Get Free Shots from Toronto Raptors Ramblings: November 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Grizz vs. Raps preview?

A Preview?
As you know I’m not a ‘preview’ type of writer, especially for an upcoming game vs. Memphis. But when a guy named Chip Crain emails you from Memphis HQ to pass along his assessment of the game and tell you why he is famous…you are almost forced to reply.

Chip Crain. What a name. I was so sure this must be stolen from a movie I Googled him…but it’s just him. Famous old Chip Crain. (note: don't be confused with Charles Kane, Beverly Hills Gun Club...that name pales in comparison).

So, Chip Crain, here is that link to your preview for our Raps faithful as well as a few nuggets of protest and observation.

Raps Overview
We won’t take offence to Chip Crain not knowing we are 7-7, much like he won’t mind seeing a ‘c’ in the word offence.

Really, you still go by the name Grizzlies? I mean I won’t lie, I enjoy the images of Big Country that the name conjures up, but how did that happen? It wasn’t exactly the Lakers who were moving here, we’re talking about a perennial loser. Does Chip Crain have the answer….time will tell.

(note: Check out the home made "BC 50" arm band!)

Point Guard: Former Raptor vs. Three Fingers

Mighty Mouse! You sure bring back some good memories little buddy. But the sun is setting on the Little Cheese and Calderone (our backup PG) is on the rise. And not in a Kyle Lowry kind of way, but in a 9 assists, low turnover, hit big shots, floor general kind of way. Too bad he may be playing somewhere else next year.

Power Forward: How does Chip Crain not know that our starting Power Forward is Chris Bosh? I feel like that must be in there just as a tester for us. It’s possible he was simply confused because Bargnani is redefining the location of the centre position, foregoing the traditional ‘rebounding’ role and taking up shop 29 feet from the rim. Fair enough, we’ll give you a pass on this one (FYI - Nani, Nesterovic and even Baston fill in at centre).

Benches: Chip claims we don’t have toughness off the bench. But compared to what? We just don’t have much toughness period, not really our game. But the bench is not our problem. The fact that we still don’t have a starting lineup…well that’s a problem. Our lineup du jour features Moon as a starter but you should recognize this is Mitchell’s annual starters try-out camp which runs until early December. So stay tuned….the real Raptors lineup will be sorted out soon and you will see a very deep team on the rise.

Chip Crain vs. Me: The Big Interviews
Well Chip Crain is famous for his interview with Grizz GM Chris Wallace. I couldn't actually track it down, but could it be as good as my interview with Joey Graham (scroll way down)? I mean the guy refered to himself in the third person while the VIP made him completely ride it!? Then Uros Slokar basically said...well i stll can't say it. But needless to say those interviews did nothing for my fame. So the fame edge goes to Chip Crain but I'll take me and the Raptors 1 on 1 at a party anyday.

Chip, if you haven't read about the Garbo behind the scenes information check out a few posts ago. We shared the Spanish NBA connection after all. But 'news' that the Raptors doctors think Garbo needs surgery isn't exactly 'news'. It's a nice reminder that his Spanish insurance policy comes up soon and they are back to their pre-worlds stance that he have surgery...but this joke is getting worse by the minute. What a total waste of our glue stick for the past 6 months. Hurry up and make him have the damn surgery and stop pretending it's anything other than what it has been for 6 months, which is a colosal mis-managed situation!

Chip, thanks for the preview. I wish Memphis all the luck over there in West hell, you'll need it. As for us, we'll be picking up steam soon as we battle to our 50 win goal and a shot at round 2 or 3 of the playoffs this year. And yes, we will be giving you a spanking tomorrow night to end that 2 game win streak.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Mailbag – Answering your Question and Making up my own

Dallas at the Half

Here's what I wrote at the half.
With any luck the Raps can hold onto this half time lead, crush the Mavsin the final two minutes (cause the game will be close) and get back towards a 50 win pace. bargNANI is raining 3's, Bosh is aggressive and making real moves, people are almost even fighting for defensive rebounds…almost. But it's the Mavs at home and we love giving up wide open three's and long rebounds, so a 14 point head start is not much to write home about.

