Good evening, folks
Good evening, folks
An updated look at Wednesday’s Celtics-Raptors game.
BOSTON (24-23) at TORONTO (17-31)
Air Canada Centre
TIPOFF: 7 p.m.
TV: Sportsnet; RADIO: FAN590
WEB: Yes, the usual in-game blog will begin shortly before 7 p.m., come for all the fun.
Boston: Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass, Kevin Garnett; Toronto: Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson, Aaron Gray.
Key backups tonight
Boston: Leandro Barbosa (The Blur will go left and try to beat you with his speed), Jeff Green (tough matchup with varied skills); Toronto: Terrence Ross (needs to have a more consistent impact), Alan Anderson (taking shots is okay as long as you’re making them).
Boston leads, 1-0
Celtics won by 18 in Boston in mid-November when the Raptors were trying, unsuccessfully, to get off to a good start to the season. Rajon Rondo and Jason Terry both had 20 in that one; Raptors are 15-18 all time at home against Boston but have won last two at the Air Canada Centre.
What happened this morning
How big a game is it?
The Celtics are eighth in the East, 7 1-2 games up on Toronto and what’s that pucks phrase:
It’s a four-pointer.
Dwane Casey was saying, correctly, that every game is a big game but some are bigger than others and this one has some extra significance.
It’s not a “must win” because every game is a “must win” in some regard but the first tiebreaker is head-to-head and the Celtics already lead the season series.
A much-anticipated return
Because they are overly-careful, the Raptors wouldn’t confirm what we already presume to be true: Andrea Bargnani will be back tonight after missing 26 games.
Toronto went 13-13 in that time – Bargnani was hurt Dec. 10 in Portland – and he’d been struggling offensively before, shooting just 40 per cent from the field and 32 per cent from three-point range.
But with Kyle Lowry the undisputed starting point guard now and Rudy Gay making his third Toronto appearance, Bargnani is coming back to an entirely different team.
Daily stat that probably means nothing, Part 1
Aaron Gray has 10 or more rebounds in four straight games, a career-best.
What’s up in Boston?
This is up, courtesy of Murph at the Herald suggests the veteran aren’t getting too caught up in the trade chatter.
Men in charge?
Not a Derek to be seen as Bennie Adams, Brent Barnaky and Pat Fraher will be tooting whistles and drawing derision this evening.
Daily stat that probably means nothing, Park 2
The Raptors have led at half in nine straight games, they have been out-scored in the second half of six of those games.
Interesting goings-on Houston last night where the Rockets rolled up 23 three-pointers – tying the all-time NBA single-game record – in a rout of the Golden State Warriors.
The game ended contentiously, as Jonathan Feigen’s story from the Chronicle tells you here, with a near fight, a couple of ejections and the Warriors fouling intentionally so the Rockets wouldn’t get off one more shot.
In light of last week’s Caron Butler episode here, maybe it’s time to discuss sportsmanship and what’s good and what’s not so good.
Not sure you can equate the two too much – Butler stripping Jonas Valanciunas of the ball while Valanciunas was dribbling out the clock was a bush league move in my opinion. Or silly, at least. Unnecessary at the very least. But, no, bush league is right.
No need for it, it didn’t “stop” anything and it’s not like the Raptors had done anything in the game like run up the score or anything to warrant it. If Valanciunas had been showboating or trying to score some last, meaningless basket, there may have been cause to do something. He wasn’t, he was treating the end of a rout the way he should have – and as soon as Toronto gained possession the entire bench stood and told him to dribble out the clock – so what Butler did was entirely out of order.
But what of respect? For the game, for the opponent, for the situation?
While I have an issue with Butler’s shenanigans, I have not problem at all with what the Warriors did at the end of that game, nor do I have much of a problem with how the Rockets apparently comported themselves.
The Warriors didn’t want to go into a record book as having surrendered more threes than any team in any game ever and, in the course of play, did everything within the rules (well, except for the flagrant foul that might have been a tad excessive) to prevent it.
