Toronto Raptors New Jersey Nets December 17, 2010

Now this is a game that I’m feeling good about. Even though the Nets are tied for last in the East, they are only two games behind the Raptors (and could make up half that ground with a win tonight). 5 games is all that separates 7th and 15th in the East, and since it looks like you don’t have to be .500 to grab a playoff spot, making the playoffs has lost a bit of its cache in the East; for me anyways.

Finally spoke to a blogger who didn’t stiff me over the last week or so; Mark Ginocchio from the Nets are Scorching stopped in and answered a few questions I had about the Nets:

Avery Johnson was an interesting choice for such a young team (likes to control the entire game), but I always respected what he did
in Dallas, how is he working out?
The whole Avery Johnson situation is very interesting as a Nets fan. The front office and owner clearly loves him (in fact, many believe Avery is the de facto GM of this team, not Billy King). As a coach, he’s got this bunch playing better defense, though they’re prone to lapses. The offense still isn’t clicking, though it doesn’t help when Travis Outlaw is awful and Anthony Morrow is hurt. The thing that worries me about Avery is he essentially handpicked this entire roster and only 4 guys from last year carried over, and I’m already getting a sense that he’s losing patience and drawing lines in the sand between guys who play “his” way, or some other way. That’s, in large part why Terrence Williams was shipped out, and that’s why Troy Murphy is rotting on the bench (more on that). And while I know this is going to make me sound extremely paranoid, there’s something about Avery Johnson’s behavior that reminds of John Calipari’s stay in New Jersey,
and I don’t think I ever want to relive that fiasco again. Again, I’m more than happy to be wrong about that. In fact, I’m hoping I’m wrong.

Why does Johnson hate Troy Murphy so much?
The whisperings around Troy Murphy centered around him arriving in camp out of shape, which led to early-season back injury, which I think irked Avery Johnson off. Factor in that Kris Humphries has actually been a solid starting PF this year, a young Derrick Favors who NEEDS minutes right now, and there’s just no place for Murphy on this team right now, except as an expiring contract to use in a trade.

Looks like the Nets are going to make another run at Carmelo after stockpiling so many picks (5 in the next two drafts); this is a three part question: 1) How likely do you think a Carmelo trade is? 2) Are there enough pieces to put a good enough team around Anthony so he resigns? 3) Will the Nets trade for him if he doesn’t guarantee to resign?
I respect your three parts, but I’m just going to provide you one long rambling answer here to “As the ‘Melo turns.” Yes, I do think the Nets have the pieces to make a ‘Melo trade happen. They have tons of draft picks, a big fat expiring in Troy Murphy and a potential stud in Derrick Favors. If Denver can’t find a match here, then they were never going to trade Denver in the first place. As for whether or not a trade will happen – this is all about whether or not ‘Melo signs on the dotted line for NJ, and I sense a big game of chicken leading to the trade deadline. He’s not going to leave that money on the table with a new CBA coming up but if you trust the media, even the non-Chris Sheridan media, they think he won’t extend in New Jersey. He wants to play for the Knicks, meanwhile, the Nets ownership/FO seems obsessed in besting the Knicks any way they can.

Long story short, if I’m a betting man, I think the Nets are going to overpay handsomely, get Carmelo, and then exist as the 5th-6th seed in the East for the next few years. Don’t really think I’m a fan of it, but that seems to be the MO of those in charge.

How do the Nets match-up with the Raptors? What will be the gameplan heading into tonight?
The Nets are desperate for some offense lately, and even though Toronto is one of the worst defensive teams in the league, I don’t feel good about any match-up lately. I can envision Bargnani getting Lopez out of the post on both ends of the court, which doesn’t behoove anyway. Meanwhile, after starting out the season in great fashion
defensively, Devin Harris has lost a step or two with some injuries piling up. I don’t sense a blow-out, but unless something changes fast, I see the Raptors winning comfortably.

