I’m probably not in any shape to be writing a pre-game at 8am with a hangover, but then again, this is the shape I need to be in to think clearly about a March game between Charlotte and Toronto.

Yes, the Bobcats roll into town sporting a shiny one game winning streak after having lost six straight, dropping them all the way to 27-38. Sadly, that mark has them in the playoff hunt, sitting ninth in the East, losing the tiebreaker at the moment to the Pacers for the eighth seed. So yes, the Bobcats need this game more than the 18-47 Raptors, however, the Bobcats haven’t looked like a team that wants or needs a game too often of late.

The Republic population will be the only group watching this game, I’m sure, and forgive me for not being too excited about the Raptors trying to build on Friday’s win over the equally brutal-of-late Pacers. Still, allow me five questions.

Which Bargnani Do We Get?
Bargnani has had two battles with the flu this month,and hopefully that’s his excuse for a 1-of-13 shooting performance on Friday. After averaging 25.6 points a night in February (wow!), Bargs has cooled off to shoot just 36% in four March contests. We know Bargnani can be a streaky offensive player – The Hardcourt Kessel – but it’s tough to bet if today will continue the slump or end it. He’ll be guarded by some combination of Kwame Brown, Ty Thomas, Boris Diaw, and Joel Przybilla, so he won’t be posting up a lot….oh, wait, nevermind. Regardless, the Raps will need an interested Bargnani as usual, though his defensive shortcomings will probably be hidden guarding that group.

What Jose Do We Get?
Calderon has been even more inconsistent than Bargnani on a game-to-game basis, and oddly it hasn’t been based on matchups nearly as much as you’d think. I’m challenging Liston to come up with some sort of standard deviation statistic that captures game-to-game inconsistency, just for Calderon. Since a string of four straight six-point performances in February, Jose has put up 10, 5, 6, 6, 0, 15, 22, 6, 9, 14, and 13. Over that stretch he’s had double digit assists six times but he’s also had three or more turnovers four times. The Bobcats will counter with D.J. Augustin, who has great potential defensively, but again the matchup doesn’t seem to effect Jose as much as some other random factor. On defense though, Jose is basically screwed.

Who Guards Captain Jack?
Jackson leads the team at 19.2 points per game, and it’s unclear who will guard him. With Gerald Henderson at the two-guard, Jackson will draw the stronger defender, which on this squad doesn’t necessarily mean a lot. Julian Wright is probably the best candidate but he’s been glued to the bench of late, so the task will fall to the duo of Silky Johnson and Sonny Weems. That could be trouble, but this Bobcat team has looked checked out for some time, and nobody has worse body language than Jackson, so we should know early whether this question is even relevant.

Who Will Show Up?
The Bobcats just got Jack and Ty Thomas back from injury, and the Raptors just got Bargs and Evans back. I can’t find a definitive answer on the Amir Johnson question (sprained ankle), but it sounded earlier in the week like he’d sit through the weekend. The combo of Ed Davis and Reggie Evans have played well since Reggie’s return, so there’s no need to rush him back. Who guards Ty Thomas if he sits is a good question, but Ed will have to give it a shot.

Who Will Win?
Simple question, of course. The Bobcats have won two close ones and a laugher against the Raps this year, but those were different looking Charlotte teams. The Raptors have lost 23 of 27, so you don’t exactly love their chances, but they are 1.5-point favorites in Vegas. Sooo you’re saying there’s a chance! In honesty, this is a game the Raptors should probably take – they’re more motivated (even with the chance to reach the playoffs with the worst record in recent memory, the Bobcats are very obviously in lose-now mode), they’re at home, and the statistical noise associated with close losses should smooth out over time, favoring the Raptors today after two close losses earlier. Maybe I’m trying to talk myself into it, but I’m calling for a W!

Bonus Question – How Much Attention Will I Pay?
Yes, I’m covering the game here, but it’s Championship Sunday in the NCAA, so it’ll be tough to keep focused if this one is a laugher or a slopfest.

Other Notes
*Ed Davis currently holds the Raptors rookie record for field goal percentage at 60.5% and needs just three field goal attempts to qualify for the record officially.
*Apparently the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Fund is moving forward with their plans to sell their 66.7% share of MLSE, and this story will dominate the headlines in coming weeks as we all wonder what type of direction Rogers (or someone else with $1.5B sitting around?) will take the organization in.
*Silky Johnson. Say it with me now. SILKY.

