a tight race with Atlanta for third and fourth in the conference.
We, as they say, shall see because last week when the Cs were in town one of the bigwigs I was talking to suggested it was hard to get ‘em motivated because they were waiting for the post-season and, despite what they say, weren’t all the concerned whether they finished third or fourth.
Okay, long drive, lots of scribbling to do once I get back, have yourselves a fine day.