Archive for February, 2008
Friday, February 29th, 2008
This isn’t the way it was supposed to go down.
Heading into the ball game … with hopes of getting the season sweep over the Pacers … Toronto got shocked on their home floor … losing 122-111.
Indy was undermanned as well … playing without Danny Granger … after the swingman was suspended by the NBA for an incident against the Bulls on Wednesday night. And the Pacers were still going at it without Jermaine O’Neal and Jamaal Tinsley too.
But a huge night from Mike Dunleavy – blistering the Raps for a career-high 36 points – and some timely scoring from Kareem Rush and Troy Murphy helped slam the door and Toronto’s hopes of an 8-4 February.
The Raptors allowed the Pacers to shoot 50+ per cent for about three and a half quarters … and though they cut a 16-point lead down to one late in the 3RD quarter … that was the closest Toronto could get … as Indy ripped the game open again heading into the 4TH.
With the loss, T.O. drops to 32-25 on the season … and the setback against the 23-36 Pacers may sting that much more given that both Cleveland and Washington both won (Orlando didn’t play).
But the greatest concern for the Raptors isn’t the 122-111 loss. Toronto lost All Star forward Chris Bosh with 2:23 to play in the 1ST quarter. Bosh apparently tweaked his right knee and called to the bench … asking to be taken out of the game.
Playing without CB4 was clearly a huge setback for the Raps … and the team may have to deal with his absence for at least one more game … if not longer. While his teammates were losing to Indy, Bosh had an MRI on his injured right knee. The image showed no structural damage … just some swelling. But team officials said they’re going to evaluate things for the next couple of days and reassess Bosh early next week. It sounds like Sunday’s game in Charlotte is a no-go for Toronto’s leading scorer and rebounder.
Friday, February 29th, 2008
It must have started a few seasons ago – during the brawl in Detroit – when fans and players were exchanging haymakers at the Palace of Auburn Hills. That’s when the downward spiral of the Indiana Pacers began.
While Portland has cleaned up their mess – going from the “Jailblazers” back to the Trailblazers in a relatively short amount of time – Indy has now taken over as the primary example of what you DON’T want to be if you’re an NBA franchise.
Granted, they’re trying to get it right. The Pacers have two of the best basketball minds in the game steering their ship: Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird. But even with their experience and skill as evaluators of talent, something still stinks.
Ron Artest was given the heave-ho; and another problem child, Stephen Jackson, was sent packing too. They may have been the biggest distractions (Artest for his antics, and Jackson for his off-court headlines) but they certainly weren’t the last.
When Jackson was traded to Golden State last year there was a feeling that the team was truly moving in the right direction now. Guys like Mike Dunleavy Jr, Troy Murphy, and Ike Diogu came to town and the culture or atmosphere of the Pacers locker room appeared to be back on track.
But then the problems continued … in the off season and into this present season as well.
Jamaal Tinsley was involved in two separate incidents involving guns: one where he was packing; the other where he was actually fired upon. And while you can’t really “blame” the latter on him, it was just another bad headline for the Pacers organization. Plus, maybe Tinsley needs (needed) to make better decisions about the places he was attending, the time of night he was there, and the people he was choosing to hang with.
This week alone - in a matter of 3 days – two more headlines broke in Indy … one involving a murder suspect, the other involving an alleged rape.
Again, Pacers players were connected to these stories, but not directly involved.
On Sunday evening, during a small gathering at Marquis Daniels’ home, a woman was allegedly raped. Daniels is not considered a suspect by police, but the incident did take place at his home so it’s just more bad press and unwanted attention for the Midwest NBA franchise.
On Wednesday night, Shawne Williams left the Pacers game against the Bulls at the half because he found out that police had arrested a man wanted for murder in Tennessee … that had just left Williams’ home! Apparently the murder suspect, Gary Bohanon, is good friends with one of Williams’ cousins, but Williams had no idea that Bohanon was at his home. Thus, again, Williams / the Pacers aren’t the main focus of this story but they’re certainly guilty-by-association … especially in the courtroom of public opinion.
Plus, while Williams says he had no idea that Bohanon was at his home, he does know who Bohanon is. The two were arrested together back in September when police found marijuana in an SUV Williams was driving. Williams later pleaded guilty to driving without a license, while Bohanon had drug charges filed against him.
It has become a circus in the heartland of basketball.
