Warning: the following is little more than my own self-indulgent ramblings ... and kind of too long and all over the place. It’s just the itch I like to scratch. You’ve been warned.
You know, if I was another team surveying the landscape, I’d be noticing how strong this Raptors team is really starting to look. We might have something going on here.
In a somewhat related sidebar, watching a bit of the Hornets hand the Celtics their fifth straight loss leaves me ... not all that joyful, surprisingly. It’s funny. I hate them, I really do, but seeing them as discombobulated as they seem to be lately has me feeling a little disoriented. Almost. * Thinking about this the next morning, I realize it might just be the sense that the Raps are getting good enough to take them down, straight up. Beating this ‘version’ of the C***tics might not really be as satisfying. Then again, April 7th will come around and the Celtics will very likely be ready for us. But ... so should we be, for them. We haven’t taken them yet, but I’m starting to really think we could, I don’t care.
Reading comments over on Holly MacKenzie’s “We’re talking about practice” Feb 9/10, good ole nunya is there briefly sticking it to JT. I kind of miss seeing her pointed barbs on RR’s pages (‘cause ... there’d often be a laugh somewhere there, if you weren’t too ... prissy about it), but ... she sure sounds like one tough cookie.
Speaking of Triano, he’s come a long way in a short time, I’d say. Not so much of the sitting there hunched over, gnawing on his fingernails looking more worried than a coach ever should ... and more of sitting or standing calmly - when he’s not working the refs or his players on the floor - with a look on his face that suggests he knows - quite well - what he’s doing. I’m actually impressed with him these days and I ponder at moments, whether we’re seeing the early stages of a still-learning head coach who will one day be considered one of the real good ones. Could be, you know? There seems to be a sense of synergy between him, his coaching staff and his team. And how often in the past, would’ve I have thought something like that? Man, I can’t think of anytime. But for sure, not often.
Jose has some real chemistry going with the high flyers these days, doesn’t he? I was thinking that - and probably heard or read it mentioned somewhere - about him and Amir working well together ... and while that’s true - on some nights, anyway - it’s obviously not limited to just Amir. It looks like he’s developed a real eye for whoever is in the vicinity rolling with the right momentum towards the basket ... and the ball control that he’s showed he has in spades, last year (just, even) with his free-throw shooting - is now being utilized for some very nice pinpoint lobs. * Every time I find myself beginning to get caught up in the (often, hard to argue with, even though some do so, quite well) ‘trade Jose’ rationale (it’s happened two or three times this season, so far), it seems to get nipped in the bud emphatically by Jose going out and showing why I’ve always liked him more than not. At this moment in time - and really, most always - I’d hate to lose Jose. I suspect we’d miss him way more than many of us sometimes think.
Watching Philadelphia during the first half, I can see why they’ve won five in a row. They might actually be one those teams who are a little better than their record. But ... it also looks clear, at this moment, that the Raps are just plain stronger. And ... the sixers are on that dreaded second of a b2b, which is also showing. (But the Raps are definitely better today, it’s plain to see.)
I still dislike that iron skillet head bashing commercial. But ... I have to admit that it probably does what it’s supposed to do, ‘cause I always notice it. But I also always resent how it makes my head hurt.
WHAT A DUNK !!! by DeRozan, flying in to clean up and finish up Jack’s fumbling under the basket, just before the end of the first half. He’s a good kid to have on the team, isn’t he? For the record, I would really really really hate to lose him in a trade of (almost) any kind. Too much athleticism to give up, not to mention the good sense he often shows at his young age. Just too much upside there. I have my fingers crossed for the wknd’s dunkfest. Could be fun.
Leo and Dalembert. Don’t know exactly what Leo Rautin’s involvement with the Canada national team is right now ... but I’m pretty sure he’s still coaching them and if he is, he absolutely should do the right thing, which is, in my opinion, make a point to run into Samuel Dalembert somewhere and then briefly talk about their issues and acknowledge that there were (and likely are) two sides to the issue - which undoubtedly there were - and then apologize for his side of it and ask him (Dalembert) if they can both let bygones be bygones and shake his hand. And hope that he will eventually want to play for Canada again. Anything less is plain silly and ridiculous, as far as I’m concerned. The game is bigger than both of them and if Dalembert wants to play for Canada, then he should, end of story. (note* usually, I dislike it when someone posts their opinion, finishing with “period” or “end of story” ‘cause ... well, there’s always room for discussion. But for this subject, as far as I’m concerned ... there is nothing else to be said about it.) (Lol.)