  • Toshmon

    If we lose colangelo we could be fucked as a franchise. This is not even funny…does anyone understand that hes not just the GM? hes the fucking president! OMG, this franchise could turn into a joke again.(right now its not great but the future looks bright)

    If we lose colangelo, in 4 years Demar & Ed davis will be all-stars and we will have accountants and cheap people trying to save money for MLSE, we want a GM that is willing to spend man! we want a GM will balls and a reputation.

    If hes not extended soon he will walk man, no joke hes not an idiot.

    does anyone remember Hoffa? Charlie V? Joey G? say hi to draft picks like these again.

    you always wanna keep the guys that draft your stars as they have shown trust in these young players. Demar & davis support Brian you never know what will happen if hes not extended & their not paid TOP dollar. You dont want accountants making your basketball decisions.

    This is no good. I completely understand why people are sick of BC, i get it. However he is rebuilding nicely and he can pull trades out of his ass. That will not happen if MLSE hires a GM that is focusing on money, aka Babcock.
    Even if you want BC out, this is not the time…. maybe a year or two from now, but certainly not now.

    What the fuck is going on with MLSE man? all these owners? does anyone not see that the only stability MLSE has is a president that over sees everything basketball related?

    Im actually frightened & nervous for this franchise. Not because Colangelo is the best, but because of the uncertainty and unstability that this creates.

    • Theswirsky

      “Im actually frightened & nervous for this franchise. Not because Colangelo is the best, but because of the uncertainty and unstability that this creates.”

      because he created so much certainity and stability over his years here.

      “he can pull trades out of his ass”

      more than half of them, suprise, turned out to be shit. The other half was moving the shit he created on his own.

      “say hi to draft picks like these again”

      I know, Bargnani and giving other picks away turned out so much better.

      “OMG, this franchise could turn into a joke again”

      I’m sorry its not right now?

      How the hell can you be worried about this stuff potentially happening when its been going on for the past 5 years? Its like being deathly afraid of Tornados, but afraid if you leave the trailer park in Kansas you may get hit by one.

      Look I don’t think BC’s tenure is as horrible as others do. I think he had some bad breaks early (mainly injuries to Garbo and TJ), but he simply didn’t address the changes caused by them adequately. He constantly gambled. He lost more often than he won. In the end, the results stink. He has been unwilling to address the 2 biggest issue over his tenure here…. Andrea Bargnani and Chris Bosh (both building around and then his impending departure). In fact he compounded both those issues by trying harder to force both of those issues. (firing Smitch, treating Bargnani with kid gloves…. not moving Bosh when he turned down the extension, and then grabbing at straws to building around and keep him)

      • Mantra

        He’s not building around Bargnani, he’s never came out and flat out said “I’m building around Bargnani.” So I don’t know where you people get that from. He DID say that with Bosh, but that’s the past now. Look, when any GM loses their best player, this kind of season is bound to happen. The problem was that, as BC took the job here, media and fans alike were pushing Bosh as the franchise player, BC had to roll with it, soon enough we became a 47 win team, and just as quickly we fell knowing that Bosh is, in fact, not a franchise player, he was cleaning someone’s mess and propaganda that everyone has been fed. Now, with the likes of DeMar, Davis, and this summer’s draft pick, he has a chance to start from scratch with a clean slate. We’ve seen some knowledgable basketball people endorse BC from people such as Mark Cuban, Reggie Miller, Barkley and the like. Say what you want about them, but I’d take their opinion any day over the average, lay, arm-chair managers that are the anti-BC crowd.

  • Balls of Steel

    Colangelo is a failing brand. The only joke here besides upper management is what he was managed to put together in 5 years. The losing will turn off potential FAs, not the absence of Colangelo, and definitely not the awesome market and city that is Toronto. Rich Cho is a no-name up-and-comer GM for the Blazers. He learned from Presti as his ex-assistant in Oklahoma. He’s a numbers guy and is dilligent in his signings (a firm believer in modernized, analytical, sabermetric approach to assembling a competitive basketball team). Wesley Matthews and the trade for Wallace is just a few of his gem moves. The Blazers and their winning ways will attract FA’s no matter what. They have a good coach that they just resigned (for a moderate length of two years mind you – which further amplifies his genius). They remain competitive despite the bust in Oden and Roy’s lack of knee ligaments (both of which were made by his predecessor Kevin Pritchard). Name is not important as brains. Also, look at the number of embarrassing busted moves the BC tried to make this off-season. It takes two to Tango. If MJ balked at the Chandler deal, BC looks just as culpable. Oh, and let’s not forget about the Barnes attempts to get him here. The accountant will not be the one to make the decision. He is only accountable to the owners of the pension fund.

