There are no easy fixes waiting in the wings.
Throw in the fact that practice time will be about as rare as a series of defensive stops for the Raptors this month and you get an idea of the bind Triano and the Raptors find themselves in as they approach their second back-to-back in a week starting tonight in Washington against the Wizards.
As he has since taking the job, Triano did not address the team following Wednesday's embarrassment.
He prefers to watch the tape, pick out what he wants to address and then speak with the team.
The Raptors did not work out yesterday after playing on consecutive nights, so whatever changes Triano has in store for the team won't be made until today.
While blame for the failings falls at the feet of the players and coaches, president/general manager Bryan Colangelo must take responsibility as well.
Colangelo believes in having players at every position who can both shoot the ball and put it on the floor and has built his teams without a traditionally dominant low-post centre.
That it worked in Phoenix, though that franchise never could quite win it all, seemed only to encourage Colangelo to put together a similar squad here.
But most people overlook the fact that those Suns teams, though defined by the remarkable offensive brilliance of Steve Nash, had elite defensive players as well, most notably Shawn Marion and Raja Bell.
Meanwhile, the only strong defenders on Toronto's roster come off the bench. No matter how good your offence is, and the Raptors are very strong in that regard (third in the league in offensive rating, the opposite of defensive rating), if you can't stop anybody, you're not going to be good enough.
Looking back, Mitchell says those all are lessons he had to learn.
"People don't understand how relentless I was on Chris (Bosh) and on Jose (Calderon)," Mitchell admits. "I cut them no slack. Andrea (Bargnani), it was different. I cut him a lot of slack. Jose and Chris got me when I was learning how to coach. So they got the rough part of it, but I think we all kind of grew together. That's why we respect each other. I'll always have a special place in my heart for those guys because I sort of grew up coaching them and they grew with me and they stayed with me."
"At some point you hope the owners start realizing that you just can't coach in this league without having coached," Mitchell was saying the other night. "People sit there and think they can do it. … If you could just do the Xs and Os, yeah, you might figure that out. But it's, how do you deal with people? How do you deal with your team when you're down 20 at halftime? You have to know when to kick 'em in the ass, and you have to know when to go in there and put your arms around 'em and love 'em? … I had to learn that."
Considering Mitchell was speaking in Atlanta's Philips Arena at halftime of Wednesday's Raptors-Hawks game, the visitors down 21 points en route to a 146-115 embarrassment, the conversation was topical.
But he said he's not planning any significant changes after a summer when he wowed the NBA with a flurry of trades and signings that brought the likes of Hedo Turkoglu and Jack here on long-term deals and included an extension for Andrea Bargnani if not Chris Bosh, who will be a free agent next summer.
“This team has far too much talent to cast off or give up on. I have no doubt these guys can play, but talk is cheap.”
And he didn't sound like a coaching change was imminent, even though executives in New Orleans and New Jersey have stepped down from the front office to coach teams they've assembled but which have under achieved, a move his mentor and father, Jerry Colangelo undertook twice in his career running the Phoenix Suns.
“We can change the system and tweak it all we want, but it still comes down to execution and effort by the players,” Colangelo said. “It's been very disappointing.”
Gilbert Arenas and the Washington Wizards are showing signs of life offensively. Another game against the defensively challenged Raptors should only help. Washington lost nine of its first 12 to start the season with Arenas mired in a slump. But with the return of Antawn Jamison from injury, Arenas has broken out of an early-season slump with 22 points and nine assists in each of the last two games.
Just in case any of you were hoping Hedo Turkoglu had actually signed in Portland to bring more depth at the forward slot, we bring you an email from a friend living in the arctic of Canada.
An assessment on Turkoglu from his soon-to-be brother-in-law makes me feel for Raptors fans, but also has me thanking the non-existent Portland Turkish population once again…
“At the end of the day, there’s a lot of talk about this being about coaching and systems and things like that,” said Colangelo, who was en route yesterday to meet his team in Washington for tonight’s game against the Wizards. “But at the end of the day if you’re looking for someone to blame, you can point to me because I’m ultimately the one responsible for putting this group together.”
So far, the pieces don’t seem to fit, though the good news is with only five teams with winning records in the East, they haven’t backed themselves into a corner yet.
Where they seem so out of place is on the defensive end. By some measures the Raptors are on pace to be one of the worst defensive teams in NBA history, at least based on how poor their defence is compared to the league averaged.
I wrote this article for my Commerce program magazine at the University of Toronto, nearly a year ago, midway through the Toronto Raptors’ 2008-2009 season. I don’t think this is my best work, but I tried to put a portfolio management spin on basketball, and I think it sorta fits – fantasy sports is practically stock picking, if you think about it.
In light of one the worst losses in the Raptors’ history happening just last night, I took a look at what I had written a year ago, and have decided to put it up here. Some names have changed, but it looks like the Raptors are making the same mistakes I had foolishly hoped they had learned from.
My point of view is that player for player, our defense capability is not bad. However, our team defense is not developed quite yet and we have a very wide margin for improvement. If we become aware of this and we are able to sacrifice ourselves more, our growth will be significant. I'm pretty sure of that.
At the 20 game mark, our favorite NBA players and teams should have started to “gel”. The Raptors five game losing streak not withstanding.
Individual statistics might still be skewed by some unusual early season results but things should be starting to average out. And some trends might have even begun to start.
