When Andrea Bargnani hit a crucial three-pointer in the closing seconds of a win against the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday, he reacted like a kid getting an iPod on Christmas morning, whooping and hollering as he bounced back to the Raptors bench.
It was an unusual display of emotion for the Toronto centre.
"That is the first time I have seen him excited like that," Chris Bosh said. "That's good. I think showing emotion like that is good for us."
In the eyes of coach Jay Triano, Bargnani's confidence is at a season high.
"He feels better about the way he is playing at the defensive end of the floor, he feels better about making shots which he struggled with for a little bit," Triano said. "He is trying to do other things. It makes him a complete basketball player."
Yes, I know Chris Bosh is now a perennial all-star and could very well be the best power forward in the NBA today (although I’m thinking Pau might have the edge in a highly-debatable conversation) but …
Yes, he left under bad circumstances (although they’ve gotten a lot worse since he’s been gone and urban myths have sprouted) but you cannot deny his on-court brilliance.
Bosh may indeed supplant him as his career goes on, he may supplant him by the end of this season if he keeps at the level he’s been at until April, but Carter still gets the nod in this corner.
Jaw-dropping athleticism, a better-than-you’d-think shooting stroke and he created a buzz around the team that’s been unparalleled.
The only regret I’d have: For as good as he was, he could have been better and that lack of true drive kept him from being a serious MVP candidate.
But just like he wasn't about to chuck his whole system in the toilet three weeks ago, Triano isn't about to schedule championship ring-sizing sessions at the moment.
Nor is he going to put much emphasis on how Toronto fares in its next three games – at Boston, home to San Antonio on Sunday, in Orlando on Wednesday – as anything more than a week in the season.
"We can't worry about who we're playing, we just have to keep playing the way we've been playing," he said. "I'm not going to judge it on the next three games. I didn't judge us when we were 7-13. It's a long season and we just want to keep getting better."
Bosh, however, readily admits it can't hurt Toronto's chances to be brimming with a season-high level of self-respect.
"This is just another game for us, but I think the fact that we have a little winning streak going and we have a little bit of confidence helps," he said. "You need confidence going into Boston no matter who's out or who's playing."
Like everybody else, I think Chris Bosh is terrific. But the Raptors aren't just going to give him away, which is what getting Dampier and Carroll would be. That's not a fair return for a perennial All-Star.
The Mavericks would love to get a player like Bosh, but it won't be easy. As always, my recommendation for amateur GMs is to put yourself in the other team's shoes and ask yourself honestly if you'd do the deal you're proposing.
Rolling into 2010, the Raptors are in state of flux. Bosh has been playing like a mad man this year, which is not a shocker considering it's a contract year. There is no guarantee he is coming back next year, and with the Raptors playing as poorly as they are, there may be little incentive for the self-promoting Bosh to stick around in T.O.
Picture a future with Bargnani as our franchise player. Yup, good times ahead for the Raptors.
At least our mascot is awesome.
Now Toronto has found a way to guard the paint while getting out to jam opponents at the perimeter.
“It’s harder to pass with pressure on you,” Chris Bosh told Hoops Addict. “When you don’t put pressure on guys they can just pick you apart because they can see the whole court. But when you take half of their vision away it’s easier to help and it makes it tougher for them to make the moves they want to make.”
Not only does it take away on opponents vision, but it also takes away from their options.
“I know it probably sounds funny, but the closer you guard someone the easier it is for you to guard them,” Jarrett Jack explained to Hoops Addict. “If you give someone room you allow them to go two directions but if you get up on him you limit them to going one way so you kind of control, or limit, the amount of directions they have.”
“There is a good chance that Turk is not going to play,” Triano said. “I would probably start Antoine. He is a guy who leaves our other rotations the same. He is a good defender. I just like the mix better and it does not take anybody out of their comfort zones.”
Part of the result of being comfortable with each other is coming to the aid of teammates when it is required. When Marcus Banks had a disagreement with the Charlotte Bobcats’ Gerald Wallace on Wednesday, several of his teammates were there for support.
“We’re not leaving anybody on the out,” guard Jarrett Jack said. “Any challenge, any altercation, we are there as a unit.”
As the Raptors were preparing for this “15th Anniversary” season, I compiled a list of the all-time Raptor greats and put together the “All-Time Team”.
But given that the calendar flips to 2010 tomorrow and a decade will have already passed us by, I figured I’d give you my take on Toronto’s all-decade team.
So … from 2000-2009 … here’s who would make my roster:
On the eve of 2010 and with only 49 games left for the Toronto Raptors, what New Years Resolutions will they be making (fans hope):
Jay Triano speaks with the media following Thursday's practice.
Jarrett Jack speaks with the media following Thursday's practice.
Chris Bosh speaks with the media following Thursday's practice.
Check out the top Raptors plays of the early portion of the 2009-10 season.
Chris Bosh speaks with Mark Strong about his role as captain of the Raptors.
Well, why would coach Jay Triano consider putting Calderon in the starting line-up when he returns from injury? After all, Jack is leading, defending, and, most importantly, winning.
