Jack, on the other hand, has never reached the playoffs in his four seasons in the Association.
So if Bosh hungers for a return to the dance, Jack salivates at just the mention of it.
“It’s unbelievable,” Jack says of the sense of anticipation that this might be the year he gets that playoff experience he covets. “I’m smiling because of where we are right now, but I know there is still a lot of work to be done. A lot can happen in 23 games. I feel like I’m looking at my goal in the face. We just have to stay focused and if we’re able to get into the playoffs, I’d be very, very excited.”
Jack says thoughts of that first playoff appearance are never far from his mind.
“Every day,” said Jack. “Even my Mom is going crazy texting me ‘Playoffs,’ every day. We are a real basketball-oriented family. We take the game very seriously. We all watch playoff games — My Mom, my Dad, my brother — we’re all in front of the TV watching basketball. For me to get an opportunity to be a part of the NBA playoffs is a dream in itself.”
So far that dream has been limited to spectator status although not just in front of the family TV.
“For me it would be a surreal experience to actually go through a playoff series,” Jack said. “I mean in the summer a lot of guys go on vacation, they go to Hawaii. Me personally, I go to playoff games. That’s like my vacation. That’s what I love to do. I’ve been to New Orleans supporting Chris Paul when they were in the playoffs. I live in Atlanta so I went to a lot of their games. Washington when they had their battles with Cleveland in the first round. I went to the (conference) finals last year with Cleveland/Orlando. Those things really get me going. Just being in that atmosphere is really fun so I can only imagine what being a part of it first hand is like.”
Jay Triano said Thursday he has given no thought whatsoever to sitting DeMar DeRozan down on a more permanent basis after benching him Monday in Houston. For Triano, the benching was warranted based on what he was seeing from DeRozan early in the game.
“That is something that will happen throughout a game,” Triano said. “If I don’t like what (DeRozan) is doing in a game, if I don’t like what Antoine (Wright) or Hedo (Turkoglu) or anybody is doing, I’m going to sit them down. That’s just trying to make these guys accountable. Is the leash a little shorter now? I’d say yes.”
As for DeRozan’s future in a starting role, don’t bet on that changing by Friday.
“What good is it going to do to sit him out,” Triano asked. “We need his athleticism. We need his body out there. He has given us a lift in a lot of games and we’re hoping he will continue to do that.”
It’s a game the Raptors should win but not necessarily one they will, because the Knicks aren’t a collection of bad players, just a collection of players for whom the playoffs are a pipedream, taking away any pressure. As many of these Raptors know from personal experience.
"I think it’s very dangerous," Toronto coach Jay Triano said Thursday.
"We were that team last year. Loose and not a lot of pressure and just play hard and guys playing for contracts, guys playing for whatever reasons.
"… The Knicks are a good basketball team, you look at their players and we go, `Wow, that’s a really good roster.’"
Talent with a horrible record and able to play free and easy; a spot Chris Bosh and the Raptors are familiar with.
"Those are the worst teams to play against and I’ve been in that situation," said Bosh. "I remember a few years back, we spoiled Milwaukee’s fourth seed just because we didn’t really care.
"It was the last game of the season (and the Raptors won to knock the Bucks into a lower playoff seed) so it was like, `Hey, let’s leave it all on the court and have some fun.’
"Those are the most dangerous teams to play against because you’re playing for something and they’re not playing for anything, so they’ll unconsciously shoot anything and sometimes they go in."
With defences keying on him, and Bosh not there to command double-teams and open up the floor, Bargnani has struggled to raise his game above his usual numbers. In the last five games without Bosh in the lineup, Bargnani averaged 17 points, 4.8 rebounds and shot 46 per cent, while his season totals are 17.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 47.3 per cent.
But the idea Bargnani has a lot more to bring to the table offensively or is somehow stifled playing second banana to Bosh didn’t gain any momentum with Bosh hurt – which is perhaps why Bargnani is as happy to see him return as anyone.
“When Chris plays, it’s more easy,” Bargnani said yesterday. “They guard me with more attention. It’s tougher, the other team prepares the [game plan] more.”
But the recent experience might help Bargnani long-term.
“I think it’ s going to help him down the road because it’s new,” Raptors head coach Jay Triano said. “It’s something he’ll have to adapt to if he’s ever going to become the focal point of the offence on certain plays.”
If he can develop his game to the point he requires a double-team, it would take a load off Bosh. If Bosh leaves, Bargnani might have to deal with more attention than he would like.
“I’m sure it’s a little different for him,” Bosh said. “It takes time. It takes time to get used to things like that. It took me about two years.”
The soft-spoken rookie stresses the need to keep working hard and eschews frustration. However, he recently spent a lot of time ruminating on Twitter about "haters," so he is not completely free of stress. DeRozan is 20, so some angst is only natural.
"A lot of people pay more attention to when players hit the rookie wall than when they do well throughout the season," DeRozan said yesterday. "But it’s going to happen. It’s your first year playing 82 games against the best players in the world. You’re always going to hit it."
Indeed, the length of the season is daunting. Although Tyreke Evans is making it look easy in Sacramento, jumping to the professional game after just one year of school is not an easy task.
Two seasons ago DeRozan was dominating as a high-school senior. Last year at this time DeRozan’s season was winding down.
"It’s very long. It’s very long," Bosh said of how a player’s first professional season feels. "In college they’re getting ready for the playoffs right now, they’re getting ready for the tournaments, March Madness. We’ve got six more weeks and then the madness starts. It’s different and it’s to be expected. You’re not going to come in hitting the ground running. It happens to all of us."
Who’s hot? Bill Walker. Who is Bill Walker? A swingman who rode the bench in Boston, Walker arrived in New York at the trade deadline. He is averaging 21.5 points on 67% shooting over the last two games.
Who’s not? Former starting point guard Chris Duhon has not seen the floor in any of the last six games.
Fresh off a three day lay-off the Toronto Raptors will be back in action on Friday night when the New York Knicks come to Air Canada Centre. This will be the third of four meetings between the two clubs this season, the first to be held on Toronto’s home court.
The Raptors were victorious in both of their previous encounters, but the Raptors were also healthy. Their is no guarantees on the availability of any Raptors just yet, but at the very least Chris Bosh is expected to be back and available -which is undoubtedly the greatest possible re-enforcement.
Since the All-Star break the Raps have had a string of injuries to deal with so the past few days of rest couldn’t have come at a better time.
With CB4 ready to return to the floor the Raps go head-to-head with Atlantic Division rival the New York Knicks tonight at the ACC.
- The Sonny Should Come Out Tomorrow
- Gameday: Raptors vs Knicks – Mar. 5/10