And I didn’t even mention Jermaine O’Neal, who, thankfully, is just being vilified in Indy for his on-the-court play … or lack there of. Folks are questioning his work ethic and commitment to the city and the organization. Many simply want him out of town ASAP. He has played in only 33 of 58 games this year (currently appearing on the Inactive List with a “bone bruise” in his left knee) … averaging his lowest points per game (15.3) and rebounds per game (7.3) in seven seasons. Most people around the NBA believe he won’t be wearing a Pacers uniform next season.
There was a time – not that long ago – that Indiana was a consistent playoff threat, year after year. The Canseco Fieldhouse is one of the toughest buildings to play in (not to mention … one of the most beautiful arenas as well). Now the Pacers struggle at the gate. They’re lucky to draw 10,000 folks to a game; that’s a good night!
It should be an interesting off-season for Walsh and Bird … ’cause if a major overhaul doesn’t come … they could be part of the housecleaning as well.
Thursday, February 28th, 2008
I’m still at home battling a nasty cold that has whacked me pretty good for about 4-5 days now. I battled throught the broadcasts on Monday and Wednesday – with Jonesy carrying the bulk of the load. Hopefully I’ll be able to get through “Hoops” tonight and I’m really praying for a return-to-form in time for tomorrow’s game against the Pacers. I don’t know about any of you, but I hate being sick. I know, I know … nobody really “enjoys” being sick … but I hate it. I’m a total wimp when I’m not 100%.
But I’m still healthier enough to jam away on the keyboard, so let’s jump into the mailbag again for another week.
Here we go …
QUESTION: I have a question, not necessarily calling you out, but wondering how you personally feel when you read comments by Mr. Colangelo stating “It’s important that we have players that want to be here. Dixon and his representatives made it clear that he didn’t,” Colangelo told reporters at the Air Canada Centre on Thursday. – found at: http://www.sportsnet.ca/basketball/2008/02/21/raptors_pistons_deal/
As a journalist and as a person does it bother you that you report one thing (that Dixon hadn’t asked for a trade) and something is being told? Thanks. Keep up the good work Eric.
Lanny from Parts Uknown
* ANSWER: Honestly, as a journalist, it doesn’t bother me Lanny … ’cause … I have to take a man for his word. When I wrote the blog about Dixon (Feb. 19) and talked about it on the air (referring to Juan) … I did state that his agent may have talked to BC. But Juan himself … hadn’t. I try to deal with people straight-up. If you listen or read … you know I rarely use “sources” or ”unnamed sources”. If I don’t get the word straight from somebody’s mouth … I’d rather not go with it, ya know?
So if Juan Dixon told me straight to my face that he did not personally ask for a trade … and that he had not personally talked to Bryan Colangelo … then … I have to take him at face value. And then I simply pass that info along to the fans via the airwaves or the blog.
However, I think part of the reason I put the ” ? ” in the headline of my blog that day (Feb. 19 – “Don’t Believer the Hype?”) was … because … admittedly … I was not entirely convinced of Juan’s words either. ‘Cause usually where there’s smoke, there’s fire … and that proved to be the case two days later when Dixon was sent to Detroit in exchange for Primoz Brezec.
QUESTION: Eric, I have been a Lakers fan for many years, and as such, got used to a steady diet of quality games with match-ups against Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio, Houston, etc. The Raptors on the other hand always seem to play really mediocre teams. Seems every night they play either the Nets, Knicks, Wash, Indiana, Charlotte, etc. That coupled with their ” shoot 3′s first ” boring offense make them difficult to watch. Am I missing something? Help me get interested in the Raps.
Ron from Parts Unknown
* ANSWER: I was born and raised on Magic Johnson and the Showtime Lakers. And while I cover the Raptors – and am thrilled to do so – I’m not a “team employee” … so I am not going to just give you some ’company line’.
Basically, you don’t have to be a fan of the Raptors. I think it’s good enough that you’re a fan of the NBA. If you’re looking for a reason to cheer for Toronto … I’m not sure I can give that to you. It has to come from within. It’s up to you if you respect/enjoy a versatile player like Chris Bosh; an emmerging star in Jose Calderon; a balanced team with a lot of weapons; a heavy influence of Euros; a fairly high-scoring offense — not quite “Phoenix East” … but close (I disagree with your assessment that their offense is boring).
As for who they play … there’s not much that can be done about that. The West is the best right now. It’s dominant. Heck, Denver could win 50 games and miss the playoffs! But what were folks saying when Chicago and Detroit were dominating for years? And two years ago – when the West was still the best – what were folks saying when Miami won the championship? There are still plenty of reasons to enjoy the East and enjoy the Raptors. However, simply being a fan of the game is enough too. It’s up to you.
