Mensah-Bonsu will be taking over the bench spot vacated by Nathan Jawai after being released by the Spurs so they could sign Drew Gooden. Not sure what this does for us basketball-wise but its a move which could allow us to reduce Bosh’s minutes as the season winds down. The Raptors apparently had an eye on him for some time now which isn’t surprising since he fits rule #1 of our mid-season signings: you have to do a double-take when you read his name. When I first saw this story on the ticker for a moment there I thought the Raptors had signed Greg “Pop”ovich. On that note, it’s about time the NBA starts allowing teams to trade coaches. I’d deal Jay Triano and Alex English to Sacramento for a first-round pick, promote Mike Evans to head-coach and let him up his trade value against the upcoming softer schedule and then immediately deal him to the Wizards for a second-rounder. Woah, this concept is blowing my mind.
It’s the Miami Heat tonight and you know what that means. Yup, Moon and O’Neal will try to show the Raptors what they’re missing and how they shouldn’t have traded them. I really do hope that we shut ’em down and run ’em of the court. It wouldn’t mean much since Miami’s well on their way to the playoffs but it would still register as a feel-good win which there haven’t been nearly enough of. There’s not much pride left on this team, what with our superstar being compared to a transvestite (BTW, Shaq is an ass), our starting point-guard being labeled a backup and us being seen in the same light as the Wizards around the league, so we’re reduced to feeling good by winning meaningless games against ex-Raptors. Sigh.
Dwayne Wade’s averaging 34.5 points on 48% shooting in two games against us which we’ve both won. Our former ‘Big 3’ had their best games against Miami, O’Neal picked up 18 and 17 rebounds in the two games and Bosh/Bargnani combined for 40 and 39. The Heat couldn’t cope with O’Neal’s size or Bargnani’s mobility and the Raps conceded Wade his points while keeping others quiet. The size advantage has now disappeared, O’Neal and Moon are motivated and Wade is playing some of the best basketball of his career, all this means that Miami is a slight favorite in this one.
I talked to Heat blogger Peninsula is Mighter after the Marion/O’Neal trade and he hinted how a lot of the talk in Miami centers on getting Wade some help and the name that keeps coming up is Chris Bosh. This is a very logical fit – top-tier guard combined with a second-tier big man. It’s a combination that we can only drool over as we watch Miami position itself nicely come the summer of 2010. I can see Pat Riley being impressed by Bosh’s Olympic performance where he excelled as the defensive energizer bunny/garbage man, Riley loves hustle and Bosh was all hustle in the summer.
There’s a perception amongst some fans that Moon’s tearing it up in Miami, not really the case. In 8 games he’s averaging 9.7 points and 4.9 rebounds for Miami since getting traded. In 54 games with Toronto he was averaging 7.3 and 4.6, I’d attribute the difference entirely to playing with Wade who continually drives the lane and attracts help from all over the place allowing Moon to cut baseline for a couple alley-oops a game. If only our PG could do that we would’ve seen the same results.
Jermaine O’Neal feels no animosity towards his ex-team, he says that he understands the trade but does slightly slight the overall talent on the team:
I don’t have any animosity toward them. Obviously, it just wasn’t working out. They knew they had to make some moves. If it wasn’t me, Bosh or Calderon, nobody was really biting the bait. So, when it came down to it, I was the new guy, so it made more sense to move me.
He averaged 13.5 and 7 with us in 41 games, with Miami he’s putting up 12.3 and 5.75 in 8. The Heat record in those 8 games is 4-4.
The only injury to report is Dorrell Wright who has had knee surgery and of course Kris Humhpries. Let’s quickly look at the matchups:
Marion/Graham v Moon
The Edge: Graham. Marion gets the edge here but I’d rather talk about the inevitable Joey/Moon matchup. Do I hate Moon? Yes, but that’s not why I’m giving this one to Joey. Moon is easy to defend and Joey’s disciplined enough to concede him the jumper and not lose track of him if he has to help in the paint. I’ve always wondered how Moon and Graham matched up and whether Mitchell ignoring Graham all last year had to do with how they performed in practice against each other. I’d like to see Joey get in the game and immediately use his strength and pump-fakes against Moon who will be oh so eager to block some shots. Here’s a quote from Wade about Moon, take it for what it’s worth.
“Jamario Moon is really under the radar as far as what he can do”
Parker v Wade
The Edge: Wade. If Parker can make Wade a high volume shooter he’s done his job. He’s done an excellent work so far by forcing Wade to joist 31 and 30 shots to get 29 and 40, respectively. Wade’s averaging 10.9 assists a game since the trade which is more than 3 above his season average, so he’s looking to pass more than earlier in the season which means we can’t just blindly collapse on him because he will make you pay. Tough matchup for Parker, we wish him luck.
Bargnani v O’Neal
The Edge: Bargnani. Bargnani plays good man-defense and all O’Neal does is try to go one-on-one in the post. Add the two together and I’m thinking Bargnani’s getting three blocks today. I don’t think Bargnani’s capable of getting a rebound over O’Neal so he must box-out on defense and hope Bosh and Marion can clean the glass. Even if he does that there’s a chance O’Neal eats him up on the boards. Everything Bargnani does is dependent on whether his jumper is falling and it’s no different tonight. If O’Neal is afforded to sag on him and he’s not hitting his jumper, this matchup can go south. I have faith that Bargnani will show up tonight.
Calderon vs Chalmers
The Edge: Even. Jose’s averaging 8 points and 7 assists against Miami while Chalmers is netting 6 and 3.5. Neither has been a real factor in the two games we’ve played but Jose’s 8M salary says he should dominate the rookie who is liable to exploit him off the dribble. Neither of the two has happened so I’m reluctant to give an edge to anyone.
Bosh vs Haslem
The Edge: Bosh. How did you feel about that summertime trade rumour which had TJ Ford going to Miami for Haslem? I liked it, would’ve even thrown in the 17th pick to sweeten the deal and I don’t see how Riley could’ve passed that up (remember, this is before Mario Chalmers happened). This matchup goes to Bosh because it’s supposed to go Bosh. I’d measure his defensive effectiveness here by how many offensive rebounds Haslem and O’Neal end up getting. Bosh obviously has a quickness advantage over Haslem but that can only materialize if he chooses to use it, let’s hope he does.
It’s time for your favorite part of these posts. The Miami Heat Dancers have one of the best websites. Actually, I’m only saying that because they’re all on the beach in their bikinis. My pick is Kenya who is seen here supporting the Palestinian cause by donning the colors – subtle, yet effective. According to her profile her friends describe her as silly and wise which to me are two conflicting traits. BTW, here’s a much hotter pic of her.
Can’t leave without a prediction and I’m counting on the Raptors to get up for this one and snap out of the road losing streak. Free pizza for those attending – 102-90. I’ll be at Philthy McNasty’s, swing by and we’ll chat about Bosh’s latest video blog and whether he smoked a fathead before filming it. Seriously though, we hold him to high standards and criticize every aspect of everyone’s game but let that not be interpreted as him not being a pretty chilled out cat.Follow @raptorsrepublic