(That they should have tried to prevent more threes earlier in the game is an obvious point to bring up but they didn’t and they found themselves where they were and dealt with it accordingly.)
The Rockets didn’t seem to be intent on running up the score or embarrassing an opponent in a game that was effectively over so I have no issue with how that one ended.
But I truly believe there is a way that teams should run the final seconds of a game that’s no longer in doubt.
You pass the ball a lot, you don’t hoist shots with more than four or five seconds left on the shot clock, you dribble out the game if you take possession with less than 24 seconds left.
You take your foot off the pedal a little bit.
Not sure where I read this but thanks to whoever it wrote it.
Today is Bob Marley’s birthday and I absolutely dare you not to sing along at least a little bit.
He was, truly, a legend, an inspiration, a classic.
And the dude could do music.
Jack Morris as the new radio analyst for the Blue Jays?
I can live with that because he struck me during the few times I spoke with him the year he pitched here to be honest and forthright – he could, at times, be quite crusty and critical – and if those traits carry over, that’ll be a good thing.
But baseball, as you know, is made for radio and there’s little better than a warm summer night on a deck or patio with the game in the background and as much as I want to hear the analysis on a radio broadcast, I want a soothing voice.
You can’t have screamers do baseball, it just doesn’t work; you want a lilt to the voice, the ability to tell stories, to weave tales in throughout a game.
Sure, I’d love to know whether the analyst thought the manager blew it with a pitching move or a bunt rather than a hit and run or whatever; but I’d much rather have old time stories and some context presented in a somewhat soothing manner.
Hope he can deliver.
I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside some great, great people over the years (some knuckleheads but not that many) and at right at the top of the list would be my man Perk.
He’s hilarious, he’s got no ego, if we were at the same thing he’d do whatever he could to help out. He’d go grab you a quote, he’d always check to see what angle I was writing (“We’ll play off your ball, Smitty”) and the guy’s got more stories than anyone I can think of.
And the work he did with our Jim Proudfoot Fund was and is amazing. He’d do all the paperwork, make sure all his people got mentioned in the column, he made sure a worthy and tremendous tradition carried on.
And if you read this, you’ll know that he finally got some long overdue recognition yesterday.
They don’t make ‘em like Perk anymore and our craft is worse off for it.
I see some mail over there where I have to look now but the weekend’s coming and I could use some more.
It’s at email@example.com (there’s a link someone on the right of this page) so do what you have to do.
Oh those crazy young Raptors and their hectic young lives.
Clubs. Video game marathons. Travel. Nights out.
Well, maybe not so much for all of them.
It’s interesting, this group. There are, in a large part, kind of boring it would appear. We don’t hear a lot about them being out in the nightclubs – sure, some of them go every now and then; what self-respecting 20-something with a night off wouldn’t? – and I don’t see ‘em clogging lobby bars on the road.
All that’s fine with me and maybe Terrence Ross, the second-youngest of them, hit on the salient point yesterday.
We were asking him about the grind of the season because it’s nothing he’s ever experienced and how he handles it to stay relatively fresh.
“I feel like you have to sleep more, get more rest. Every time I go home, I just sleep.”
Okay, further to yesterday, I’ll give you that there might still be a need for telephone answering machines but I found it quite interesting that several of you stood up for them in the “things we don’t need anymore” list yet no one made an impassioned plea for baby toes.
We should hear this week about who’ll do what on the All-Star (Boring) Saturday night in Houston pretty soon and that means breathless anticipation for a day or two on whether or not Terrence Ross will dunk.
On the face of it, he probably should be asked, he is tremendously athletic, can jump out of the gym as they say and if they want to keep it among “rising stars” you don’t get much younger than the kid who just turned 22 on the weekend.
Dwyane Wade, who’ll captain the East team in what’s now a conference vs. conference night for money that goes to charity, said last week he’d like to have Ross do it, too.
Ross sounded a bit ambivalent about it when we asked him about it on the weekend.
“There’s so much pressure to do it, I’d rather say yes than no.”
Don’t blame him, actually.
