Bosh out, Lucas in, Garbo walking, team toughness and Tyler Hansbrough

Chris Bosh won’t be playing in the upcoming mini-roadtrip against Charlotte, Orlando and Miami. I suppose it’s a precautionary measure, the last thing you want to do is aggravate it and have him out for an extended period of time with the playoffs coming up. The one thing that is worrisome about Bosh injuries is that no matter how small they are, they always seem to have an effect on his play when he comes back. He’s the type of player that likes to gradually return from injury (smart move, really) and doesn’t extend himself too much in the first few games after coming back. So expect to see some jumpers when he does return (hopefully) against Washington at home.

The Raptors signed TJ’s good buddy and professor of hilarity John Lucas till the end of the season. From hearing TJ talk he’s been greatly helped by Lucas in recovering from his injury. This of course is a little weird because John Lucas specializes in drug rehabilitation more than anything, but hey, whatever works. It’s probably a goodwill gesture from the Raptors and something that’ll keep TJ happy. TJ and Sam reflect on what it means to them and finally John Lucas spills the beans about his long road to being officially back with a club, any club:

“One, he’s my trainer but, two, he’s a good support for me, he gives me a lot of advice He’s been there for me … He’s definitely a good mentor.” – TJ Ford

“We want to make sure to give T.J. every opportunity to get better and it gives him a comfort level” – Sam Mitchell

“I’ve been chasing being around a good team ever since (Cleveland).” – John Lucas

Back to the mini-roadtrip. Now on paper, we should be able to go 2-1. With Bosh out, Howard might be in for a career night and the Magic should win this one. It’ll be fun to watch Howard and Brezec go at it, here’s hoping Sam gives the Slovenian big guy some minutes so we could get some real entertainment from this loss. This is a crucial game in terms of playoff seeding, it’s a three game series which is tied 1-1 so in the case of equal records, the winner of this game would get the higher seed. I know, the chances of the Raptors catching Orlando are pretty low but it’s still an angle.

Charlotte and Miami are winnable games but then again so were NY and Indiana. Charlotte’s struggling, they’re 1-9 in their last 10 and Miami’s 2-8 since the big trade. The Raptors generally speaking do play with better energy and enthusiasm on the road and I’m looking at them to come out focused against Charlotte. The blase attitude is generally reserved for the home games where the friendliness of the arena and the general cheeriness of the atmosphere is a bit too much to stay serious in for our heroes. I’m still waiting for the day when they’ll allow flares to be allowed in the arena and constant chanting instead of watching 3-year olds race. Wakes up. Realizes he’s in North America.

One small step for Garbo, one giant leap for………nobody. It’s nice to see Garbajosa shoot some free throws while avoiding putting weight on his injured leg, but aside from this being a heart-warming story it’s got zero impact on the Raptors. He’s not coming back this year even if we make it to Game 7 of the NBA finals. In the off-season Colangelo will need to reevaluate just exactly where he fits into the piece of the puzzle, if anywhere. He’s not getting any younger and his greatest value to the team might be as an expiring contract next year. Sounds harsh but it’s the truth. Whatever you do don’t make the mistake of thinking he’s the anchor to our defense and the reason why we’re so pathetic. He’s a good team defender when the other members of the team are decent defenders, on the perimeter against other threes, he’ll be a liability.

A lot has been made of the makeup of the Raptors and whether their European composition has anything to do with their lack of toughness and grit. And you’d be blind to not give weight to that claim and blame Bryan Colangelo for assembling a bunch of nice guys relying on finesse rather than grit and determination. Whenever this discussion props up, Bargnani, Parker, Rasho and to some degree Calderon’s name (MIP?) is mentioned. Here’s my take on this, feel free to have your own: With the team as it is, we’re headed for a first round exit because of porous perimeter defense, bad interior defense and a reliance on perimeter shots. It just so happens that these are the traits of three of our starters in Calderon, Parker and Bargnani. But aside from these three, we also have Jason Kapono, TJ Ford and Jamario Moon who log significant minutes whlie playing very shoddy defense. So yes, I do think that there isn’t a good balance on this team between finesse players and hard-nosed, “lunch pail” type players. But that doesn’t mean Bargnani and Calderon can’t be a mainstay on this team, it just means we need to offset their weaknesses with a Ron Artest, Travis Outlaw or Reggie Evans type players who live to play tough defense. This probably means getting rid of some of Kapono, Parker and one of TJ Ford/Calderon.

Nathan Jawai anyone? If your thing is undersized centers, he might be your man. Watch him play to the tune of some serious gangsta rap, if that’s not tough, I don’t know what is. He’ll be in the NBA soon and can have a career ranging from Jahidi White to Eddy Curry to a black version of Brad Miller. I bring this up because there’s a school of thought which says Bryan Colangelo should be looking at the draft to address the toughness (or lack thereof) factor. I’m not an astute follower of college basketball but looking at the 2008 mock draft, a name that jumps out is Tyler Hansbrough who they have us selecting. Now before you get turned off by his complexion, check out the following analysis of him:

Offensively Hansbrough has stuck with his bread and butter so far this season; hard nosed play in the paint. Not only is he one of the strongest players pound for pound in the country, but Hansbrough is so smart when he gets the ball inside. He keeps his pivot foot better than maybe any post player in the college game, and uses a flurry of head and ball fakes to get himself good looks inside. His most dangerous weapon this season though, as it has always been is his ability to draw contact and go to the free throw line. Hansbrough is attempting a whopping 10.3 free throws per game this season, and with a free throw percent of 77% he is doing a lot of easy scoring. In total, Hansbrough has scored 37% of his points this season from the charity stripe. While his ability to get to the line is phenomenal, there have been points this season where Hansbrough has missed out on easy baskets as a result of giving head fakes rather than going right to the basket.

This sounds pretty good to me. If you follow college basketball, do give your thoughts.

Oh, anybody hot for teacher?

Here’s to a win in Charlotte and erasing that despicable memory of Indiana. Let’s go you Raptors!

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