Defensive gems and a last look at the trade
That, as a wise man once said, is why they play the games.
And so far this season, I think these guys have shown that they are capable of hard work almost every night – the Washington game, and maybe the Golden State one – are the two aberrations and I’m thinking now that total effort is the norm rather than the exception.
Makes ‘em fun to watch, doesn’t it?
Cover who? Oh, no one.
It was hilarious at times to watch Reggie Evans and Shaquille O’Neal guard each other when they were both on the court.
Reggie’d come out to get the ball at the top of the key and Shaq’d play centre field on defence; Shaq would find himself somewhere near the high post on offence and Reggie’d be under the basket.
Solid strategy on both sides since neither of them is any kind of threat to drive or pass and it allowed both bigs to help out defending other guys.
A conversation as it goes on
I can’t remember if it was the first quarter or the second but it was pretty cool to hear.
Lawrence Frank was pretty, um, animated when Glen Davis was guarding Reggie Evans and he was letting Big Baby know in no uncertain terms what he wanted him to do.
“Sag, Baby; sag. Sag, Baby; sag.”
(I don’t think he was talking about Glen’s body)
Sure enough, Davis played off Evans for a possession and next time down the floor, the same thing:
“Sag, Baby; sag. Sag.”
Finally Davis, as that second possession was going on, looks up:
“I am sagging.”
This is becoming a habit
Last Boston possession, they set up a play and all of a sudden the Raptors disrupt it.
Jay puts Amir on the guy passing the ball in, he’s got Barbosa and Weems, I believe it was, already switched on their men so that Barbosa can chase Ray Allen off the inevitable screen and they three-quartered Garnett so there was no easy pass to the post.
Forced the Celtics to take another timeout because they couldn’t get the ball in and while Pierce did get a good look, it was a pretty impressive defensive finish for a team not known for it
Toss in the last-second steal in Orlando and the steal and bucket last week against Houston and these guys are getting pretty good at end-of-game defence.
Who’d a’thunk that?
In other, um, things …
Okay, the trade, probably for the last time (at least until we get to chat with Bayless and Stojakovic):
I’ll give you something from Bryan that’s kind of interesting:
“If the last four years were about building around Chris Bosh, the next four years are about building without Chris Bosh.”
Toss in these bon mots, too:
“Whether or not we win, it’s not the true issue right now.”
Now, that last one was a bit of a stretch; trust me, this team and its GM and its players and coaches want to win every game they play (as well they should) but those statements re-affirm this is a process, perhaps a long process, of team building.
And what the deal has done is put the GM squarely on the hotseat.
He’s got about $25 million in expiring contracts and a $12.3 million trade exception to play around with between now and the summer and he’s got to do something.
But he doesn’t have to do something right now.
It remains my contention that Bryan doesn’t have to spend just for the sake of spending, he can be patient and sit back and see if the exact right opportunity presents itself.
The thing is, now he’s got more ammunition to make some kind of splash.
What of Bayless and Stojakovic? Well, the coaches here – even in private, ‘come on, can the kid play at all?’ moments – rave about Bayless’s defence and toughness. He’s slight – met him briefly Sunday night and he’s hardly a physically-imposing presence, but if he’s got some grit, it’ll be welcome. And at least he’s coming somewhere that people know him, he spent at least one USA Basketball development summer being coached by Jay and P.J.
Peja? Remains to be seen. At 33, I wonder how much he’s got left and how he really fits into a team that plays the way Toronto wants to play.
Bryan did say there were no assurances given either way – that they’d move him to a contender later in the year or play him a lot here in Toronto – and that they’d sit down and talk when he got to town.
But what I think might happen is they give him some early time in games to show what he’s got in hopes that some contender bites on him nearer the February trade deadline.
So, is it a good deal? Sure, if they can turn the “assets” and “flexibility” into something of significance either before this season ends or in the summer.
I’m glad they solved the point guard issue, though. It’s not like the two guys didn’t get along or it was causing any kind of turmoil in the locker room or on the court but there was a disconnect or something.
I know that’s not really a solid explanation but you know the times when there’s just a “feel” that something’s off. Bryan alluded to it as far back as last April and it never really worked itself out.
Now, I do think they kept the guy who runs the team the best, as I’ve said often before, so in that respect I’m all right with the deal.
What did they say in Boston?
Okay, this is kind of wacky.
Reggie Evans has played a grand total of 41 games in a Raptors uniform since he was acquired June 9, 2009.
He is the third longest-tenured player on the roster, having arrived after only Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani. He pre-dates everyone else on the team.
Since I’m a guy who thinks cohesion counts and it takes a while for guys to figure out each other, I truly hope this current group gets to stay together for a while.
Hey, you know what?
Sometimes we do good stuff around here.
Irregular Natalie asks Sunday about for books for students because she’s in the most admirable of professions and I’m kind of at a loss for specific titles and throw it out there to you.
And the HOTH go on to beat Boston and it’s a great game and a pretty good day and an overwhelming number of responses and comments are about helping out a friend that I don’t imagine any of you have met.
And that’s just nice.