The quarter poll is a great time to review how the Raptors’ players have rounded into form.
In our latest vlog for Raptors fan show, RaptorSpace (which aired last night on RaptorsTV), we talk about the problems with the Raptors, our surprises/disappointments with the team and the upcoming schedule…
The last 2 weeks have certainly PROVED to be a most interesting time in the 15 year history of the Toronto Raptors franchise.
Unfortunately, as a Raptors fan … since before the actual inception of the franchise … would it were only the case that this specific sequence of events had, in fact, NOT come to pass, at all.
Triano has the difficult task of righting the ship knowing that outside of a possible Reggie Evans return at some point this season, the same pieces that have struggled to grasp even the most remote measure of defensive togetherness are all he has at his disposal.
There are no easy fixes waiting in the wings.
Throw in the fact that practice time will be about as rare as a series of defensive stops for the Raptors this month and you get an idea of the bind Triano and the Raptors find themselves in as they approach their second back-to-back in a week starting Friday night in Washington against the Wizards.
As he has since taking the job, Triano did not address the team following Wednesday’s embarrassment. He prefers to watch the tape, pick out what he wants to address and then speak with the team.
The Raptors did not work out Thursday after playing on consecutive nights, so whatever changes Triano has in store for the team won’t be made until Friday.
The president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment joins Prime Time Sports to discuss ticket sales for both Leafs and Raptors.
Bosh is the definition of a passive aggressive and may never grow into the leader he’s pegged to be. He yells with aggression after a dunk when up by seven, but stays quiet and pouts when they give up a 10-2 run. He’s largely becoming ignored by the rest of the team and the feeling of a dressing room divided is palpable during press time.
Rolling eyes and phrases mumbled in other languages don’t exactly tell the tale, but certainly give us an idea of what’s going on when the cameras turn off. Chris Bosh doesn’t lead this team and neither does anyone else right now. With two more back to backs in the next seven days, things aren’t likely to get better before they get worse.
Members of the Washington Wizards and the Toronto Raptors helped to distribute 26 tractor-trailer loads of food, clothes, personal items and toys to about 10,000 people Thursday during a massive holiday giveway sponsored by the NBA Players' Association and Feed the Children.
Oh yes, there was another former Raptor sighting last night in the hotel lobby after the game as Kevin Willis was hanging out waiting for Williams as well. Willis, who has always kept himself in good physical condition, still looks like he could take the court right now. He is running a clothing business and says he will be in Toronto in the next week or so as part of the 15th anniversary celebrations. Trust me folks, he still looks like he can play.
Off-day VLOG in Obama country …
Trying to make sense of last night’s debacle in Atlanta.
Recently Raptors TV analysts have been asking what the Raptors players should be doing to help out Chris Bosh. Maybe they were just trying to help Triano divide up the locker room a little faster?
In perhaps what should be most concerning is what isn’t being said by the Raptors’ leadership.
We have yet to hear Chris Bosh come out and say, “I played bad! I have to step up my game! I let my team down!”
We have yet to hear Jay Triano say, “I screwed up! I should have called a time out! I should have got thrown out for yelling at the referees tonight!”
Toronto: Only the Golden State Warriors give up more points a game than the Raptors. They can talk all they want about being sick of losing and of playing bad defense, but the simple truth is defense is a hustle aspect to the game. All the players have to do is want to play defense. The coaches need to draw a line – if a guy goes halfway, bench him. It shouldn't matter if it's Chris Bosh or Jarrett Jack – lazy defense should be punished. Quit talking about it and just do it.
Wow. Impressive performance last night. As I wrote in my story, I think a lot of things went into it. Toronto is a poor defensive team and was on the end of a back-to-back. The Hawks were agitated after the Detroit loss and rested. And I think someone posted something that Al Horford said, that the Hawks do well against up-tempo teams because they can run but also defend. It was just one of those nights where everything worked. Mike Bibby, for instance, made all four of his 3-point attempts. Every player except Jeff Teague and Jason Collins shot 50 percent or better.
Kirk Hinrich may be coming back to the Chicago Bulls sooner than expected.
The veteran guard, who was scheduled to miss between one to two weeks because of a sprained thumb, is improving quickly. He might even be able to play this weekend.
I just want to, again, reiterate that the Raptors started that season 7-14, as the current Raptors stand at 7-13.
There are some striking similarities between those two teams. The 06-07 team had just four returning players (Bosh, Calderon, Graham and Sow), and had a lot of European players (Nesterovic, Bargnani, Garbajosa and Parker, who, while not European, had spent the majority of his career in Europe). They struggled, at first, trying to find an identity, and fans and media alike started to make dire predictions and outrageous demands when they started the season badly.
Line-up tinkering would be a place to start but Colangelo has to make a decision one way or the other, the Raptors appear headed to the lottery which will result in Chris Bosh leaving this summer to play for a contender. We must either surround Bosh with some new hard-nosed, willing-to-play-defense team-mates or we must prepare for the inevitable and open up lines of communication to see if there is an opportunity that will allow us to get compensation for Bosh.
The problem on this team is not Bosh, or the outspoken Antoine Wright, who called out his teams lack of focus. The problem on this team is that we have no starting calibre defensive players; one could argue Antoine Wright who started 50+ games for the Mavs is that man, but he is still working his way back to full strength.
- Interesting Numbers at the Quarter-Way Point
- Gameday: Raptors vs Wizards – Dec. 4/09