Since I’ve been doing the Morning Coffee last few days I’ve noticed one thing: The Toronto Sun struggles with writing. What is up with the one-line paragraphs?
With that, Wednesday's game against Atlanta is expected to bring yet another change to the rotation, as Jose Calderon is expected to start at point guard for the club. Now, the move hasn't happened yet so it would be prudent to be reserved in one's judgment of this move, but let's just say that when a team is struggling so mightily with defence, starting their worst defensive player and starting possibly the team's worst defensive unit might not be the greatest coaching strategy ever conceived. Nor is starting this particular guard (with defensive deficiencies) against Russell Westbrook, Devin Harris, Jonny Flynn, Deron Williams and Chauncey Billups – the five guys he'll be asked to guard after the Atlanta game. Nor is re-inserting a guard that has a 37-53 record over the last two seasons as a starter during the most important stretch of games the Raptors have played over the last two years.
"It doesn't matter who plays, I've been talking about that all season," Calderon said Tuesday after the Raptors went through a rather lengthy workout at the ACC.
"It doesn't matter who starts, it doesn't matter who plays more minutes, we've got to win games. We're upset because we're losing games. We're not upset because I'm not playing or I'm not starting or something like that. Let's keep things simple: We've got to win, and everything else doesn't matter."
The Raptors could have really shaken up their rotation had they decided to put Andrea Bargnani into the second unit.
Even though Bargnani has fallen back into his nasty habit of disappearing in games, he won’t be losing his starting role anytime soon.
When he was playing at a high level back in January, Bargnani was making a pretty compelling case as an all-star.
He wasn’t settling for jumpers, was rebounding, blocking shots, getting to the line and providing that much-needed interior defence.
When the Raptors needed Bargnani to step up in Chris Bosh’s absence, he had a difficult time reacting to the added attention of double teams.
The ball is back in Jose Calderon’s court at a time when the Raptors are courting disaster.
All is not lost because there is still time for the Raptors to regain their form, but there’s a growing sentiment that the team has become a lost cause.
“We’re in a tough situation,’’ Calderon said after Tuesday’s practice, a lengthy session that followed a rare gathering in the wake of a back-to-back set. “At the same time, we have to be motivated as ever.”
Officially, nothing has been said publicly, but it’s almost a given that Calderon will start Wednesday night when the Atlanta Hawks, without Joe Johnson, pay a visit to the Air Canada Centre.
“You can’t put the emphasis on one person … it’s a team sport.”
Many of those words ring true. There is no star Toronto player who does more to help his team win each night than Bosh.
He averages 24 points, 11.2 rebounds per game a just over a block a game – strong numbers that aren’t inflated by the fact he’s a great player on an under-performing team.
Like any player of his caliber, Bosh often wants the ball in his hands. But he’s also aware of the fact he can’t win on his own, and will defer to teammates he knows are capable of helping the team.
With the Raptors tanking lately, threatening to drop out of the Eastern playoff picture, their chances of retaining Bosh get slimmer and slimmer, and a sign-and-trade more and more likely.
If the Spurs can leverage another team's desperation to alleviate some of their own, they should do it.
Don't get overly excited about the prospect, though. The suggestion from afar was that the Spurs might be able to use Splitter's rights as a third-party sweetener in a Bosh sign-and-trade, getting another player or future draft pick in the package, not Bosh.
Then they will have to hope Splitter doesn't produce as consistently as Scola.
(1) Cleveland vs. (8) Toronto
After getting off to a miserable start this season, the Raps righted the ship towards the middle of the season. Over one 35-game stretch starting in December Toronto was actually one of the hotter teams in the entire league, going 24-9 (.686 winning percentage). However, just as quickly as it all came together; the wheels have fallen off once again. The Raptors have now lost nine of their last 10, and tension in T-Town is thick. The backbiting and infighting has increased, and nearly everyone seems on edge. GM Bryan Colangelo has called the regression "perplexing" and Chris Bosh is quick to deny culpability. The scene in Toronto is ugly, and is quickly escalating from bad to worse. Luckily for the Raps, the Chicago Bulls, losers of seven straight games, are about the only team playing worse. If the playoffs started today, the Raptors would be the only team in either conference to qualify with a sub-.500 record.
Prediction: Cavs Sweep Raptors
The Raptors have not had that in a long time. Not since Charles Oakley.
Love him or hate him Oakley was a motivator in that locker room and was key to the initial success of the Toronto Raptors. Yes, Vince and McGrady had a thing or two to do with the Raptors making the playoffs for the first time and winning their first series, but it was Oakley that pushed them to get there.
He was vocal, wasn’t afraid to call out his coach and teammates and he brought it on the floor. He fought for loose balls, rebounded with the best of them and knew his role. Not everyone liked what he had to say but he pushed his teammates to be better. And they were.
There has been a lot of speculation regarding the starting five for Tuesday’s tilt but Triano hasn’t officially confirmed anything as of yet. The most likely scenario though would see Jose Calderon inserted into the starting line up for Jarrett Jack. Talk of moving out DeMar DeRozan may be premature as well, given that Antoine Wright has been nursing an ankle injury since Sunday night. In fact, deflection or not, Triano said no one on the second unit has really jumped out at him RE: nabbing a starting role
For his part … Jarrett Jack stressed that if he is replaced as the starting PG, he’ll still play as hard as he can for every second that he’s on the floor and he’s not concerned with coming off the bench or starting. He said he’s just happy to be home (note: the Raptors are 22-10 at the ACC this year).
