Timberwolves, Raptors 97 – Box

We start off with one of our favorite segments which happens to summarize this game. This is Jack Armstrong shedding some light on Amir Johnson’s effort last night, which should not be overshadowed by a brilliant performance by Andrea Bargnani.

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The Love-Darko frontline can be a scary proposition for the Raptors because they don’t have the strength or bulk to match underneath. Last night, it turned out they had the heart. Amir Johnson comes in weighing at 210lbs, Love is 260lbs, and Darko is 275lbs. This should be a blood bath in favor of their bigs, and it turned out to be a win for Johnson who dropped 19/11, had a ridiculous +31 in 30 minutes, and most importantly held Love to 3-16 shooting. The final rebounding tally was 44-39 in favor of the Raptors. Can’t say I saw that coming.

The offensive hero of the night again was Andrea Bargnani (31pts, 9reb, 11-25FG), who is the source of the offense right now. Ignore the FG percentage, those are shots he had to take and came within the flow of an offense that was struggling for the better part of the game. If he’s not scoring, his threat of scoring is counting for something. He’s developing some pet moves as well, notably a pump-fake (which is always respected), followed by a drive and a sweet reverse which you always think he’s going to miss but is actually finishing more comfortably with each game. There were parts of this game where it looked like the Raptors would fall short of offense since DeMar DeRozan wasn’t playing (some guy stole his jersey and was impersonating him on the floor, somebody needs to look into that), and Rasual Butler was making me miss Linas Kleiza by going 0-5 on wide open threes. Some of them were so open that the boxscore needs to have another column called WFOT (wide f***ing open threes). Bargnani’s 31 points and sheer presence overcame the short offensive supply, no doubt helped by the unexpected contribution of Amir Johnson.

If there was a game to get in this back-to-back-to-back, it was the first one at home coming off a day relaxing. The Raptors started off with Bargnani carrying the scoring load, and should have had a bigger lead if it weren’t for Butler’s long-range misfiring. To compound matters, it was Minnesota who got hot in the first from deep and edged to a 27-25 lead at the end of the first. The Raptors blew some key rotations on Love, almost being surprised by the comfort level he displays playing on the perimeter. Minny had five threes in the first which seemed to boost their confidence after a sluggish start (they were on a back-to-back as well).

The Raptors somehow managed to get themselves in the penalty very early in the second, and some lethargic play by the second unit caused Minny to march to the FT line 8492 times in the quarter. The game was slowed, the already sparse crowd wasn’t feeling it, Minny surged ahead on the backs of their FT shooting and the Raptors second unit couldn’t provide the required boost. DeRozan tried to take Barea in the post for a score, and that’s all I can remember of the guy. I’m sure he played more than that but you wouldn’t have noticed him. In my opinion, he’s struggling with team ball and needs to learn how to adapt from playing Triano’s style (freelancing offense where people just randomly shoot) to Casey’s offense (which is team-oriented even though it’s dependent on a key guy to anchor it). The weird part about DeRozan’s game right now is that he doesn’t have any go-to moves on the perimeter or in the post. His primary avenue of contribution the last two years have been FTs, and he’s not able to get to a position where he’s a candidate to be fouled. The reduction of pace by Casey is decreasing the number of times DeRozan can “come at” the defense in transition, hence the offensive drop.

I don’t know, I’m just a guy with a keyboard but that makes a little sense to me.

After the Raptors fell behind by 6 in the second, Casey called a timeout and reminded his team that there isn’t a guy on the T’Wolves that can matchup with Bargnani. He was right. Minny tried Derrick Williams, Darko Milicic, Anthony Randolph, and Anthony Tolliver on him, and none of those guys deterred Bargnani from his mission of doing the right thing. Kudos to him. Barbosa chimed in through traditional fashion (shoulders bent, head down, slicing through a defense, throwing up shots that make you go “I guess”), and a defensive spark was provided by James Johnson leading to a 16-2 run to end the half.

Note on James Johnson. There are blocks and there are blocks that save you two points. James Johnson had blocks that save you two points, he had four of them and they may as well be 8 points credited to him. Better yet, there needs to be another column added to the boxscore: BTDSP (blocks that directly saved points). He even got one on Love or Darko (can’t remember which), a true showcase of inspired basketball by Johnson, who is accepting his role off the bench and becoming a poor man’s James Posey circa 2008.

Halftime score was 55-49 Raps.

Rick Adelman reminded his cronies at halftime that they needed to go back inside, seeing how that’s where the Raptors were thin. And so they did, it worked for a few possessions before Amir Johnson said enough is enough, and started being a thorn in their side again. And not just any kind of thorn, the thorn that goes deep into your finger so you can’t see it anymore, making you go to your girlfriend, “Can you check what’s stuck here?”, to which she says, “I don’t see anything”, and you go, “You sure? I can feel something”, to which she finally says, “It’s probably nothing”. But you know it’s something even though you can’t prove it. F**k this world sometimes.