With all the props and schticks and stuff that have turned it into theatre rather than athletics, I’d be a bit ambivalent, too. You’ve had guys jump over guys, you’ve had guys jump over cars (although I contend there are 20 guys in the NBA who could do that) and it’s all about the show than the skill.
And Ross, bless his heart, is a quiet kid, not given to great shows of theatrics and I wonder what he’d come up with or how he’d handle the whole thing.
And seeing how his teammate, DeMar DeRozan, was cheated out of what probably should have been a win a couple of years back, maybe Ross will have second thoughts, if he’s asked.
“He said it’s tough, you don’t have any warmup, it’s like: “It’s your turn, go.” There’s a lot of pressure, a lot of people so you get a little nervous. If I get invited I might as well just take my time and hopefully I don’t mess up.”
Now, there is no doubting Ross’s skills in the flow of the game. He’s had some amazing dunks this season already – the one on Friday against the Clippers gave Dwane Casey rise to suggest it was one of the best he’d ever seen – but the whole contest has gone so far away from “amazing” that I’m not sure true skill shines through.
And, truth be told, the dunk contest, like all of the Saturday night stuff, has become a wee bit stale, no?
Even Ross admits that.
“For a person who’s doing the dunks, you wish people weren’t using the props but as a person, a fan, you’ve seen every dunk that there is. You keep seeing the same thing every year, you’re going to get tired of it so of course people bring out some props and are jumping over cars, stuff like that.”
Oh yeah, we’re about to finalize a noon hour Q and A session for this Thursday if you want to put it in your calendar.
Should have it nailed down tomorrow.
Sure, Reg Presley passes away and it’s all Wild Thing for those who recall the Troggs fondly.
This wasn’t so bad either, was it?
No more pennies, I hear.
No big deal, right?
They were basically worthless, didn’t really count for anything and have clogged up enough space on counters and bedroom penny jars that it’s time they went away.
I’d suggest you all bundle them up and if you don’t want to take them to the bank, find some charity – the Canadian Cancer Society would be worthy cause – and donate them there.
You’ll be glad you did.
Anyway, the penny’s demise got me to thinking, what else can we get rid of that no one would miss. A list?
Really, do you need the flashing 12:00 any more? Didn’t think so.
Think about it. Pain the butt to clip the nails, they generally look ugly and I’m not even sure we need them for balance when we walk. Seriously, what good are they?
(I know. Super Son told me he learned in biology that we indeed need them for balance – I’m stunned and proud he was paying that close attention – but if each of us lost both, wouldn’t that cancel things out)
Canadian Tire money
Now? I’m sure there’s hundreds of dollars of it sitting around somewhere clogging up a shelf or a cupboard.
Phone answering machines
Come on. No one uses a phone answering machine any more, do they? Heck, I imagine a lot of you don’t even have a home phone.
8-tracks, cassettes, those little mini tapes we used to use in recorders, what have you. Pretty useless, no? If you’re like me, they’re collecting dust in some bookcase somewhere next to the DVDs.
What have you got?
This might be interesting to see.
For the first time since about the first week of December, it would appear Dwane Casey will have a full complement of players available to him for tomorrow night against Boston.
Wonder how he handles who plays where and with whom.
I still think a nine-man rotation works best, 10 if there’s foul trouble, and with Rudy Gay obviously a big minute eater – he’s going to play between 38-40 each night – it’s going to be a balancing act for the coach.
Couple of entertaining games on a Sunday, no?
Good basketball, finally a football game that kind of lived up to the hype and the fact that it did has to make the NFL happy because if it had been a dog of a game, we’d all be talking about the half hour blackout.
How ridiculous was that?
It was about the first couple of minutes of the fourth quarter when my mind was wandering a bit and Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan were piling up the minutes.
And I got to thinking about rotations and who should play and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
It came to this:
I understand that Dwane likes Alan Anderson and all that but shouldn’t the bulk of the backup minutes between those two guys go to Terrence Ross?
