The Pacers like to play with somewhat unconventional lineups, using Danny Granger, substantially smaller and quicker than Bosh, as a power forward, moving the Raptors' big man farther away from the basket on defence.
It's not an optimum situation for either the Raptors or Bosh but he's quite all right with it.
"Love it, man," Bosh said Saturday. "It's different, but in order to beat these guys, we're going to have to do something we're not used to. I know they've been playing a little better with Danny at the four, but if we want to compromise with them, they're going to have to compromise with us.
"We're going to have to play to our strengths and I'm sure they're going to try to play to theirs."
Now Bosh can walk away from the Raptors at the end of the season as a Free Agent and Toronto would get nothing return except for a salary cap slot. However New York Vinnie agrees that it is the best interest of the Raptors to keep Bosh on the roster this season. First of all; as of Friday night Toronto had a 25-22 record and were the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference Playoff race. Secondly; the Raptors would never get equal value for Bosh in return so it does not make sense to trade him.
New York Vinnie knows all too well that if a team can get into the Post Season they can ride a Frickin hot streak that takes them a lot farther than anyone expected them to go. Think back to the 1980’s and the Houston Rockets who made it to the NBA Finals twice in the decade. They never should have been there but they got hot at the right Frickin time!
It still may not have been worth the price tag to keep Jack, but his presence and leadership at the point guard spot have been desperately missed this season. The leadership void that was lost through him has not been picked up by another player. For the next two games, the Pacers will get a healthy dose of what they're missing from last year.
The Raptors set to take on the Pacers in a late evening start. When last these two teams met, the Raptors squandered their chances thanks to yet another back-to-back. It's time to avenge a wasted chance!
Yet the run could end within the next few weeks. That's because the Raptors might have to trade Bosh, who will become a free agent after the season. If the Raptors are convinced that Bosh won't be back, and every indication is that he won't be, then Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo will have to try to trade him now rather than lose him for nothing at the end of the season.
Colangelo, however, insists that he won't trade Bosh. "I have no intention to move him, and every intention to keep him long term," Colangelo told reporters Friday.
Trading Bosh would indicate to Raptors fans that the team is giving up on the season, that it will once again start over.
It would be a shame for the Raptors to miss a chance to play longer than the Maple Leafs.
Already boasting one of the league's best offenses, the Toronto Raptors have been even more prolific for much of this month.
The Indiana Pacers, however, were one of the few teams to slow down the Raptors during their hot streak.
Toronto will try to avoid going cold against Indiana again as it tries for a season high-tying fifth straight win Sunday at Air Canada Centre in the opener of a home-and-home series.
The Raptors are among the league leaders in averaging 103.9 points this season, and Thursday night's 106-104 victory at New York marked their 12th straight game with at least 100 points, extending a franchise record.
The magic word, then, is not "ball." It is "energy."
For now, though, Turkoglu has become more likable with just a single syllable. If Turkoglu's one-word comment had happened six weeks ago, Raptors fans would have been waiting outside the Air Canada Centre in anticipation of a tar-and-feather session. However, with it happening now, they're laughing it off, even revelling in it.
That, as much as anything else, is evidence that this season has turned around.
And if he wasn’t being funny Thursday night, he was certainly being rude to post-game interviewer, Jack Armstrong, condescending to Raptors fans, and not so subtly pointing the finger at everyone but himself.
All this, after his best and most explosive game as a Raptor. All this, because of a one word answer — “Ball” — and no, he isn’t the answer to the question “Great Turkish comedians for 100, Alex?”
There are 50 million or more reasons why Turkoglu chose to be in Toronto and play for the Raptors and he came here amidst enormous expectations. Living up to them is difficult enough. Being respectful simply is expected. Sneering at the paying customers is another matter entirely.
Turkoglu needs to grow up and toughen up — preferably at the same time.
Wondering if the team heard/saw Hedo Turkoglu’s now infamous postgame interview after the game against the Knicks where he stunned Jack Armstrong by announcing, “Ball”? When Jose Calderon left the practice floor, he turned to the media and said he had one thing to say before smiling and saying, “Ball!” Chris Bosh started his scrum off the same way. It was as much of a hit with his teammates as with the rest of the sports world.
“Man, for one, I love this game,” said Moon, a 6-foot-8 defensive stopper at forward averaging 5.1 points and 3.6 rebounds a game. “And I always wanted to be here and play for the best. I didn’t want to be labeled a quitter.”