Bargnani’s nine points pulled the Raptors ahead by 12 in the quarter, and this looked like it was going to extend to 20 quite soon. Jose Barea had other ideas, his late assault on Jose Calderon and Anthony Carter had this a 6 point game going into the fourth quarter. Bayless would’ve helped here, he’s the only one on the team quick enough to try and stick with Barea. I’m a little surprised he lodged only 17 minutes to Rubio’s 30. Obviously Calderon has defended Rubio tons in the past, so not sure why Adelman didn’t exploit a known weakness through Barea way more often.

Barea finally went to the bench with 6:00 left in the fourth quarter and the game tied at 80. I’m thinking Adelman’s going to give him a minute’s rest, combine it with a timeout and bring him back out. Barea never saw the light of day again. Whew. Instead, the T’wolves only managed one field goal the rest of the game, as the Raptors defense upped its focus, and started making rotations that a quarter ago, you would’ve never thought they’d have the energy to make this late.

The Raptors defense isn’t a complex organism filled with intricate matchup-zones, strategic help assignments, they’re basically instructed to cover the guy that’s near you. That’s what they’re doing and it’s paying dividends. It helps to have some versatility with DeRozan, J. Johnson, A. Johnson, and Ed Davis on the floor, in that those guys can guard multiple positions without giving up too much in terms of rebounding and/or quickness.

The Raptors defense in combination with four jumpers iced the game: two by Jose, one by Bargnani, and a totally unexpected one from Amir, who was being begged by Love to shoot. This is what I call defense and shot-making winning you the game. It’s also fitting that it was Amir Johnson’s late steal off an in-bound, followed by a foul that sent him to the ground that iced this one. Bargnani and Johnson the players of the game for me.

On the road in Washington tonight, before coming home to face Sacramento. Somebody should swing by with a pre-game at some point, go Raps!

  • AB7.38pt.on.CB4

    How sweet was this W for Coach Dwayne Casey . Fired by Minnesota on a 20-20 season…

  • 2damkule

    there is no way that amir is still 210, just like there’s no way that love is 260.  i get that those are their respective listed weights, but both their bodies have changed significantly since they were posted…i’d hazard a guess that amir is up in the 230 range, and love is down to ~240-ish (if that…he looks almost too thin).  shit, on ESPN, they have JJ listed at 248 & amir at 210…doesn’t pass the eye test, IMO.

    great point about pace & how it relates to DD…when the pace slows, the D has a chance to set & prep, which makes it harder for a guy like DD – who’s not a creator nor an efficient catch & shoot guy – to get himself going.  the most obvious impact the slow-down has had is on barbosa, who’s simply all kinds of out of place in a half-court set, but there are other guys impacted as well who you don’t really think of as being aided by an up-temp flow, such as DD.  but enough excuses, he’s talented enough to adjust, and should be putting in a greater effort.

    overall, great effort game.  it’s a weird dichotomy…during the game, i’m just a fan, wanting to see them play well & win.  afterwards, i’m a little…i dunno…sombre?  i still want them to lose more than they win, but i guess i want them to lose in a specific fashion.  does that make sense?

    • Thrillho

      Yup agree with everything said.  No chance the listed weights are what Love/Amir/JamesJ are playing at right now. And I’m the same way with these games, just a fan but hoping for a good pick in the draft.  I’ve decided to say screw it and just enjoy the ride, there’s actually optimism associated with the Raps right now and I’m loving it.

  • WHAT THE

    so primo pasta goes off on another basement team like the raptors on a back-to-back the raptors tried that against PACER and got their butts kicked OCHO was up against a rookie still the better team is MINN . it would be nice if we played all our games against non playoff teams in the eastern conf.

    • WJF

      News flash, no one is thinking we a re a great team, we all know we are a bottom feeding team that is acquiring assets and getting better. We know we will have our ups and downs, we will beat better teams like the Knicks, yet loose some real ugly ones as well. It is all part of the process, learn to deal with it. 

      • Anon.

        Look back to a couple of other wins and you’ll see a surprising number of people who blindly disagree with you.

    • CJT

      Exactly, he did exactly what he was supposed to do.  Take advantage of a team that is also struggling.  Job well done.  Enjoy it.

