Bargnani hasn’t been willing to give opponents much of anything lately. But he says he doesn’t see a big difference in what he is doing on the court, other than feeling more comfortable with this Raptors club that seems to have gelled since that team meeting back in early December in Washington after it took a beating in Atlanta.
"Everybody is playing better. Everybody is doing more," Bargnani said.
As far as he is concerned, the only real personal change is his willingness to let his emotions show a little more than he did in his first three years with the Raptors.
"Probably because I’m more comfortable with the time. It’s four years now," Bargnani said of his more frequent celebrations. "It’s not easy for me because it’s not my nature, but I knew I had to change."
And if that means jumping awkwardly into Chris Bosh’s arms as he did Saturday night in Philadelphia after the latter put the Raptors back in charge with a late bucket and foul, then that’s just what he’ll do.
Bosh is all for it, too.
"It’s always good to play with a little emotion, a little fire," Bosh said. "At least that’s what people tell me. It gives all of us confidence."
"There are so many things," said Raptors point guard Jose Calderon, the team’s best practitioner of the art of deciding in the blink of an eye which of the myriad options he should use.
"The guy who is dribbling the ball, he knows what he is doing, the other guys are just reacting. That’s why it’s so tough and the whole defence depends on what happens in that first move. It’s not easy, it’s why everybody plays pick and roll.
"It looks easy, but it’s tough to guard pick and rolls."
That’s why it’s the default play of almost every NBA team.
For the Celtics, Ray Allen has made 6-of-11 treys in the first two games of the road trip.
For the Celtics, Glen Davis is 1-for-7 from the field in the last two games.
The Raptors have been playing much better, but the Celtics stifled them with their defense last weekend. More attention to detail on that end of the floor will be needed today. Rajon Rondo also has to get out in transition and find the Celtics some easy baskets.
In the sixth edition of the Hoops Addict Podcast, Rashad and Ryan discuss:
- The improved play of the San Antonio Spurs and the Toronto Raptors
- The leadership qualities of Raptors’ guard Jarrett Jack and Wizards’ guard/forward Mike Miller
- We give our perspectives on what Gilbert Arenas has gone through this past week
- Brendan Haywood’s comments about Dwight Howard
My source believes the Lakers will offer Andrew Bynum for Bosh (if they haven’t done so already) well before the deadline expires. In itself, the one-for-one swap is impossible to make. Bynum’s “base year” essentially allows L.A. to take back but half of his salary this year ($12.5M). Of course, that restriction is lifted when next year’s salary ($13.7M) activates come July 1, at which time a sign-and-trade transaction would be feasible.
The possibility of such a deal makes sense to me. First of all, Bynum is a legit starting center for the defending champions. He also has three years left on his contract after this one.
As for the Raptors, despite the severe offseason roster renovation, they’re not giving any indication of being more than just a one-and-done playoff group this season and in the foreseeable future.
What’s Bosh’s motivation to stay? Clearly, management’s sense of urgency to protect its principal asset cannot be accentuated enough. If that’s impractical, the organization cannot afford to lose Bosh without receiving equitable compensation.
Asked by e-mail about all of the above and whether the Raptors and Lakers have discussed a Bosh-Bynum proposal, team president Bryan Colangelo, who surely is being contacted on a daily basis regarding the availability of his franchise player — especially when the team was 11-17 — he replied in kind:
“For the record, I am not actively seeking a deal or discussing Bosh with any team, much less the Lakers.
“I haven’t traded him yet and our position has been the same. We will not make a deal just to make a deal. Our intention is to keep him here long term.
“Additionally, I have not yet offered an extension as Dwyane Wade and LeBron James both received [from their respective teams]. So technically he has not said no.
“I honestly don’t think C.B. knows what the future holds, or what he wants to do, so I would say we’re still in the game as far as his pending free agency.”
Toronto has won eight of its last nine, the loss being to the C’s last week. But the C’s don’t expect the hosts to be apprehensive, even with six straight losses in the series.
According to Ray Allen, even clubs lesser than Toronto no longer fear the elite teams.
“Everybody feels, you know, ‘We’re going to beat this team tonight and we’re going to turn our season around,’ ” he said. “And we know that. So the teams that we’ve played in the last three years, everybody’s looking to play us and get their team turned around against us because they’re getting the best speech in the other locker room every night. And for us, we’ve got to remember that we are the hunted.”
the reality of enhanced security has the potential to play a role in Raptors star Chris Bosh’s decision this summer about where to continue his NBA career.
If this sounds silly, consider the Spurs’ recent road trip to Toronto. Chartered air travel allows teams to avoid some of the routine hassles, such as long lines to check bags. But when the team’s charter jet landed at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport after a postgame flight from Washington, each person in the traveling party had to retrieve his bags after they were off-loaded onto the tarmac. Before boarding, they went through customs in the general aviation terminal.
On departure from Toronto, the entire traveling party faced another trip through customs, plus enhanced security that included thorough searches of individual bags and an enhanced “pat down” that preceded boarding.
Passengers flying commercially are advised to allow three hours to complete the security process at Pearson.
The inconvenience is worth the safety that accrues, but you wonder if it will be just one more item on Bosh’s free-agency checklist. He has to fly in and out of Toronto about 25 times each season. If he were on a Western Conference team, he would only have to deal with it once per season.
The Raptors defend a three game winning streak as they take on the Boston Celtics this afternoon at the Air Canada Center. The HQ breaks down a crucial match-up…
With Reggie coming back it will mean less time for Amir Johnson who has been consistently reliable and occasionally exceptional. It may cause Triano to have difficulty figuring out how to distribute minutes. A nice problem to have. It will also push Bargnani and Bosh in practice and on the court and improve the help defense for the perimeter players (Calderon, I’m looking at you). Evans’ presence will also mean tougher interior defense against the likes of Kevin Garnett, Al Horford and Dwight Howard; the beasts of the East and possible playoff counterparts. It will almost certainly mean more emotion from the Raps and more defensive energy. Those elements are intangibles that are contagious and incredibly beneficial in a seven game series, which the Raptors seem destined to be a part of.
Unfortunately, I also understand that this game is not only a game. It is a business, with lots of money to be spent and to save. For the Raptors, as Reggie Evans seems to be inching closer to a return, keeping an open roster spot for the future in case another player goes down is what makes the most sense. Still, speaking from the stance of someone who is usually in the locker room pregame when guys are in and out of the showers and lounge arenas, the presence of Pops will be missed because he was always willing to talk, whether it was about basketball, European soccer and anything and everything in between.