Over the years, Moon has been told he could have reached the N.B.A. faster if he had stayed in college, played in Europe or waited to enter the draft.
But Moon, whose laid-back personality is one reason the Cavaliers like him so much, said he would not have done it any other way.
“It was tough, there were some places I didn’t even get paid and had to leave,” he said. “But I think the route I went made me appreciate it more.”
However, there is a different air about this club. The talent that they are fielding doesn't seem rooted in fakery. Chris Bosh is playing as well as any Raptors has ever played, including Vince Carter in 2000-01, he has become one of the most reliable options in the entire league (ranking fourth overall in PER at 26.01, by far the highest efficiency of his career) and his team is benefitting greatly from his efforts. Alongside him has been Andrea Bargnani, who is providing Toronto with their first legitimate second option who is both young and locked-up contractually for the next five years. Jarrett Jack is an NBA workhorse who provides the kind of leadership and poise at the point guard position that the team hasn't had since Alvin Williams, and he brings the kind of durability to the position that Williams never could.
Triano's play, with 9.6 second remaining, had the option to pass into the backcourt and when Jarrett Jack and Turkoglu saw Danilo Gallinari out top, they made eye contact and passed the ball into the backcourt. That forced Gallinari to chase Jack and only a very questionable bit of contact allowed the foul to be called and stop the clock. If not, a boy from the Bob Eucker seats where my man Eric Smith and I call the game, it sure looked like Gallinari whiffed (or as Eucker would yell from the last row, "Hey ump, he missed the tag!" — you youngsters go back and Google the old beer commercial and you'll know what I'm talking about) Jack and Toronto probably play keep away with the Knicks chasing them and run out the clock without a New York foul.
But I don't think anyone was on Turkoglu for not fitting in fast enough or not putting up his usual numbers. People were on him because he took training camp off to rest and looked woefully out of shape for the first two months of the season. Not to mention the way he was playing looked like he wasn't giving it his all.
One thing Toronto fans and media always pick up on is effort level. If you play as hard as you can, even if you aren't anywhere close to an all-star (Matt Bonner, JYD, Reggie Evans, Alvin Williams) you will get your props in Toronto. If you have all the talent in the world and are dogging it, you will hear about it.
And I think that's as it should be.
"(The meeting) set the bar for how we were going to hold each other accountable. I think that's what's helped us," said Wright. "That's basically just being able to constructively criticize each player in the locker room. And for them to be able to respond to it, and not take it in a negative way. You have guys going up to other guys telling 'em, `Pick it up,' or `We don't need that shot right now.' Whereas in the past, it would have been taken as if it's a direct blow to that guy."
Said Jack: "(The meeting) was important. We acknowledged a lot of things. We put the onus on everybody to be accountable and said we can't be a team that makes excuses."
Added Andrea Bargnani, posting on his personal website: "Since that day, even if we lose, we give an impression of trying!"
The meeting included a plea from Colangelo to keep disagreements in-house. Still, Wright, who said he "took a little heat" from higher-ups for his frank assessments of the situation, doesn't regret offering them up.
Asked if he wanted to be dealt, the pending free agent was more emphatic. “No, no, no, no,” he said.
Told of Bosh's comments, team president Bryan Colangelo said he wasn't surprised, adding his position regarding his team's most valuable player hasn't varied. “I have no intention to move him and have absolutely every intention to keep him long term,” he said.
Colangelo added he expects Raptors owner Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment Ltd. is prepared to become a tax team if it's required to maintain a competitive position in the NBA's Eastern Conference.
“They want to win and they're committed,” Colangelo said. “I'll leave it at that.”
The thing is, while Turkoglu might be more effective with the ball in his hands more — although his per-36-minute statistics suggest, aside from shooting, he has been as productive as he was last year — it has been his lack of energy that has made him something of a scapegoat at times this year. And in that regard, even if Turkoglu had made just five of his 16 field-goal attempts instead of eight of them in New York, Thursday evening would have been considered a success.
The plays that will be remembered from the game against the Knicks were not ones where Turkoglu had the ball in his hands and created for himself or others. Instead, it was his running the floor to finish a fast break with a dunk, or tipping in a missed shot from Chris Bosh that stood out. Too often this year, he has not been in a situation to make those plays.
Turkoglu, who joined Toronto last summer after helping Orlando reach the 2009 NBA Finals, had 26 points and 11 rebounds – both season highs.
