Saturday, February 28, 2009

Picture Fun: Steve Nash

"Those silly Raptors, they must be crazy if they think I'd actually end my career playing there."

Shaq-Fu all up in this joint!

Another opportunity, another loss, another record-setting by an opponent. Sad to see when all our opponents chasing the eight spot loss tonight. Some quick thoughts:

  • What on earth is the point of having Bosh in the game with 5 fouls...defending SHAQ!!???
  • When scrubs like Louis Amundson (I just had to look his name up, seriously) are dunking on us with and-1's, you know it's not going well. Guy had 20, 10...isn't that like..what Bosh is supposed to average? Oh, Admunson's 20 was the career high by the way. Shaq's is the season high.
  • Shaq Diesel - smelling blood, and then drinking it by the gallons. The headline on ESPN: "Shaq's biggest offensive performance in six years powers Suns past Raptors." The stats: 45 points, 11 rebounds. The second headline (espn recap opening line): "Shaquille O'Neal feasted on the Toronto Raptors in a dominating performance that harkened to his best days alongside Kobe in Los Angeles."
  • Okay, I knew the game was over in early 4th quarter, but why still let Shaq embarrass you every play down the floor. Get Patrick O'Bryant there, he's worth 6 fouls. I know either way the game was a loss, but things like that still bug me. Like when Kobe scored 81, why Smitch didn't double and triple team him, when you know, his scoring was only like in the fifties..
  • Horrible officiating: night in and night out, the NBA officials will leave you mystified with stupendous calls. Not that we lost the game due to officiating by any means, I'm just noting how bad it is Bill Simmons talks more about that here. As we were watching the game, Rach was saying why Shaq isn't getting called for 3 secs. Bosh after the game: "He was just camping down in the lane, I mean, if they're not calling three seconds -- I thought it was a rule, but I guess not."
  • The more I see Bargnani's reactions against an opponent, the more I love it. Yeah, Shaq dominated with 45 points, but Bargnani didn't just bend over and take it. Really like that sequence where Shaq got fouled trying to dunk, then was starting down Bargnani and talking some smack. Instead of turning around and heading the other way, Bargnani walks right up to him and they bump shoulders. Against Shaq, that's something.
  • You know what? I love Jake Voskuhl. Yes he had 4 fouls in less than five minutes. Yeah, I know he's got no shot or really talent for that matter, but he scraps like his life is depending on it (well his NBA career does depend on it), and he scraps HARD. Liked the Matt Barnes altercation, and even the Shaq one. There was one play where he got subbed in late in the fourth, and then was pushing and shoving Shaq with all his might and exchanged words. God bless you Jake Voskuhl. You can never say he doesn't give an all-out effort.
  • We all started laughing when Rach said she thinks Marcus Banks is good looking.
  • One of the girls said how Bosh looks like a gazelle, and that he should be "in the forest getting chased by lions."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Say It Like You Mean It: Scott Skiles

"I hope they'll launch an investigation to find the sniper that shot Varejao. I thought there was some acting involved." - Scott Skiles

Hilarious quote by Scott Skiles (read it first in Basketbawful) after Charlie Villanueva got ejected for taking out Anderson Varejao (who did a big flop) first, and then grabbing Big Z by the neck. Seriously, I didn't know Charlie V had this in him, guess that riff with Jermaine O'Neal wasn't an anomaly. I wish he was a Raptor just for this. If you're gonna go out, go out with guns blazing. That quote though, boy, I can't enough of, could be quote of the year.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Momentum is a strange thing. A bridge that can connect the weak to the strong and swing an entire series, an entire playoff run, an entire championship run.

Someone asked me what is the most important element in the playoffs. What separates the best from the rest and helps teams win. I would have to say the answer depends on what seed you are. The higher seeds, the NBA elite, for them the most important factor is mental toughness, the focus to be able to always play at the highest level, always be prepared and never underestimate your opponent. For the lower seeds, it's all about momentum, which leads to confidence, which leeds to hustle, which leads to wins.

Ask any coach and more often than not, what worries them the most is not how teams react to losing, but how they react to winning. When teams feel a sense of entitlement to winning, they feel they've already proven how great they are, they don't have the motivation to show their best. This mental weaknesses is often the hurdle that many great regular season teams fail to overcome. For the younger NBA fans, I guess some recent examples would have to be Detroit's championship run, Furious George, Miami's championship run, Dallas's first round exit. In almost all of these cases what we witnessed was not the best team winning but was simply a fact of teams wanting it more, and being more than the sum of their parts.

What am I getting at now?

In spite of the Raptors current plight, I feel fans, teams, hell the entire organization should be reminded of the fact that mediocre teams sometimes achieve greatness. Miami's championship team was viewed as the worst team to ever win a title in the history of the NBA. Is it likely that the Raptors have enough games to get it together?

Probably not.

