What do you think we see tonight when the Bucks and Raptors renew hostilities?
Well, I would suspect the Raptors would pay more attention to putting bodies on people on the boards, I would suspect Bargnani, whose back acted up in Cleveland, will have benefited from a day of rest and treatment, and I would suspect more consistent energy from the heroes of the hardcourt.
One thing to look for, and this came out of a question I asked Jay in Milwaukee about the use of point guards down the stretch.
(The premise of the question being that he went with Jose in Cleveland and Jarrett in Milwaukee, hooking Jose with about six minutes to go after he’d been playing very well). Said Jay:
“At one point, we thought Jose was a little bit fatigued and we suspected, as they do sometimes, that they might come back with Ridnour and Jennings on the floor at the same time and we wanted to make sure Jose was prepared to come back had they gone small. It was just a rotational thing.”
"The thing is, if we want to be a really good team, we've got to be able to make plays down the stretch," point guard Jarrett Jack said in one of the bigger understatements of late. "And be able to pull out those ball games."
The weeks leading up to the NBA's all-star break are always seen as a time better teams solidify playoff positioning and the Raptors are presented with an excellent opportunity, if they can mirror the play that enabled them to win eight of nine over the holidays.
In their next seven home games before the break, they face Milwaukee, New Jersey, Indiana and Philadelphia – all teams currently behind them in the standings. They also play the L.A. Lakers, Miami and Sacramento.
O'Bryant — Twitter handle: @13POB13 — sometimes answers in the neighbourhood of 50 questions in one sitting, and each question results in its own post on his Twitter page, so the spurts can give his followers an O'Bryant overload.
"I lose people every time, though. I probably lost 20 followers last night," O'Bryant said on Tuesday in Cleveland. "I can understand it because I answer so many questions at once. It fills up their pages."
He knows this, but still, he cannot help himself.
"It passes a lot of time in Cleveland, Indianapolis, boring places."
Who's hot? Carlos Delfino is averaging 20.3 points over his last three games, including a 22-point performance against the Raptors on Wednesday.
Who's not? Brandon Jennings is shooting a brutal 29% from the floor in January. He shot just five for 21 against Toronto.
Chris Bosh, Toronto
24.2 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.1 APG
Bosh is averaging career bests in points, rebounds and shooting percentage. All of this while playing two minutes less per night than he did last year.
While this deal might squeeze in under the trade guidelines, what if Toronto says you have to take back Marcus Banks and maybe Hedo Turkoglu's horrible contracts? If they're in a salary dump, they're not going to do it halfway.
And we haven't even addressed the possibility that Bosh might not be all that thrilled about returning to his hometown. The pressures that come with being on the home team are great. If it works and he brought a title to Dallas, he'd be king of the town. But what if it didn't work? He might have to eventually leave, and that can get rather sticky.
Don't get me wrong. I loves me some Bosh. Would love to see him with the Mavericks, because he'd be a great asset. But I'll be surprised (pleasantly) if it happens.
Last night, Memphis Grizzlies small forward Rudy Gay and Toronto Raptors power forward Chris Bosh both brought out the Nike Huarache 2010. If you recall, we gave you a first look at Rudy Gay’s Huarache 2010 PEs last month and many of you liked it. It owns a primarily navy blue base with multiple light blue and yellow accents on the upper. Chris Bosh’s PEs come in a more traditional colorway as it uses a combination of black, red and white. While it may be hard to get your hands on these PEs, you can now purchase the Nike Huarache 2010 on Finish Line. Click here to view these kicks plus more worn by Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton and Chris Paul.
The 35-year-old Stackhouse made a satisfying debut with the Bucks, playing 18 minutes and helping the team beat the Raptors. He was 1 for 5 from the field but hit a key three-pointer in the fourth quarter. "I get along well with everybody," Stackhouse said after the game. "These guys are going to help keep me young." Bucks coach Scott Skiles thought Stackhouse fared well after having just one practice with the team. "I thought he looked good," Skiles said. "He had a couple shots that he would normally make. He hit a big three for us. He passed the ball well, rebounded well, got a little winded out there. But overall I thought he moved around the floor pretty well."
