Preview & Chat: The Toronto Raptors

Kurt —  November 17, 2006

81? Nah, not going to happen again, at least not tonight.

But the Raptors do struggle to defend the two (PER against of 18.3), so Kobe should do well even with the sore knee. They are also struggling to cover the opposing center, a PER of 19.3 against, so watch out for Bynum. Well, let’s just face facts — the Raptors haven’t been defending anyone well. They are giving up 109 points per 100 opponent possessions (21st in the league, just one spot worse than the Lakers).

Things that will make Rob happy. Rob did a great job pointing out that the Lakers have done better with the pace up, which is good news because the Raptors want to get out and run — they are averaging 95.8 possessions per game, the second fastest pace in the league. That’s more possessions per game than Phoenix (95.7).

The problem for the Raptors is T.J. Ford is no Steve Nash, Still, with Collangelo calling the shots, it’s safe to say that this is not just a fad, Toronto is going toward small ball.

Blogging Toronto. Must be something in the water in Toronto, because it has some great NBA bloggers for a city where you’d think they all have Maple Leaf blogs called “Sweet Dougy Gilmore” or something. There’s one of the originals in Scott from Raptorblog, the hysterical (and insightful) J.E. Skeets from The Basketball Jones and Ryan from Hoopsaddict.

Slow starts lead to slow starts.
I got a little scouting report from Hoopsaddict’s Ryan earlier this week, and he says the big problem has been slow starts.

They have been getting wide open looks but are shooting under 30% in the first quarter of games while allowing opponents to shoot over 50%. After being down 10-14 points in the fourth quarter they just haven’t been able to dig out of the holes they have created for themselves.

Coaching hot seat. Sam Mitchell may well be the odds-on first to be fired this season. Probably for doing things like starting Mo Peterson when it’s been clear Red Jones is the better guard. Although apparently that one’s been rectified.

They have at least one good player. Chris Bosh is a stud, and one of the first things I noticed in the highlights from the Raptors this season is he looks physically bigger and stronger. It translates to the court. He’s got a true shooting percentage of 56.7%, a very good PER of 23.37 so far.

Bosh and Lamar Odom are alike in one way, both much prefer to go left. Force Bosh right and the numbers likely will be lower.

A tale of two guys of note off the bench. Jose Calderon at the point, has a PER of 23.59, with an eFG% of 59.8%. Then there is the rookie top pick Andrea Bargnani, who has an unimpressive 42.6% (eFG%) and his defense has been questionable.

Things to look for.
After four days off I just want to watch a game, I’m sure the players are anxious to be back out there. And they should have a jump in their step, or at least three should be a few jumps in Kobe’s knee that look better than the ones from last week.

Both Kobe and Phil Jackson have said Kobe will be back at the initiator spot out top; let’s see how the team looks with a few days to practice the new formation.

to Preview & Chat: The Toronto Raptors

  1. Looking forward to tonight, this past week has felt like the off-season. That and my free trial of NBA League Pass expired, so I’m going through withdrawal.

    And the Sports Guy talked about it some this week, but what kind of world are we living in when the Kings, Suns, and Lakers are all looking up at the Warriors and the Clippers???


  2. The thing for me is, we all knew the Clippers would be good this season, the question was really just how good. But I watched part of the Warrior TNT game last night and they look 100 times better tha they did against the Lakers, they are much better in their sets and isolating the matchups they want. And Baron Davis looks great.

    Not sure that they can keep it up long term, but they looked pretty good last night.


  3. Golden State will win more games than it did last year, but I still dont see them making the playoffs. Moving Monta Ellis into the starting lineup and sliding BD to the 2 and J-Rich to the 3, as well as starting Birdendens has got them rolling, but against a team like the Lakers or Clippers their lack of size will be exposed.

    As far as tonite, the Lakers have to play like they did against Memphis in the first half, move the ball, take the open shot, make the easy pass, our size and talent will take over from there


  4. Completely unrelated but has anyone else watched Bill Walton’s latest monologue on Priceless, just priceless. I wish Luke were more like that, and of course I wouldn’t mind it if he had the same low post skills.


  5. Bill Walton is nuts in that thing! I kept expecting him to testify, or “praise Gerry!” Or at least talk about God. Shammagod.


  6. Walton looks like a prowestler doing a promo before a big match in those video segments…


  7. I can actually watch this game!! (little coincidence >_


  8. First two possessions i saw a lot of standing around watching Kobe – Smush standing around until Kobe tells him to cut. Then Kobe gets the ball and puts it into Lamar himself, Lamar gets the foul.

    Smush is a sieve. Seriously TJ Ford is just doing whatever he wants to.


  9. It’s absurd to think that last time, Kobe scored 50 more points than he did tonight.


  10. I just wish Kobe wasn’t so turnover prone. Thankfully his Asist/Turnover was over 1, but just barely.


  11. Man, it’s just going to take Kobe a while to get it together. Remember the last time he had a surgery like this (2003-2004) he wasn’t himself until after the All-Star break. But back then he had Shaq, Malone, Payton, and D-Fish to lean on. But when he did get back to normal he was like freakin superman. Flying from Colorado before the game only to arrive and DESTROY anyone they played. I don’t think they lost a game when he had to come from Colorado before the game. I remember, Kobe that season really didn’t start dunking until Jan/Feb, and it seems like that is the case right now. However, how good does that make him to know that he has no elevation right now, yet can still get to the basket and finish with crafty moves? Being able to contort his body and dribble and finish with either hand certainly helps him in that dept. I’m not worried about Kobe at all. I’m worried about Lamar not staying aggressive. It has to be the theme of the team this year to keep Lamar involved. He needs 10-15 shots a night at a minimum. Everyone on the team needs to be conscious of that, because they are a much better team when they get that kind of production from him.


  12. Comments in the LA Times suggest that Phil Jackson is well aware of contradictions in style within the Laker team, and the unattractive options that he is considering to address them. Especially telling is his referring to “playground basketball” (in apparent contrast with “team basketball”).

    Let’s see if we can add some depth to this distinction. Who are the “team” guys?

    I’d go out on a limb and say: Walton, Odom, Evans, Farmar, Cook, Turiaf

    Who are the “playground” guys?

    Smush, Kobe, and?

    On the fence?

    Radman, Sasha, Brown, and Bynum

    Radman and Sasha like to be set up to shoot, so they benefit from passing and position, but are not playmakers.

    Brown and Bynum need the team game to get them the ball and could develop into distributers–as Bynum has shown on ocassion.

    Kobe wants to convert–but his heart is playground–and he could revert at any time.

    The Smusher doesn’t have a clue.