But if they do, hell they'll be going in full steam. For the record, I honestly feel, if the raps somehow get seeded, it will be the best playoff series they'll play in the last few years. This regular season has proved one thing, too many players lack mental toughness and the only solution to this problem is really momentum. 2 years ago, I knew we had no chance against the nets. With no answer at sf, no playoff experience, our players lacked the confidence and focus to understand the magnitude of each possession. Our run against Orlando was expected to be a better matchup, but the way we stumbled out of the regular season killed what little confidence and semblance of maturity and chemistry we had left. If the raps put a run together now, for once, we will be playing our best basketball of the season when it matters, in the playoffs. When this happens, usually the real test goes on the higher seeds and it becomes a test of their mental focus. As Atlanta proved, the effect momentum carries can stretch beyond one game and can carry on to multiple seasons. To me, they have to be the surprise team of the eastern conference, but if we look at how they ended the series, it really shouldn't be that surprising. Their momentum was a big reason why Boston proved to be overconfident and was pushed to a seven game series. I honestly believe what carried them forward to a championship, was the momentum they had to create by rallying together to get through long first, second and third rounds while the Lakers cruised to the finals.

As we witnessed with Knicks round 2, Marion is bringing a new intensity, fantastic rebounding and a great fast break attitude. If it proves contagious and spread to a few games, the Raps will give Chicago a run for its money for that last spot and could honestly capitalize on some over confident higher seeds.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Picture Fun: Bosh to Parker

"Why are you so USELESS ANTHONY!!!!???? WHyyyy. Why are you still here!!? Why didn't Colangelo trade you!?"

Friday, February 20, 2009


We just got boxed up, back and forth by the Knicks. I can't believe I held off studying for exams in exciting antipication of our Bargs/Bosh/Marion debut, only for this embarassment of a beatdown to happen. How bad?

  • Knicks scored 42 the first quarter
  • "The funnest basketball I've played in my career, I can say that." - Nate Robinson
  • The whole of Italy got to watch how badly the Raptors suck. From ESPN's recap: "With Italians Bargnani and Gallinari in the game, the Knicks celebrated Italian heritage night, featuring music and even the starting lineups announced in Italian. The game was being televised in Italy live on Sky Sports."
  • I stopped watching miday in the second quarter, and went to my room. I got a text message from my friend Adit, who wrote "have you turned it off yet?" I replied back "Not yet. I'm in my room, but with the tv still on so I can hear the audio because I'm too embarassed to actually watch."
  • Wilson Chandler: career-high 32 points.
  • Nate Robinson swatted away one of Bosh's shots emphatically. Probably sums up the game.
  • Did anyone see that look on Bosh's face when he was sitting on the bench at the end of the game? Heartbreaking. Really is.
  • "We showed no confidence, no pride tonight on the court." - Chris Bosh. Sadly, that can be said for many games this season.
The Matrix had a solid game with 14 points and 12 rebounds. His putbacks were impressive and is probably our only guy who's always looking to run and slash. I feel bad for Marion, can you imagine what's going on in his mind? Probably the same thing as Bosh's. "I can't WAIT to get outta here.."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Time To Study Jose.

I haven't been reading what people think of Marion's debut but I loved it. He really gave us what we needed and what became the most evident to me was how everything will fall into place when Bosh gets back. With him getting the board, Marion is free to run and play the fast break. It's hard for him to do that when he has to get the defensive rebound but what's harder and perhaps more painful, is running the fast break but not being passed to.

What am I on about?

10 6 and 6 is not bad, but it would have been higher stats if Jose could play well with him. I don't know how many of you watched him in Phoenix, but what you'd probably notice is that Marion is great without the ball. He's a good slasher, always moving and quite frankly, I don't think Jose knew how to play with that. I can't really blame him being use to playing with Moon and Graham who basically don't move until they get the ball. On a separate note, that 6 assists is amazing. For years people have criticized his passing game but I'm sure you noticed that he has great passing around the rim. Something all our bigs tried to do but lacked the ability. Should be interesting to see how that plays out.

If you get a chance, watch that game and you'll see lots of Marion moves to shake his defender and hang around the rim. A classic alley oop set up from his phoenix days. What was obvious however was that Jose wasn't looking or couldn't see him and instead almost always swung the ball the other way.

Just after seeing a few of those plays I noticed something immediately. It's not about Marion fitting in and learning the system, or even Bosh learning how to play with him. The success of this deal is going to be on how quick Jose can learn Marion's style. So many analysts are out there saying the great thing about Marion is that he doesn't need the ball, he doesn't need the play, what he does is outside of any system. This is where Jose will struggle because although he is a great half court set point guard, he is probably one of the worst fast break point guards in the league.

This is going to be a huge adjustment for him because he is so careful so cautious. To run and gun however, you have to be prepared to accept mistakes. I haven't checked, but I'm sure if you look at Nash's stats last few years during the glory days he probably led all point guards in turnovers. To really run, you have to make those passes that are either going to be an easy two or a turnover and be ready to accept whichever.

Marion loves the quick post up. Get the rebound, run down the key and start posting up ready to do a shot in literally, seven seconds or less. Jose biggest flaw however is holding the ball too much. Watch him on fast break and you'll almost always see him drive towards the rim, see that he's not fast or strong enough to beat the opposition and pull it out. He needs to worry less about doing that himself, and simply look out for Marion the moment you get the ball because he will already be in a position to score. Jose is not faster than most pg's and should know that Marion is faster than most forwards and bet on him during the fast break instead. In fact, Marion almost out of habit always first runs towards the rim, hangs there for about 2 seconds to see if people notice him and then veers back towards the three. If Jose can find him when he gets to that key, Marion has a pretty nice touch around the rim. Many raptors fans would live with a missed shot in the paint for a change. I for one am a little sick of Jose and Parker getting rejected on fast break layups and would rather see Marion get fouled on a fast break DUNK. (which he did attempt in this game to prove my point and was one of the few fast breaks that didn't get rejected.

