That was a forgettable week in every sense. You could see the Boston and Phoenix defeats coming, but the shellacking in Charlotte wasn’t exactly on the horizon when this segment was written last week. The scoring differential for the week was -14 and we gave up 114.25 points per game. Our defensive rating went down by 0.5 to 116.9 (worst in the league by a good 2.5 points). The Indiana win which came after we resisted their furious third quarter comeback was the only bright spot as the Raptors ended November 7-11, just around most people’s expectations.
Let’s get the podcast with AltRaps and RapsFan out of the way, we discuss the criticism of Bosh, Triano’s take on defense, and wonder whether things really are that bad. Click on the play button below or listen directly in iTunes, you can also download the file.[audio:http://raptorsrepublic.com/audio/2009-12-01-weekly.mp3]
Small mistake in the podcast: Turkoglu did take a shot in the first half.
Jarrett Jack: Take the horrible Charlotte game where everybody struggled and he averaged 15.33 points on 74% shooting. We’re seeing more of the drive game and less of the off-balance floaters and quick jumpers. The defense isn’t up to par yet but asking him to defend taller SGs (Daniels, Richardson) isn’t helping. As Calderon struggled in the latter half of the week, Jack looked to come in and make an immediate impact with this energy and intent to drive the ball. If our two PGs repeat last week’s performance for December, expect the ‘Start Jack’ calls to get louder.
This section could be very long but I’ll pick one player and two general things.
Marco Belinelli: 4-21 FG (19%) for the week, 13 of those were threes and he only made one. I like him, I appreciate the effort he brings and the swagger he plays with. After lighting it up the week before last, he struggled this week even though he wasn’t doing anything different. That’s just how jump-shooting works, you’ll always end up playing your percentage. Hunting down shots behind screens is his thing, he’s good at it, he looks for them aggressively and when he’s making them he’s the toast of the town. What to expect this week? No idea, that’s just how his game works. He did injure his groin last week so perhaps that had a bearing on his play.
Defensive Schemes: This has already been beaten to death so I’ll keep it short. Preemptive helping is destroying us, asking high court-awareness from Bargnani, Belinelli, Calderon and Turkoglu is asking too much. Triano’s over-helping, protect-the-paint, zonal marking strategy works great on paper, maybe even in NBA Live, but when you have below-average defensive players that aren’t the sharpest tools in the drawer, you might want to switch to more simpler sets. I vote for simple man-marking and 1/2, 2/3 and 4/5 switches and the occasional zone so we’re not exhausted when the third quarter starts (We were -13 -12, -16 and -7 in third quarters this week). Something needs to be done, a team dead last in defense will not make the playoffs. Guaranteed.
Timeouts & Subs: Never made a big deal about calling timeouts because they’re big boys. However, you can’t wait till it’s a 14-2 run before deciding to stop the bleeding, we lost three games in the third quarter this week and I can’t help but think if a well-timed timeout had taken place, we’d have been in it longer. The bench performed well against Boston and Phoenix in the second quarters but as the starters struggled in the third, they weren’t inserted too boost the energy. If the starters aren’t performing, especially in the crucial third, you have to go with what’s proven to work in the game. Jack and Johnson were both effective but could’ve have had a bigger say in both games.
Dishonorable Mentions: Jose Calderon, Hedo Turkoglu, Antoine Wright.
Chris Bosh: 21pts, 14rebs on 46% shooting. The offensive numbers scaled back a bit due to the poor jump shooting but the dedication to offensive rebounding sees his percentage remain respectable. Is he padding his stats? What does that even mean?
Andrea Bargnani: 15pts, 5.5rebs on 47% shooting. That sounds about right for him, he had a big impact in the Phoenix game where he mixed his game up regularly against Lopez and Frye. Still got burned by Frye on a few threes but not sure if that’s Bargnani being out of position or Triano making Bargnani be out of position. The Boston performance was something to forget. Some suggest that we start Johnson, you think that’s going to fly with Colangelo who inked him to a $10M/yr deal? Just ask Mitchell.
Tue v WAS: Jamison, Arenas, Butler, Haywood and Foye. The record might be 5-10 but we don’t matchup well against them or similar athletic teams (see Charlotte), especially Jamison who has historically torched Bosh. He averaged 26/9 against us last year while Butler averaged 21/7. We have blown them out a few times at the ACC so there’s reason for optimism. They’re 25th in offensive rating which means we have a chance of holding a team to under 100 points, something we haven’t done for 9 straight games. Last time it happened was against the Clippers when we won 104-89. They also got hammered by the Bobcats and Arenas is apparently shying away from taking shots.
“What do you expect me to do?” Arenas said. “Go out there and score 30? I’m not going to go out there and try to score 30 when we have a lot of offensive players here. Last game, I was 4 for 7, [on Saturday] I was 3 for 11. I’ll take the shots I feel are sufficient for me. Other than that, the offensive load’s on everybody else.”
Wed @ ATL: We’re 0-4 in back-to-backs and they’ve shown us nothing to believe that we won’t be 0-5 after this one. Atlanta, just as expected, is getting more and more comfortable as the 4th seed in the East, they’ve got a 2.5 game lead over Miami which you’d think will steadily increase. They lost a home test against Orlando and have dropped 3 of 4, most recently to Detroit, so will look to set things right against the Raptors. They’ll be playing after two off-days.
Fri @ WAS: See above, a split sounds reasonable.
Sat @ CHI: This is a back-to-back for both teams, the Bulls are in Cleveland the previous night. They’re 6-8 and have lost four straight, they’re 27th in the league in offense and one of the few teams we’ve kept to under 100 points, 89 on November 11th. Why are the Bulls struggling? Apparently they have one of the weakest “top threes” in the league.
I’m going with a very optimistic 3-1, AltRaps agrees and RapsFan supplies the buzzkill by picking 1-3 and hinting at an 0-4 week.