    • Guest

      butts kicked against the pacers?  that came down to the wire…

  • cesco

    I find it unacceptable that the great majority of journalists , analysts , bloggers and fans spewed so much venom on Andrea for 5 years and now for De Mar all you find are lame excuses like ‘ someone is impersonating him ‘ , ‘ he is in a temporary funk ‘ , ‘ he has to adapt to Casey style ‘ etc..De Mar does not have the COGLIONES to succeed , something that Andrea always had from the day he was born , that became bigger and bigger in spite of all the adversities he faced for 5 years .

    • cesco

      Coglioni that Amir has also a-plenty .

      • CJT

        Amir’s were dangling out of his shorts last night.  BIG effort. 

        • cesco

          Maybe he should give one to DD .

          • CJT

            Even half of one would be better, but he will figure things out.  He is much more of an open floor player and that is tough to do when the coach is asking the entire team to rebound and be engaged on D, no more leak outs.

    • c_bcm

      DeMar will be fine. He’s a good player, who’s extremely athletic, and is always working to improve. I am not concerned in the least.

      • Brian B

        He is extremely athletic, but has yet to prove he is a good player. He has a weak handle; does not create shots; is a poor passer and an indifferent defender. His rebounding and FT production have fallen off because he has fallen in love with his jumper instead of going to the rim. He may lack the basketball IQ to go with his physical ability. Some payers learn that and grow in time, others remain unformed forever. IMHO jury is still out on DD.

        • Pizzaman

          Great assessment of Derozan. Fact is he’s been like that since day one but the basketball fans that watch to see guys dunk love him, kind of like the hockey fans that wait to see guys fight.
          He did not have the basic good fundamental skills when we got him and still lacks them. He plays SG. Do you know any shooting guards that do not have the basic skills above and become great? Heck even the crappy leagues I played in we had shooting guards that could dribble, pass and shoot. In most cases your shooting guard should be able to adequately man the point for stretches if needed when you’re short of point guards, and there is no way in hell Derozan could ever do that, nor has anyone ever mentioned him backing up Jose for stretches right now when he desperately needs a breather. It’s Barbosa’s name that comes up because he’s the best of the bad.

        • Steve

          DeMar was, is and always will be just a street baller! I want Sonny back!

          • Pizzaman

            I pretty much agree unfortunately. I always thought Sonny had more basketball talent and at least as much athleticisim

      • cesco

        Exactly what I was saying , if he is working to improve so was Andrea . I never read anyone say that Andrea  was working to improve ( except very few like myself who spent 4 years defending him ) . A normal comment was ‘ he is a CANCER on this team ‘ , ‘ get the MF off this team’ , a huge difference in the criticism don’t you think .

    • 2damkule

      was andrea playing like this for the previous 5 years?

    • Nilanka15

      5 years versus 2 years, dude. 

      Although, for someone who’s never watched basketball before, I wouldn’t expect you to know the difference.

      • cesco

        You are to dumb to understand plain english . I was talking about the treatment Andrea got since his SECOND year until now . Obviously , hating prevent you from contributing meaningful comments .

        • Nilanka15

          There weren’t many people at all who were hating Bargnani in his 2nd year.  Even I was a fan holding out hope, and fully acknowledged that it was too soon to judge a player that early in his career.

          You’re too emotionally driven by your hero to realize that most of the hate directed towards Bargnani was a result of his LAST 2 years, not his first 2 years.

          Why do I bother arguing basketball with people who don’t know the sport???

          • proballernotastatcaller

            Nilanka, you do not know the sport.
            All you talk about are crap stats and trade value.
            Stats are a result of viewing a game after it has already occurred, not the game being played. Therefore, with some logic you would realize that coaches do not run plays based on stats but on the flow of the game!!!
            Trade Value, means nothing beaciuse you can’t guarantee what the new players actual value will be until they play for you.
            Intangibles that never make that stat page often are the difference makers betweeen winning and losing.
            (which in the prvious yrs pissed ppl off about barns, he didn’t look like he cared)
            This year we have a lot more commitment and by from the guys and it shows, some guys games are a bit weak on offense, but it will come ot they will be gone. It’s the NBA teams want to win (old clippers being the exception).

            • Nilanka15

              No, I don’t just care about stats and trade value.  I care about the big picture, which is sometimes derived using stats, as well as chemistry, contractual obligation, familiarity with systems, previous experience, etc., among other things.

              Since everything else you spoke of makes an incorrect assumption about me, I will ignore the rest of your post.

          • Statement

            Nilanka,

            I suggest just ignoring Cesco’s posts, as I’ve done.  The dude is in blissful heaven and logic will not permeate his brain.

            • Nilanka15

              lol, point taken.