The second thing Jose needs to learn is something I'm sure all raptors fans have noticed since the beginning of the season. Jose's weakest pass is the alley oop. I remember a few games where he tried 2 or 3 and it was just beyond a disaster. Granted, he has made significant improvement in that area but he needs more. Marion may be the next best transition alley oop player in the NBA behind James. Jose is going to have to throw some more up there because the Matrix is very likely to convert that to at least free throws.

The great thing about it however is that Jose has proven to be a hard worker and a quick learner. Not to mention the fact that if I can notice these things with one live viewing, you can bet your ass they see it when they study tape. With Bosh coming back, things are still looking good for the Raps push.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Viewership Motive

You read about these trades and the analysis always comes down to one thing. Why?

Almost everyone agrees on the motives for this Marion O'Neal swap:

The Raptors: Athletic, defensive true SF who knows he can't shoot and cap space now.

Miami: Post presence, cap in 2010, shed Banks and some kind of pick.

But everyone has left out one other motive, the corporate motive or what I call, the viewership motive.

How many of you will watch on Wednesday with renewed faith? It's so bizarre how one move can inspire, how one move can renew our faith in a team that is beyond a one player fix. Yet we look on, hoping and believing that maybe Marion is our white knight. In the end, we, like all true fans are suckers for punishment. We watch always hoping that this is the one that gets them going. We believe so desperately that this game is the one, that this player is the guy. But how money would put your money where your hope is? If you do, then all I can say is, marry me.

Take this one step back and just reflect on the O'Neal trade again. When it first happened, I believe in Raptor nation that the true INITIAL reaction was we gave up all our assets for someone who WAS great and is likely to get injured. But as time went on, our small snowball of hope grew to a boulder. Yes his last good season was 3 years ago, but maybe, JUST MAYBE this is the year he's healthy and comes roaring back. Maybe he really is that one player solution when we all knew and recognized that with our pieces we needed 3 things, a back up pg, a defensive wing, and a solid scorer. But despite the fact that everyone recognized the gaps, we all believed, myself included that maybe if this works, none of those things matter.

Note to self, any deficiency you can see at first glance, MATTERS!

At the end of the day however, we were still happy, but do you know who was happier? With hope at its highest point in years, the bandwagons so full they might have to refuse passengers, MLSE was probably having the time of their lives. Whether the trade worked or not at the end of the day, people were watching and sadly, thats all MLSE wants. What's even sadder is that we can't help but buy in. Our love for our team, our hope to be part of something special is being exploited. We've come to exaggerate and overhype any move as time progresses much to the appreciation of MLSE. After all, word of mouth is the most powerful marketing. In fact, I bet so many people are talking and hyping this trade, that there is a contingent out there determined to see Banks solve our PG woes. Hopefully, the contingent believes enough to exist for the three years we'll have him. Ironically, it spreads to the players to. I couldn't help but notice Bosh's initial reaction being fairly mellow, but after a night of digestion, he was more convinced this would work, more excited. At least we're not the only suckers.

I'm right up there with the fans hoping that this will help us get over the hump but at the end of the day, a first round exit is still a failure of a season. Since thats likely to be the peak of our season no matter what, why bother with the trade anyways. The grass is much greener in 2010. An answer has to be the viewer motive. The trade that isn't about winning, not today, maybe not even for the future. In times of uncertainty, marketers use what is dependable and unfortunately for us, that is our hope. This move is a move to renew faith, gain interest, and with more and more vowing not to watch the Raptors again, the motive is simply get more people watching again.

Unfortunately it's probably on TSN 2 so we can't.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Let The Race Begin

As the raps win our hearts and commitments back with probably their best game of the season, the question simply becomes, push or tank?

Fans rest assured that making the playoff's is not a fantasy, it is definitely a challenge but very attainable. The true question for teams debating whether to make a push or not, is what is the motive? With the added variable of whether it is financially worth it to make a playoff run or trade away contracts, the race definitely gets more interesting. So despite the similar records, lets take a closer look at who really is and should be in this race.

The Bucks:
You truly have to wonder what's the point of making the playoffs for them. Their market has definitely shrunk due to the crisis and although playoffs will probably sell out, what can two games in their stadium really do for their profits. The Bucks roster is also not losing that much in the offseason with the key questions really being whether to bring back Charlie or Sessions and given that they are restricted, at this point they really don't have to prove anything to their players. It's definitely nice to make the playoffs, but they might be better off next year getting a nice pick and perhaps trading Jefferson for a more defensive focused SF. I'd have to say the Bucks whether they want to or not, can't make the playoffs but the smart thing would be to not even try.