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE), with the help of Toronto sports fans and their partner Rogers, will undertake a variety of fundraising efforts in support of UNICEF's and ONEXONE's Haitian earthquake relief efforts during the Toronto Marlies' home game January 23 at Ricoh Coliseum, the Toronto Raptors home game January 24 and the Toronto Maple Leafs' home game January 26, both at Air Canada Centre.
Employees from all four of MLSE's teams will be located throughout the arena collecting cash donations for UNICEF from fans in attendance. MLSE will match in-arena cash donations for UNICEF made during the January 23, 24 and 26 home games.
There has been speculation in the media that Calderon could be traded, which is another issue that he addressed.
“During the trip to New York last weekend, the press kept asking me about possible trades,” he said.
“In this situation, there isn’t much that can be said by the players.
“Clubs have the opportunity to make changes and trades and we have to accept them. Those are the rules. What I can say is that I feel very comfortable in Toronto and with the Raptors and I appreciate enormously the affection of the fans.”
First, Bosh is the best player on a team of over-paid guys that would be the third-to-fourth best players on a contending team. His skillset offensively should not come into question, because there’s no way you can score 44 points(January 20th) without having some type of game. There isn’t another player on that team that can do what he does consistently, and therefore I don’t blame the guy for taking matters into his own hands. The problem with Bosh is that he’s never going to be the number one guy on a championship team. It’s just not in the cards for him.
Chris Bosh – It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Bosh would like to sign with whomever holds his Larry Bird rights. Anyone with enough cap space can offer Bosh a max deal, but only Toronto can give him the incremental raises that would add up to an extra $30 million. Of course, that is, unless the Raptors trade Bosh first. If G.M. Bryan Colangelo doesn't feel confident Bosh will return, expect the Raptors to go shopping for a legitimate center and defensive presence in the post. Toronto can easily move Andrea Bargnani to power forward to make room for a new big man, which could seriously help the porous interior defense.
Stackhouse who has been doing radio for the last while, outworked his defender, established interior position and chased down rebounds while Raptor players stood around and watched. It’s this sort of effort that validates those who say Toronto lacks tenacity and grit. Rebound specialist Reggie Evans has still a month before he can get in there and bang with the big boys.
Toronto’s biggest off-season acquisition Hedo Turkoglu struggled again to find his shot as he launched brick after brick while fellow new comer Jarrett Jack only chipped in with six points. The Raptors will need more out of their team apart from the Killer B’s if they hope to reach the playoffs much less be considered a contender.
By the way, that trip-opening loss in Toronto on Sunday? An Eastern Conference honcho told me that Sunday afternoon visits to Toronto are the surest losses since the stock bust.
And he was right. Since Dec. 1, when the Raptors got their stuff together, they are 5-1 on Sunday afternoon games at home, beating Houston, New Orleans, Detroit and San Antonio in addition to Dallas.
Boston was the only team to win one.
The Toronto Raptors may not have cracked the starting lineup but Chris Bosh, Hedo Turkoglu, Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani were all among the top 10 for their respective positions and could secure a reserve selection.
Turkoglu went a combined 6-for-20 in Cleveland and Milwaukee, including a pathetic 4-for-12 shooting from three-point land.
Do the math and that’s 60% of his shots that were attempted from beyond the arc.
In his past seven games, Turkoglu has gone 19-of-64, but 36 of those heaves have come from three-point territory. He’s made only 10.
Even the most casual observer can see how urgent it is for Turkoglu and Bargnani to step up.
Bargnani, to his credit, has elevated his game more than he has disappeared from games, but he took a step back when the Raptors got stepped on by the Cavs and Bucks in crunch time.
The Raptors were feeling good about themselves following Sunday’s win over a very good Dallas team, a victory that improved Toronto’s record to 21-20 at the NBA’s mid-season point.
Chris Bosh(notes), PF, Toronto Raptors:
24 points, over 11 rebounds, a block, and low-turnover numbers like Bosh's are usually MVP-worthy, and for this Raptor big man to miss the starting lineup entirely is quite the crime. Kevin Garnett is a legend, but at 15 points per game and just 31 minutes a night spread out over 29 contests, he's nearly a shell of his former MVP self. In the East, only LeBron James has been better than Bosh this season.