QUESTION: Just a quick comment on your “E-Crew” blog. Assuming the E-Crew is complementary to your already established stars or scorers (i.e. the foundation of a good team is already in place), I thought your inclusion of a few names to be surprising…and off target. Two in particular that you would get significant disagreement on:
1) Carlos Boozer – who would be considered a star and part of the foundation for any team in the league. For example, Igoudala was not listed as your choice for Philly or Garnett for Boston . In each of these cases, you chose a lesser known player (Evans and Powe)
2) Jose Calderon – categorizing Jose as purely complementary component greatly diminishes the contributions he has made. I suspect 90% of the GM’s in this league would be happy to have Jose as their starting PG for the next 5 years. Short of Paul, Williams, Roy and maybe Billups, I probably wouldn’t trade Jose straight up for any other PG in the league (Nash = age, Kidd = overrated). My choice for Raptors would have been Delfino – the guy flat out competes and is fearless. On a related note, I’m big on Jose and what he can do for this club…so I’m somewhat biased. Thanks for the blog.Dale from Toronto
* ANSWER: Your point(s) is valid … no doubt.Here’s my ‘explanation’ …
1 – Boozer. I admit I cheated. I even admitted it in the blog — that “I know he’s an All Star”. I simply think I was looking for someone on that roster I’d want … and … well … Boozer is the guy. And while he is an All Star – and he was an early season MVP candidate – he’s still a guy that has come a LONG way since being a 2nd round pick. So, that’s that. But, yes, I cheated.
2 – Calderon. In Toronto … we all know how good he is. Outside of T.O. though … he doesn’t necessarily get a lot of pub. And while he and TJ are sharing the backcourt together … neither is going to shine as bright as they can — especially Jose. So until he truly is a “star” (though I think he’s on the brink already) … I felt he was still an option for my list.
For what it’s worth … I admit I ‘cheated’ on David West and Ron Artest (and maybe a couple others) as well.If it makes a difference, I could follow up those 4 teams/players with alternate picks like Paul Millsap (Utah), Delfino (Toronto), Jannero Pargo (New Orleans), and Francisco Garcia (Sacramento).
I have NO idea what happened with the various fonts (and font sizes) in this blog. Sorry. Hopefully you didn’t suffer too many brain cramps from the constant changes.
If you’d like to submit a question for E’s MAIL, you can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any COMMENTS you’d like to make on this or any other blog entry you read simply do so in the appropriate section below.
Thanks folks … have a good one.
Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
Things started off slow for the Raptors but by the time the final buzzer sounded … Toronto took care of business with a 107-85 thumping of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Minny got off to a 12-2 lead against the Raps … and though T.O. trailed by only two heading into the 2ND quarter … the T-Wolves were shooting a blistering 68.8% from the field.
And then reality set it.
Whether it was the inexperience of a young team or some tight “D” from a pretty solid Raptors’ unit … Minnesota opened up the bakery with a TON of turnovers in the 2ND quarter. Fourteen miscues led to 18 Toronto points in the 1ST half and as a result, Toronto was able to storm back and take the lead heading into the break … 51-43.
TJ Ford had a fantastic first half … coming off the bench for 13 points (including 7 of 7 at the free throw line). He was the spark the Raptors needed after their slowly start against the lowly T-Wolves. And Chris Bosh was on a roll – as usual – tallying 12 points and 4 boards after battling with Al Jefferson for most of the half.
Bosh kept it going in the 3RD … and Toronto never looked back. The 3-time All Star put up 14 points in the quarter … as the Raptors shot 15 of 22 from the field … busting open a 19-point lead heading into the 4TH, 84-65.
Bosh finished the game with 28 points and 7 rebounds. Ford finished with 16 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists.
For the first time this season the Raps are 8 games above .500 (32-24) as they get set to host the Indiana Pacers on Friday night at the ACC.
After dropping a disappointing game in New York last week, Toronto has bounced back to care of business against the Knicks, Pacers, and Timberwolves. They’re winning the games they’re supposed to!
We’ll see if that trend continues on Friday – and then Sunday in Charlotte.
Tuesday, February 26th, 2008
Details are sketchy right now … but funnyman Will Ferrell will be in Toronto on Wednesday to shoot some sort of video or promo with Chris Bosh and Jamario Moon.
Whether or not both players will appear in the same piece with Ferrell – or if they’ll be in separate videos – is not known.