Moon Scouting Report

Someone said to me "once they get the scouting report on Moon he's toast". Really? He hustles, gets in your face, goes up to block a shot, and even on a fake can likely get back up before you get your real shot off. How do you scout against that? On offence he's taking what they give him, he can shoot triples and he can fly like Nelly Furtado. (Fantasy note: he could be worth a spot on a deep bench. Editor's note: I already scooped him up and renamed my team Moonshine Glenn).

Readers Request – New Feature

Sven asks: "Write a post about all our shooters! Also write something about Hector!".
Sure. Hector (nickname) was scouted out of Korea by Vigor and came dangerously close to making it to our training camp this year. As for our shooters, do we have lots of em? Yup. Are we getting them 'their shot'…no. So far tonight we are, but so far this year it's been spotty. Nani shoots from the top of the key. Anywhere else is too close. Bosh shoots from the elbow and the baseline. Parker shoots from Mo Pete's office as does Kapono (if he can ever get an open shot). Garbo likes it at 45 degrees and Delfino hasn't yet met an angle he doesn't like (ditto for Humphries). Ford is money this year 5 feet inside the long ball and Calderone is a golden god in limited minutes, minus the acid.

Pet Peeve of the Week

This won't be a weekly feature, I like to bitch much too much to contain it to once a week. But come with me down this journey folks. Picture me..standing in a courtroom…you are primarily a racist white jury and i'm ridiculously good looking….now close your eyes and picture the Raptors holding for last shot. You see T.J. Ford waiting…and waiting…and waiting. You see the clock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Picture yourself thinking 'for the love of god man, make your move'…but it doesn't happen. Not until 5 precious ticks are left on that clock.

Now close your eyes and picture that he's Michael Jordan. Cause I'm pretty sure that's what Ford does.

The reason this plan works for a 6 foot 6 pure scorer is that he knows he can get a decent shot off. He's like Paris at the nightclub. It doesn't really matter if she waits till closing time, she's going to score, at will, if she wants. The problem with Ford's late night move if he drives and can't get a clean shot he is left with two options. Option 1 is his the huck-up a prayer maneuver. Option 2 is kick it out to someone else who has about 0.8 seconds to get off a shot. Ouch.

Now close your eyes again and picture a day when he drives with 7 seconds to go. Sweet sweet heaven.

Don't think it's an impossibility, remember not long ago T.J. was the king of the 1 on 4 drive, throw it sideways over his head towards the basket move. Hopefully it's only 5 or so more tick tocks before he adjusts his arsenal once more.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Garbo: Play till it breaks (Follow Up)

Sam Mitchell and I are actually fairly close off the court and I'm guessing he likely read the last posting and said, damn straight, how did i forget that?! Let's see what he can do with 25 minutes.

Garbo gets 24 minutes (including crunch time), goes 3-7 (2-5 from downtown), 6 boards, 2 dimes, 1 steal, and 0 Turnovers.

Most importantly if you watched the game you see why we like Garbo. Quick decisions. Massive screens (do you see how open Calzone gets off Garbo's screens comapred to Bosh?) and solid defence.

If you know the little things to look for, you can see that Garbo does em. Normally this type of effort might signify a return of minutes, but given bargNani logged 5 minutes, Baston logged 18 minutes, it's harder to predict than which Graham brother or Olsen twin has more upside, when 'neither' is not an option.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Play Garbo till he Breaks: The Untold Story of Garbo’s Pine Ride

Why can't a mediocre Raptors squad who has no flow find minutes for one of last year's key guys? The answers are starting to come out and I for one am not happy.

Our Biggest Problem: The offence is stagnant, it's jammed up and the perfect flow of passing that was the Toronto Raptors is so far MIA. And sure we aren't shooting great, but I'd argue we aren't getting the right guys the right shots. Just because you are open does not make it the right shot (do you hear me Delfino?)

My Biggest Question: Integrating new guys into the offence is not resulting in a smooth, crisp machine like last year so why aren't we letting last years team show the new guys how it's done and then working them in to bigger roles?

The Shocking Answer: One piece of the puzzle is Garbo and apparently all the way from Colangelo down we've decided not to play Garbo. The Doctor's have said his leg is going to break again if they play him hard on it and so they don't want to risk it. "Risk it?". Risk what? They'd rather just work the new guys in now so nothing needs to be fixed later if he goes down.