    PS> With the Jays, they went after a “brand” as well in Ricciardi, straight out of Billy Beane’s school of “Moneyball”. We know what happened there and look at his 34 year-old replacement in Alex Anthopoulos. Good, let Rogers take over and they’ll clean house I guarantee you. Heck, Rogers will send them all to Europe if need be.

    At the MIT Sloan Conference, how many analytics did the Raps send? You guessed it, zero. Also, not to sound bitchy here but Glen Grunwald was the best GM that this franchise has ever had. I’m not critical of all GM’s that the Raps have ever had. Just the bad ones like Bryan Colangelo.

    Read more: http://raptorsrepublic.com/2011/03/12/%e2%80%9cconfusion-reigns%e2%80%9d-as-colangelos-extension-becomes-contentious-issue/#ixzz1GUZrhUTE

    • Toshmon

      You’re right, there are other GMs that would do a great job. however, my concern is the timing. Plus the basketball awarenes to find the right fit as opposed to a financial focus.
      Plus, Theres a draft coming up.

      BC got denied on those trades and signing this summer because they were STEALS. Highway fucking robbery. Thats why the lakers scooped Barnes(defense fist SF)
      Thats why MJ didnt give up Chandler (defense first C)
      I believe that bringing up these moves underminds your argument.

      You hit the nail on the head Glenwald was sick, but hoping for a draft pick like Carter again is a big gamble. I would trust BC to hit on a number 15 pick=Glenwald’s sucess.
      Again, hoping that MLSE can land a GM like Glenwald is a gamble as well. Look at what happened to him he was fired because of a mistake. Look at the results since. Seem familiar? You honestly think Colangelo hasn’t evolved?(see failed moves above)

      By the way on Ricciardi: If Bj ryan didn’t get injured and vernon Wells and overbay didnt shit the bed the jays might have been a different story.

      Also Jose Batista= Ricciardi move.

      The way i see it is that the jays sent 5 guys (IN
      THE SAME SEASON) to the all star game, they were competitive. Definitely veteran oriented and the farm system was ok=aaron hill. What happened was failed performances=Rios and Overbay plus injuries=several pitchers and V wells.

      now the jays are farm system heavy and veteran light. What COULD happen is the same thing brother…What if these pitchers get injured? what if these prospects fail to materialize? Im NOT saying they will, all im saying is all this love for AA is premature because they haven’t played yet.

      The NBA is a different beast than MLB. You gotta keep these guys happy & paid. call me crazy but I trust BC to do that.

  • JHP

    I have been told the GM’s job is to get players and put fans in the stands. The coach takes the players and tries to win. With <20 wins and falling attendance/ticket revenue I could see how an accountant looking at the bottom line would be concerned. What exactly does the owners get for the money they pay BC. I think that is the real issue. He's saying the future will be better and they are saying show me the fans. Not sure if a better replacement is out there but I believe the issue is one side is looking at the future and the other side is looking at the present.

    • Toshmon

      I agree and thats what scares me: 90% of people is Canada know absolutely nothing about NBA basket ball putting the future in the hands of accountants and hockey fans is actually frightening. For example: People in canada didn’t even know who Derozan was & they still dont understand the potential he has. Majority of Americans knew about Derozan since his senior year in high school.

      Its mind numbing.

      BC wants to tank this year, smart move IMO.

      This is it, with attendance dropping and the team’s record the way it is now we are at a crucial point, if they f*ck the raptors up now it could mean disaster.

      • Daniel

        Enlighten me about DeRozan’s potential. Currently he is a very average sophomore in a weak draft class. When I heard last month Colangelo saying he’s comparing DeRozan’s development with VC and Kobe I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry: only in this market GM’s can utter these stupidities and not being run out of town. DeRozan is like James Johnson: in a contender team he would have ride the pine. I don’t hate the guy, I like his work ethic and maybe the Gladner 10,000 hrs theory will apply to him. We are playing rejects from other teams (Bayless, Amir, Johnson, Ajinca) and make them future superstars. The reality is the talent level is very low and the hard work will take you only so far in NBA.
        So, please take a look at DeRozan’s per minute metrics compared to last year and show me his progress. He declined group pre-draft workouts in order to hide his lack of b-ball skills. Nevertheless our genius GM and our genius head coach fell in love with him and drafted him anyway. Now we are force feeding him minutes despite the fact that Barbosa is light years ahead of him and that he doesn’t contribute to wins for us. I want DeRozan to be the next Kobe: just don’t consider me stupid enough to not see the difference.

