While he admits Jose Calderon and Jarrett Jack have to do a better job of fighting through and cutting off penetration, it's also up to the bigs to provide help in that case.
In any event, the approach is not going to change.
"I don't want to abandon what we are doing," he said. "In years past, we have had a defensive philosophy and we would get to this point and decide: 'This is hurting us. Let's abandon it and do something different.'
"We're not going to do that. We just have to it better and that's part of what (yesterday's practice) was."
Calderon, a guy who gets plenty of the blame for opposing point guards preying on the Raptors — not all of it deserved, according to both Triano and Chris Bosh — came into this season intent on being a better defender.
While the early results don't appear to be attractive — both Memphis' Mike Conley and Orlando's Jameer Nelson got into the lane at will in the past two games — Calderon feels his defence has improved.
Chris Bosh alluded to it in the aftermath of Sunday's 125-116 loss to Orlando, a passivity to start the game that got Toronto in a hole too deep to get out of.
It was part lack of effort, which was particularly galling to many because effort should be constant. But it was also, according to coach Jay Triano, a mental timidity that doesn't allow them to play freely.
"I think at the start of the game, we're so concerned about trying to do the right thing," he said. "We're not reacting, we're thinking our way through it. It's paralysis by analysis. We just thinking about everything. Finally when we started to play and we started to attack the basket, we became much better basketball team."
Calderon, to this eye, has been getting beat for lay-ins too often, although he says his defence has been "better than (his) offence" this season, which gives you an idea of what he thinks about his shooting stroke.
So what are the Raptors to do? Junking it up might be an option. Jack Armstrong, the high-energy broadcaster, was on the radio show he co-hosts with Eric Smith on The Fan 590 on Monday making an argument for Toronto's occasional playing of multi-look zone defence. If you've got a glaring weakness, it makes some sense to be at least a little bit deceptive about where it is. But don't expect changes. The Raptors coaching staff, particularly Jay Triano and lead assistant Marc Iavaroni, has invested a lot of time and effort into developing its current system.
This guy sucks? Make a change.
Team loses game? Make a change.
They’re pretty much exactly where a lot of people thought they’d be after three games? Make a change anyway dammit.
Trouble is, it’s never black and white, it’s always grey.
Take the whole “Jose can’t defend a lick, why is he playing, how in the world can they ever win a game with him out there?” stuff I’m getting floods of in the mail.
No, he’s not a great defender but the notion than anyone can defend anyone one-on-one is, as perhaps we’ve mentioned before, silly.
Yes, he will give up blow-bys just like every other point guard or wing man in the NBA.
Now, I will admit that Calderon has not looked good so far this year. He’s only slightly better on defense than last season, and he’s shooting from the field, the 3 point line and the free throw line like Dick Cheaney shoots a shotgun (too dated?). Of course, since he’s missed more free throws in 3 games this year than he did ALL of last season, I think it’s safe to say that Calderon is not quite himself. Any bets on whether he regrets taking the entire summer off from basketball? Anyone think he’s not going to do the same thing next summer? Still, while it’s disturbing to watch, it’s also reassuring, because you know he’s going to come around sooner or later. He’s too good a player to continue playing the way he has.
Personally I’ve always hated the “it’s just preseason” excuse. This year we had a full roster. Nobody was in camp that was trying to make the team. From the get-go, what you saw is what we had. Sure, we were missing Hedo and Chris and the deeper bench players were playing more minutes than usual, but after seeing lethargic effort after lethargic effort, did you really expect that they would kick it up a notch on opening night and keep it going for a few weeks? If you are a Raptors follower, you can’t honestly tell me you did especially when looking at past history.
For those who have watched Raptors’ head coach Jay Triano in the recent Raptors TV programming and in post game interviews it should have become clear that the team’s defensive game plan is to protect the paint first. And for the most part, the Raptors are doing that.
There is no such thing as a must-win in the first week of November. But this is a game that will hurt the Raptors dearly if they don’t get it. A key to any Raptors success this season has to be protecting home court. The loss to Orlando is in the past, and if they can knock off the Pistons, a team expected to be in the bottom half of the Eastern playoff race with the Raptors, they can continue to build confidence at home. A sound defensive performance would assure fans that the Orlando game, not the Cleveland game, was an early blip on the radar. The key matchup will be the Raptors’ bench versus the Pistons’ bench. Detroit is not a deep team and may be without Richard Hamilton. It’s time for the revamped Raptors’ bench to make a statement.
In three games Toronto has averaged 29 fouls a game. Last season the Raps were only caught with their hands in the cookie jar 19.3 times a game. Toronto also held their opponents last season to only 21.5 free throw attempts, the third-least in the NBA. In any case, the '09-'10 Raptors have checked their inhibitions at the door. Due to their high volume of whistles, Toronto is paying for it at the charity stripe.
"The thing about the free throws, that's a normal thing," Calderon said. "I'm going finish the year at 90%, but 98% is impossible. It happened once, forget about it, everyone has to be calm. It doesn't matter. If I miss, it's not the end of the world. We have to keep winning and working and making shots."
At this point, it's got to be about more than just making it to the playoffs. I think they've got to at least win a round for the year to be considered a true success. Although, retaining Chris Bosh – whether they win or lose in the playoffs – could make up for any other letdowns they may encounter.
