Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan - teammates soon?

The London faithful won’t get to see Bosh and Turkoglu as neither travels. Lucky for them Sonny Weems makes the trip. Jay Triano says that he’s not worried about Bosh and Turkoglu missing so much time and that they’ll be ready for the season when it does start. Bosh is expected to go 100% in practice later this week while Turkoglu is still wearing off that dreadful fatigue. Both are “mentally involved” in practice, though. Tonight’s plan is to give everyone an equal amount of minutes but I’d say no matter how hard Triano tries, his basketball conscience will not allow him to have Marcus Banks out there for any more than absolutely required by law.

Jose had a strong practice but Triano admits that he’s had a bit of a dip in his level of conditioning but that’s something every player goes through, especially if he hasn’t played for months. He spoke of how the goal is to increase Jose’s “durability” and to me the natural way of going about that is to reduce his minutes or at least ease him into his minutes. He’ll be pacing Jose in training camp and pre-season so that he’ll be ready come October 28th. Eddie Jordan mentioned yesterday that he’d rather have more practice time than pre-season games, I wonder if anybody has thought of asking Triano that question, I suspect he’d answer the same. I’m not too worried about Jose, I think with Jack around he’ll always be on his toes and it’s going to keep him fresh and alert. Just like when Ford was here.

In practice today Marco Belinelli was the man who shone with his three point shooting, passing and ball-handling. He says he didn’t have a chance to show what he can do in Golden State and that he’s thirsty for minutes. So thirsty that he even though he prefers playing the SG, he’s advertising himself as being able to play three positions including PG if need be, anything to keep him on the court. When asked what’s the one thing that he can bring that people don’t think he can bring, the man responded with ‘defense’. He’ll have a chance to test himself against some pretty good athletes tonight including Andre Iguodala.

Speaking of Hoffa Iggy, DeMar DeRozan’s excited to play against him. Actually, he’s downright giddy and feels it’ll be a test. Hopefully the long bus ride doesn’t tire him out. The best part about playing a team like Philly is that not only will our wings will be tested, but so will the lateral quickness of our guards against the always hard to handle, Lou Williams.

Rasho Nesterovic is joking about how his son will play for the Canadian national team one day. He says that hardly anything has changed since the last time he was in Toronto and that he loves the city. He thinks the #1 thing to do in the first couple weeks of pre-season is to not get injured and that once we establish our regular rotation of players (Bosh and Turkoglu) the team will be just fine.

Tonight it’s the Sixers in London and our featured Philly dancer is Erica who can be found at Chickie and Pete’s on the weekends.

Eddie Jordan is bringing discipline and studiousness to Philly. He’s actually gives his players quizzes each morning with the topics ranging from offensive plays to the “six basic rules of transition defense”. Like Triano, he’s focusing the vast majority of his training on the defensive end with the emphasis on offense being conditioning, timing and spacing.

“The teaching in what we do offensively is also conditioning. They have to cut hard. They have to look at their angles. They have to look at their timing and spacing so when you’re teaching just their routes, you have to teach the other part – how to screen, how to come to a jump stop. It’s not just teaching where to go, it’s knowing how to do it to get where to go.”

On a side note, I’m surprised how many coaches have to re-iterate the basics of the game over and over again every training camp. I wonder if this was the case thirty years ago when the players had less distractions around them and team turnover was low. Like last year, Philly’s primary strength is their athleticism with their agile defense a close second. Even though they signed Kapono, their biggest weakness is still considered outside shooting (32% from three last year, dead last) with Carney, Young and Iggy all very streaky at the trade.

Last year their offense was accused of being very unorganized with players tending to go off on their own and Jordan was brought in to combat that plague. Apparently his knowledge of the Princeton offense had a big say in getting him the gig and the fans in Philly are hoping to see a renaissance of sorts. They’ve got the dominant post player in Brand, a defensive big man in Dalembert and plenty of talent at the wings, the only thing missing is some creativity. Jordan believes in his players’ ability to read defenses and take advantage of the different options his meticulously designed sets will present to the guards.

Kapono. Here’s what Jordan said about him:

“Jason Kapono is very sharp. I think he’s ahead of everyone as far as knowing what to do. Willie Green is probably a plus. I hate naming guys, I don’t want to get anyone [mad]. But those two stand out.”

I’m shocked. Here’s what Kapono said:

“It’s very cerebral. The offensive sets are read and react as opposed to one set play where you only do one thing. One set might comprise five different plays. You have to be able to read and know where to go based on what cut’s made. Five guys have to be on the same page. If one guy doesn’t know what cut to make or what pass to make, it slows down the set. It definitely takes more time to learn.”

I’ll call that a mild shot against the awfully predictable single-option pick ‘n roll we ran 60 times a game last year. DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems and Marco Belinelli will take turns guarding Kapono and I really hope they shut his ass down. If I see him blowing on his fingers at any point during the game I might just throw a brick at the TV and call it a season.

Other players to keep your eye on include resident bad-boy Primoz Brezec and often discussed Rodney Carney. Rookie guard Jrue Holiday (considered by some to be the best defender of the draft) should see some minutes tonight although in real life he’s buried behind Lou Williams, Andre Iguodala, Willie Green, Royal Ivey, and Rodney Carney.

Three matchups to keep an eye on:

DeRozan/Belinelli v Iggy: Last year wing defense and athleticism was a big problem and along with Wright, DeRozan and Belinelli were acquired to help in that area. Both are supposed to be better defenders than what they’re given credit for. Let’s see how they handle an All-Star caliber player who is considerably stronger and gifted than the two combined.

Bargnani v Dalembert: Dalembert is reluctant to come out of the paint which means Bargnani will have to prove that he can knock a couple down before his drive opens up. Let’s see how Bargnani handles an active rebounder on the defensive glass. It’s one thing to play good man-defense, another to be a good overall defender.

Williams/Ivey v Calderon/Jack: A test of lateral quickness for our guards, especially Jose. Can Jack punish smaller guards in the paint? We’ll see if Triano’s even considering getting his offense through that avenue.

The game is on Raptors TV. Make sure to swing around these parts around 7:30PM for a live chat. BTW, how great does this look?