Injuries

Toronto
Reggie Evans – Out
Peja Stojakovic – Out
Jose Calderon – Game time decision
Andrea Bargnani – Game time decision

New Jersey
Anthony Morrow – Out
Devin Harris – Hurting, but will play

Match-ups

Point Guard
I like Devin Harris a lot; shame he’s playing for the Nets, or I’d be a huge advocate for him. As it stands, he’s having a solid, injury-free, season. He’s another perfect storm type point guard against the Raptors with quickness off the dribble and an improving jumper off the bounce. Harris will always look to score first, but has good court awareness and makes good passes. He turns the ball over a bit, but he more than makes up for it by seemingly getting to the line at will (#3 amongst PGs). With Farmar backing him up, the Nets have a solid 1-2 punch at the point. With Calderon questionable for tonight, a lot of pressure will be on Bayless to maintain the solid play he’s displayed over the last couple weeks. Barbosa’s speed and aggressiveness will be huge off the bench, but only to counter what Harris/Farmar bring to the table, and not as an advantage for the Raptors. Wednesday against the Wizards, Harris went to the line 17 times, converting 14. Can’t have him attack Amir and Ed every time he makes up his mind or it will be a long night. Actually, it will be a long night at the point match-up anyways; but it should be fun to watch.
Edge: New Jersey

Shooting Guard
With Morrow out, Farmar has moved into the shooting guard role, and he should suffer against DeRozan’s size and athleticism, but that depends on what kind of mood DeRozan is in. While he has some hops of his own, he’s giving up 4″ and 40lbs to DeMar…you see where I’m going right? If DeMar is in the game, he should be able to do whatever he wants; I have nothing else to add here.
Edge: Toronto

Small Forward
Ross gets the nod at the small forward, and I know little about the guy. Hollinger has this to say about him:

  1. Quick, pesky defender with wiry build. Moves feet and rarely gambles.
  2. Can hit midrange jumper but otherwise useless offensively. Awful rebounder.

The Nets are pretty deep with under-performing small forwards (Travis Outlaw and Stephen Graham; always trips me out to see Stephen), but they match-up well with the Raptors under achieving 3s of Weems and Kleiza.
Edge: Even

Power Forward
I always liked Kris Humphries the guy, never the player who took far too many liberties offensively and shot the ball more than I would have liked. I also had a thing for his sister :)…something about big girls…I dunno…

So while he’s not a skilled offensive player, Kris works works hard and does a lot of things fans/teams appreciate: crashes the boards, hustles on defense (not a great defender but at least he tries his best *cough*), makes garbage plays around the rim. If there’s one way to exploit him, is to let him shoot the ball from the elbow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him pass the ball when he gets it in the paint, and he’s not a great finisher; you can do the math. However, he’s having a career season averaging 8pts 9rebs 1blk a game; highlighted with a 17 rebound performance against the Wizards on Wednesday. I like Amir in this match-up with his size and athleticism. Kris isn’t a crafty offensive player, so he will have some trouble drawing fouls on the young one.
Edge: Even

Something to consider would be Triano doing some work, and putting Davis on Humphries, and matching Amir up with Lopez. That would be a better match-up for the Raptors overall IMHO.

Center
With Bargnani out, Ed Davis is in for a long night. This is going to be a serious trial by fire for the rookie, where he will have to deal with Humphries’ hustle, and Lopez’s…Lopez; I got nothing witty to say about him. Frankly, Amir has the best shot at covering Lopez, and should get the call for most of the time Brook sees the floor. Fortunately for Johnson, Lopez has tree-trunk legs and wont be able to keep up with him, or Ed frankly, on the break in an up-tempo game. Amir will have a big advantage on the glass, and should be able to get free enough on offense to counter whatever Lopez does offensively.
Edge: Even

With the Lakers in town on Sunday, and that ugly loss to Chicago on Wednesday, the Raptors need this one. The gamblers haven’t decided the line for this one due to the injuries, which in other words means they’re not trusting the Raptors to win this game without Bargnani.