Good three point shooter, kid needs to play even through his inevitable struggles and it’s time to take whatever constraints there on him off.
They can still use Anderson a bit when Gay moves to the four but Ross would benefit greatly, I think, from the space created on the floor with Gay, DeRozan and even both of them.
I don’t know how good the kid is going to be but I suspect he’s going to be quite an effective player and now is the time for everyone to find that out.
Here’s one for you, and I have no idea if it’s doable or any names or anything but if there is a true backup point guard out there that you could get for Anderson, I’d pull the trigger on that deal yesterday.
Time for Andrea Bargnani to come back, that is; every indication is that it’ll be Wednesday and they need him. A lot.
Forget this notion of “showcasing” him right off the bat simply to move him, I think they need to spend two weeks finding out how effective he can be in what is a brand new team since he last played.
It’s wonderful that Aaron Gray is on this scoring binge of late but a lot of it is because teams don’t particularly guard him all that closely and the big that’s barely paying attention to him generally makes life difficult for either Gay or DeRozan.
When Bargnani’s back, he comes back as an experienced and legitimate stretch four who defences have to pay close attention to and that has to make life even easier for the two wings.
So forget the notion of a trade for a little bit, let’s see what he does to help the team in other ways.
Other aspects of his game
Amir Johnson didn’t have a particularly good game Sunday – and he’s allowed to have an off-night every now and then because he’s been so consistently good – but one part of his game is improving immensely every day.
He has started catching passes in traffic as well as anyone in the league.
All those little shovel passes in the paint, where big guys are looming and little guys are sneaking around with hands waving, are hard to collar, it takes co-ordination, knowledge of where the ball is coming from and when and Johnson is exponentially better at it today that he was even six weeks ago.
More? Just a bit, some football related.
So, if I’m watching the ballyhooed halftime show of the big game, I’d rather it not be more dance than music. Wouldn’t you?
Yes, Beyonce is hot and that’s all well and good that the Destiny’s Child reunion happened in front of millions of TV viewers but it’s going to dance, use a holograph of Fred and Ginger or something.
But it was nice to see Kelly and Michelle and Beyonce back together, saw ‘em one night at halftime of an NBA all-star game in Philly back in the day and wondered if they’d ever do a show again. That was the game where they got booed by those warm-hearted Philly fans because one of ‘em had the temerity to wear a Kobe Bryant jersey the February after the Lakers beat the Sixers in the NBA Finals.
Not a great career move.
Not sure how I missed this yesterday but Sunday was The Day The Music Died.
And while I’m sure I know all the words to this epic (I must, I vaguely recall singing it late, late one night in full throat with Jack Armstrong and Matt Devlin in some Irish place in Charlotte around the corner from Ri-Ra) I’m also sure no one knows them in the right order.
And I’m sure you’ll be singing in a second.
So I’m telling my man Bobby as were chatting when I leaned back from my stool (Hello, Jack Astor’s at Square One) that San Francisco would win. Made his Niner fan friends pretty happy.
Until they didn’t win, that is.
I still got it, don’t I?
And now you know why predictions aren’t my bag.
That’s pretty cool about the Davis Cup lads, no?
Not that there was any doubt seeing how there was a Niagara Falls dude playing and we all know that means certain victory but even beating Spain’s B or C or D team is a pretty good thing.
But isn’t that one event that falls far below the radar?
Yes, it’s a team representing Canada and that always gets some of the juices flowing but it’s also an individual sport and I’m not sure how that translates into a team game.
It’s like the Ryder Cup or the President’s Cup, something along those lines, where we are curious but not caught up in the patriotic nature of it all.
I’m proud of those guys and it’ll be a nice story whenever they play whoever they play whenever they play them in the next round but I wonder if it’ll ever truly catch on with even casual sports fans.
Wind chill minus-18 today?
Yeah, guess it’s that time of year up here but isn’t that what winter in Canada is supposed to be?
Now I’m off to find the parka.
Told you there would be more. I think I’ve figured everything out with the new system, sorry if I missed one or two going through it. We’ll be better next week.