The Knicks: The Knicks are the most unique team in this race because for them, the outcome really doesn't matter. After trading their best two players, it's pretty clear that everything is on 2010 and anything else is just gravy. Everything they do in the next two years is going to be focussed on signaling to fa's of 2010. With the interest of attracting talent and being able to afford to, again it might be simply smarter to get a nice pick who will sign a lower contract and not be such a hindrance on the cap. Then again, making the playoffs also sends a signal to these FA's that this team has talent, great coaching and a key FA or two could push them over the top. We all know how that value played into the equation for Brand despite how the actual situation panned out. The only question really is although it sends a signal of talent and chemistry, what is the practical use when nobody knows who of the Knicks will be there come 2010. This really is the hardest team to read but I have to think in the interest of keeping small contracts, cheep rookies and value trades so they can keep Robinson and Lee, the lottery is the way to go. With their difficult second half schedule, they may not really have a choice in the matter anyways.

The Bulls: This is the one team in this race that has a clear goal and desire and NEED to make the playoffs. With such an abundance of young talent, the last thing they need is another young draft pick. It's time they put their talent together, make the playoffs and the necessary trade to bring in Bosh, O'Neal, Boozer, Stoudamire or Wallace. With a great basketball market, they are less encumbered by the economy and making the playoffs will definitely have a much higher value in development and selling point over saving a few bucks. If I were them however, I would wait till the offseason to decide about Hinrich or Nocioni. With the improved play of Thomas, he may be able to fill their whole at PF and the team can instead consider trading Hughes, Thabo or Gooden for a good big man and have a solid big man rotation instead of a stellar one. Combined with their fabulous small man rotation, they truly are simply one big man away from contending. I've said it so many times, but Toronto is one of the few teams who has the goods to get some solid pieces from the Bulls but make both teams better.

The Pacers: Why bother writing about the Pacer. Their better than last year, other than that, not much else to say. Some nice random wins, a great player in Granger but they rely too much on a three they don't shoot so well and their lack of post presence is going to prevent them from being able to make a run. This years lottery will be pretty interesting because so many teams are going to have similar odds and any order can really show up. The Pacers need a young post big man and it all honesty, the draft is probably their best option. Whether they use the draft or package it in a trade, it is still their best option. They don't have the market or the franchise power at this point to really attract quality bigs and their really aren't that many post bigs on the market besides Boozer.

The Bobcats: I like to call the difficulty in predicting the Bobacts the Brown effect. Who knows who will play, who will be there, who won't be injured, who will be in the dog house. One thing I've noticed however is that he has a specific taste in player and knows who they are. When that richardson trade went down, I thought it was a steal for the underperforming Bell and Diaw but lo and behold, they are thriving under brown. Meanwhile, Radmonovic looks like he did in his seattle days with a great debut game. With Brown at the helm, and Jordan in the back, you know this team wants to finally make the playoffs but barring another trade, which is probably likely, I think without Wallace and a bench, they will find it extremely difficult to make a run in an sf loaded conference and will probably end up just missing the playoffs. They may even get as far as losing because of a head to head matchup.

The Nets: This has got to be the suprise team of the year. With a two man team,a captain with motivation issues and almost no other significant talent or threats, nobody expected the Nets to contend for anything except the first pick. As I mentioned in a previous post however, the Nets play the season like most teams play the game, with a series of runs. Ironically most of them start after beating the Raptors but unforunately for them, our matchups are done. Being a young team, they will need to get some big road wins to help spur their momentum but with a tough schedule and many teams positioning for a run, this seems unlikely. They caught the league by suprise early on and I think most teams know what to expect from them. The x factor will be Lopez, if he becomes a 15-10 player for the rest of the stretch, it could be just enough to squeeze them in. Unfortunately, it looks more likely that some of their vets, Carter included will be moved by the deadline for young picks an players which will surely take them out of the running.

The Raptors: So many believe that the Spurs game was O'Neal's last as a Raptor. Honestly, I don't know what to think of this. I liked O'Neal, I thought he was very professional and sacrificed for the team. Not to mention, he did a great job on TD, something we can never usually say about a Raptor. Personally I'd rather see Bosh go for some solid players and keep O'Neal. I like having a big play in the key but unfortunately he may be just too old and injured to gamble on. I definitely would have rather had him in his prime than Bosh. My only hesitation to make a move now is that the win over the Spurs could have some great momemtum and with another roster change, we may lose a lot of that. The only exception may be if we do in fact get Marion, a player who can thrive without really knowing the system and doesn't need plays for himself. Anyone else could really shift our progress though. The Raptors to me are the second most likely team to grab the 8th spot behind the Bulls. Primarily because the break comes at a good time to rest nagging injuries, the undermanned games have given a chance for players like Kapono, Graham to mature, find their role and it will definitely give them confidence and greater ability when we are full strength. Combine this with perhaps the easiest ending schedule in the NBA and the Raps are in a good position. The only thing that could hurt us is that we are behind in a lot of head to head matchups with other teams in the race so we definitely have to get our act together quick. A tied record won't be good enough.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rok-A-Fella: Roko leads Raps to a gutsy win over Spurs

Look at it anyway you want, but that was one hell of a win by the Raptors. Let's face it, no one realistically expected the Raptors to beat the Spurs, and even more so, no one could've predicted Roko Ukic would be the clutch performer down the stretch to lead Toronto to that win. Especially without Bosh, Calderon, or Graham for that matter.

