Miami in town today and what’s so special about them? Instead of the boring mugshots every NBA team uses they’re dressed up like the Reservoir Dogs. Classy to say the least, except for Chris Quinn who looks a lot like…well…Chris Quinn. I previewed the game by talking to Mike Wallace of the Miami Herald. Some of the points up for discussion were how the Heat will take advantage of the Raptors and how the Raptors should take advantage of Miami. Have a listen, its good to get a non-Raptor perspective once in a while. He also touches on the TJ Ford for Udonis Haslem rumours that were floating about before the trade deadline amongst other things.
Jose’s listed as questionable for the game and the ultimate decision will be up to him. If he doesn’t start, then Solomon will get nod. If he’s feeling any ill-effects, he shouldn’t even think about playing. The last thing we want is to aggravate this thing and have him miss multiple games. Look at it from this angle, let Solomon and Ukic play 24 minutes each and let’s see what they’ve got, the extended playing time will give us a much better idea of who’s more capable of running the show. They’ll be facing Mario Chalmers and Chris Quinn so things can’t get that bad. Devlin brings up a good point when saying that both of these guys need to realize that nobody is expecting them to be the difference makers in the game, their job is to simply give the ball to the right people without committing turnovers and hit the jumper when they’re open which they will be if Miami doubles Bosh or O’Neal.
We went 4-0 against Miami last year and the average margin of victory was 29 points but things aren’t going to play the same this time around. Wade’s healthy, Marion’s returned form injury and Beasley’s playing like a #2 pick (at least on offense). The Heat team is 6th in the NBA in points allowed and is being molded into a classic Pat Riley team under Erik Spoelstra, a Riley protege for 8 years. Spoelstra’s worked his way up from the video room to head coach which tells me he’s got a ground-up knowledge of the game, and that’s probably why he preaches defense and rebounding. Let’s see how Mitchell handles him, should be pretty simple: give the ball to Bosh and O’Neal since they have no answer for them as alluded to by Mike Wallace.
Good insight here about how Miami will be using their athleticism to counter our size. The Heat don’t have a player taller than 6’8″ in their regular rotation and like to run which is what they did in blowing out Washington. We lost the fastbreak-point battle 19-7 against Philly and if we’re not careful Marion and Wade and kill us in semi-transition, much like how Willie Green and Andre Miller did. There’s talk of Andrea Bargnani getting the start over Jamario Moon so that the Raptors could get even bigger, but this is a case where such a move is likely to backfire because of the Heat’s intentions of exploiting exactly these kinds of matchups.
Three days off should allow the Raptors to fine tune the problems they had against Philly; if however, they come out of the gates slow again and get down early and start making the safe defensive mistakes again we’ll know that all those practice sessions have been a waste of time. This team needs to get over the hump of talking about how to play and start playing. We’re all tired of excuses.
Nathan Jawai is out for at least 6 weeks due to an enlarged heart. First things first, I hope he’s going to be alright and live a long and healthy life. Basketball definitely comes second here but that doesn’t change the fact that Colangelo screwed up. I think we were too busy orchestrating the Jermaine O’Neal trade and didn’t pay nearly enough attention to the draft CDR and ended up picking a player rather than targeting one Bill Walker. This one’s got wasted pick written all over it. Teams like Portland, Lakers, Detroit and many more have used the draft to its full advantage by adding key pieces to their current squad but the Raptors have spectacularly failed under Colangelo. Colangelo obviously believes in the theory that importing foreign players is a better strategy than drafting NCAA talent, maybe its because he feels that the professional experience they gain overseason translates to something greater than what a player would learn in the NCAA, something he himself hinted at over a year ago.
The game’s on TSN2 so a lot of us are out of luck (including me). We’ll try to show the game live on the front page of RR if we find a stream so check back around 1PM for the game and he the live blog. Let’s get a big win today.