Have fun with this, though.
Q: Rather late, but. In a year or 2, who would be the starting 5 for Team Canada and would be on the bench: Thompson, Wiggins, Sacre.
A: Boy, you’re really asking for some guesswork because who knows who’ll play or won’t or what the future holds for any of these kids.
But if you did, say, Myck Kabongo or Cory Joseph or Kevin Pangos with, say, Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Tristan Thompson and Andrew Nicholson, you might have a pretty good team.
If you did shooters like Andy Rautins and had stretch fours like Kelly Olynyk and Kyle Wiltjer, you might be looking pretty good. I’m not sure Rob Sacre makes it or plays, to tell you the truth.
But key is going to be getting all these guys to buy in and play.
The biggest issue, eventually I think, will be picking a team, a situation that hasn’t happened maybe ever. Kids are going to have to “make” the team rather than be asked to play for it.
Q: Stat question
Amir Johnson wins a jump ball at the Clipper free throw line, directly to Kyle Lowry, who immediately hoists up a successful jumper with two ticks on the shot clock. Assist?
A: If I was scoring, yes. But there is some subjectivity to the whole process.
Q: Doug. Just wondering if the Raptors track games lost to injury? And if so roughly how many so far this season?
A: They do and as of Sunday morning, there have been 119 games missed to injury split between nine players.
Q: Hi Doug,
Having read much analysis about the big trade, one thing I've noted is that a big frontcourt in Memphis gave Rudy Gay some issues. For Toronto, would Bargnani's spacing not facilitate Gay and Derozen's slashing ability, while making up for their 3 point shooting ability?
My follow-up question is, do you think Colangelo should go ahead and trade Bargnani now (selling low), or ride him out to see how the team gells?
Thanks as always,
Charlie C. in Montreal
A: I’ve said, too many times, that I think Andrea possession a unique skillset and can be an excellent stretch four and on this team in this iteration, he should have even more space to operate alongside Gay and DeRozan.
So, yes, they should see how he fits in and not jump into a trade right away but – and this is the same with almost any player – if Bryan can find a deal he thinks can improve his team, he should do it. But I do think he needs to give Bargnani time to see how he fits.
Q: Hi Doug
Do you think that an Andy Rautins would fit in as a third point guard or do they need someone with more experience? Anything too much is going to make Lowry pout again.
A: No, Andy’s far more a combo/shooting guard who is lighting up the D League right now than a point guard. And I think an old head would help.
Q: Hey Doug, good shout out to Jose today, I agree, he was a terrific Raptor, one of our all time favs. Looks like BC will have to dump some salary [Bargnani and/or Fields?] if he hopes to avoid the tax next year, while also adding another PG and re-signing Anderson. However, I can't remember how the tax threshold is determined under the new CBA - is it based on BRI of the season before, like always, or is it a fixed point?
James M, Toronto
A: It’s the same in the new CBA, linked to the floating cap number that’s based on percentage of BRI.
Doubling up to try to ensure you get a chance to take a look at this article. I found it via SportsNation. It's a really good article, centring mostly on Quncy Acy and his relationship with Ekpe Udoh.
I did hunt through the blog archives to find a link to the old form.
I sent this info via a link from a few days ago. I didn't see where the updated link to askDoug was. Might be worth repeating for we attention-deficit (or just plain old and forgetful) types.
Gary M, Brampton
A: Nice piece, had read it earlier. And the updated link to the mail is now complete; look to the right of the blog under the photo and it’s there.
Q: Doug, was not watching last night, when I came to check the IGBT i had to sit down in disbelief.
Two questions - who is the guy with the Aaron Gray name on his shirt - is he just responding to a chance, better than what anyone thought, or do we just get ready for a dreaded RTM.
Second - real fantasy here - they continue to play like last night, AB comes back and plays like he did at his best last year ( in my mind not an impossibility - I think he may be inscrutable but does have pride) and Lowry stays healthy - what would be your projection for wins in second half?