There are commercials/promos running on Raptors TV that state that Bosh will be interviewing “Jackie Moon” (Ferrell’s character in his upcoming movie “Semi Pro”) on an upcoming pre-game show on Raps TV.
Where Jamario fits into the mix is a mystery right now.
Rumor has it that the Raptors had considered getting in touch with Ferrell before the All Star weekend – to see if the actor would be interested in being involved with Jamario Moon’s attempts in the Slam Dunk Competition.
But NBA rules prevented Ferrell from taking part … as only players (and possibly coaches?) can assist dunkers in the competition.
Tuesday, February 26th, 2008
The FAN has learned that Jamaal Magloire has signed a deal with the Dallas Mavericks.
The move has been rumored for the last 24 hours or so but the transaction became official just after 10pm eastern tonight.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Magloire appeared in only 24 games for the New Jersey Nets this season before being waived last Friday.
Tuesday, February 26th, 2008
Before Friday’s game in New York, Chris Bosh (and many others – including yours truly) talked about the importance of the stretch of games the Raptors had ahead of them. With two games against the Knicks, two against Indy, and the Timberwolves, Bobcats, and Sonics thrown in for good measure … there was a sense that the Raps had a chance to get themselves well above .500 before heading on a nasty Western Conference tour on March 11. That theory was put on hold though … after New York knocked-off Toronto at MSG.
Fast forward to three days later … and all seems to be good again in Raptorland. T.O. bounced back from Friday’s loss with a convincing thrashing of the Knicks on Sunday and they continued their winning ways last night in a 102-98 victory over the Pacers.
Last night’s game wasn’t pretty by any means. There really wasn’t any kind of flow – for either team – for most of the game. Despite the fact that each club held double-digits leads at one point or another … neither side ever seemed truly in control. It was a back-and-forth battle from beginning to end.
Indiana jumped on Toronto early … leading 30-19 after the 1ST quarter.
However, as has been the case so many times this season, the Pacers weren’t able to put their opponent away … allowing the Raptors to score at will in the 2ND. Sam Mitchell’s crew put up 35 points on 63.2% from the field and they walked into the half with momentum and a 54-46 lead.
When the 2ND half began the Raps appeared to be in control. Toronto was above 50 per cent from the field … they were outrebounding the Pacers (24-20) … and their bench had outscored Indy’s 36-4!
Sparked by some energetic play – on both ends of the floor – from Marquis Daniels, Indiana mounted a comeback in the 3RD. Daniels’ dunk (and free throw) with just over a 1:00 minute to play erased a 10-point Raptors lead; giving Indy its first advantage since early in the 2ND quarter.
Toronto pulled even at 77-77 heading into the 4TH but you couldn’t help thinking that the Raps were setting themselves up for another disappointment.
Anthony Parker began the final stanza with a 3-ball that ignited the Raptors’ offense. T.O. started the quarter with a 20-11 run … and with about four minutes to play … Toronto led by 9. In fact, with just over one minute to go … the Raps still held a 7-point advantage. Start the bus … this one is over.
But … wait …
After two free throws and then a 14-foot jumper from Daniels (which came after a Carlos Delfino offensive foul) Indy trailed by only three, 101-98.
TJ Ford had a chance to ice the game for Toronto but his wide-open finger roll hit the back of the rim and bounced out and the Pacers had a chance to call a timeout and draw up a play with just under twenty seconds to play.
Down three … with no timeouts left … Jim O’Brian sent out his troops looking for a game-tying 3-ball. But Kareem Rush couldn’t nail the 25-footer from the right side over Chris Bosh’s outstretched arm. Parker secured the rebound for the Raptors and after hitting 1 of 2 free throws he iced the 102-98 win for Toronto.
Bosh finished the night with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Parker had a career-high 11 boards (and 8 points). Delfino was terrific … with 23 points – including 6 of 7 from long distance. And Ford had his best game since his “comeback” … tallying 16 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds. Ford’s performance was even more impressive – and important – considering Jose Calderon’s uncharacteristically bad game … 4 points, 0 assists in 23:42 minutes of action.
Toronto now gets set to host Minnesota on Wednesday night at the ACC – another “winnable” ball game for the Raps.
Monday, February 25th, 2008
I was sitting on the plane last night – battling some cold or flu that has me feeling like hell – wondering what I was going to write about today …
Then Jonesy gave me the idea …
On the Raptors radio broadcasts I will often joke about a player on an opposing team being a member of the “E Crew”. And what – you ask – is “The E Crew”?
