Kyrie Irving

If the upcoming Laker game is ranked 10 on the degree of difficulty scale and say Charlotte was something like 4, then the Hawks should be around a 6 or a 6.5. Plus they’ve already kicked our ass once and that was with Jermaine O’Neal in the lineup, so needless to say we have to play at a much higher level than Wednesday night for a shot at a win before heading out West for potentially more ass-kicking. JRich missed Wednesday’s game and we catch another break as Josh Smith is ruled out of Friday’s matchup which should make life easier for Bosh who won’t have to contend with the long reach and athleticism of the Hawks PF. We’re going to need O’Neal to be 100% out West which means he hasn’t practiced this week and is questionable for the game. He’s saving that positive energy for Andrew Bynum.

Chris Bosh is reflecting on what happened in Atlanta, Mike Bibby lit us up for a string of first half threes which ballooned the lead to unmanageable levels:

“I think our rotations were off just a little bit, we could have done a better job. Mike Bibby really got them going and that’s when they started increasing the lead. “If we go help (on) Joe, we have to be on that defensive rope and start pre-rotating. Mike Bibby can get it going, we all know that, and he showed us. If we do over-help on Joe, we still have to be in the correct rotations.”

It’s very basic stuff. Don’t leave a shooter when doubling someone. It’s disappointing that we still haven’t mastered this concept, its not like this is a tumultuous organization where the coach changes ever year and turnover is high. Parker, Bosh, Calderon, Graham and Bargnani have been here for at least two years and Moon, Kapono and Humphries have had more than a year under their belt and we still need to be reminded of who not to leave open when doubling. The Raptors have never been able to form an identity under Mitchell, save for that one year when we won the division we were great at moving the ball about on the perimeter after doubles and hit our threes with accuracy. Come to think of it the only key component missing from that squad and our current lineup is……..take a guess……..Garbo. I could never quantify Garbajosa’s value to the team because he was one of those guys the stats didn’t do justice to but even then I usually scaled down his impact (maybe incorrectly).

You sometimes lose objectivity when you’re in a close relationship with someone, it’s like that Family Guy where Lois’s brother is the “Fat Guy Killer” and she’s in complete denial about it. Her brother’s coming home covered with dirt and a shovel in his hand while the news is running a picture of him and there are dead fat guys in his room, but Lois still refuses to see it. Now replace Lois with Doug Smith and Lois’s brother with Sam Mitchell and the fat people being killed with the Raptors and the picture is complete. Reason I bring this is up is the weak defense of Sam Mitchell’s coaching by Doug Smith as critiqued here. The article’s refusing to give Smith’s commercial of Mitchell any merit and rightfully so, the idea that Sam Mitchell is the reason Chris Bosh or Jose Calderon are the players they are today is blasphemous. Here’s a quick summary of Doug Smith’s argument as illustrated by the author:

Smith’s argument:
(1) Sam Mitchell is the coach of the Toronto Raptors.
(2) Andrea Bargnani, Chris Bosh, and Jose Calderon play for the Raptors.
(3) All three players have improved from when they first became Raptors.
(4) Mitchell has remained the head coach through their improvement.
(5) Mitchell is responsible for their improvement.

Totally agree, to say Mitchell’s great at developing young talent is to say that my lousy boss at work is responsible for me being a good worker. I’m a good worker because I put in effort and happened to learn a few skills in uni. I’d give Mitchell a lot more credit if he managed to develop somebody on the threshold of the NBA into a really good player, somebody like Jamario Moon or Joey Graham, players that don’t have talent oozing out of them but might have something to give if prodded correctly. So yeah, the argument by Smith holds zero merit.

Chris Bosh is aiming for the MVP award. Good, you should set your goals nice and high but whether he’s going to be in the running for the award will obviously depend on where we are in the standings and whether we’ve accumulated quality wins over the long arduous NBA season. So far we’re batting 1-6 in that department. He’s averaging 27.6 PPG which is good for 2nd in the league behind LBJ (27.9) and 5th in rebounding with 10.5 RPG. If the statistics remain the same the only reason why he won’t be a serious contender is because of the team’s record and performance.

I guess Sam Mitchell was asked whether Chris Bosh’s minutes were being stretched just a bit, he’s second in the league at 42.1 behind Stephen Jackson (42.9).

“We watch it. We try and make sure we rest him in between games. We’re not trying to set a record and have him play 48 minutes a game.”

What? A lamer answer I have not heard, you’re obviously NOT watching his minutes and playing him to his maximum capacity right now without thinking of player burnout. He’s only had two games where he’s played less than 40 minutes and he played 38 and 39 in those. You can’t blame Sam though, he’s trying to hang on to his job and what easier way to try to win than just stretch your players to the max. This is a great example of Sam’s “brute force” way of thinking about basketball, you know, “Go go go!!” as you always hear him yelling on the sidelines. Where that “Go” is I never quite figured out since we’re somewhere at the bottom of the league in fastbreak points. I wish there was a subtle touch about his coaching, his playbook and his persona. There’s only so much one can handle of the pragmatic Sam, at some point you have to look underneath his talk and I fear that there’s very little substance there.

What are the chances Joey drops 17 again tonight? He didn’t have back-to-back double digit point games all last year so you’d think we’re due for Bad Joey. We could use his defense tonight on Marvin Williams who had his way with us in transition last time around. I’m all for giving Moon’s playing time to Graham and having him on the court until he fouls out. If Graham knows he’s got some leeway on defense he’ll stay aggressive which means good things will happen.

We also see round 2 of Antony Parker versus Joe Johnson tonight (Round 1 went to JJ 17-4). Parker’s man-defense and offensive output has been up for question this year. He’s been given a free-pass by the media and is always allowed to get away with having a bad game because of his hustle and supposed great defense. Now hustle’s great and effort should always be applauded but the bottom line is starting SG production which just hasn’t been there. I understand he guards one of the oppositions’ better players on a nightly basis but that does not excuse scoring lines of 4 and 5 while shooting 39% for the season, at least not in a starting capacity. Parker was asked about his season so far and he believes that he hasn’t lost a step on defense:

“I’m playing heavy minutes. I’m healthy. I don’t think I’m losing a step or quickness or anything like that.”

I just don’t agree with him not losing a step. I think his offensive game and defensive agility have considerably declined over the past two years and he’s gone from an acceptable starting SG to a liability who is often targeted in the boxscore as a reason for the L.

Jose Calderon’s made 40 straight FTs to start the season. The record is 94.

Join us tonight at Philthy McNasty’s. Let’s go you Raps!