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Tonight is also Raptor Fan Fridays at the SCC.

  • Nilanka15

    I like to think of tonight as the Kyrie Irving Sweepstakes 😉

    I’d also like to point out that Lopez has just as many career rebounds (1536) as Bargnani (1596) while playing 2 less seasons (a difference of 136 games).

    • Mediumcore

      LOL, any chance to take a jab…

      • Nilanka15

        Ha, I’m just presenting the facts. I’ll let the jury decide the verdict 😉

        • Sam Holako

          I’d trade Bargnani for Lopez in a second too (added to the existing list of Horford and Noah)

          • Dookielover

            when are dumb raptor fans gonna stop disrespecting andrea. lopez is the nets worst defender. you pathetic motherf*ckers need to open your eyes. we got somethin special in bargs.

          • footie

            never!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QJTJQMQYS7YGDZCTEDXHQ5MUSA Mike

      How about the more relevant stat, that the supposedly good rebounder Lopez has 162 rebounds in 26 games this year and the supposedly horrible rebounder, Bargnani has 141 rebounds in 25 games this year?

      If you’re gonna throw out crap, at least choose good examples ..

      • Nilanka15

        You’re right, my numbers were crap. Bargnani is a far better rebounder than Lopez. Thanks for clarifying.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QJTJQMQYS7YGDZCTEDXHQ5MUSA Mike

          Any time

        • mountio

          32 and 9 .. ill take that over Lopez’ 20 and 7 (or the 10 and 8 defensive specialist that everyone here seems to think wed be better off with .. )

          • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

            SO you’re basing your opinion on one game. Interesting. DO we get to choose which game we base our opinion on?

            • mountio

              Just a for instance (and happens to be the most recent comparison, since it happended last night). I also pointed out that this year, Lopez and Bargs rebounding is essentially the same. Not so much because its an important stat, but more to dispell a brutal point that Nilkita was trying to make.
              Listen, the Nets suck and we should beat them, but if you think we win that game with Lopez and Bargs trading places (or Bargs trading places with 10 and 8 defensive specialist), you are crazy.

        • c_bcm

          Wow a Nilanka concession, never thought i’d see it.

  • barenakedman

    With the Raps playing so poorly of late it’s difficult to feel things will be better even if it is the lowly Nets. If Bargnani can’t go it will be even tougher. Weems has been bashed [for good reason] so he’ll probably come through with a big game if he isn’t sitting on the bench for this one.

    • K.J.P

      Ya, Weems is due for his one good game a month.

      We have to win these garbage games so we can stay in the hunt for that 8th or 9th overall pick. The draft is already going to be weak this year….. =(

  • voy

    Nets are +4.5 now.

    • http://www.facebook.com/arsenalist Zarar Siddiqi

      I’d take the Raptors, Nets on a back-to-back, Weems/AJ are due for a decent game. In fact, I’m headed over to make a bet.

  • Wattsy38

    If Bargs and Calderon can’t go, hopefully Traino doesn’t trot out the starting 5 he did last game, the lineup where the best shooter is Bayless. Not like he has a lot of options but when your missing your 2 best shooters plus Peja I think you have to look at putting Barbosa out there. I’d like to say Klieza as well, if he is on he can put up some offense, but that is a BIG if

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      The starting lineup used against Chicago should be a lot more effective against New Jersey. Bayless can’t run an offense, but that shouldn’t be nearly as much of a problem with New Jersey’s defense. Or lack thereof. The Raptors should be able to run a lot more, which should make the starting lineup much more effective.

      • Bo4

        Tim W., I agree with you. Anytime Amir, Ed, Joey, DeMar, Sonny, Leandro, Julian, & Jerryd are in the rotation, I want to watch it. I’m tired of the Clydesdales that Jay depends on too much (Bargnani, Evans, Kleiza), but that’s just me now.

