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.