A: I think there has to be some regression to the mean with Gray, who will see his minutes limited once Bargnani gets back, which could have been by the time you read this. But you have to admire Aaron for his professionalism, he worked hard to stay in shape and connected to the team when he wasn’t being used and was ready when called.
Now, the second part is entirely fantasy and just like with players, there will be regression to the mean team-wide as well But looking at the schedule and if they don’t suffer debilitating injuries, I’d suggest they could win 18-20 the rest of the way.
What's up, folks?
Ready for the big game(s)?
Well, sure seems like this new system works as well as the old one.
Overflowing now that we got it all figured out (there are some new issues that have arisen for me and we don’t get last names or cities so the signatures are a bit different) but seems to be working okay.
So okay, in fact, that I got over-run with the amount so – yes – here’s this and there’ll be more tonight once I get some things worked out in moving questions from firstname.lastname@example.org to here.
Read this, watch the game and we’ll get the rest of ‘em done sometime later this afternoon or this evening, if that’s okay with you?
Q: Hopefully this a timely question, but not basketball related.
Which 5 current sports personalities (either players or commentators) would you invite to a Super Bowl party at Casa Doug? And bonus question, assuming you have a personal chef and one snack/appetizer/dish per quarter, what are you serving?
A: Oh, that’s a good one.
For purely interesting and wide-ranging personalities who are still playing their games, how would it be to sit around and watch a game with Roger Federer, Steve Nash, Usain Bolt, David Beckham and Derek Jeter be? I think that might be fascinating.
And if I had time, and the ability, I’d probably start the day with a nice antipasto plate with some great cheeses, salamis and jamons; the second quarter might some spicy queso dip and salsa with fresh tortillas; there’d be a big pot of chili – no beans – at halftime. Then we’d move into the main event, some good hot chicken wings (not too saucy) for the third quarter and a never-ending supply of nachos to wind up the day.
Oh, and there’d be a bottomless cooler sitting right in the middle of the room.
Helluva day, no?
Q: Hi Doug
You've probably had your fill of questions about the specifics of the trade (if Jose better than Gay etc), but my question has to do with the process involved in the trade. As I understand it, the way things should work is that Team Owners higher a General Manager, give him a budget, and let him do his job. They of course, evaluate his job on an ongoing basis, but owners are supposed to stay out of the actual business of running a team. If the media reports are to be believed, BC had to "sell" the acquisition of Gay to the team owners, and had to get their permission to make the trade, despite the fact it doesn't put them over the luxury cap. I'm wondering if this report was correct, and also if you can fill us in on why this would be the case if the story is correct. Thanks in advance.
A: I don’t think “sell” is nearly close to the right word and not one I would have ever used.
But in any business, if there is a major acquisition to be made – and while it didn’t put them into a tax situation this year, it does add about $37 million to future payrolls – I think it’s only logical that a manager needs to present it to his employers.
But I would suggest and have been told, it was more an “advisory” than a “request.”
Q: Hey Doug,
Saw the Miami Heat at the White House and it got me thinking - if the Raptors won would they have to go to the white house too? Can’t recall if the Jays went there when then won the championship way back when.
Keep up the good work!
A: I would imagine they would be invited to the White House, it’d still be a good photo op for a president given the number of Americans on the team. And my memory is that, yes, the elder Bush did have the Blue Jays over after they won.
Too bad they don’t have the same tradition at the House of Commons, two visits to two seats of government would be cool.
Q: Hi Doug.
What happened to all that stuff about players needed to work through practices and training camp to learn plays and to play together? Seems that Rudy Gay, without even going to shootaround was pretty effective working with the team. You could say that a strong individual performer will do well regardless of what system the team is playing but the high number of assists and the tight defense would indicate that there was some integrated teamwork happening. So are the standard plays and defensive systems fairly common across all teams so that a player can adapt fairly easily? Or was this simply a one game aberration that should not be an indication of anything?
A: For one night, yeah, they’re very common. There are only about four offensive plays in basketball – side screen-roll, high screen roll, pindowns and floppy action (wings setting screens for each other along the baseline) so for a night or two, you can fake it.