Even though we were up around 6-8 points most of the game, us Raptors faithful knew the lead would vanish in the fourth, but we couldn't even hold on that long - the Spurs came out halftime focused and disciplined and led in the third. And we started out the fourth quarter missing 8 of 10 shots. Yet somehow, we found a way to come back, and guys like Bargnani, Kapono, and Ukic stepped up big time. Bargnani may have shot 8 for 21 but when it mattered most he was huge, finishing with 23 points and 8 boards. You've got to love this guy's confidence, he started out in a slump but kept shooting and never hesitated. And he started out the game with a couple of strong drives in the post on Tim Duncan nonetheless. Kapono was given the green light to fire at will by Triano, and he did just that, scoring 21 points - a significant amount of them actually included him dribbling the ball and even driving.

Finally, of course the player of the game - Roko Ukic, scoring a career high 22 points. This kid has great potential. He's figured out his niche - driving the ball straight at his defender and dropping floaters or getting layups, something Calderon used to do last year. As frail as he looks, he's got good size at the pg spot (6'5") which gives him a good advantage and he's wiry with some long arms. His most impressive asset are easily his handles - they're just smooth, and look so natural - add that to his quickness, and you've got a potentially superb point guard in about 2 years. It's almost a good thing that he can't shoot well yet because that forces him to drive and we all know how much of a dire need that is on this ball club. That clutch 3-pointer he hit was just pure confidence, and must have the shocked the hell out of Spurs fans, and probably Raptors fans as well. But of course it was his next bucket that was the dagger. You'd think the ball would be passed around to Bargnani, O'Neal, Parker, or Kapono, but instead Roko saw single coverage and had the balls to do it himself; dude just TOOK it to Parker. He almost travelled too, spinning and almost losing his footing but was able to put up the shot and it rolled in. That drive reminded me of a lot of the one he did on Jameer Nelson against the Magic which was also the game-clinching play.

I wasn't even going to bother watching this game, but I did because I love Manu Ginobili, appreciate Tim Duncan to the max and admire Gregg Popovich. Ginobili is just a joy to watch - he looks awkward on his drives but just slithers through the lanes with great precision and has surprising athleticism. He dropped a season high 32, 15 of them in the fourth quarter.

Jermaine O'Neal deserves a shout out for his defense on Duncan; he didn't shut him down by any means (Duncan had 20 and 10), but he made it difficult and that's all you can ask. I thought Paul Jones had a good point on the post-game show on the FAN 590 : he said J.O., having been an all-star plenty of times and some juice to his name from previous years, got the leeway to play Duncan tighter than most other players would've gotten to (without getting called for fouls). Yes, he still finished with 5 fouls, but he would've probably been out much earlier in the game if he was just any other player.

  • You've got to love Popovich's honesty and point-blank answers. When asked if his team wasn't ready or maybe looked past this game, he said "no, we were ready, we busted our ass out there, the Raptors just played better and earned that win" (I'm paraphrasing)
  • That last play was definitely not what the Spurs wanted - a Tony Parker fadeaway with J.O. contesting, so we should actually credit the Raps for once on a clutch defensive play - hey, Pop even said so.
  • Speaking of the last play, how many of you thought Roger Mason was gonna burn us with a 3?
  • Parker almost blew it with that turnover, but did that 3 right before.
  • I was scared as hell when JO was taking those free throws, not because I thought he was going to miss, but because I had no idea how he is with clutch free throws.
  • Thank God Triano didn't pick Solomon to play the pg slot tonight.
  • I was watching some of this game from a stream, and the live chat that goes on with it are filled with hilarious comments from users. Such as: "Chris Bosh looks like a malnourished alien."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Raptors are THE DARK KNIGHT

Chris Bosh looking out from his Toronto condominium in deep thought.

As this dreadful Raptors season continues, I decided to combine one of my favourite films of all time, The Dark Knight and give it a Raptors twist. For more movie fun Raptors style, check out Scott Carefoot of RaptorBlog who did a Pulp Fiction version.

Bruce Wayne: "Targeting me won't get their money back. I knew the mob wouldn't go down without a fight, but this is different. They crossed the line."

The mob is the hectic audience at home games, and this is Chris
Bosh's attitude towards fans. The ACC crowd has been extremely vocal this season, maybe a bit too harsh, and it's rubbed off on CB4 the wrong way. Instead of using it as fuel to light a fire under the Raptors' sorry asses, Bosh has responded by saying such things as "If I wanna get booed, I'll go on the road." And instead of taking the stance of "you know, the fans have a right to be mad, we've been a huge disappointment so far", he has replied that they shouldn't boo because "the fans don't know how much they impact the game." And in other revealing news, the earth is mostly covered by water. Don't you wish he was this testy on his opponents instead of the fans?

Joker: "You and your kind, all you care about is money. This city deserves a better class of criminal. And I'm gonna give it to them!"

This goes out to MLSE, who we all know have been fucking around for a while and seem to be content as long as they're making money (which they are, as Raptors are 9th in attendance) and selling us hope. Now, let me clarify this - I'm not saying they're happy being mediocre, but they also don't strike me as the type that it would kill them if they didn't win a championship.

Batman: "You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain. I can do those things because I'm not a hero, like Dent. I killed those people. That's what I can be."
Lt. James Gordon: "No, you can't! You're not!"
Batman: "I'm whatever Gotham needs me to be."