My Reaction: Are you _____ kidding me (said with anger)!?! Ya, his leg is slightly broken. He didn't get surgery. So the answer is to just ride him on the pine? Seriously, this is the brain farts, solution to this problem? I mean tell me it's cause he's not playing well. Tell me something that doesn't sound like the Leafs are running this team.

How about this, if you weren't going to play him if he played in the Euro Championships why didn't you just tell him that!? Maybe then he wouldn't have played. Or we could have been even blunter and gone with "Sorry Garbo, we need you, you'll be at the Olympics in 2008 and we need you to have another surgery". Don't tell the guy you support him and then tell him he screwed it up. Of COURSE HE WANTED TO PLAY FOR SPAIN! Imagine Nash begging Steve Kerr, "Hey I can play, this leg will be fine, Canada needs me". We'd be like pigs in shit, but Kerr would simply say 'Sorry Nash, you gotta be 100% for us first'. And you know what, we'd be annoyed, but we'd completely understand. And we'd give him credit for wanting to play and trying to play. Kerr is supposed to be the bad guy in that situation.

The thought that we are benching Garbo because we don't want to mess with our yet undiscovered "chemistry" if he does in fact re-break the leg is an obscene decision based on what if's and butts, which are like Candy and Nuts (as Matt Bonner would say). Guys go down all the time, it's why you have depth.

Solution: Play him till it breaks. At least give the guy a couple of 30 minute game to SEE WHAT HE CAN DO! He's not a high energy, come in for 5 minutes and shake it up king of guy. He's steady Eddy who knows when to pass, when to pump drive pass, etc. Right now he's being forced to try and do too much in too little time and for one I think it's brutal.

The Media's Reaction: Reading this crap from Dave Feschuk in the Star this morning and seeing the anti-Garbo angle really bothers me. Don't try to turn us on Garbo. If Garbo is taking a suck because we're basically saying 'sorry man, can't risk you breaking your leg, you are too valuable on the bench' then I'd be sulking too. i.e. screw you guys, maybe you could have told me your real stance up front!

And hey, if he truly can't get it going, then of course he shouldn't play. And if he needs to have surgery, then have surgery. But this b.s., I've never heard such a pile of crap, and coming out of the Colangelo era I'm supremely disappointed.

editor's note: where is the humour and joy we normally find in these rambling posts? look for good old fashioned happy analysis next time out.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Fly Me to the Moon

I want to sing among the stars. Tell me what life is like on…Jupiter or Mars.

Well I can't tell you about that but our latest non-rookie, old-timer rookie, 27 year old Jamario Moonshine Graham sure makes me feel like crooning. We heard the pre-season hype that he could jump out of the gym, that he was uber-athletic and could 'do some things'. Then we saw Lucky Luke Jackson get cut to make room for him. Then we saw him take off his suit and get off that inactive list.

In the Bucks blowout we saw him run around, jack a couple bricks and hustle for some boards. Orlando he was now part of Sam's see-saw, logging the big O. And then came Philly, Moon earned 22 minutes, was 4-8, with 1 block, 2 steals, 8 boards. And then in Chicago, as you know, it got even better in 24 a starter.

The bottom line is that so long as the Raptors (see: Delfino and bargNani) can't get the ball movement that we need happening (or at least fake past their defender) having Kapono sitting in coverage in the corner is as useful as having a 4th nipple. Might as well have someone in there who can grab some boards, play some defence and give us a boost. Well this kids a boost. He's getting his first at-bat at the age of 27 and unlike Moonlight Graham (a.k.a. Dr. Archibald), a.k.a. if you haven't seen Field of Dreams this makes no sense (and p.s. rent freaking Field of Dreams if you haven't seen it already), unlike Moonlight he's going to get more than one at bat. I'm not saying he's the next JYD, I'm just hopeful he's not the next Bad Joey Graham.

On this squad you'll get minutes if you play well (and even if you don't if your name rhymes with Barlos Melbino). But it's all about Moon right now so let's kick back and enjoy.

I repeat, it's time to enjoy. Don't be negative. Don't ask questions like 'why did he get suspended from school?' or 'how come he's just making the league at 27?'. Maybe 'Why did he try to sing our national anthem without first learning the tune?'. Or 'hey, why are there You Tube highlights of him playing with the Harlem Globetrotters?'.

