Halfway to Halfway – After 20 Games

8 mins read

A quarter of the way through a movie, there are things you know, and things you don’t. You got the main characters, the immediate problem, and you’re just about to get down to business.

An NBA season is no different. After twenty, you should know what to expect from your personnel, know roughly what’s going to hold you back from your goal, and start getting serious about forging the best spot possible in your Conference standings.

Now let me preface this by saying that it’s been very it’s difficult to determine whether the team’s play over the first 20 games is indicative of the rest of the season for two primary reasons:

Injuries
Sam’s Rotation.

Injuries: The same can be said of teams like Denver, Jersey and Washington. We’re not talking season-ending injuries, rather cycling, chronic issues that inhibit any attempt at on-court cohesion.

Sam’s Rotation: It’s unreliable and inexplicable. Unless he’s willing to finally come out and explain it. But his whole “I play the matchups” mantra doesn’t hold water in this full-disclosure fantasy world because it’s too arbitrary, too veiling.

All that being said…

Things We Know For Sure:

  • Jose Calderon is the more disciplined PG. Whether you think he’s better or not, you can’t argue with that statement.
  • TJ Ford will always be characterized by the points he scores. For the same reason as above.
  • Garbo is missed…but not as much as you’d have thought if I told you in August we wouldn’t have him this season.
  • Humph needs to be cattle prodded every time he takes a jumper. His energy on both ends is appreciated, but he has a role to play and will be here a long time if he just focuses on perfecting it. He can score 15 points on tip-ins and layups and I’m thrilled. But no jumper, no way.
  • Sam Mitchell fucked a four-leaf clover the night before the COY votes were due. There is no other explanation.
  • Jamario Moon has surprised every member of the Toronto Raptors organization…except Jamario Moon. It’s irresponsible not to withhold reservations until at least one season is under his belt, but the way he’s stepped up to the plate is remarkable, especially because he’s good for at least three exciting plays a night.
  • CarDel is better than MoPete, big time. I have love and respect for Mo, but Carlos is younger, quicker, and plays better defence. And that hair – enough to make half of College St. swoon.
  • Jason Kapono is an assassin when he’s hot. Unfortunately, he doesn’t take many shots. I think the root is buried in the minutes and shots Delfino/Parker take away from him. Not that it’s their fault.

Things We Know Don’t:

  • We’ve never had a chance to play our best 1-5 on the court for an extended period of time. In my opinion, that’s Bargnani, Bosh, Moon, Parker, Calderon (but let’s throw TJ her because it’s more likely). Even injuries to Graham and Nesterovic upset the early rhythm of our roster.
  • On the above in bold: Whether the fact that there’s only one basketball would allow that needy lineup to get into a groove.
  • Whether Andrea’s in a sophomore slump, or if last year was a freshman fluke. That’s not so much a statement on his stats, which are almost identical to last years, but he certainly hasn’t improved any portion of his offensive game (though I think his defence is improving.)
  • What jersey Jose will be wearing when the playoffs start. I hope it’s Toronto, but it’s not a given. Rumors are rumors, but he is a free-agent next season and will demand at least double his $2.4 million.
  • Why the third quarter is so troublesome. Not sure if there’s a tradition of turkey and warm milk in the Raptors locker room, but the third has long been our most frustrating quarter.
  • If we’ll ever learn to close out perimeter shooters. It might actually take 82 games for us to learn this lesson, and that’s sad. Not enough to make this grown man cry, but whimper? Definitely.
  • How the Raptors would perform in a free-wheeling Golden State system. I’m sure I’ll get shit for this, but we have the shooters, the ball handlers, and the speed to throw the playbook out the window (only one page) and let the good times roll. Of course, this will never happen.
  • Why Juan Dixon is in the doghouse. He has value to this team, and I’m hoping eventually Sam will use him as the emergency point guard and deliver Martin to his rightful spot on the bench.
  • Whether Derrick Martin will make it through the whole season without getting his ankles snapped. I’m pretty sure this is an inevitability.
  • Whether Bosh and Bargnani’s health issues will continue. Bosh now has a faulty groin to add to his wonky knee and plantar fasciitis. Bargnani’s been out with a knee problem that looked fairly innocent. We need these guys to compete against 65% of the league. We can beat the dregs without them, but that’s not getting us anywhere.
  • If I’ll ever accidentally run into Kapono’s wife in public. Preferably while he’s on the road, somewhere with alcohol and high stools.

*************

The truth is, being 10-10 after twenty makes sense. We haven’t clicked on all cylinders, we’ve lost winnable games, we’ve missed some key players due to injuries, and now we’re right back where we started. We haven’t established an identity, haven’t hit rock bottom, haven’t breathed the air at the top of the mountain.

So, for our 21st against Houston, here’s hoping Chris Bosh and Bargnani are ready for tomorrow’s game, so we can start making treads into towards the second act of the movie – from now until the All-Star Break. That’s where all the fun stuff happens, anyway, before life gets serious and our heroes have to head down the Gauntlet of Playoff Uncertainty on the road to the Holy Grail.

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