This sings to the tune of Jermaine O'Neal. Everyone questioned his character and motives when he was brought to the Raptors, whether he's going to try to dominate and/or pad his stats. He was the hero in Indiana as the centrepiece for a long time, but in the end became a villain to the fans as they felt he wasn't giving it his all and was detrimental to the team. After the Raptors got him, we had high hopes, but as it turns out, he's not the hero we thought he was going to be, and at the moment he's whatever Toronto needs him to be, and that's trade bait.

Joker: "Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I'm a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it. You know, I just... do things."

Hopefully, this isn't Brian Colangelo. After turning around the franchise in his first year and a half, he's made moves that, well..just haven't worked out. What happened to that three year rebuilding plan? Is there a plan period? I still have faith in him, but I know tons of fans out there feel like he's just gotten lucky with his past moves and that he's not that special of a GM after all.

Lt. James Gordon:
"Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight."

Chris Bosh. He's the type of player the good folks in Toronto deserve (franchise potential; key guy to build around, grounded, unselfish), but not the one it needs right now (not a true leader (?), soft, failure to perform in BIG games against top-tier players). The fans are verbally hunting him, and hopefully he can take it. Because he's not a hero right now, he's a dark knight.

Joker: "I like this job - I like it!"

Joey Graham, finally getting consistent minutes (and having a positive impact), sometimes even starting, after riding Sam Mitchell's doghouse for years. Can't you just imagine Joey with a Joker face saying this to Triano?

Old guy
at party when Joker and his crew crash it: "We're not intimidated by thugs!"

*NOT the Raptors (editor's note: see Bosh v. Garnett).

Joker: "I just did what I do best. I took your little plan and I turned it on itself. Look what I did to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets. Hmmm? You know... You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go "according to plan." Even if the plan is horrifying!"

What Bryan Colangelo must be thinking. He came in here, took Rob Babcock's little plan and turned it on itself. Look at what he did to this city with a few moves and a couple of (okay, a LOT of) expensive suits. Everyone was hailing him as our saviour, even if that plan was horrifying (getting a bunch of Euros/international players and putting together a soft jump-shooting team). But now that things are down, the city is panicking like Ra's Al Ghul just released his fear toxin into the city's water supply.

Harvey Dent: "Do you remember that name you and the others had for me when I was at Internal Affairs?" Lt. James Gordon: "Yeah, I remember." Harvey Dent: "Say it." Lt. James Gordon: "Harvey..." Harvey Dent: "SAY IT!" Lt. James Gordon: "'Two-Face.' Harvey Two-Face." [Harvey turns his head, revealing the scarred side of his face] Harvey Dent: "Why should I hide who I am?"

To our old friend, Chuck Swirsky, who, as soon as he bolted Toronto, already started talking smack about the Raps. Think we can call him "Chuck Two-Face" from now?

Gambol: "You think you can steal from us and just walk away?" The Joker: "Yeah."

Replace Gambol with the fans who are paying a lot of money to attend the games, and replace Joker with the players after every home blowout loss in which they display yet another case of lackluster effort.

Alfred: "Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn."

This has to be Jamario Moon. Does this clown realize its a contract year for him? By the way he's been playing, he couldn't be possibly looking for money right? Triano and co. have been instructing him over and over I'm sure about attacking the rim and not taking jumpshots, but you know what? He just can't be reasoned or negotiated with. And definitely not bullied, just ask Chris Bosh.

Joker: [to Batman] "Come on, I want you to do it, I want you to do it. Come on, hit me. *Hit me!*"

Colangelo: [to Pat Riley] "Come on, I want you to do it, I want you to do it. Come on, hit me with that trade for Shawn Marion. HIT ME!!!!!"

Joker: "Let's put a smile on that face!"

Finally, for the fans. Turn that frown upside down, because the offseason will bring hope and maybe we can all be back right at this same position next year and watch the cycle continue
!! So come on guys..whyyyyy soooo....serious???

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Too Much Of The Same

Take that title how you will, too much losing, too many jump shots, not enough defense. It really does fit in a scary number of ways for the Raptors. How I see it is simply, too much of the same player, the same attitude. Ironically, some of the skills our Raptor players have would be sought out by many other franchises, it's when we put them on the floor at the same time where we become less than the sum of our parts.

The main thing that has stuck out to me probably since the post Mike James/Mo Pete era is that we have too many players being unselfish, too many players trying to be more than they are. Our sharp shooters, Parker and Kapono, it seems that they don't want to be labelled as three point shooters with parker taking perhaps the toughest off balance shots with regularity than I've seen from anyone. Granted, he does make a decent share of them but I'd much rather see him take a spot up three than a jumper on the move. Then we have Kapono, camped as a three point threat with his patented pump fake and travel, or pump fake and tear drop. Last time I checked, you were not Tony Parker. Both these players want to be seen as more than sharp three point threats, but both after being in the league for years should know, thats what they are! I'm constantly reminded as I walk past the ACC where there is a Kapono quote about finding your niche in the league. Ironically, he doesn't mention staying IN that niche. Personally I don't understand their fear of being labelled. Sharpshooters will always have a home and I have to believe this desire to show a wider skill set is the reason they are so hesitant to take 3 after 3. Meanwhile, the Hornets know what they can do from the long bomb and are willing to take 6 or 7 3's in a row, something I have never seen the raps do more than twice or thrice. It's nice to have post ups and all, but when we can't guard the three, swapping 2 for 3 just doesn't cut it. Meanwhile we have Jamario who wants to be a sharpshooter and should realize his skills are rebounding and playing the passing lanes. Hump to be an energy player and give us offensive put backs, but he's taking jumpers from the free throw line.