    • sleepz

      You shouldn’t find anything ‘unacceptable’. Andrea didn’t have venom spewed out at him for five years. In fact I remember many fans were high on him after his rookie year as they saw promise in his abilities, however his inability to develop his game and do some of the dirty work that helps wins games the following 4 years wasn’t received well. Add that to the Colangelo coddling and you have a lightning rod for contraversy. That being said this was a make or break year for him and so far he has responded well. I have been a critic of his for a while now but can recognize he has worked at his game but I’m prepared to call it a finished product because he’s actually showing some effort now. Athletes getting paid millions shouldn’t be lauded for effort. It should be there night in night out. If he keeps this up for the next couple of years then we got something here, until then some of the so called ‘haters’ are wary and cautious.

      About Demar, he hasn’t shown muc development in his game imo but just like some fanatical AB fans who say ‘why harp so much on the rebounding’ for Demar how can anyone now knock his lack of ball-handling or play making? He’s never been a 2 guard like that and those skills are the hardest to develop. BC should have known he was drafting a player that wasn’t a creator at the 2 guard position. You typically either have handles or you don’t. I’m not making excuses for Demar at all because I’ve ALWAYS questioned his upside as a 2 but just as much as I see you knock those that question AB’s game is the same way you knock Demar’s.  Believe me, if after 5 years Demar’s still at this level you won’t have to worry about it cause managment won’t invest the same amount of time into him as they did your idol. 

      • cesco

        This has to be the last year to accept excuses for DeMar . He is not a big who takes longer to develop , has played as a starter from day one and frankly , watching him on the bench with such a sorrowful face you know he was shortchanged at birth by mother nature in a very important part of his anatomy .

        • 2damkule

          classic!  har har.

          just so we’re on record here…if DD does turn out to be a good baller in a few years (as many expect, or at least hope), will you then admit that you were ‘wrong’ about how you feel about him now?  of course not, because you’re right about how he’s playing now…kinda like how bargs’ ‘haters’ were right about how he played before this season (yes yes, points, rah rah rah…scoring points didn’t seem to do anything for DD last year, even though he doubled his ppg from his rookie year).

          why is this such a hard concept for you to grasp?  i applaud you for sticking (irrationally) behind your guy, but it’s simply untrue to claim that his critics were wrong ABOUT HIS PAST PLAY.  were they ‘wrong’ about whether he could turn himself into a more complete player, after his first 5 seasons?  perhaps…but it’s been 9 games.  forgive me for wanting to see a larger sample size before declaring him anything more than a guy who’s finally putting in the effort required to make himself a complete baller.  remember, andrea put together a fantastic run in the 2nd half of his 3rd season, and pretty much all of raptordom was thinking he’d ‘gotten it.’  all any fan of the team is hoping for now is that THIS is the guy we can expect to see for the remainder of his career.

  • Pizzaman

    Great write up.
    Casey obviously wanted to win this and threw conventional coaching out the window to play his main guys heavy minutes and it paid off with a win. Once again the three best and only real NBA ready talent on this team carried the load with Amir, Bargnani and Jose playing outstanding basketball and putting in huge effort.
    Once again Derozan was ineffectual and his lack of basketball skills are killing him and the team in slower games. James Johnson was also IMO huge defensively and even scored a bit, more than I can say for any other Raptor wing players. Butler looks at this moment like a real piece of shit, and I’m surprised he can actually hold his head up jacking up shots that don’t even come close to going in.
    Ed will come around as a solid backup with time.
    As much as I cannot stand the way Bayless plays, I now find myself praying for his and Kleiza’s return just to see someone else put the ball in the hoop once in awhile.

    • AB7.38pt.on.CB4

      Ed after letting K.Love having consecutive threes in a short time Had a very positive 4 minutes stretch (around70 scores) in both ends of the court. Hopefully tomorrow it will extend to a 10-15min. He need his stamina back up

  • Karllam

    You’re a genuine comedian dude!!

  • Nilanka15

    I never thought I’d say this, but if Bargnani can keep up this level of effort for the next few years, I actually want to see him here paired up with Valanciunas.  He’s scoring at an exceptional rate, playing better defense by the day, and even if he doesn’t average more than 5 boards, I’ll be fine as long as his man isn’t burning him for offensive rebounds.  This has the potential of being a very solid front court, with Amir backing up both positions off the bench.  Right now, Bargnani is definitely playing like a franchise player, instead of just a “decent player on a bad team”.

    I kind of agree with Pizzaman (I never thought I’d say that either) regarding DeRozan’s lack of skills.  Yes, he’s young and has plenty of room to grow, but I haven’t seen any improvement in the ONE skill that would allow him to play well as a shooting guard, his ball-handling skills.  His handles have been sub-par since his rookie year, and don’t look to be improving at all.  He doesn’t have a cross-over, he doesn’t have a step back, and he doesn’t have a stutter step.  All he’s got is a predictable spin move in the lane which results in contested shots by help defenders. 