Raptors fans with long memories didn't get the chance to boo Magic SG Vince Carter, who was scratched with an injury on Sunday.
But that opportunity might come Nov. 22 at Air Canada Centre when the player who demanded out of Toronto after six-plus seasons will be … honored by the franchise as part of their 15th anniversary celebration.
The Raptors say they will first ask Carter if he wants to go through with a ceremony, realizing the back-story.
"Everybody wants to know how we can do it, but Vince is part of the history here," Raptors General Manager Bryan Colangelo told the Sentinel. "Most of the people that he had problems with here are gone."
It would be a three team deal involving the Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, and the Toronto Raptors. In addition to simply making the Nuggets better, the moves would address concerns for both the Warriors and the Raptors as well.
In this deal, Golden State would receive Kenyon Martin, J.R. Smith, and Malik Allen from the Nuggets and would ship Stephen Jackson and Anthony Morrow to Denver and Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins to Toronto.
This would allow the Warriors to grant Jackson his trade demand and eliminate the possibility of that situation getting out of control.
Three games into the season, all of that talk has yielded decidedly mixed results. The good: holding the discombobulated Cleveland Cavaliers to 35 per cent shooting on opening night. The bad: allowing the Memphis Grizzlies to shoot 51 per cent last Friday. The in-between: keeping the Orlando Magic to a reasonable 44 per cent clip on Sunday, but allowing 17 three-pointers on the way to a loss.
The common theme between the latter two was dribble penetration, perhaps the Raptors’ single biggest problem a year ago. Head coach Jay Triano called it the worst part of the loss to the Magic, and unproven Memphis guard Mike Conley beat point guard Jose Calderon often the game before.
Jack said defensive breakdowns happen when a team is just getting to know each other.
“It’s kind of like you’re the new kid in a new school, and you know the answer to the question but you’re hesitant to raise your hand, that’s kind of like how we are,” said Jack, who was signed to a five year, $20-million (U.S.) free-agent contract. “We need to relax a bit and do what we’re all capable of doing.”
Jack said the Raptors are slowly adopting a defensive mind-set in practice – no mean feat considering the team is largely comprised of offensive-minded players. Much of yesterday’s practice was spent fine-tuning the adjustments needed to be made when the ball handler does gain an advantage at the point of attack.
Triano was asked specifically yesterday if he had entertained any thoughts about getting Antoine Wright, who couldn’t practise because of a minor ankle sprain, into the starting lineup.
The Raptors rank bottom 3 in the league in opponent 3PT% at a whopping 46%, this however should comes as no surprise as perimeter D, or the lack thereof, has been a problem for this basketball team for years. We are -2.4 threes a game.
The Raptors rank in the bottom 10 in opponents FT%; now while shots from the charity stripe cannot be defended, sending opponents to the line a league worst 37.7 times per game, can, and must be rectified (-4.4 a game).
The Raptors rank in the bottom 8 in opponent rebounding with 43.7 a game, interestingly however the Raptors are a top 6 in limiting opponents defensive rebounding (28.7), however they are the worst in the league at giving up offensive rebounds (15) and second chance points (-4.7 offensive rebounds a game).
Alright … I planned on writing today … but life got busy. Then, before I knew it, show-time was approaching for “The Game Plan” and I didn’t have a chance to get the blog done.
But what better way to ‘make up’ for missing my written word … then chatting with THE COACH, Jack Armstrong.
Listen in on our 10-minute chat RE: the Raptors defensive deficiencies over the past two games — both losses (to Memphis and Orlando).
I am going to do a podcast called This Week in the DNB every Monday that the Raptors are not in action. It will allow me to talk about it instead of write about for a day. Hope you enjoy it and if you have suggestions of what you would like to hear feel free to let me know. Even a portion of it where I answer your questions would be cool. But no questions today just my thoughts on the first week of the NBA season for the Raptors and a look ahead to a tough week for the Raps starting with Detroit on Wednesday.
Last year, Calderon would have been the obvious choice, having hit 151 of his 154 free-throws, an NBA record for efficiency in a season. But at that point, he had already surpassed his total of misses from last year, having hit just eight of his first 12 free throws.
"I'm going to finish the season at 90%; 98% is impossible. It happened once. Forget about it," Calderon said Monday in mock seriousness. "Everybody has to be calm.
"Over 90, for sure. That's how I'll finish."
For the record, Calderon hit that free throw.
Got a question for former Raptors forward Charles Oakley? Submit it to raptorspace.com and we'll forward it to Oak this week!
2. PICK & ROLL/SCREEN SEQUENCES: Need to communicate better and be more aggressive stringing out the coverage. The man guarding the ball is not getting enough talk or help behind him allowing the opposition to exploit the situation. Settle into how you're going to play it and get better at it.
As far as other screen scenarios go — have to do a better job of communication and being fundamentally sound on how to play each type of screen in an opponent's offensive arsenal. With nine new faces on the team and only three players (Bosh/Bargnani/Jose Calderon) that started last season with the team, it will take time to get everyone 'on a string' and function as ONE as a defensive team. Have to help each other and trust each other to help when needed.