What separates the best from the rest is not always talent, sometimes it's simply players knowing their roles and staying within them and becoming more than the sum of their individual talents. Look no further than Boston, Allen and Pierce taking a step back, LA, Odom off the bench, Spurs, Ginobili off the bench and so on. The Raps need to get more players who know what they can do, accept it, and actually do it.

Remember, shooters shoot.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Nashy-Nash and BD are Step Brothers

i know. not raptors-related, but so worth checking out. who knew nash had moves?! i wish i was rich and could make low-budget videos like this. because you know, i got time to waste doing that. haha

I'll Take It.

i'll take that loss against the Lakers. i didn't expect to win, and frankly, i expected to lose, much like anyone who's been following the raptors lately. yes, we lost. and i hate calling these games "moral victories", so i'm not going to. all i want to acknowledge is that we actually played for 48 minutes. we were competitive for 48 minutes and i can't remember the last time that's happened. so kudos to the Raptors (minus Jamario Moon).

random notes:

. jamario, jamario, jamario... when tv announcers keep calling your shit out, that's when you really need to take a look at your game and see what's going on.
. CB4's cousin, brother, and girl need to stFu. anyone else notice Odom talking smack to them after he made that dunk? (aka MGD's smooth play of the game...)
. whatever joey's eating, sniffing, inhaling, drinking, watching, listening to, etc ... he needs to continue. and endorse that shit if this level of play continues.
. i almost feel bad that JO might not be traded. the man is running out of time, ligaments, and knee braces, and i would like him to get his shot at contending for a title again. or at least making the 52 some-odd games he does play in a season more worthwhile.
. being 5 feet tall, i'd love to sit in Phil Jackson's chair and swing my legs
. Devlin pronouncing Vujacic as Voo-ya-sich made me cringe and giggle at the same time... everytime

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Delfino, where are you?

I'm not going to lie, its pretty difficult to write about the Raptors when you're sick about speculating on rumors, venting frustration or praying for a rally. So let's take a refreshing take at not someone who can save us now, but may be integral in the future. A player we all came to love last season for his calm demeanor, do it all attitude and fantastic two way ability, Mr Carlos Delfino.

Put on a Raptor uniform again!

On a side note, I thought it was hilarious that on google images, this was the first image that came up for him.

But in all seriousness, when I first heard the rumor of him wanting to return a few months back I was ecstatic! When we first got O'Neal, I was of firm belief that we would be a strong force IF we could keep Delfino. Use him how you will, our starting sf to help Parker with defensive assignments, or a nice solid lead by example player with a scoring punch for the bench. Either way, he satisfies our two greatest weaknesses, the ability to penetrate and draw fouls, and the ability to play two-way basketball, be a threat and guard your position. Unfortunately, Khimki knows what a model player and person they have and are committed to keeping him there as a center piece. As expected, he is helping them contend for the title and be one of the giants of their league. As more and more NBA players are striving to return to the NBA however, BC and many others feel confident that Delfino will attempt to return. I doubted whether BC had full intentions to bring him back, but after witnessing the Raptors plight and hearing him express his desire and plans to in fact do so, my faith is renewed.

For those of you including myself, who wish he never left, we fail to see the benefit of his leaving. For one, this gave Graham a final opportunity and to his credit, he is making use of it. Not only to help restore our confidence and his own, but to also prove that although he will never be a star, he has a place in the NBA as a solid cheap rotation player. Whether he remains in Toronto is impossible to foresee but he has definitely increased his trade value and I'm sure he will play somewhere in the NBA. The more important reason however is the opportunity for growth this provided for Delfino. He stormed into a situation where for once, he could literally be the man and with his package of shooting ability, penetration, defense, speed and strength, he was in a position to bring some magic to that league. As was the case with Joey, he took full advantage of it and has blossomed into one of the faces of that league. Sources say that he has not only thrived, but developed greatly in his already high basketball IQ, basketball abilities and his team play, a staple of European basketball. Another key benefit, he's learning to be clutch, has become a fourth quarter factor and has led Khimki through a lot of last minute battles. Can you name a certain team that might need that?

I for one can't wait to see the new and improved Delfino with the Raps again next season, and you know you're lying if you're not excited either!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Oh no...The Raptors are sad :(

I just finished watching the Leafs lose 4-3 in overtime to the Florida Panthers. There's a lot of similarities between the Leafs and the Raptors this season. One being that both lack consistent talent to make a comfortable playoff challenge. But after finishing the Leafs game, I felt something: satisfaction. The Leafs blew the game with 40 seconds to go, but they put a hell of an effort. I saw an ACC give an ovation to their players as they left the rink following Bryan McCabe's OT winner. This is the kind of effort that has renewed the fan's confidence that atleast we can go down with a spirit worthy of a Toronto franchise. The Raptors? Not so much. I don't think that players play worse when unmotivated. When on the court, I believe nothing matters: the press, the money or stats.