The learning process is counters off those plays, terminology and defensive principles like how a team plays zone, where it likes to send guards on penetration and how it defends pick and roll action.
That’s where it takes time to learn.
But you can get away with things with new guys for a short period of time.
Q: Hi Doug.
Do you think BC will try to re-sign Jose at a lower price if the opportunity presents itself.
Thanks as always,
A: I would doubt it. I thought if Jose had lasted the year – and I’m still not certain that he shouldn’t have – they would have made that effort, having dealt him for a second time, I don’t think it happens now.
Q: With Jose now traded out of his favorite city and away from his favorite team do you think it is very probable that he will go back to play for Spain next year? He doesn't seem like the type to stay for the extra couple of million he might make in the NBA.
A: No, I don’t think it’s very probable at all. There will be several NBA teams interested in signing him; chief among them, I’d presume, the Detroit Pistons.
But that will be a decision Jose would have to make and we’ve never discussed it.
Q: Hello Doug, Wondering which has taken more flak this week, the blog's "new look" or the trade? What have the percentages for each looked like, those in favour versus those opposed? Do you think some of the flak might just be plain old "change" fatigue? A certain amount of change is expected and healthy, but these days, it comes at us so fast, well, it gets a bit tiring and aggravating, don't you think? (and maybe more so for those of us of a certain vintage) But thanks as always for the great blog!
David M., Ottawa
A: Yeah, change is sometimes necessary and not always welcome but they knew that going in. I think the new site looks tremendous, actually. But I’ve also passed on all concerns about the type in the usual blog (it is too small) and once they get through working out some other kinks that are considered more important, they’ll get around to fixing my space, they tell me.
And, sure, I think we always find that when change is made, it’s the people who don’t like it who are more vocal than those who accept it.
Q: I probably wouldn't be able to pick any of the current Maple Leafs out of a lineup - and I do watch a game now and then. However, if you gave me a photo of the 1967 Stanley Cup winning squad, I'd have no problem identifying every single one of them. And many players from other teams at the time. And I'm not a huge hockey fan, but as sensible as it has been to cover the players from head to toe in protective gear it sure prevents the
fans from getting to 'know' the players in some way. The same with football, I guess. But then there's basketball. Not only do we get to speculate on additional bandages, (and aspirin strapped to ankles...see: Johnson, Amir) wraps, supports etc, new body art and wacky new hairdo's (see: Johnson, Amir) but after years of watching certain players, we can feel we 'know' them a bit. Their body language - even their facial expressions can become familiar to us. I don't really know if there is a question. I do know that an 8-year veteran of the Toronto Maple Leafs could leave and I'd probably not feel the same way as I am now that an 8-year veteran of the Raptors has been traded. But, maybe it's just that I've come to prefer basketball to hockey and, as you say, it's really just a case of 'apples and oranges'. Or do you think there might there be something to my theory about players and fans and familiarity and layers of protective gear? Thank you.
And thank you for all the extra writing, reporting, blogging this unusual week. (Hey...and with all the basketball stuff happening in Atlanta on Wednesday, did you happen to stick your head out the window and notice that tornado? Yikes, indeed!)
A: I do think diehard fans of basketball – and baseball – get to “know” the players a lot better because you can see them and see how they react far better than the other two sports. But I also imagine the diehards in those games can tell players apart by the way they move rather than by the way they look.
Yeah, this was a bit of a week for sure; and I avoided all things tornado in Atlanta by scheduling fresh air walks by looking out the window to see if it was pouring rain and lashing wind and going for lunch at a little deli I know close to my hotel during a break in the storm.
Well, don’t imagine that could have gone any better.
New guy plays great.
Fans in full throat all night.
Dominating victory over what has to be considered a quality opponent.
And even in the third quarter when they were up 20 or so and I turned to someone and said “this is going to make the inevitable collapse even harder to take than normal” I didn’t really mean it.
Just one of those nights and I’m sure it made everyone happy.
