A bit of the mail to get the weekend started
Huge bonus day for you.
Have fun with this; hope you enjoyed the regular stuff, too. No such luck tomorrow, though. It’ll be simply mail and if you’ve got any last queries, now’s the time. I see a quiet evening after a long flight.
Q: Hey Doug. Non-basketball deep thought here or more like idle curiosity. I heard on the radio Sly Stallone was performing at a casino, talking about his life and was perplexed. It seems so pathetic. Your thoughts?
Kim A, Toronto
A: Um, it’s certainly not a “lecture” or presentation I’d care to listen to but I guess there’d be some people with too much money and too much time on their hands who’d like it.
“Celebrities” who pretend to be other people for most of their lives wouldn’t seem to have an awful lot of their own stories that would amuse or educate me.
Good Stallone story.
He used to be a big fan of the Miami Heat – may still be, I’m not sure – when they played in their old downtown cesspool of an arena. One day, we’re in the hallway and a mass of very large men headed our way. Somewhere in the middle was this tiny little bloke. Yep, Stallone. He’s hardly the imposing physical specimen you’d think.
Q: Doug, what are your thoughts on the NHL Fantasy All Star Draft to pick sides for the all star game??
A T, Niagara Falls
A: I actually think it’s a cool idea and wouldn’t mind if the NBA stole it in some fashion.
Q: Hello, Doug. Just wondering, do you have any scientific knowledge to help explain the dreaded sophomore slump?
David M, Ottawa
A: I wish I did, I’d sell it to a lot of teams in a lot of sports and make a lot of money.
But my theory includes the point that by their second year – in any game – players are no longer “new” and opponents know what they like to do and can do and act accordingly. And that puts the onus on the sophomore to improve his or her game.
Q: Hello Doug! So, you want a bit of away from the game stuff? Well this is pretty far away? In fact, up into space in its awayness! Did you read where Newt has promised to set up a space colony on the moon? Of course, the really scary part of his promise is that we'd have to survive two terms with him as Leader In Chief before he did it. But you've got to look for the positive in all things and here it might be. This does provide an opportunity to fulfill Ralph Kramden's desire to send annoying, irritating people (not Alice!) "to the Moon"! So casting your glance around the NBA, which players or coaches or owners would you like to offer up to President Gingrich to launch up to that space station on the dark side of the Moon? Chiefly, in the name of science, of course. But also for the betterment of the NBA. Thank you!
Lorie P, London
A: I don’t want him banished, per se, but wouldn’t it be cool to see how Metta World Peace would interact with beings from another planet? That, of course, is presuming there is life on the moon.
Otherwise? Maybe the guy who did this year’s schedule, the game-ops people who never let fans enjoy a moment of silence and coaches who continue to call timeouts at the end of games that are already decided.
I’m sure there’s more. What have you got?
Q: Doug: I don't care much for the NFL, but one thing bothers me. Why is it called, Super Bowl 46 or 47, and not Super Bowl 2012? How can you remember anything relevant to say, Super Bowl 33? Anyway, just an update on my can of Stella. It went down during the Clippers game. I give it a B-. The minus because it came out of a can. Still, a pretty good brew. Keep up the great blog!
Ken B, Matheson
A: I’m guessing the use of Roman numerals, which, as my man C Kelly pointed the Romans ultimately dumped, was to give the game some sense of self-importance.
Now it’s just confusing and all I remember games by is by who played.
Q: Doug, before you dismiss this question as one from an enamoured (or crazy) fan, I wonder, based on his play this year and his 'potential improvement' on defence, can… or, is Andrea Bargnani better than Chris Bosh.
Consider the obvious stats PPG (similar), rebounds (Bosh certainly wasn't and, really isn't, that great a rebounder) and blocks. Consider the non-tangibles: leadership in the dressing room (Bosh probably has the advantage), attention (double-teams) from opposing teams and scouts (Bosh had the up but I'm sure most game-plan for Andrea now in a similar fashion, and finally endurance (Bosh had more games lost due to injuries).
If, and it's a big IF, Andrea is comparable, isn't the concern (and this sounds crazy, I know), 'Shouldn't we building around Andrea while we have (or had) him playing at this level?
Or is this just crazy talk.
Andrew F, Toronto
A: Better? How about different? And you can’t diminish Bosh’s rebounding abilities, that’s just silly.
And if Raptors fans have learned one thing over the years wouldn’t it be that it’s foolish to “build a team” around one guy? What’s that mean, anyway? You add good players, or players you think will fit with your roster and system, regardless.
Q: Hi Doug. I agree that coaches get too little credit for victories and too much blame for losses. Many of the adjustments they make during games go unnoticed by fans. Which active coaches, in your opinion, are the most effective at influencing NBA games?
Andy F, Aberdeen
P.S. Did you have a good Burns Night haggis supper?
A: As you may understand, I don’t get to see too many games not involving the Raptors, especially this year with the condensed schedule leaving little time for lounging around somewhere watching on TV.
But if I was asked to give you three who make adjustments well they’d be George Karl, Stan Van Gundy and Rick Carlisle.
And if you asked me the one guy who could keep his team on an even, positive keel regardless of the situation, it’d be Doc Rivers.
Surprisingly, haggis didn’t appear on the pressroom menu in Salt Lake and there wasn’t any recitation of great Scottish poetry during timeouts.
