The West coast trip sans Bosh might be the best thing that happens to us

I made a very disinterested post-game post last night so I thought I’d make up for it. In truth, I was playing basketball and got hit very hard in a very sensitive area and was feeling woozy for the rest of the evening.

Five game roadtrip coming up and Michael Grange and I are on the same page: it’s tough to see us get anything out of this one. Lakers, GS, Sac, Denver and Utah are all teams that can beat us, well, maybe not Sacramento but without Chris Bosh and what with them being the home team, you’d have to favor them. And unlike the Raptors, teams remember who humiliated them last time around and come out with a sense of urgency and revenge not seen around these parts. Barring a 60% FG shooting performance one one of these nights, we’ll come out 0 for 5. But wait, the good news is that we’ll still be 1 game over .500. And if we manage to sneak out a win, we’ll be 3 games over .500, not too terrible going into the home-stretch.

Let’s talk about home-court advantage, I don’t think the Raptors need it to win a playoff series. This team plays better on the road, as crazy as it sounds, it’s true. They’re more focused, energetic and generally much more crisp when they’re playing away from home. A lot has been made of the Raptors lack of toughness and grit but one that’s self-evident is that the Raptors don’t get phased by the opposing arena and I feel confident that as long as their jumper is dropping in one of the first two games in the playoff series, we’re more than capable of stealing home-court advantage. Their success depends entirely on whether they can rebound and hit their perimeter jumpers. Both these facets of the game are a huge variable on this team which can fluctuate on a nightly basis, so it’s conceivable that the Raptors can simply “catch fire” and pull out a win.

Going back to actually getting home court advantage, we have no chance of catching Orlando which is currently 5 1/2 games ahead of us. Our hope is to catch Cleveland which has a slightly more challenging schedule than Orlando and have shown that they’re very much beatable, at least in the regular season. If this turns out to be our playoff matchup, needless to say they will have a serious rebounding advantage over us and it’ll be very much up to Sam Mitchell to manage Brezec, Rasho, Humphries and Bargnani in a way that mitigates this advantage. Of course none of this stops John Hollinger from picking us as the winner in this series:

Majeed: LeBron and the Cavs remind me of the Lakers last year. Great player on a mediocre team who will go one & done in the playoffs.

John Hollinger: Cavs could easily be one and done, yes, especially if they get Toronto in the first round (and Bosh is on the court).

It appears that Dave Feschuk is secretly hoping for us to fall to 6th place behind Washington, face Orlando, rely on the PG advantage and the Bosh/Howard wash-out to pull out a series win. Maybe this roadtrip is the best thing that’ll happen to us? We got screwed last year when NJ beat Chicago on the last day of the regular season to grab 6th spot, maybe what went around last year, came round our way this year. Even though he’s not saying that, I’m definitely saying it. Losing sucks but I would rather finish 6th than 4th or 5th, we need to win a playoff series, not finish higher in the standings. We did that last year and look what came of it.

I’m glad to see Elliote Friedman get some credit for being a half-decent sideline reporter and asking the tough and important questions, this guy should be doing this for every game. His point-blank question to TJ Ford asking whether he could co-exist with Calderon was gold and its bluntness even caught TJ by surprise. His interview with Bryan Colangelo basically asked him, “Why is this team playing like shit?”. Nice to hear. Enough of the Norma Wick and Rod Black’s of this world, we got a guy who has some real talent, asks proper questions and doesn’t get laughed at by Sam Mitchell. Since John Saunders was squeezed out, we’ve never had a truly professional guy on our media team and Friedman is a breath of fresh air. Although the CBC A/V team often screws him up by wiping out his audio while he’s talking to pictures on the wall, he still is the best TV reporter for the Raptors. Speaking of the media, I was really expecting more from Eric Smith’s new blog, with insider access like he has, he still tells us stuff we already know, like whether Bosh will play against Seattle or not. Recently he caught up wit Kapono and instead of asking him why he can’t seem to buy a 3 point attempt, let alone make one, he asked him about the weather.

I’d like to talk a little about Carlos Delfino, Jamario Moon and Andrea Bargnani. These are the three players that will eventually determine whether we can win a playoff series. Moon has been stepping up of late and playing excellent man-defense and hitting the boards which is going to be imperative to our playoff success. Carlos Delfino is far too inconsistent to be relied upon to do anything offensively, he should not have the green light to shoot from deep unless there are less than 5 seconds on the shot clock. His driving and ball-handling skills are good enough that he can consistently get his points in the paint, he needs to be the inside-guy on this perimeter oriented team. Sam needs to get this message across to him because when he’s in the paint, he has the ability to find Rasho, Bosh or Humphries for short passes for easy scores. Andrea’s string of good game, bad game will need to end at some point, we’ve been harping about this all year long but unless he becomes a legitimate second scorer (and I don’t mean by shooting 30%) and gets at least 50% of his points in the paint, we’ll be in trouble. I foresee teams closing him out completely in the playoffs and forcing him to create off the bounce which he can’t do with surety. It’ll be interesting, your thoughts on this are welcome.

I have a confession to make: I hate watching this team. Yeah, we’re winning but the way they play bugs me to no end. The offensive sets are so lame, the defense is so inconsistent, lazy at times, our superstar’s not really a superstar and we’re so soft and dependent on the springer. Yeah, we apparently have great chemistry but lack the tenacity and diligence to be consistently good. I’m being very nostalgic but I do miss Charles Oakley and even Antonio Davis……I’m relying on this summer to fix some of those issues, I’m sure you are too. To sum it up, I’d like to quote Raps Fan from a comment on his blog:

I don’t enjoy watching them either, but just like a battered wife, i can’t leave these sons-a-bitches.

Outspoken commenter khandor grouped NBA teams into six different tiers, I don’t think he’s too far off, his list can be seen here. Mine differs a little.

1st Tier – Boston, Detroit, LA Lakers, San Antonio

2nd Tier – Houston, Phoenix, Utah, New Orleans

3rd Tier – Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Golden State

4th Tier – Atlanta, Chicago, New Jersey, Portland, Orlando, Toronto, Washington

5th Tier – Charlotte, Indiana, LA Clippers, Milwaukee, Sacramento, Philadelphia

6th Tier – Memphis, Miami, Minnesota, New York, Seattle

It’s all very debatable, feel free to have your opinion.

I’d like to tell everybody that fellow blogger Dinosty has an absolutely awesome picture of Andris Biedrins’ wife, he will unleash it after we play the Warriors this week. Unlike him, I can’t afford to pay, so I’ll just give you this.



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