    Ball handling is an easy skill to improve upon.  You don’t even need a hoop….you just need a ball.  The fact that we haven’t seen any improvement is very troubling to me, and it would’ve been more noticeable last season if not for all the fastbreak points DeRozan scored (which he’s not getting this year).

    • Nilanka15

      Further to my point on DeRozan’s handles, I know he’s a gym rat, and I know he works hard to improve as a player, yet we still haven’t seen an improvement in this area.  This leads me to believe DeRozan might simply be incapable of improving his ball handling from a physiological perspective (i.e. lacking the dexterity in his hands, lacking the peripheral vision to dribble with his head up, lacking the sensory sensitivity in his fingertips, etc.).

      Normally, ball-handling is one of those skills that can be improved with repetition.  But some people, no matter how hard they try, just can’t do it (like Shaq and his free throw shooting).

      • cesco

        I mostly agree but he should be given until the end of this year to show some improvements on the skills he is short off . If Andrea balls kept growing it is only fair to wait a little bit longer for DD’s .

      • mountio

        I think you are being too hard on DD. I agree 100% that he needs to improve his handles .. they are horrific. But .. hes a young player .. and, while I agree he should be able to improve his handles .. you have to give him some credit for working on his range over the summer. Last year, there was literally a zero percent chance of him hitting a wide open 3. This year, while hes not exactly Ray Allen, he has at least shown signs that he could develop into a resonably competent 3 pt shooter. Based on his play last year .. I had no confidence that would ever be the case.
        So – yes, handles are next on the list. (and surprisingly, depsite being a good leaper .. hes brutal at finishing strong at the rim if he gets much of a challenge).
        Anyways – I add all this up and say that .. sure, I would like DD to be further along, but I cant say hes anywhere near a write-off. Hes young, its his 2nd year .. Im ok with where hes at. The fact that a young player took the time to add range over the summer (most gusy with his athletic ability would spend the summer dunking), tells me his in the right mindset. I think the other stuff will come… but it will take time

        • mountio

          meant to say hes only finished his 2nd year .. but none the less..

        • Nilanka15

          I’m not ready to write him off yet either.  I just wish his ball-handling was the 1st of many issues he decided to address.  I would gladly trade his 3 point range for the ability to create his own shot (if I only had one aspect to choose).

    • sleepz

      I totally disagree with the ball handling skills comment. Most of the 2 guards you see that are superior ball handlers (Kobe, Wade, Ellis, J.Johnson, etc) had those skills from the time they entered the league. Yes they refined those skills but they were present and there to be refined from jump.

      Do you remember Demar at USC? He was the same type of player he is today. Solid mid range game and great in transition.

      How many players in the NBA have we seen dramtically improve their ball handling from the time they entered the league until now? 

      I’m not even that big of a Demar fan (I wanted Jennings or Holiday in that draft) but I think far more fair critiques of him should be why hasn’t he improved his defence or rebounding? I can’t support the argument that he should have better handles and be a slasher when he wasn’t one to begin with. Dudes that kill players off the dribble and can create their shot with little effort usually were blessed with those abilities from the get go.

      • Pizzaman

        sleepz I agree with you, but a basketball SG that has poor handles and has not learned how to dribble the ball by his age is never ever going to be great as some were calling for. He can fix everything else including defense but he will not be a great SG without the ability to dribble the ball, make passes and shoot consistently. The slam dunk only goes so far.

        • 2damkule

          it’s a bit weird how we’re quick to assume that DD will never improve in certain areas, while at the same time marvelling at andrea’s drastic improvements in areas that many – if not most – thought he would never improve upon.

          • Poolthief

            The difference is Bargnani exhibited a vast array of offensive skills from the very beginning. It was just a question of whether or not he could put it all together and become a consistent threat every night.

            Even when DeMar was putting up solid scoring numbers last year you never really saw a full display of skills. He thrived in transition against defenses that were not set and started sticking his midrange jumper.

            DD tested as one of the slowest guards in recorded NBA draft combine history (DraftExpress). Factor that in along with his poor handle and you’re left with an extremely limited player.   

            • Pizzaman

              exactly what I said on another post. Bargnani had tremendous skills but showed a lack of consistent effort and desire to play hard, and his skills got better as well.
              Derozan has shown inconsistent effort as well which I’m willing to give him time to mature for, but he also has never really had the skills necessary to be a great SG, nor have those skills improved.
              I am not in a hurray to dump him unless we can make a great trade which is the case for any baller, but if I were his coach I think he needs to get back to fundamental basics and I would make him do so for the rest of the year.
              He should start by learning how to dribble the ball, as a hockey player would start by learning to skate and for that I have a possible solution. He needs to go to the Pete Maravich school of basketball by basically dribbling each and every day in any place humanly possible to do so. Pistol Pete dribbled everywhere, on his walks to school, in the theatre, at home etc.. Demar needs to learn to dribble to be effective, then if that works he can learn to pass, then he can learn to shoot. If he gets the first two he will be good.