(Enter Jose Calderon scolding the press for even giving 2 damns about stats. "What are stats, I have never heard of such things".)

But there is something we can all relate to when playing sports, and that's giving a %$&@ enough to give that extra effort that really goes a long way in a fan's mind. I think Bosh, Jose and AP DO give a damn, but I think their efforts have been wasted in vain after many last second losses. They're down, simple as that. And in the NBA you have about 40 hours to get over yourself until you get destroyed again. Is it the fan's responsibility to bring them back up? It sure as hell would help, believe me. Now I'm not saying that the fans start going over Bosh's house so he can cry on their shoulders (I'm looking at you Aldrin), or surprise JO with a teddy bear (I'm looking at Malin, who actually works at the ACC).

Here is where I like to look at history, but I've never seen many teams become contenders after such a depressing mid- season. Even a string of wins are meaningless, especially when they know they will get eaten by the Lakers and (insert any above average NBA team here).

So what now? Any solutions left? It depends on the problem obviously. But with the Raps we have a lot.

- lack of confidence- CHECK

- lack of consistency (aka: major talent)- CHECK

- lack of depth- CHECK

In my own experience, the solving the first one of those can bring results. The current roster won't do this on its own. And this is why MEDIOCRE FOREVER is officially supporting the trade of Will Solomon for a DVD copy of Rudy. (oh and Morris Peterson and (the retired) Jerome Williams, just for fun).

If that doesn't pick up the Raps, NOTHING will.

*Mediocre Forever's credibility is instantly destroyed*-

Give Me a Reason to Cheer

so theres been plenty of discussion about the appropriate/inappropriate use of boo's by fans towards the Raptors and Chris Bosh. as shown through my headline, i'm taking a different approach. speaking not only for those who boo, but also for those who remain silent, i'm asking the Raptors to give myself and fans reasons to cheer.

until then, i can't cheer so long as...
. teammates can't call out their leader
. defensive intensity is lack-luster
. players keep falling for the pump-fake
. players keep falling for the pump-fake around the 3-pt line
. wing productivity is constantly inconsistent
. the team can't play a full 48 minutes
. players don't box out
. the team blows comfortable leads
. help defense is equated with no defense or unnecessary fouls
. the team settles for jumpshots
. players stand and watch opponents get into the paint
. players watch other teammates fight for rebounds
. the team relies on their offense to win games
. offensive intensity dictates defensive intensity
. players stand around on offense
. people can't even get a damn hand up
. players don't rotate quickly enough (if at all)
. CB4 curls into a fetal position against opponents who actually challenge his game
. Andrea Bargnani gets pushed around three different positions
. the Raptors bench doesn't cheer for their own teammates (lets admit - even Voskuhl isn't his cheerleading self as of late)
. the team doesn't show any desperation/nitty gritty fighting in regards to extending their season beyond April (in actuality, the way the Raptors play games is the way they're approaching the season and making the playoffs - good start, inconsistent middle, and a hard push at the end that usually falters and comes up short. if that's the case, let's get these team scouts on the grind.)
. the team expects themselves to crumble once their shots aren't falling
. the team doesn't show consistent effort

it's not as though i don't want to cheer. of course i do. but i'm a Torontonian. and apparently, as a Torontonian, we can be tough fans. so again i say, give me a reason to cheer. and i will.

I Promise.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Worst Crowd In The NBA

I couldn't believe our poor showing this afternoon, but more importantly I couldn't believe how bad our crowd is. It's no wonder so many players refuse to come here when our home crowd is more of a 6 man for the enemy. I think the worst part of this whole situation is that the other teams can't believe its happening.

Jameer Nelson said "I don't think that is right for any players. Everybody has a right to do what they want at a game because they pay their money, but at the same time he is out there fighting and playing hard. You shouldn't boo the guy, he is an all-star and is great for this team. I don't think he deserves to get booed, I don't think the team deserves to get booed."

Nelson is right. To be a fan means more than jumping on the bus when we're winning. Being a fan means being a fan always. So many of our current fans are quick to blame our players, quick to blame management, coaching but who would want to play for fans who will throw you under the bus the moment things start to get ugly. I'm not saying fans have no right to complain, we can and should comment on games, discuss the team and give our thoughts but all of this should be left at the gate to the ACC. When tip off happens, you should be happy to be there to support your team, no matter who or what they have.You don't see players booing each other because they want someone gone, or someone benched. Carter was one of the few to do so, to express how he felt, to complain about the team as much as the fans complained about the team, yet we boo him. Why boo him for giving up when we gave up on them as well? Imagine how the NBA would be if players acted like the Toronto Raptors crowd. We would have a sea of players without character, integrity or loyalty,an abundance of Vince Carters throwing in the towel.

I remember reading something about how the Raptors were doing so well in ticket sales and attendance within the NBA. Quite frankly, I'd rather see 5000 fans in the building that are going to support the team no matter what, 5000 true fans.

For all you fans who are quick to boo Bosh or any of the Raptors, I hope you have something to smile and cheer about when they start wearing different jerseys. After all, you practically forced them to.