How exactly did Toronto manage to lose this game to Golden State?
When you look at the boxscore for this game:
Jay Triano likes to keep his options open.
For the second straight day of practice, the Toronto Raptors coach remained uncommitted about shaking up the starting lineup that has played together since for every game since Dec. 8, except when injury has intervened.
"We've thought about it a lot," Triano said. "We haven't made any decisions yet.
"We're thinking about making some adjustments. But I don't think it will be anything major."
The Hawks won their third consecutive game and seventh of nine while snapping a five-game losing streak in New Jersey. The lopsided victory allowed the Hawks to rest their starters late in advance of Wednesday’s game at the Raptors, who have lost five consecutive.
It appears that Jack, the Raptors’ starting point guard for the past 43 games, will be the one to pay the price for the team’s 1-9 slide.
“We’ve thought about it a lot,” Raptors head coach Jay Triano said after practice yesterday. “We haven’t made any decision yet. … [But backup point guard] Jose [Calderon] has been playing well and I might take advantage of that.”
Triano showed his hand when he sat Jack to start the second half of the Raptors’ loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday and Jack played just 17 minutes in a loss to the Golden State Warriors the night before.
In honor of the release of God of War 3 today, I bring you the deepest shade of "With A Side Of Red" ever. Just like on Mount Olympus – it's not looking good right now in Raptors Nation. Colangelo is panicking more than Zeus is. Why? Because he knows that the wrath of Raptors fans was what gave birth to whatever Kratos is so upset about. The despair and treachery the God of War games use as themes have nothing on what the Raptors camp looks like at the moment. Here's Jack and Bosh opening Pandora's Box:
The Raptors have lost five in a row and nine of their last ten games, with a 102-96 decision over the New York Knicks on Mar. 5 as the lone victory. They now sit in eighth in the East at 32-33 with the Chicago Bulls (31-34) within striking distance. The only good news for the Raptors is that the Bulls are also sputtering, having lost seven in a row.
The bad news is nobody on the Raptors is sure how to change their fortunes.
With free agency looming for Chris Bosh, a season out of the playoff would seem to all but pack his bags for him. He's a competitor who wants to win and refuses to shoulder the blame for this losing streak on his own.
Signing Bosh is not an option for the Blazers. They will not have any cap space available and could only use the Mid-Level Exception or Bi-Annual Exception to sign a free agent, and that sure isn't going to get anyone Bosh. This is assuming Bosh even decides to become a free agent and leave Toronto, which he has shown zero indication of doing. (And no, his recent comments about his team are not an indication of leave – quite the opposite. It shows he still cares.)
That leaves only a sign-and-trade possibility, as Arnold notes later in the piece. He also acknowledges the deal would have to center around power forward LaMarcus Aldridge since they play the same position. We've talked about such a possibility in this space in the past, concluding such a deal was unlikely, but it's worth noting Aldridge is a Base Year Contract player for the 2010-11 season. His contract extension kicks in for next season and it gives him more than a 20% raise over his 2009-10 salary of $5.8 million.
“Jose has been playing well,” Triano said. “We might take advantage of that.
“You play the hot hand. There have been times when Jose has sat down when Jarrett has been rolling. It will continue to be the same.”
“I think that’s Coach going with the flow,” Jack said. “I’ve heard him say before that he’s going to go with whoever he thinks is playing best and that’s just the way it’s been going.”
All season long, both guards have continued to say they will fill the role they are given with aplomb. But both players also have trouble hiding their emotions. Calderon is perpetually animated, while Jack has looked downcast for the last week or so.
"Yes, yes, yes. Bosh over LaMarcus all day, any day, any point in their careers. It's not even close. Bosh has some serious handles, and LA will never be able to put it on the floor and get to the rack like Bosh. They're not at the same level and never will be. LA is a nice player, improving slowly, but he'll never reach Bosh's level. Get real, Blazers fans. Love LA, but he's nowhere near Bosh."
It seems like a rough time to be a Toronto Raptor right now. Five straight losses, and nine of the last 10 will do that to a team. But it seems like everyone on the Raptors hates being on the Raptors right now.
Wright started out the season shooting a career low 34 percent from the field. Unfortunately his 31 percent shooting from three was actually an improvement from his last two seasons. The result was the disappearance of Wright into the Jay Triano doghouse in the second half of December.
And during Wright’s previous four NBA seasons, he has been a five point, two rebound role player who averaged 41 percent from the field and 30 percent from three. Now in 55 games with the Raptors, those averages are reappearing.
But it is easy to forget that Antoine Wright is just 26 year-old and the improvements seen during last year’s playoffs with Dallas and in the last two months in Toronto could be sign of Wright’s continuing development as a player. There is a case for Antoine Wright.
The destruction continued and the heads hung low. The fight what fight? The defense- I didn't see much of it. It went from a NBA game to a summer league non-chalent session of pick up basketball. A first have that saw the Raptors play with some sense of purpose did not translate in the 2nd half. The Warriors a perimeter oriented team were glued that territory and both Mario Ellis and Steph the rookie Curry killed it from beyond the arc. Let's not even speak about cleaning up the glass that was all done by the my under the radar dude Anthony Tolliver!
- Gameday: Raptors vs Hawks – Mar 17/10
- Going It Alone