Bosh has appeared in two post-seasons, but has zero playoff series wins.
His third looms, but just how far the Raptors are capable of advancing will depend on how much improvement they are able to make in the next 21/2 months.
"I'm happy with where we are,'' Bosh said of a team that has gone 15-5 in its last 20 games heading into Tuesday's tip in Indiana. "We can always get better and reach another level."
No doubt GM Bryan Colangelo and his lieutenants are figuring out if the best course of action is to keep the team as it is and hope the internal competition leads to continued improvement, or whether a move is required to get the Raptors better positioned for a playoff run.
The NBA's trade deadline arrives on Feb. 18.
Reggie Evans will soon be available, or at least that's the hope.
"Friendly February is what I like to call it,'' Jack smiled when asked about the month, which tips off Tuesday night in Indianapolis. "You don't want to look past anybody and right now our entire focus is on Indiana, but you can't help put peek at the schedule a little bit."
On any given night, any team in the NBA is capable of knocking off even the hottest of teams, which is where the Raptors find themselves.
What makes February so enticing for Jack is the amount of days off between games and the little travel that is required.
The Raptors boarded their charter on Monday for the short flight to Indy, where they blew a 23-point advantage early last month.
The team's only other road games in the month involved a quick flight to New Jersey and a month-ending sojourn to Oklahoma City, where the Raptors begin the first of a tough back-to-back set against the Thunder and Houston Rockets.
Practice was over and Amir Johnson was going to work, soliciting aid and advice from the most prolific NBA scorer associated with the Raptors today.
And for a good 15 minutes or so, assistant coach Alex English stood there with the Toronto big man, from both sides of the court to both low-post blocks, helping hone an offensive game that's coming along quite nicely.
Johnson made drop-step moves, jump hooks and short jumpers, with both hands, no more than eight feet from the basket, moves that are coming far more easily than many thought possible earlier this season.
While the push has moved the Raptors (26-22) within 41/2 games of the suddenly faltering Boston Celtics (29-16) for fourth place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, Bosh says the Raptors still have plenty to prove. Toronto’s all-star power forward admits that while the Raptors are firing on all cylinders of late, all four teams above them in the standing – the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, Atlantic Hawks and the Celtics – are stronger clubs.
“I think hands down they’re better than us,” Bosh said yesterday following practice in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre. “But that gives us something to work for. We need to work, plain and simple.”
Toronto’s record against these four teams is 2-9.
Toronto is now 19-9 since losing that 146-115 embarrassment in Atlanta on Dec. 2, after which they had the infamous air-clearing meeting in Washington. Meanwhile, Boston is just 14-12 over the same span, has lost 11 of its last 17 games, and is reportedly shopping Ray Allen. Oh, and Kevin Garnett looks like his surgically repaired right knee might be made of wood.
And since Toronto's upcoming schedule features palookas as far as this eye is willing to see — Memphis excepted, oddly enough — then two days after the trade deadline the Raptors should be eight or nine games over .500. As Jack calls it, this is Toronto's "Friendly February."
On Dec. 16, the Toronto Raptors were in ninth place in the East, 11 games behind the conference-leading Celtics. Through Sunday, Toronto was fifth in the East, 4½ games behind Boston for fourth. Toronto had gone 15-5; Boston, 9-12. Quietly, too, Toronto has become the East's highest-scoring team (104.1 points). Boston (99.1) is sixth.
The Indiana Pacers could do very little to slow down Chris Bosh and the high-powered Toronto Raptors' offense over the weekend. They don't have much time to figure out a new defensive strategy.
Bosh looks to lead the surging Raptors to a sixth straight victory Tuesday night at Indiana in the finale of a home-and-home series.
On Sunday night at the Air Canada Centre, Bosh had 26 points, 15 rebounds and a season-high seven assists to lead Toronto (26-22) to a 117-102 win over the Pacers (16-32). The Raptors shot a season-best 60.2 percent, and seven Toronto players had at least 12 points.
"We did not defend at a level that would allow us to beat these guys," Indiana coach Jim O'Brien said. "Giving up 60 percent is not going to get it done.
"Bosh was just too much for us," O'Brien added. "He played like he normally plays. He's a great basketball player."
The Raps head to Indiana to finish off the home and home mini-series with the Pacers.
Can the Raps sweep? Shouldn't be an issue.
Indiana Pacers coach Jim O'Brien will miss Tuesday's game against the Toronto Raptors due to a death in the family.
Jean Ramsay, O'Brien's mother-in-law, died Saturday in Naples, Fla., from complications related to Alzheimer's disease. She was 81.
Assistant coach Lester Conner will coach the team.
I take delight in watching point guard Jarrett Jack play for Toronto. In his first year with the Raps, he has filled in for the injured Jose Calderon, and has not disappointed. It’s truly refreshing that this “changing of the guards” has been non-controversial. There isn’t much precedent for this gentlemanly usurping of roles, making this season even more special. Taking in to account the dominant play from Chris Bosh, and the improved production of former number one draft pick Andrea Bargnani, being present at the games has its perks (besides a discount on concessions and merchandise).
