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If these four games are a microcosm of the whole season, then we’re in for an up-and-down ride where Mr. Wiser and Mr. Daniels will be providing me with a lot of help this season. There will be some good times, but most nights will leave you scratching your head wondering just what you have here. It doesn’t appear that the Raptors have a singular complete player who can elevate his game and shine as the best player on a consistent basis, instead they have a collection of third tier players (if Bosh was second, everybody on this roster has to be at most third) whose talents are admirable. Are the sum of the parts greater than the whole? Will this group of players come together and make up for each others’ deficiencies through a thorough application of their strengths? Maybe, maybe….maybe.

Against Phoenix we saw how great an athletic defense can be, against Boston we saw the price of losing concentration, against Chicago we saw the hazards of playing aggressive big men and points, and against Philly, a team closer to our caliber, we saw that the Raptors can compete. When hunting for wins this season the Raptors have to pick out their prey carefully, there will be some great chances to win against the likes of the Nets, Sixers and Pacers which alone should net us 20 wins. Right now the Raptors are getting ranked between 28 and 30 in all team previews, and I feel that that is harsh. This team is capable of producing wins if it plays with the same effort it has so far, unless of course it wanes into carelessness and laziness when the waters get a little rough, kind of like Weems sometimes.

The larger question you might pose is what is the point of winning 23 games as opposed to 36, if both mean not making the playoffs. It’s a fair question bordering on pessimism, but the answer is that a higher win total is a stronger indication of progress. Fans seem to be obsessed with the idea of obtaining a higher lottery pick as if it guarantees anything. It doesn’t, and personally I’d rather see a team that gives their opponents a run every night and loses, than one that just comes out for the sake of showing up and losing hoping a ping-pong ball bounces their way. I would even be a fan of the latter idea if this was a roster full of overrated and overpaid veterans (like the last two years), but this season there’s an incentive to show that the new breed of Raptor is different. Maybe not good just yet but at least they look to compete and play with a sense of pride, which is what I saw in DeRozan’s eyes after he got that basket in double OT against the Sixers.

Potential is a dangerous word that can waste many years for a franchise, the Raptors backed Chris Bosh for seven years and all they got back were three playoff wins. Forget for a moment the GM’s part in that disaster, but the crux of the problem was overvaluing what Chris Bosh was capable of. Fans waited for him to become a top-tier player and it never happened, the same can be said of Andrea Bargnani, he’s entering his fifth year and the Raptors are doing the same thing with him – waiting. Next in line there’s DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems, how long do we wait for them? They can make the decision to “build” around them easier if they show something special, but all signs seem to point to both players being a couple years away from being anything worthy, if that. How long do we wait for them? How long does the YGZ® experiment last? What is a measure of success for them?

Tonight it’s Boston once again, the Raptors were taken out by their bench in the fourth quarter despite (because of?) the introduction of their starters. The two plays that stick out in my mind from that game are 1) Marquis Daniels hitting a baseline jumper after Kleiza lost him, and 2) Bargnani failing to seal the baseline on a drive from the right wing. It was an good overall effort, especially considering how bad the fake thugs have owned us the last three years. Playing Phoenix and Boston twice does prepare us somewhat for the hard early run which looks like this (predictions attached):

vs New York – W
vs Cleveland – W
@Sacramento – W
@Utah – L
@Lakers – L
@Portland* – L
vs Golden State – W
vs Charlotte – L
@Orlando – L
@Miami* – L
@Washington – W
@Philadelphia* – L

* back-to-back

Yeah, I think we’ll start 3-0 and end up at 5-7 after our initial testing West coast trip. Am I wearing rose-coloured glasses? Maybe not coloured, but definitely a little tint.

We move on to Raptors TV who are set to make a “big announcement” today at 3PM EST:

Just a heads up that Friday is going to be a big day for Raptors NBA TV, starting off with the organization making a big announcement about the channel’s transformation into NBA TV Canada at around 3:30 p.m.

It’s not particularly surprising if you saw the new mics or sweet looking graphics used in Wednesday’s Raptors-Sixers broadcast, or any of the advertising in and around Air Canada Centre, or watched commercials on the channel of late.

Too bad they can’t make up for fans watching two games so far on a 4-inch stream, the TSN2 debacle from last year, and the upcoming Sportsnet One mess (BTW, I called Rogers yesterday to downgrade my service and to Ultimate Plus to save 8 bucks and they said I’d lose TSN2, honestly, now for one channel I’m on Ultimate VIP or some sh*t). As for the “sweet looking graphics”, all I have to say is that YOU’RE MISSING THE SHOT-CLOCK ON THE SCOREBOARD AND IT TAKES YOU A FULL FIVE SECONDS TO UPDATE THE SCORE, IT’S ANNOYING MUCH LIKE TYPING IN ALL CAPS!!! Colangelo will talk after at Real Sports Bar about how technology has changed in sports and how….zzzzzzz. Seriously, unless they’re making Raptors TV free, nobody cares about the announcement.

I’ll end by talking about Triano’s system which is being discussed in this thread. So far, his offensive system isn’t much. Other than Bargnani setting a screen for Jack near the three-point line and then Jack proceeding to ignore him and Bargnani not caring much about being ignored, it’s just been some baseline and down screens that don’t amount to much. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought he’s trying to turn Reggie Evans into a low-post scorer. Defensively, there’s been a lot of hustle, trapping, hedging and Triano’s stuck true to his word about how he’s going to use the athleticism at his disposal. So far so good, but he’s going to put the players’ conditioning to the ultimate test if he plans on doing this on a regular basis. Checking out the pre-season stats, Raptors are middle of the pack in points allowed and 22nd in FG% allowed. I can’t find pace-adjusted stats but the defense is already looking better than last year.

Joey Dorsey was suspended for the first game of the regular season for punching Brian Scalabrine. I can’t really say I blame him for doing so. Good job, Joey. This doesn’t top you getting ejected in a summer-league game you weren’t even playing in, but definitely good stuff.

Do you want your chance to throw pizza at Hedo? RR is giving it to you, the seats are close enough that if you have decent accuracy, you could do it. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the 100th point the Raptors score was Weems dunking over Turkoglu and the fans cheering for free pizza?!

Let’s go Raptors, let us exact our revenge on Mitch the Bitch.