Well, “The E Crew” is a group of players that I would take on my team in a heartbeat. If I was a GM in the league and I had a chance to grab this guy or that guy … these are the players that might be at the top of my list.
My team would already have its compliments of “stars” or a top-flight scorer or two … so the members of “The E Crew” are complimentary pieces to (hopefully) and already-good team!
These are guys I like or guys I respect; guys I’d want to go to war with. They are …
The E Crew:
Boston – Leon Powe. He just “works”, period.
Toronto – Jose Calderon. The ultimate “teammate”.
New Jersey – Sean Williams. Attacks the rim on both ends of the floor.
Philadelphia – Reggie Evans. Grit, attitude, and tenacity.
New York – David Lee. Good in the locker room, better on the glass.
Detroit – Jason Maxiell. Bull in a China shop – in a good way.
Cleveland – Anderson Varejao. If Red Bull was on Red Bull.
Chicago – Thabo Sefolosha. Multi-tooled player that’d break-out with more PT.
Indiana – Troy Murphy. Could easily be a double-double machine.
Milwaukee – Desmond Mason. The knees may be creaky but he’s a GREAT guy.
Orlando – Maurice Evans. He’ll work for ya and you don’t have to feed him much.
Washington – Etan Thomas. When he comes back, I’ll take his toughness ASAP.
Charlotte – Emeka Okafor. Ok, he’s a “big name” but I love his total package.
Atlanta – Al Horford. Future All Star and future rebounding champ.
Miami – Udonis Haslem. Wade and Shaq couldn’t have done it without him.
LA Lakers – Luke Walton. I’d take Kobe, but Walton can bring his “Dead” CD’s.
Phoenix – Leandro Barbosa. Explosive and elusive.
Golden State – Kelenna Azubuike. Give me a guy who is just HUNGRY to play.
LA Clippers – Al Thornton. Could play 3 or 4 positions – and do them all well.
Seattle – Mickael Gelabale. Fast and defensive-minded. Just give him more PT.
San Antonio – Fabricio Oberto. Tireless worker with great hands for a big man.
Dallas – Brandon Bass. Only getting better with every passing season.
Houston – Shane Battier. One of the few “Dukies” I like – he just does it ALL.
Memphis – Hakim Warrick. Untapped.
New Orleans – David West. He’s an All Star, but he was unheralded ’til this year.
Utah – Carlos Boozer. Yes, another All Star (and Dukie) … but I’m taking him!
Sacramento – Ron Artest. Big “name” for some but I just want his passion & skill.
Denver – Eduardo Najera. Not afraid to mix it up with ANYONE.
Portland – Travis Outlaw. What is his wingspan, 32 feet?
Minnesota – Mark Madsen. ‘Cause somebody has to dance at the parade.
Monday, February 25th, 2008
The trend continued last night for the Raptors …
EVERY loss this month for Toronto has been followed by a blowout victory in the very next game.
- Lose to the Lakers; hammer the Heat by 30+ points.
- Lose to the Clippers; destroy the Timberwolves by 20+ points.
- Lose to the Spurs; tear apart the Nets by 18 points.
- Lose to the Knicks; blister the same New York team two nights later by 20+ points.
That either shows the inconsistency of the Raptors … or it shows (as Gorilla Monsoon used to say) great “intestinal fortitude” … bouncing back time and time again.
The Raps beat the Knicks 115-92 on Sunday night … tallying their 30TH victory of the season.
Everything Toronto DIDN’T do on Friday night – when they lost to New York at MSG – they found a way to get done on Sunday evening. Zach Randolph was stifled; the perimeter was shut down (NY shot just 9 of 23 from long distance); the Raps outrebounded the opposition 51-36; and though Jamal Crawford still scored 26 points (after going off for 43 on Friday) he was held to just 10 in the entire 2ND half.
Plus, Andrea Bargnani returned to form.
Following 2+ weeks of solid performances that seemed to break him out of his 2-month funk, Bargnani appeared to have cooled off during the All Star break … struggling mightily in last Wednesday’s win over Orlando and Friday’s loss in New York.
But while some folks were ready to jump off the bandwagon again, Bargnani silenced his critics on Sunday night. The second-year forward/center blitzed the Knicks for 25 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocked shots in 35 minutes of action. And the Italian’s defense of Eddy Curry was terrific. He used he body well against the big man and proved to be far too quick for Curry as well.
Bargnani’s offense helped carry Toronto in the first half after Chris Bosh picked up 2 fouls early in the 1ST quarter and didn’t return to action until the 2ND half.