Raps President and GM joins the Game Plan to discuss the DeRozan, Evans and Turkoglu injuries, as well as what he is thinking for Toronto with the upcoming trade deadline.
Demar Derozan deserves more touches/shots
Talk about tough decisions. The Raptors are playing well right now, winning 14 of their last 19 games to firmly entrench themselves as an Eastern Conference playoff team.
Chris Bosh is having another typically great season, and the Raptors are finally figuring out how to incorporate Hedo Turkoglu into the offense.
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.
Chris Bosh speaks at Practice.
They now have secondary scoring to complement Chris Bosh who leads the team in double-doubles and averaging 24 points a game which is a good amount for a player who has four other players in double digit scoring. After missing the playoffs last year the Raps are looking to return to the playoffs and try to make a run for the championship that will be a humongous task. If they are hoping to make a playoff push they will need a good pickup prior to the deadline. These include Brendan Haywood and Ben Gordon.
Best player (other than Bosh) of the month: I was going to go with Bargnani, who did have a good January (18.2 points 6.7 boards, 1.8 blocks) despite a couple of setbacks. But Jarrett Jack got my vote here. Did anyone look at his January numbers? It’s insane. He shot 54% from the field, 40% from the 3 point line, averaging 12.7 points and 4.6 assists in 29.5 minutes. Jack did win some games for the Raptors with his performance. His numbers as a starter: 12.6 points, 5.3 assists 3.1 rebounds, 53.5% FG, 42.9% 3pt. He is the best acquisition by Colangelo in the off-season.
One of the main reasons for Toronto's success continues to be the play of the reserves. Jose Calderon has settled nicely into the role of orchestrating the bench brigade and has developed good chemistry with Amir Johnson. Antoine Wright continues to play well as he put up a season-high 15 points yesterday and is also doing his share of the rebounding averaging five boards per game in his last five outings. But what is more important is something that the boxscore can't measure and that's his defense against the opponent's top perimeter player. "It's almost like Antoine's like our closer," Triano told The Toronto Star. "He comes in and guards the best guy at the end because he can pressure the basketball, he can fight through screens, he can help and he's quick enough to get back. He's like a utility guy out there who just finds ways to stop guys."
With Antoine Wright’s return to the rotation at the end of December, Sonny’s minutes dropped off. But Weems stayed ready.
Three games ago, the Raptors rookie DeMar DeRozan went down with two ankle sprains and Sonny Weems was asked to step into DeRozan’s starting role.
And Sonny stepped in with purpose. As a starter, Sonny Weems has averaged 9.7 points on 57 percent shooting, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 25.7 minutes.
The Raptors can go small to score more, with Turkoglu shifting to PF, but they’d suffer on the boards. If they insert Johnson or Evans into the PF slot, they suffer in the scoring department.
Let’s hope Bosh re-signs, because if he leaves, the Raptors will be in trouble.
1. Toronto Raptors – The Raptors could send Jarret Jack, Rasho Nesterovic, and rookie Demarr DeRozan to the Wizards in exchange for Caron Butler. The deal could show Chris Bosh that the Raptors are serious about building a contending team around him, and possibly make a push for the Finals this season. The Wizards would get back a viable starting point guard in Jarret Jack and a potential star player in Demarr DeRozan.
Raptors coach Jay Triano told reporters after Monday's practice that he will travel with the team for the game, but won't be in the lineup.
"He's getting it re-evaluated right now," Triano said. "He will travel with us but probably won't play."
With games coming up against Latvia, Israel, Finland and newly-promoted Montenegro in EuroBasket Division A, new Italy coach Simone Pianigiani will have his hands full.
It will make it easier if the team’s three most high-profile players, Andrea Bargnani and Marco Belinelli of the Toronto Raptors and New York Knicks ace Danilo Gallinari, are able to play.
Italian Basketball Federation president Dino Meneghin, a former national team star himself, has returned from New York where he just held meetings with the players.
Howard also will serve as a commentator at halftime, when the Los Angeles Clippers’ Eric Gordon and the Toronto Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan compete in the inaugural All-Star Slam Dunk-In contest.
He’s even more important now because his contract – five years for $50-million – could actually be a bargain if he reaches his potential and would off-set the over-paying for Turkoglu.
Tom Liston at Raptors Republic has put together a nice post with charts and everything that shows that yes, Bargnani is continuing to improve. Definitely worth a look.
My own opinion is he’s just scratching the surface of what he can be (Bargnani, not Liston). There is no guarantee he’ll get there, but you can’t look at the guy play and figure he’s maxed himself out physically. Improving his strength, power and fitness by 10 per cent would have a massive overall benefit. And the better post-player he becomes the more lethal a match-up he can be. The game can still slow down for him more.
Chemistry with Amir Johnson: “We know each other. I talk to him. I tell him what he’s got to do, that I’m going to pass him the ball. He understands how I’m going to pass the ball. It’s nice having him right there rolling and, yeah, it’s working right now. Hopefully we can keep it working.”
- A Better Bargnani
- Gameday: Raptors vs Pacers – Feb. 2/10