Doug Smith. One of the reasons that I have a soft spot (of sorts) for ole Doug is that he was pretty much the first every day blogger about this game that I am so obsessed with, that I began reading religiously ... and frankly, (I will even admit) by reading his daily coverage of my favorite sports team in the world, I learned a fair bit more about this great game of hoops, than I had previously known. Now, that may say more about me - as far as some of the hardcore/hardbitten critics out there might think - but ... whatever. These days, I still read him every day - as most all of us do, I’d wager - ‘cause I appreciate what his court-side eye picks up and how well he communicates it. And every now and then, he points out real gems that nobody else does. While a few, apparently, would rather he be harder on the team ... I don’t really get that. I mean, maybe, kind of, in a way, I almost see what they’re going for, but ... I don’t think he sacrifices any credibility at all, by not tearing them to shreds (or even being more of a critiquing critic) as regularly as some might like. For that, there are plenty of writers out there who fit the bill. Plus, the commenters (more so, even). And really ... I enjoy reading those as well. (It’s true. I can never get enough. This next week will be rough.)
Of course, the reason I’m a fan of this site (Raptors Republic) is because here, there are many - writers and commenters (man, there are some good ones) - who I enjoy reading. Of course, I don’t always agree with what’s said, but I almost always enjoy reading the debates and arguing that goes on ... but the main reason I come to this site is because after enjoying a Raptors game (or not enjoying a Raptors game), when Arsenalist takes the time to post his analysis, he basically tells me why I did (or didn’t) enjoy it. Lol. But ... it’s true. We all know that Arse has a rare talent to decipher and then communicate just what it was we saw and I always appreciate being able to open my laptop and go click click click and ... his insight and clever writing is right there, for nothing more than what it costs for my internet connection. (**and when will the measure of internet clicks to a site mean a share of that [or a] pie being properly allocated? Ok, I don’t really know what I’m talking about here ... and I don’t mean to open a can of worms that’ll one day end up costing me more money than things already do, but ... I’m kind of an Ayn Rand type advocate, believing that in a perfect world, efforts are appropriately rewarded. But, I digress ...). And when it’s not Arsenalist who’s there, AltRaps and Raps Fan do the job very nicely.
Now that I’m done blowing smoke-rings up everyone’s butt ... well ... never mind. I got nothing but love today. Sorry. Maybe it’s winning that does it to me.
As one who may’ve been considered a member of the Bargnani facemask brigade - you’ll have to go back to an Arsenalist column from last ... October/November if you don’t get the reference (it was very funny, if one didn’t choose to be too offended) (still makes me laugh) - I will say that I’ve settled down a tad ... but just a tad. I still think Bargs is great and I still think he’s got room to grow even yet (maybe even a lot of room? there’s the facemask showing), but I also recognize what some see (and some enjoy pointing to, relentlessly goddammit ... mask again) as his not-strengths. Ok, weaknesses. I guess I live with it by going with ... he just is what he is. He’s not perfect every night. BUT ... Among his strengths is that icy clutch-ness that he shows, repeatedly. I know everybody else sees it as well and it’s been fittingly mentioned by more than a few, but ... well, my turn. There he was tonight against the sixers, clanging threes like he’d never make another (ok, checking the box score, it was only three attempts up to then. But, still ...) until we got down to the last minute or so and Philadelphia has caught up, making it a bit too close for comfort ... and after Jose’s 3and, there’s Bargnani outside the arc ... and the ball finds him and ... [freeze for a second: how many out there doubted for even a millisecond that it was going in? You held your breath, but you just knew it was going in, didn’t you? I mean, you just knew] and ... in - it - goes. Something so sweet about a clutch three to nail a game down, isn’t there?. And then there were those nice defensive stands when we really needed them. I just really have a thing for the big dope. I admit it and I don’t care.
If I ever get to go to one of those Friday night shindigs, I hope that I remember to get one of those special ... face masks ... a brand new, clean one of course ... put a big ‘7’ on it ... and ... well, you’ll have to be there. Would be funny, no?
I don’t think there’s really anything to be concerned about re Reggie’s fitness level. They always say - whoever ‘they’ are - that the only way to get in game-shape is to play in the games. But ... even more pertinent (I think) is that his adrenaline HAD to have been pumping like crazy ... and combined with the speed of the game, it’s not surprising at all, really, that he looked like he was almost seeing dead relatives by the end of his energetic five minutes. I seriously doubt it’ll take long for him to get himself up to full speed, conditioning-wise.
The first of my three Raptors T shirts (in order of purchase date) is currently on an eight game winning streak. Nice way to go into the break. Go T shirt. Go Raptors. Cheers, one and all.