Moon told the world that his teammates have been making him ride it for his MJ Imitation dunk in that he can do better. He's promised to light up the highlight reel if he sees consistent minutes. Word on the street is this kid might just be a contender. Word is.

Here's hoping Raptors faithful…hoping that we may have found the next great spark for our squad, the moonshine in our Gatorade, the next great hustling, scrambling, Larry Bird number wearing, high flying future dunk champion. For now, for the next few days or weeks we can all hope for that.

p.s. Seriously It's not my favourite sports movie or anything but if you haven't seen Field of Dreams stop trolling the new release section for some trash that wasn't worth theatre prices and pick yourself up a nice weekly rental you are guaranteed to like.

Ray Kinsella: Fifty years ago, for five minutes you came within... y-you came this close. It would KILL some men to get so close to their dream and not touch it. God, they'd consider it a tragedy.
Dr. Archibald "Moonlight" Graham: Son, if I'd only gotten to be a doctor for five minutes... now that would have been a tragedy.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Save the cheerleader, Save our Team

When Juan Dixon and The Hump light things up for an entire half of near perfect shooting and 18 points you expect to be winning. When Bosh goes 14-14 from the line you expect we are firing on all cylinders. And when TJ is working a 10:1 ratio you expect the moon to crash into the earth and for everyone to die in a fiery explosion. But of course, we aren’t dominating, and these numbers are illusions. Bosh is not back to Bosh yet which is problem 1. All assumptions and proclamations about Raptor domination work on the assumption that Bosh is All-Star Bosh. The other assumption going into this year of course was that we wouldn’t have a long period of figuring each other out. That our pieces moved together in perfect harmony and that our depth was even deeper. Hopefully that will be the case….soon.

Suffering from Heroes Syndrome
Our current 13 man rotation is very last year. If you watched the Show “Heroes” last year you already know how it was basically the Raptors season. If you are watching it this year you are seeing some eerie similarities rising again.

The problem with Heroes at the outset last year was there were so many heroes, so many story lines that you could never really get into the full groove of any particular hero. There were lots of individual talents but they weren't a team in the least. As the show moved along they started to come together and form cohesive units and story lines. They started to know their roles and work together to harness the collective powers. And by the end it was one kick as unit that together knocked down (but not out) the uber creepy Sylar. In effect The Raptors were the Heroes of last year minus the end where we couldn’t defeat the uber-creepy Carter.

2007- 2008: Here we go again

This year Hero is stuck back in ancient times and nobody really understands what he’s doing. We only have a couple of new heroes who look promising (like the girl who kills you with her black death eyes) but for some reason the old Heroes forget they were a super team and are all over the map again figuring things out for the first time.

Sam Mitchell is our Hero wandering around the 1600s taking his own arrows and certainly confusing us. We can only hope that he soon pieces it together and we look at the genius of this plot he is unfolding. In summary, get Hero out of ancient times and back to the big city to pull this team together.

What is the PT Situation?

I’m glad I asked.

  • 8 Raptors are averaging over 20 minutes a game
  • 4 Raptors are averaging over 11 minutes a game
  • 1 Raptor is averaging 8.2 minutes a game…and he’s Jorge Garbajosa

Yup, old trusty Uhu Glue stick Jorge Garbajosa is riding the pine. He says he’s fine, Mitchell clearly thinks otherwise. Delfino is virtually tied with Bosh for most minutes played. Rasho is stuck in 10 minute land and we are losing. Big time. Other than cohesion issues what’s up?

Passing, where has the passing gone?

It only takes one guy to stop the passing flow. It takes a few guys to shoot when they should pass and it becomes as contagious as passing once was. This team has to trust the pass, work it around and shoot open shots. Too much hesitation, too much forcing, too little passing. We need the passing disease to strike back in TO. Kapono is probably the most confused guy, he thought he was just taking over Mo Pete's office space in the corner.

And of course our shooting woes are well documented. Guys like Bargnani have shown they can play defence on tough opponents, Carlos can grab rebounds, T.J. can own people but if we can't hit open shots we can't win. We aren't built to win any other way. So get the cohesion, get the passing, get the open shots.

Save our our season.