Don’t know if any of you even heard about it but both teams were in trouble even before the game began.
In a first for Toronto at least, both teams were given delay of game warnings because they weren’t ready for the opening tip. I’m all for cracking down on the hugs, high-fives and choreographed greetings that precede every game.
Teams have 90 seconds from the end of introductions to get ready, that’s plenty of time for the June Taylor Dancers to gyrate and perform and plenty of time for all the stuff they need to do to get ready.
The Raptors have been pretty good about it all season, I wasn’t paying too much attention to what they did last night but since a second warning results in a technical foul and this team plays its share of super-close games, wasting one such a silly thing is tempting fate.
Got the message
Can’t remember what game it was the end of but it was one they let slip away and Dwane was miffed – just a bit – when Terrence Ross took a three when he had at least a chance to drive the ball.
The kid learns.
It was late in the third quarter – the game was pretty much in hand – when he had what looked like a wide open look in the far corner from where we sit.
His mind must have been working because he hesitated a second, saw what was in front of him, drove the ball and made a nice runner in the lane.
The kid is without question going to be an above-average shooter, I believe, but the ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the rim is going to enhance his game greatly.
And it seems like that’s hitting home with him.
Sometimes, gambling works
Second quarter, Clippers have the ball and dump it into the post.
Because Aaron Gray had been doing such a good job on Blake Griffin, the Raptors hadn’t been sending a second defender, which made it tougher on the perimeter for L.A.
Well, this time Kyle Lowry decides to dig a little and take a chance; he darts across the lane, swipes at the ball on a dribble, gets a steal that leads to a break that ends with a Gay to DeRozan shovel pass and a DeRozan bucket and free throw.
Dwane’s not been a fan of such gambles, and isn’t a big fan of Kyle hanging around after a Raptors miss instead of getting back in transition, but on cases like last night’s he’ll live with it.
And since it’s a big part of Lowry’s game, if you want him to be himself, you’re going to have to put up with the odd gamble, even if you get burned a few times.
Of course there’s a little more.
I see my good friends The Tall Foreheads have added an easy way to send a question to the mailbag. Check over to the right under the big picture.
Got a bunch already, there’s always room for more.
And having to wait through a Raptors practice and then possibly a Heat practice (unless they get the day off), there’ll be time to get some questions answered.
Hey, did you know today is National Ukulele Day?
And you know what that means, right?
Yes, we all know I’m a bit of a hard-ass when it comes to Halls of Fame. Too easy for too many to get into them and it takes away from the whole aura of being a Hall of Famer.
And because I may need a note later on this fall about the latest batch of quasi-deserving inductees into one, all you knowledgeable hoopheads should know that Canada Basketball has started the nomination process for this year.
Right, the Super Bowl.
Yes, the hype is over the top, the wait for the game in interminable and the actual game is rarely worth all the time and energy wasted in talking about it incessantly for a fortnight.
Oh, and you’d think with all the silly and inappropriate things that get said and done by players that the league would probably like one day between conference championship.
I’m all over the San Franciscos in this one. Go Niners!
Those Of A Certain Vintage will undoubtedly remember the olden days of the NFL (and AFL) on TV, right?
Well, in southern Ontario at least, we’d rarely get a double-header (yeah, there were times when there was only ONE GAME ON TV EVERY SUNDAY, kids) and when we did, the nightcap was invariably the 49ers vs. someone at home from venerable Kezar Stadium.
The wind would be howling, it might be foggy, the grass was real and the Niners were the second favourite team (the favourite was the Cleveland Browns because we saw pretty much every game they played at 1 p.m. on Sundays) and for that, and that alone, I shall root for them tomorrow, if I find a stool on which to sit and watch the contest.
You’re welcome, Raven fans.
Doug Smith has been a sportswriter for more than 30 years, a journey that's included seven Olympic Games, numerous and varied championships and more dreary regular season games than he'd care to remember. Here, he'll talk about them all, as well as current events and pop culture. (Just don’t ask him about music nowadays — it's not his cup of tea).