Then again, maybe it’s best not to measure him by his numbers in the box score.
He certainly doesn’t.
“I just look at the way I bring effort and energy,” Turkoglu said after the win over New York.
“I had 11 rebounds too, so I have to just look at both ends of the court, what I did and help the team, not just statistically. I’ve never been a statistic guy.”
But there are other guys on this roster who are playing below their capabilities—most notably Jose Calderon and Hedo Turkoglu—and for the Raptors to sneak up into that upper echelon of Eastern Conference teams the second half of the season, everybody has to play to the absolute best of their abilities.
Part of the issue has been road woes. Seven of the team's last nine losses have been away from Toronto, and those losses haven't always come at the expense of superior teams. On the bright side, this is a group that's winning more games than their losing (they're slightly above .500 at the moment), which in the East is enough to more than guarantee a playoff spot. Where they end up, however, could make all the difference in getting out of the first round.
Set to return after the All Star break, when we separate the pretenders from the contenders, Evans is the most crucial piece for the second half of the season. With the likes of Bosh, Bargnani and Turkoglu as weapons on offense, an offense that has scored 100+ points on the last 12 games, the defense event is clearly the area that will define the Raptors’ season. They are 17-0 when hold opponents under 100 points. The return of Evans is expected to bring toughness & rebounding to a team that has been lacking just that.
After all the moves on the offseason, Toronto is finally starting to reach expectations. They are currently 5th on the East and with a winning record. If Evans brings to this team all the things he’s expected to, Toronto becomes a very dangerous team when playoff time comes.
The last time the Toronto Raptors had a major point guard controversy, it was Jose Calderon taking the starting job away from TJ Ford after Ford was injured for about 30 games in the middle part of the 2007-08 season.
With Calderon as the starting point guard, the Raptors had built up a 29-23 record. But it all fell apart when Ford couldn’t accept a role coming off the bench and the Raptors went on a 6-12 run and finished the season at 41-41.
So far, this time, it has been different.
After Hedo Turkoglu's brief post-game comments with Jack Armstrong on the TV side of the Raptors broadcast, the Big Early has some fun with Turk as he guests on the $25,000 Pyramid game show.
RaptorTalk has just obtained a top secret transcript of the soon to be released follow-up conversation between The Coach, Jack Armstrong and the Turkish Jordan, Hedo Turkoglu. This exclusive interview occurred shortly after they arrived back in Toronto.
Now I never said, nor believed Bosh was unable to be a leader, simply that I wasn’t observing him as one at the time. A fact I forgot, as we often do, is that Chris is only 25 years old, 26 in March. We often want these kids to act like 35 year old vets and lead teams in a certain way, but just because they may not fulfill a particular vision we have for them, it doesn’t mean these guys aren’t using a method less obvious. Chris can have the ear of his team whenever he wants it. He can demand the ball, he can push his teammates and he can lead; now it’s on his teammates to follow those examples and raise their game as he has. So to you CB4, you’ve done a heck of a job maturing through the season and you won’t hear me complain about leadership again, I mean, unless you stop leading… then I’ll have some questions.
The $ 55 million dollar man elevated his game on a night where Andrea Bargnani struggled to find any offensive rhythm contributing little with only two points in total. Turkoglu was aggressive from the get go, attacking the rim and looking for his shots early finishing with a season high 26 points and 11 rebounds.
Chris Bosh who had been selected to his fifth consecutive All-Star appearance duked it out with David lee, who unlike Bosh, had been snubbed from any All-Star selection. CB4 put up 27 points and collected 15 rebounds while Daily-Double Lee drove his way to a game-high 29 and 18.
The video of that exchange had gone viral by early Friday. Less than 12 hours after the conversation took place, there was a Fan page on Facebook set up. By Friday evening it already had 630 fans.
Even the U.S. based sports show Pardon the Interruption caught wind of this one and put it on the show Friday night.
They had no idea what to make of it.
That’s all well and good from an entertainment standpoint, but if it’s about doing what’s best for the team, Turkoglu threw up an air ball with his post-game remarks.
To some it was funny. To others it was rude. To those who have followed Turkoglu’s first year as a Raptor it was a petulent attempt to have things his way.
To have one of your core contributers seemingly whining about touches when the team is playing its best basketball of the season has to be considered selfish at some level.
- Morning Coffee – Jan 30
- Gameday: Raptors vs Pacers – Jan. 31/10