Exactly what is going on with Jay Triano? That's two straight games where he's had questionable substitutions and playcalls to close out games. Bargs was having a rough night, but Jay put him back out there to replace Amir Johnson – who just happened to be doing a pretty good job of grabbing defensive rebounds.
Is Chris Bosh the best true power forward(PF) in the league?
This year, Bosh came into the season after bulking up during the summer and has been the leader for the Toronto Raptors. In past seasons, once in awhile you could see the hunger in his eyes to compete and to win but it was never consistent. In his contract year, that look has been more consistent; his play getting better and better, and his focus is unmatched. Win or lose, Bosh has been approaching every game as if he is playing his last game.
Back to the game, and while some of the Raptors struggled last night, how about the "herculean effort" of Chris Bosh that wasn't enough to produce a win as he hung up a career-high 44 points?
I am often asked as someone that travels with the team, like that gives me some telepathic insight into Bosh's thoughts, what I think is going to happen at the end of the year. Will he be here, or not? It's really hard to say. There are nights like the one a couple of weeks ago where the Raptors grind out a tough road win in Orlando against a good team and the look on #4's face says "we got somethin' goin' here and I'm stickin' around to be part of it." And then there are nights like last night when he stands in the locker room, with an empty stare on his face, gazing into space with an expression that says "I'm done with this".
To be honest, nobody knows but the man himself.
All of the Raptors losses since December 16 have been a part of back-to-backs!
Back-to-backs make preparation by the coaching staff more difficult, do not give the players an opportunity to recover between games, and make it more difficult to focus on your opponent. One might hope that at the professional level coaches and players could adapt to these stresses but there is no mechanism to create more hours in a day.
Since the start of the season, the Raptors have gone 4-6 on the front end of back-to-backs and 2-8 on the second night. And the NBA schedule makers gave the Raptors a particularly rough back-to-back schedule to start.
Bargnani’s play has continued to improve, and he is poised to break career best averages in nearly every statistical category. But the question is now whether he can reach the next level and become a true star in this league. His Player Efficient Rating currently sits at 16.47, which places his only 17th among international players, far below the likes of Andrew Bogut (18.37) or Luis Scola (17.67) and in fact puts him slightly below fellow Italian Danilo Gallinari (16.47).
To reach the next level, he will need to consistently bring the sort of aggressiveness and confidence needed to take over games and be a real difference maker. That starts with being more assertive on the boards, and having the confidence to drive hard to the rim when he has a speed mismatch. While he does not have a mid-range game on par with Nowitzki or even teammate Chris Bosh, he is a better three point shooter than either, and he already possesses the footwork and strength needed to be a scorer in the post.
IMO, Chris [Bosh] actually has the capacity to ratchet-up his production in each of the Russell-based categories I listed above, if he decreases his current emphasis on Scoring.
What Chris [Bosh] has needed for a long time now is the kind of coach who can see accurately that is in fact where his emphasis NEEDS to be, if he is going to be able to achieve his personal goals as an elite level basketball player. Chris [Bosh] has always valued WINNING more than anything else. Unfortunately, he has yet to find the right coach to show him how to do this properly, given his specific skill-set.
Also: thanks for the feedback on the mid-term report cards. Most of the quibbles were with Amir Johnson getting a C+. I guess my answer is I graded on a bit of a curve – how close are these guys to reaching their ceiling? And I think we can agree that Johnson has more to give, if only by staying on the court more which he can do by fouling less. Similarly with Andrea: Might he deserve a B+? Maybe, but in my book the kid is still just hinting at what he can really do. Until he approaches that by continuing to rebound better and putting the defence in tough situations by attacking in the post more, it’s going to be hard for him to grade out above a B.
These numbers also raise an interesting question: should he be touching the ball more? Maybe a lot more? While the Raptors are already top 5 as a team in offensive efficiency and Bosh already receives a significant number of possessions (22 per game, a number generally obtained only by a superstar player), his ratings in the other categories listed above make a strong argument that he should become an even more focal point of the Raptors offense. In the end, these numbers suggest that the biggest difference between the league’s best players (Kobe and LeBron) and Bosh isn’t their offensive abilities, it’s the number of touches they receive.