Preview and Chat: The Toronto Raptors

Kurt —  February 9, 2007

A word or 75 on Detroit. Some teams just have your number, teams where the matchups all seem to be in the other guy’s favor. The Pistons are apparently that for the Lakers, because the two Laker games against the Pistons may have been their two worst this season. All you can do in these cases is forget it and move on. If we have to face them again, well, by that point we’ll all be in a really good mood.

Speaking of moving on… The Brian Cook incident at the start of the fourth, well, that’s a guy wanting to play venting. That happens over the course of the season, professionals let it go and move on. And I think everyone involved is professional.

Is there a bigger surprise in the NBA? Toronto is pretty good — and pretty good is more than enough to lead the Atlantic by 3.5 games. But take away the division lead and they still have the fifth best record in the East, and that is far better than one would have thought.

So how are they doing it, particularly with a coach that everyone thought would be in the unemployment line by now? I asked someone who watches a lot of Raptors games, Ryan from Hoops Addict. And credit due to Brian Collangelo:

I think the driving force this season has been a combination of Chris Bosh playing strong, a legit supporting cast and Sam Mitchell finally having players that can run his offensive and defensive sets. If you look at some of the players the Raps relied on heavily last season (Charlie V, Matt Bonner, Mike James, Loren Woods, etc) a few of those players aren’t in the NBA anymore and others are performing much worse than they did with us. I think the additions that Bryan Colangelo made this summer were huge!

The other huge change in Toronto this year is they are playing solid defense. And again, Ryan credits Collangelo.

I think a big reason why the Raps are playing better team defense is they are communicating better and they have players that are willing to play hard on both ends. Last year Mike James was only worried about padding his stats and rookie Charlie V (even though he’s a personal fav) was horrible on D. With players like Rasho and Anthony Parker improving the D and Bosh and Mo Pete maintaining their defensive intensity it’s allowed the Raps to make big gains on that side of the ball.

Bosh is a stud. He’s shooting 51%, scoring 23.3 points per game, grabbing 16.6% of the available rebounds and is the driving force of the Raptors offense – they are 8.1 points per 100 possessions worse when he sits. What makes him dangerous is you can’t just leave him on the perimeter; he’s shooting 37% from three and a respectable 42.3% on all his jumpers.

Still, you’d rather have him shoot jumpers than get in next to the basket, so Andrew has some work to do tonight.

My new personal mantra: Nobody tells this Wookie what to do!

Things to look for: The best place to attack the Raptors is inside, they’re weakest defensively against the three, four and five. So, pound the ball inside early. Kobe and Smush take it to the hole. Try to get a foul or two on Bosh.

Defensively, try to get someone other than Bosh or the two-headed point guard to take the shots.

But what matters most is which Laker team shows up last night. Do they go into a funk or do they pull out of it – and if they are slow to come out Kobe needs to just take over and drag them out of the funk.

And one glimmer of hope: This is the third back-to-back on this road trip, in the previous two the Lakers lost the first game and won the second.

Kurt

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12 responses to Preview and Chat: The Toronto Raptors

  1. If Kobe doesn’t score 40 tonight I am legaly changing my name to Chris Bosh.

  2. I feel so bad for Anthony Parker/Mo Peterson and anyone else who guards KB24 tonite, very bad

  3. Terrible loss. We had a chance at the end against this young team. They nearly gave it to us by missing free throws at the end. But we couldn’t cash-in. Never easy to come back in the 4th quarter on the road. Sucks cause San Antonio lost tonight. we could have gained some ground.

  4. I can’t say these road losses are coming because Luke isn’t playing. I think it comes more from having Odom back in the lineup, and Bynum struggling to find his place on the floor when the two are out there together. Lamar going for 4-6 TOs a night doesn’t help either.

    We’ll get better, but this road trip has been one long cold shower. Where’s Farmar?

  5. Chris Bosh (formerly known as ian) February 9, 2007 at 11:09 pm

    If the Lakers don’t start winning these games we will easily slip out of the top eight in the West. I really hope that post all-star break the Lakers can come out refreshed and recapture that incredible form of the begining of the season.

  6. Bosh misses the 2nd free throw and no one closes the lane off? Yikes.

  7. Chris,

    Nice to know you went through with the name change.

  8. Hi Chris!

  9. Hey Chris,

    If the Heat win the NBA championship this year, maybe you could change it to Shaquille O’Neal?

  10. (10) I think that would be an insult D-Wade. It is clearly his super-human flopping abilities that would win the title.

  11. I also find it interesting that Toronto and Detroit are playing tonight. I can’t decide who to root for/agaisnt. I guess ideally ‘Shede would collide with me and we would both be injured till 2008.