        • sleepz

          I agree. I think Demar can turn out to be a good player but it will be based on a solid all-around game where he can contribute in different areas and be productive night in and night out.

          A good 2 guard doesn’t have to be the typical shot creator (however an elite one typically is), but they have to be able to contribute in other areas of the game to merit their worth.

          I do think his shooting will end up being a consistent for him, but I do question how far his range will extend to.

      • Nilanka15

        Perhaps I misspoke.  But we haven’t even seen any “refinement” in DeRozan’s ball handling ability.  He’s been brutal from the start, and we have no reason to believe it’ll get better.  But you’re right, this is more a knock on Colangelo for picking DeRozan, than DeRozan himself. 

        I think his handles are more of a concern than his rebounding and defense, in terms of one day fielding a team that can win 50+ games.  I like my bigs to be able to rebound and defend, and I like my wings to be able to create shots.

        • 2damkule

          agree, it’s vitally important for his development.  he does spend the vast majority of his floor time with jose & bargs…jose is a pound the rock PG who’s constantly looking for the ‘safe’ option, which is usually bargs.  as much as practice is important for skill development, in-game reps is just as (if not more) important, and i really don’t know if DD is getting those kinds of reps during the course of a game.  when he’s given the ball, it’s usally in an iso situation (unless my eyes are deceiving me)…not easy to develop those skills in those situations, and confidence plays such a key role in ball-handling, something he’s lacking right now.

        • sleepz

          Definitely more of an indictment on Colangelo.

          I am also exactly like you in that I like my bigs traditional, rebounding and blocking shots and my wings creating. We seem to have an inverse of these principles on this team. How far that takes you, only time will tell I guess.

          I have a feeling that Demar will eventually end up playing the 3 though. Not sure why, and I definitely think we will see better from him as time goes on, but he seems like he might be a slightly better fit at that position based on his current skill-set.  

          • Nilanka15

            Offensive skillset yes, but I think he lacks the size/strength/physicality to defend opposing SFs.

    • Pizzaman

      It’s good to agree!!! I don’t think we’ve ever been that far off each others viewpoints except  on Bargnani, whom I have always liked but have said before and admit that I always thought he was good but could be great if he was coached properly, and if he exerted much more effort all around. There is no question Bargnani has always had great skills for a seven footer, but in the previous 5 years he did not show his heart very often and was inconsistent in his all round game. I think several things have happened to him;
      He has grown up and become a man
      He had to be the man this year all around when he played for Italy.
      BC called him out last year even though he averaged 21 points.
      He figured out that he not only has the skills to lead this team but the support of his coach to get there and teach him how to be better.
      He obviously has bought into Casey’s methods and demands for accountability.
      He has matured and seems to be trying harder to overcome his shyness, talking to players, showing emotion, being a leader.
      He has figured out the NBA or North American game.
      He has confidence in himself and his coach’s and teammates confidence.
      He’s slimmed down and is quicker again.
      He wants to be a star!
      I want him to be a star!!! lol

      • Statement

        Good post Pizzaman,

        Level-headed and not insulting. 

        • Pizzaman

          Thank you Statement. I’m actually not the type that likes to be insulted or likes to insult anyone, which is probably why I disappeared from this site for about 1 year although I kept reading as I’m an addicted raptors fan. If and when I have insulted anyone in the past I sincerely apologize. I look at some posts in here and hope I was never that dumb, but I’m sure I got heated a few times and got into a he said she said stupid revenge thing. 
          I have realized that someone can dislike a baller that I find is terrific for whatever reason they wish, but hopefully it’s beacuse the baller does not play the type of basketball they think wins games or helps their teammates, versus because of the guy’s nationality, colour, age etc..
          As I said I always liked Bargnani because I always believed he could be a star because he has the skills that are very rare for a seven footer, but I also always wished he would get that killer instinct, the desire to play hard and the boldness to demand accountability from himself and teammates; I also admit there were many times I wondered if it was just a dream but I still believe and he’s helping others to believe with his play.

  • Nate

    I love my Raptors, I think we’re starting to see a trend here, I’m thinking they’ll be in the playoff race until the 45th game or so, and Colangelo will order the shutdown of key players to get the draft pick. Right now this team is very watchable though.