        • mountio

          Im not saying hes Kobe or Vince (at all), but you have to admit hes added to his game. Considering hed be a junior in college Im pretty happy with the the progress hes made. He has outpeformed a number of the picks ahead of him (thabeet, flynn, harden, hill, arguably rubio although tough comparison) and is doing pretty well for a #9 pick.
          I havent studied his per 36 stats. But, I watch the games, and a couple things are clear. His jumper (form and results) has improved dramatically. Last year he couldnt hit the broad side of a barn from 18 feet and now I feel pretty confident when he puts it up from 15-18 feet.
          He has also got better at finishing at the rim / getting fouled. He used to get swallowed whenever he went into a pack and now hes figuring out how to at least get a foul called.
          Not saying hes a finished product (still lots of work to do on D and O), but if you arent happy with DD at this point as a #9 pick with one year of college, I have to think youre delusional. Success has to be measured as a whole lot less than someone being the next Kobe.

        • pran

          calm down buddy, I think we can fully evaluate whether Derozan is the real deal or not by next year; can he play defense? Can he make the extra pass? Make those around him better? Develop a 3 point shot? If his game is where it is today next year, I will be the first one that denounces him, what I don’t want to see is him stay for 5 years until he “pans” out and use other rookies and sophmores as a scapegoat to explain his poor play. (sounding familiar yet)

        • Pesterm1

          daniels your an idiot…

        • Jog

          Wow. Do fans in Toronto really look at DeMar and see “average”? Really?

          DeRozan an “average” sophomore? What’s average about putting up almost 16 ppg in your second year, when you’re 20 years old? What’s average about increasing said scoring average by almost 100% from your rookie to sophomore year? Would you also classify his athleticism as “average”?

          He may not be a Vince or Kobe yet, but all signs so far point to this kid (who’s barely 21 years old!) becoming a scoring machine.

      • Theswirsky

        “90% of people is Canada know absolutely nothing about NBA basket ball putting the future in the hands of accountants and hockey fans is actually frightening”

        really? Do you have any information backing this up. I would argue that there were plenty of Canadians who know alot about basketball (NBA or otherwise) even prior to the Raptors organization starting up.

        Regardless. Lets say that is true (Canadians don’t understand NBA Basketball)… has BC not had 5 years to change that? If people still don’t “understand the potential he (Derozan) has” (which is a very subjective statement), doesn’t that mean that BC hasn’t been able to capture (or lost) the attention of the fan base?

        Its been proven that when given a winning team in Toronto you will fill the seats. You will get attention across Canada. Problem is BC’s ‘brand’ hasn’t been winning. Hard to fault fans for not wanting to spend their $ to watch a team loose. Don’t leafs fans get laughed at for doing that?

        • Toshmon

          Point taken I shouldn’t assume this, that 90% comment was inappropriate.
          I’m just frustrated.

          • Glen Grunwald come home

            Count yourself among the 90% who knows nothing about basketball if you continue to support re-signing the con-man. Don’t kid yourself, there’s alot of good ex-gm’s out there that are more than capable and willing to fill the position.

  • Pesterm1

    I dont mind BC but i want him out. We need a new look and bargnani has to go. whatever were doing now just isnt working, this year or last year. i ithnk alot of this has to do with lastyear too. not making the playoffs after being in 5th place at the allstar break. if we made playoffs last year i bet BC would be staying.toronto’s franchise isnt going anywhere so just stop worrying. Stern would like a team to be in vancouver too, and stern wants to expand to europe, the raptors arnt leaving dude.

  • Pesterm1

    also if anyone hasnt noticed, hockey has been taking alot of criticism lately and many fans are unhappy with the NHL. and alot of the teams are unable to suppurt a team at the moment. not to mention players calling out the league because of safety concerns. id say the NBA is in better shape then the NHL right now.

    • RapthoseLeafs

      On a good day, the NHL isn’t even close to the NBA’s stature.