Q: I mentioned this in one of your recent IGBT. When Jose first came to the NBA he made good use of the bounce pass. I think it is a great pass into the paint because the ball is on the way up and the bigs just grab it and continue the upward motion to score. Whereas the lob pass must be caught, held, change direction and then try to score. Many times the ball is turned over when it is brought down. I also notice Steve Nash and Rubio still use the bounce pass quite often. What happened to Jose's bounce? Was it coached out or does it have more to do with the bigs that are receiving the pass?
Dave B, Cornwall
A: It’s got as much, if not more, to do with the defence and what’s available. I don’t think he’s forgotten how to throw it, or been told not to and he’s not worried about the guy catching it. It’s just part of the way the game goes.
Q: Hi Doug. As far as the Raptors getting off to a slow start in games this season, if I was Dwayne...:) I would be starting Barbosa and letting DeRozan ease his way in after watching the flow from the bench. Any reason they haven't tried this?. Keep up the great work.
Paul H, Toronto
A: Yeah, one, DeRozan’s not as bad as you’d suggest; Barbosa’s far more effective coming off the bench and changing tempo and there’s no way they want, right now, to give up on a kid (DeRozan) who is a huge part of their future. They need to let him grow and learn.
Q: Doug, when I see some of the defensive games James Johnson has strung together this year I can't help thinking he's becoming one of the better perimeter defenders in the NBA. His blocks per game and BP48 are unreal for a wing player, especially when you consider that many of them are on the ball blocks and that he's also strong enough that wings can't post him up; he's not just a Jamario Moon type pogo-ing around outside the key. What stands between JJ and "elite defender" or even (dare we dream) DPOY status?
Mike D, Toronto
A: Consistency. Being able to do it for more than a few games in a row before trying to do too much and flying around the court a bit out of control and breaking defensive gameplans.
Q: I sent this in as a comment the morning after the Utah game and you didn't answer the question (you were probably so sleep-deprived that you could barely post the comments, far less reply to them), so I thought I'd try again in the mailbag, cause I'm quite interested in hearing your answer: with Andrea LITERALLY pulling his hair out on the bench, EVERYONE came over to try and console him. I distinctly got the feeling that the team wanted to win this one for him. Did anyone mention that in the post-game interviews? And even if they didn't, do you get the feeling that thanks to Andrea's newfound dedication, his teammates have bonded more to him than in previous years?
Lee Z, Ottawa
A: I think the other players see how hard he works, how much he’s improved, they realize what he means to the team’s success and they all felt horrible for him. Closer? Maybe a little because of the way he’s been performing and leading by example.
Q: Hi Doug, thanks for the Blog! My question is about the different kinds of offences that teams run in the NBA. I hear people talking about Flex Offences, and UCLA Cuts and even the Triangle they used to run in LA. Obviously the basic stuff like pick and roll is simple enough, but could you elaborate a bit on the other types of offences that teams in the NBA use, and maybe any types of offence they don't use, or used to use.
Peter R, Regina
A: They really are quite simple and it’s more vernacular than anything and, frankly, I try to avoid it. UCLA, or a zipper cut, is a player come up the middle of the lane from the baseline; the “Princeton offence” is a bunch of weaving along the three-point line; “floppy” is a series of baseline screens for the most part.
I try to just enjoy the flow and the movement without worrying about the names.
Q: Andrea on the bench was broken, angry,_sad, frustrated and near to cry. He put his effort, his heart (and leg) to win the game. As Raptor fan I did not like it and it could be avoided, really.
A player CANNOT play 82 (or 66) games with playoffs intensity that is necessary for the Raptors to win games. Andrea CANNOT play at that pace on offense and defense 40MPG on consecutive days games. A pro team cannot use 40MPG on consecutive days an athlete returning from a calf's injury.
There is no good or bad luck with the calf, when already injured. In your opinion what's is the first muscle that provides the first symptoms of fatigue and tiredness (cramps), to basketball and football players? In the sports everyone knows that if you returning from a calf injury the first thing to avoid is the fatigue and overexposure to risk it.
Any player wants always to stay in the field, but the coach must define a correct use (limited minutes) of the player with the medical staff.
Popovich said that this year's schedule is crazy and that to avoid injury to Duncan, he will not play back to back to back making him missing some games (maybe will be limited to drastically reduce the duration in minutes). Andrea, returning from the calf strain, played 40 minutes to win the game.
The day after, after a trip, Andrea, returning from the calf strain, plays 40 minutes to win the game AGAIN. IT WAS TOO RISKY. There will be a doctor that said to Casey the level of risk 3 minutes before the 4th quarter's end Andrea was gassed, tired and his face was PURPLE (I just wrote it in your blog 3 times and I was worried for Andrea).
The theory we win the game and pray to the basketball's god hoping it will not spoil the best player on the team does not exist even among amateurs.
Doug, injuries always can happen BUT_NOT in this not professional way.
Paolo P, Roma
A: I understand your point fully. I also think injuries happen at any time to any player and it’s part of the breaks of the game. I don’t think he was over-used at all; I think he caught a bad break. And, yes, some players can handle 40 minutes a night, some can’t. Andrea, for instance, is averaging less than one minute more per game than he did last season.
I wouldn’t have taken him out; not sure many coaches would have taken him out and Popovich is resting Tim Duncan, who has an awful lot more miles on his body than anybody on the Toronto roster.