  • Nilanka15

    Although we’ve seen a resurgence in Bargnani’s defence and rebounding, he’s still the weaker of our 2 front court starters in these areas.  So I think it’s fair to assume that Amir will be guarding opposing team’s best big men, regardless of whether he’s a “stretch big” or a “power big”, which is the same defensive strategy as last year (aside from a few possessions per game).  So again I say, all this Bargnani-is-a-power-forward stuff is nothing but an excuse.

    I’ll conclude by saying that I’ve never actually hated Bargnani.  I’ve just hated his superfans who never had the stomach to admit when Bargnani’s played poorly in the past, which was more often than not, and would take every opportunity imaginable to protect him based on nothing more than emotional attachments.

    • WJF

      Except Bargs is purely running the 4 on the offensive end, defensive match-ups always change to suit your team. 

    • Thrillho

      I’ll agree with that, I’ve been a fan of Bargnani’s talents for a long time but when he plays like crap, I’ll be the first to admit it. That being said I’m over the moon at the way he’s playing so far this season.  But I don’t think the PF argument is an excuse, he just seems better suited to it.  Maybe it’s more a mental thing for him now that he doesn’t have that “you’re the last line of defence” running through his head.

    • Guest

      ewing never guarded olajuwan, robinson, shaq, etc…it was oakley.  bargs + amir are playing together just fine.  add jonas to the mix next year and we are very solid at the 4/5…

      • Nilanka15

        That’s not true.  Those HOF centres guarded each other all the time. 

        But yes, Bargs and Amir are currently holding it down nicely.

  • j bean

    Amir has to be Love’s least favorite guy to play against. He was under his skin all game. AJ did it all last night and is proof that it takes time for some guys to get it and come into their own.
    Andrea is looking like a man possessed to quiet his detractors. A few of us thought  when Bosh left and Andrea was expected to be our best player that he would grab the bull by the horns and blossom with the added responsibility but last year he played with so little passion he deserved all the flack given him. If he can keep his focus at the defensive end of the court and continue to develop his offensive arsenal he could become the best Raptor of all time.

    • sleepz

      It’s crazy but Amir was virtually ‘wrestling’ with Love all night and basically wore him down. Love went 5-10 form the line and shot poorly, which is rare for him even on a back-to-back. Some of Amir-Love encounters reminded me of Oak,when in skirmishes battling underneath the boards he would get tied up with the opposing player and conveniently take him to the ground. lol

      Amir’s performance last night to me was phenomenal.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_SJT6LQ6HZQWMPJMT22LTN24UUY Antonino Ferraro

    I am worried about DD. This guy has a big problem. As just explained NILANKA, he doesn’t create an own credible shot. When he plays in transition he is effective, when he tries to create a shot himself no. No cross-over no step back, no really good to drive to the rim and all this, playing a lot of minutes. I’m wondering about if he played for a good team with a good teammate in his role. How many minutes he had played? Not much. So, considering the current situation and the immediate future, we desperate need some efforts from him, no matter how, but the fella has to change something in his way to play. Also he doesn’t show the high IQ.

    At the moment he hasn’t the ability to support the team when is necessary. We need him to score point because is possible to have AB/JC struggling for a while. And without him efforts is quite impossible to win a decent number of game or at least to try to fight for PO spot (I know it’s look like a miracle)
    For me BC has to consider to bring a good SG to join him with talent (possibly) and experience. Easy to say difficult to do. I know.

  • 511

    Bargnani – A couple seasons ago, after really believing Bargnani would be very good in this league, I forced myself to admit that it probably wasn’t going to happen and, like a few others, I finally accepted that a trade would be the right move. What I always feared however, was that he was going to go somewhere else and do exactly what he’s doing right now, with the Raptors. I’m so glad BC held to his own beliefs about him. The intestinal fortitude and fire that Bargs is now playing with night-in and night-out (pretty much), has allowed the talent that was so obviously always there, to be realized. He’s just fantastic, in ifs ands or buts about it, imo. 

    DeMar – A month ago, I’d have been horrified at the idea of DeMar being traded. Now, not so much. There’s something about DeRozan that’s bothering me. The style of play that Casey has brought might be exposing DeMar as the not-as-talented player that I had thought he was, but … there’s something else going on. While it’s silly to imagine that it’s somehow tied to the leggings or leotards that he’s taken to wearing  — I don’t know why, but I don’t like ‘em — it might be that I imagine I’m seeing a small sense of … entitlement there. Or something like that. He just doesn’t look as happy to be here as he once was. I’d be real curious to know what we might be able to get back for him in a trade. 

    Ed – I haven’t given up on Ed yet, or anything near it really, but … I’m wondering if Ed’s motor is not-as-big as I had once thought. Last year, I thought he was special. This year, I think he’s a fair ways from special. He’s got the instincts and abilities, no doubt, but that quiet demeanor that is a part of him, might actually go a bit too deep. I’m suspecting, anyway. There doesn’t seem to be as much there as I thought there was. He should’ve worked harder during the off-season. If he did, I’m not seeing it at all. 