There are other factors. Colangelo, who is in the final year of his contract and is waiting on ownership to either extend him long-term or exercise his one-year option clause, may need Calderon playing major minutes.
On this, Triano’s hands could be tied. He was Colangelo’s hire and a new front office Tsar would likely bring in his guy to stand on the sideline, run practice, and coach the team.
Still, if it’s is about winning, Jack stays as the starter. If it’s about anything elses, Calderon gets his old job back. Either way, things are getting interesting in Toronto.
The next three games and if he will use them to see where his team is at: "They are big games, big teams. The schedule is what it is. We've got a back-to-back which is tough against two very good teams. We can't worry about who we're playing we just have to keep playing the way we've been playing. I'm not going to judge us on the next three games. I didn't judge us when we were 7-13. It's a long season and we just want to progressively keep getting better and focus on the process."
the Raptors did have a brutally tough start to the season until the last five games of 2009 were against teams with under .500 records. As of now, the Raptors have faced clubs with an average winning percentage of just 51.
So the argument could be made that the Raptors club fans have seen over the first 33 games is the Raptors club they will see over the balance of the season. A team hovering around .500 and sliding into one the 5-8 playoff spots in a weak bottom tier of Eastern clubs.
Of course the other argument is that the Raptors are 9-4 over their past 13 games. Plus a team with 9 new faces and a revamped coaching staff has taken some time to get to know one another. So the Raptors should be better in 2010.
Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh and Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash remain in the hunt for a berth at the 2010 NBA all-star game.
Bosh and Nash are third at their respective positions after the third return of balloting, announced Thursday.
Bosh, who's seeking his fifth consecutive all-star appearance, has 644,473 votes to trail Cleveland's LeBron James (1,579,530), and Boston's Kevin Garnett (1,317,739) among Eastern Conference forwards.
I absolutely love Belineli’s game. He plays with passion and flare. He’s a mad man on the court and the fans love it. But now that Hedo will most likely be out for one or two games, maybe more, this is his chance to step it up a bit. Take a few more shots, hit a few more shots and make a difference on the court. He has the potential to be a very good player in this league – when given the opportunity.
First let me start by saying that I love Calderon’s numbers, especially his potential numbers. Any PG that can average close to 10 assists a game is a very good point guard in my book. Or at least that is what I used to think.
Jose Calderon is an excellent PG, and thrives in a half-court offense. He does not take many dribble penetration risks and therefore keeps his assist:turnover ratio low (where he usually ranks amongst the NBA’s best). He is also perhaps the best backup PG in the league where he is capable of putting up 12 and 6 off the bench.
Colangelo must avoid his habit of creating redundancy (like adding Jason Kapono to one of the best three-point shooting teams or signing Hedo Turkoglu to mirror what the team already has in Calderon) in such a scenario. This is about diligent and realistic roster evaluation and enhancement, not roster reimagining or unbalancing. Those trades worked so well in January and February of 2001 because the team didn't have to change what they did to accommodate their new players; instead, the new players naturally fit into what it was that the Raptors were already doing and made them more effective as a result. If those kinds of trades exist for Colangelo, then those are the moves he should look to make because if you believe your team can be good enough to persuade Chris Bosh to stay beyond this year, then you have to be vigilant (yet responsible) in making that goal a reality.
The Toronto Raptors have gone on a run as we close out the year and finally seem to be learning how to play as a team.
Chris Bosh might be the NBA’s best power forward, and they added Turkoglu in the summer.
Luckily, the Raptors’ schedule has had them playing a disproportionate number of games in the first two months of the season, giving the cast of 10 new players a chance to get familiar with one another’s playing styles.
This could be a Cinderella team in the play-offs.
There were ample highlights to this game for fans of both teams. For Raptors fans, it was the monster performance of the Killer Bs, Bosh and Bargnani, Marco Belinelli's running buzzer beater at the end of the third quarter, and Bargnani's clutch three-pointer to give the Raptors a four-point lead with 10 seconds left. For Bobcats fans, it would have to be the offensive fearlessness of Stephen Jackson, the temporary unstoppability of Raymond Felton and the always-entertaining, balls-out play of Gerald Wallace. Even if you were a fan of the losing squad, there was no way you felt bored watching this game.
No one could have expected that Reggie would not make it to the regular season. He would injury his foot in a pre-season game vs Boston and it has been a long frustrating time since. That being said Reggie gives a lot of credit to the the Raptors training staff and says if he was somewhere else he might be going crazy by now. He also says even though he is asked about it often he appreciates that fans are anxious to have him back.
On the injury front still no clear idea on when Jose Calderon or Reggie Evans will return. Jay Triano said prior to the game that Jose is starting to do some things but does not expect him back in the near future. Best case scenario he is still a couple weeks away. In terms of Reggie it is still very much in the dark. More on him later on but there is a game to talk about. It was a pretty good game at that. It would see another Raptor go down with an injury. Hedo Turkoglu left the game at halftime with a bruised knee. The injury did not happen in the game though as it was said by Jay Triano that the knee had been bruised in practice.