        • Right Clique

          Got to give playing time to Kleiza in order to salvage his season. Right now he’s the odd man out and the #1 candidate to be traded. Got to hype his trade value up, he was a bad signing and BC’s got to deal with it, just like he dealt with Jack, Kapono, Hedo, O’Neal…damn, this guy’s a terrible GM.

          • pran

            the guy is the worst at signing free agents(I’ll disagree about jack though, he was a good signing), and then tries to fix it and sets us even further back in the long run. The only think he’s good at is finding hidden talent (and maybe that’s the scouts) and making deals happen (not that they benefit the team

            • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CQOAP7NPJTHGHSWVPWMED7RS2Q Tim W.

              I think it’s more a case of not having much to choose from. First find out who was available, and then, more importantly, find out who would agree to sign with the Raptors. Colangelo offered Trevor Ariza more money than anyone, and he still signed for less with Houston.

  • Stoic

    bargs and caldy have to suck it up and play through the pain. get a shot, take an advil, just get out there for 20-30 minutes. Christ, my knee hurts too, but it doesn’t mean I don’t get my ass out of bed and do my job.

    • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

      If you get up and go to work despite the pain in your knee, are you possibly putting your career in jeopardy? I’m sorry, but your comparison is ridiculous. As Yao Ming.

  • JamesJ

    You’re being awfully generous to the Raptors when talking about the SF and C matchup

  • Nilanka15

    Was browsing through some historical data, when I stumbled across Carter’s stats during his last 20 games as a Raptor:

    PTS ASTS REBS FT% FTA 3pt% FG%
    15.9 3.1 3.3 69.4% 3.6 32.2% 41.1%

    We can all agree that these numbers were put up with almost zero effort and desire.

    Now, let’s take a look at DeRozan’s numbers this year, while apparently putting in maximum effort:

    PTS ASTS REBS FT% FTA 3pt% FG%
    12.4 1.7 3.4 73.3% 4.6 11.8% 45.7%

    I seems fair to say that DeRozan might be hard-pressed to even reach Carter’s “I’m not trying” numbers, let alone Carter’s all-star numbers. It doesn’t seem like there’s any justification whatsoever to compare these two players.

    • mountio

      Not sure why anyone would even try to compare Carter to DD. Carter is the best player weve ever had here (dont get me wrong, I hate him as much as the next guy, but he did more for this team than anyone else both in terms of team success and entertainment value). On top of that, Carter was an impact player essentailly right away, and DD isnt even close a year and a half in. Carter could shoot and finish strong at the rim – DD has yet to show either.
      Not saying Im writing off DD, but his dream upside is WAY below Carter at his peak ..

    • Dakj-b

      The problem with your analysis is that you’re looking at the numbers of a 7 year vet vs a young1 who should only be in his junior year at Cal..btw Carter came out after his jr. year… Not really a fair, or accurate comparison a still raw 21 year vs a seasoned 25 ppg vet.

    • ty

      bad comparison considering that Carter had the ball in his hands 90%of the teams possesion and Demar only has the ball on about 40% of the time. plays are’nt even called for Demar most times.

      Bad comparison. but still i agree; Demar is not even close to Vince by any measure.

  • KJ-B

    May sound stupid now, but the Raps and the Nets have the picks, positioning + piles of dough to help lead a revival in the Eastern conference in the next couple of seasons–after the next couple of seasons I’m thinking a lot of cash strapped teams will be losing a lot of talent… Any1 going to London?

  • Core2man

    Will Bargs play tonight?

  • RapsM

    Where’s Peja? He’s played like 2 games so far.

    • Turrible

      He’s listed as being “out indefinitely” with a “swollen left knee”. I can’t see why the Raptors would make him a healthy scratch, has to be a real problem.

  • dalmatino

    Nilanka, Raptors won and who was the player of the game? Your favourite player – Andrea Bargnani. I know you are happy like a baby with a toy. Enjoy!

    • Giolondon999

      They don’t get it do they?

      • http://www.wearingfilm.com/picketfence/ Tim W.

        Apparently neither do you.