    Amir – Always thought he had guts-galore and always loved his cheerful attitude. This year, he’s not quite as smiley as he was but who cares? He’s playing like the six year pro that he is, at the (relatively) very young age of 24. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s still feeling the ankle that hurt for most of last season – and was operated on during the offseason – but he’s got way too much toughness to show it.  Last night’s game showed everything about how important Amir Johnson is to the Raptors. Very glad he’s on our team. 

    Jose – Proving to be a consummate pro and in many ways, the heart of this team. Glad to be seeing him have what could well be a career season for him, if it continues. Where the hell would we be without Jose Calderon? I hate to imagine. 

    Jack and Dev – Dev is Dev but when Jack is there (instead of Leo) I find the broadcast to be about a thousand times more enjoyable. Not to harp on ole Leo more than I have in the past, but … Jack just has so much more personality and compared to Leo’s penchant for using two hundred words when two dozen would easily suffice, Jack is a pleasure to my ears and always fun. While I probably have a ‘Kramer/Mary Hartman’ thing with Leo (I literally have to turn the sound down at some point in every game he does), I don’t wish bad things for him. I just wish they’d use him for the pre-game, post-game stuff. That, he does fine. But not describing plays, or ‘what they have to realize’ or ‘what they have to do’ or the rest of the tedious instructional crap that he can’t help but constantly spew. I seriously wish the makers-of-such-decisions would hear it the way I do. Jack is just the right man for that job. 

    Go Raps. 

    • Nilanka15

      When Leo first started his color-commentary gig in 1995, he was probably instructed to “teach” basketball to the ignorant Canadian audience.  Over the years, I’m sure it’s subconsciously become his style of broadcasting.  But his fault is that he hasn’t adapted to the changed, more intelligent fan base, and continues with the same old mundane stuff he spoke of 16 years ago.

    • Pizzaman

      very good assessment and I feel pretty much the same.

  • Ion66

    For me, the difference in the Bargs/DD doubting is that with Bargs, it was questioning his effort to improve (once he’d had a few years to develop) and with DD it’s a questioning of his ability to develop. With Bargs, you didn’t question his talent level to rebound/defend. His height alone dictated that he should have better numbers. With DD, it’s largely a question of his ability do become a better ball handler that’s limiting him in my eyes. My worry is that he actually is making the effort to improve, but cant. Typical of Toronto fans, I am, and have been less forgiving of lack of effort than lack of ability. If a player tries his best to adapt, but cannot flourish under a particular system, and that system is working, then I’m not going to say that player sucks, I might say trade him for a player that excels in a similar system. Of course, if DD was traded to a team with a more free flowing offence, his numbers go up, and we all point out how we shouldn’t have traded him!

    • Nilanka15

      Well said.

    • Pizzaman

      exactly!

  • sleepz

    I’m getting tired of Devlin now.

    When he does other broadcasts for the networks during the playoffs he calls a great game.

    When he calls a Raptor game, his shrieking at a JJohnson blocked shot or a Derozan three is annoying to me. 

    Some people like homer announcers but when you’re screaming because Andrea hustled for a loose ball thats just way over the top for me.

    • Nilanka15

      I wonder if he’s trying too hard to replace Swirsky’s….umm, shall we say, “enthusiasm”….or if Devlin actually roots for the Raptors.

      I’m guessing it’s the latter.  Being around the team so often, and getting to know the players on a personal basis, it’s human nature to want them to succeed, even if it’s unprofessional to do so.

      • sleepz

        I don’t mind supporting your team as the home announcers at all, but the Swirsky theatrics were never my cup of tea.

        I do see how you can become personally invested in the players however.

  • Simonkinglaw

    was widely reported that Amir Johnson came into camp weighing around 250, but not a fat 250.

  • KJ-B

    Speaking of DeRozan, he is the victim of the “offensive genius” of 1 Coach Dwayne Casey, who’s allowing #7/Jose to thrive at the expense of literally every1 else… Just why did he, the day after the NJ game, put DD to work on his post game ALL day in practice–the youngster was just figuring out the perimeter!?

    …He’s young let concentrate on dribble penetration and shooting-the rest will come with time.  Essentially, Casey has put one too many thoughts into his brain and has broken his rhythm–Casey NEEDS an offensive co-ordinator ASAP (Alex English any1???)!!!

    • Pizzaman

      with all due respect you need to be able to dribble to concentrate on dribble penetration as you put it, and you need a shot to concentrate on shooting and you need both so your defender is not sure what you’re going to do.