However, the Raps were glad to see CB4 back in the 3RD quarter …
Leading by 2 (54-52) at the break, the Raptors stormed out of the gate in the 2ND half … going on an 18-3 run to rip the game wide-open. T.O. outscored New York 30-15 in the 3RD and never looked back from there.
The big bulge for Toronto allowed Sam Mitchell to rest Bosh a little bit more and he was able to get Jose Calderon a longer rest as well … with the Spanish guard playing just 29:00 minutes overall (he had 9 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds).
TJ Ford played the entire 4TH … putting on a show … with 15 points in the final quarter. The extra time on the floor seemed like it did wonders for Ford in terms of his mental and physical play. The longer he was out there … the more comfortable he looked … still trying to get back on track following his wrist and abdominal injuries.
Finally, newly-acquired big man Primoz Brezec made his Raptor debut in this ball game. Brezec was activated before the contest (in place of Maceo Baston) and he stepped up big for Sam Mitchell. The Slovenian center was a perfect 5 for 5 from the floor … finishing with 11 points and 3 rebounds in just under 13:00 minutes of action. He was enthusiastic and energized as well … waving his arms in the air to fire-up the crowd; air-punching at center-court after a Raptor hoop; and flashing the trademarked Calderon “3-ball” signal as well. He was a ‘character’ if nothing else – and played very well.
Toronto faces the Pacers in Indiana tonight – tip off at 7pm on the FAN 590.
Sunday, February 24th, 2008
Looking back to Friday night … I know I was guilty of looking past the New York Knicks.
But I can tell ya this … Sam Mitchell wasn’t.
He spent a GREAT deal of time on Friday morning – after the Raptors game-day shoot-around – stressing to the reporters (including me) that there are “no guarantees” in the NBA; that you’re “not SUPPOSED to win any game”.
Mitchell’s point was … bad teams beat good teams all of the time. For example … Minnesota beat Phoenix … and the Spurs needed 40+ from Ginobili to narrowly get by the Timberwolves as well. Look at last night … Milwaukee beat Denver … and on Friday night … Chicago beat Denver, the Clippers knocked off Utah, Seattle won over Portland, and Atlanta won in Golden State. “Upsets” happen all of the time.
But for Toronto … their mishap against the Knicks could have been avoided. Toronto was shooting above 50% for most of the night and until the 4TH quarter rolled around their rebounding wasn’t all that bad either. Their offense wasn’t the issue. It was the D that let the Raps down.
As has been the case many times this season (See: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and others) T.O. got scorched by an opposing player having a monster night. On Friday, it was Jamal Crawford going off for 43. Jamario Moon, Anthony Parker, and TJ Ford all had a shot at Crawford but nobody seemed to be able to slow down the Knick guard. When the Raptors got up on him, he crossed-over and dribbled by. If the Toronto defenders gave him space – to respect the drive – he simply pulled up and launched jumpers (heck, he took 16 three-pointers (made 6)).
Sam Mitchell did trying going into a zone a few times, but even that defensive strategy didn’t work as Crawford kept coming.
There was little double-teaming going on though. And I know that point is a thorn in the side of many fans who emailed me after the game.
While I appreciate the fact that you have to do SOMETHING with a guy who is torching you … I can also see how the double-team strategy can burn you even worse. When you double, you’re leaving somebody else wide open. You’re exposing other potential weaknesses. So unless your rotation and communication is spot-on, you’re making yourself even more vulnerable. Think back to the Laker game earlier this month when Toronto DID double-up on Kobe a number of times, only to see the likes of Sasha Vujacic bury uncontested 3 after uncontested 3.
In fact, that’s how Toronto gets a ton of their looks on the offensive end. Teams double-up on Bosh and he dishes to Calderon or Parker on the perimeter for wide-open looks.
Now … all that said … I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mitchell and company double Crawford tonight – especially if he’s got it going early. They can’t allow the Knick guard to have another monster performance like he did on Friday at MSG. And they certainly can’t allow themselves to drop 2 straight to New York.
If Toronto can get back on track at home – where they’ve played well of late – they still have a chance to put a solid streak of games together before their trip out West. As I stated earlier in this blog, there are no guarantees in the NBA, but with games coming up against Indiana (twice), Minnesota, Charlotte, Miami, and Seattle … the Raps have favourable match-ups that COULD see them with a double-digit cushion above .500 by the time that Western swing starts on March 11.
It all begins with the Knicks tonight though.