You ever been to Copacabana? There’s a couple of locations in Toronto, one nicely situated in Niagara Falls right by the casino. A lot of you probably knew this, but they serve a buffet in the evening, which my party was unaware of. Perhaps if we had known it was $40 a pop it would have raised a few eyebrows. Why is it 40 bucks? Because in a Brazilian buffet, you get bombarded every 2 minutes with a guy holding a juicy slab of lamb, beef, chicken or pork meat. He’ll cut off a tasty little slice and as long as your coaster is on the green side, this will continue and it will be heaven. Once you’re about to burst, you flip that coaster over to red and either you leave or you let it digest for about half an hour an get back on the horse.

I was looking for that little green coaster by Barbosa’s spot on the bench last night. if it was there, someone on the Tank Brigade forgot to flip it back over to red, because Leandro Barbosa served us a buffet of basketball goodness and it was spectacular. The seams which he’s always probing for were available all night, and his shot seemed tight. It didn’t hurt that foul trouble for Roy Hibbert had Tyler Hansbrough and Jeff Foster manning the post, who not only are ill-equipped to provide adequate rim protection, but also were distracted in fending off Raptor bigs from grabbing offensive rebounds. There were times when Barbosa was funneled properly to the baseline, but his hang time allowed to spot open guys on the corners with a completely collapsed Indiana defense.

Speaking of the that little imaginary green coaster, someone didn’t it flip it over to red with the clock winding down as Barbosa tried to sneak in for a layup. I’m at a loss for words when it comes to this world of sports ethics when there’s a major element of vengeance and machismo involve, so I decide to ping Arse on the matter and this is what he had to say:

Well done to him. They did the same in Indiana.

Sounds about right to me. What Indiana did was not only wrong but it was pompous. We’re always complaining about how we want this team to push back and be a bit tougher, and this was an example of that. You could see Barbosa clearly referencing what happened the other game. He’s not going to be your offensive leader every night due to the lack of versatility in his game, but this is the kind of guy you hate to see go, especially after a night like this. Good guy who you never hear complaining, a real professional.

This would be the space where I would rip into Andrea Bargnani’s game, but you know what? I think it was one of his better games. Right, we’re supposed to hate on Andrea when he doesn’t score and love him when he does. Volume scoring has never been my metric to evaluate a player. When Allen Iverson was traded for Chauncey Billups, Denver instantly got better and Detroit instantly got worse, because Allen Iverson was exposed for being an inefficient volume scorer, while Billups provided excellent ball distribution, efficiency and excellent defense. I know it’s early, but look at the Knicks with Carmelo Anthony so far. Not exactly setting the world on fire, as you would expect with a guy who’s considered one of the best in the league. Anthony’s main attribute is volume scoring. He doesn’t pass too well, nor does he defend adequately.

But Bargnani did a number of things well on this night. He showed good awareness defensively, he got Hibbert in foul trouble with is aggressiveness, and he grabbed a couple of offensive boards. It looks like he’s lost a bit of weight and part of me hopes he keeps it off because he looked more fluid out there. I’m a big fan of playing guys at their natural weight. Bulking up too much not only leads to injuries, but affects the length-quickness ratio which is what makes NBA players successful. Right, he needs beef so that guys can’t back him down. Honestly, how much of that do we see any more? Why post up and get bodied inside when you can’t even be touched out on the perimeter, and drive inside with a full head of steam? This is what the rule changes have done to the game, face the reality. Even if Andrea is a little lighter, he can always flop like half the league does to great effect. He’s definitely longer than Ed Davis or Amir Johnson, who sometimes can’t handle the length of true 5′s. I also think that the 30 minutes he played are a much better time allocation for him. A big with conditioning issues and who can become complacent? Lower it to 30 on a more permanent basis and see what it does for him. On top of that, you want minutes for Ed Davis and even Joey Dorsey, hell even Alabi as we’re clearly in the development phase of the season now.

Reggie Evans is back to his old tricks, and if you think he helps this team, then you are acknowledging that rebounding is very important in the game of basketball. It’s why the great Chicago Bulls teams put up with the antics of one Dennis Rodman en route to their championships. Rodman was a good defender, although undersized. His only real skill was rebounding and he is often mentioned as the 3rd cog on the wheel after Jordan and Pippen based on this talent alone. If Evans doesn’t lose half the season due to his annual foot sprain, we’re going somewhere this season. We’re playing Indiana for a playoff seed. In the words of the great Chuck Swirsky: Book it.

His running mate for the night, Ed Davis, he’s not bad either eh? What a pleasant surprise. Highly touted coming out of high school with an NBA pedigree, his draft stock plummeted as a lack of a true point guard on North Carolina affected his offensive game. Then he overcomes a fairly major injury and no training camp to become a nightly double-double threat with offensive potential. Maybe Colangelo should draft only defensive players in the draft from now on, because the Raptors seem to be great at developing offensive skills, to a fault. I’m liking the play where Jose drives under the rim and shovels it to Ed Davis for a dunk. People complain about Jose not getting “real” assists, well it’s hard when you don’t have people rolling to the rim, and Ed Davis does just that.

This was an impressive win, make no mistake, if only because Indiana is in the thick of a playoff race and should be playing with much more urgency. It’s kind of sad at the same time because anyone who watched the game would tell you that the Raptors are just as talented as the Pacers, if not more. As long as this team doesn’t win too many more games and nets itself a little stud in the draft, if the Pacers make the playoffs next year, you can bet the Raptors will be right there.

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