Posts Tagged ‘Chris Bosh

Heat hand Raptors a reality check; Hard to replace Amir; Hansbrough doing his part; Some interesting Raptors SportVu stats

- November 3rd, 2014

- Well, that was rather predictable, no? The Raptors arrived in Miami 2-0, despite not playing all that well defensively. A scorching offence had been enough to get by a good Atlanta team (the amped-up season-opening crowd and some Al Horford rust didn’t hurt either) and Orlando just isn’t yet a good team (but still held leads for stretches of Saturday’s game). Miami is better than either of those two squads and came in playing a lot better overall than the Raptors had been. With the Raptors not playing any better, a win was not in the cards. “It caught up with us,” head coach Dwane Casey said of the team’s lackluster defensive efforts.

- It is never an ideal team to be without Amir Johnson, but going up against Chris Bosh and the Heat made Johnson’s absence especially problematic. Johnson tweaked his ankle yet again and, early in the season, the Raptors opted to be cautious, rather than risk a nagging, long-term issue. The team’s defence had been iffy through two games. Minus Johnson, the top post, help, rim and one-on-one defender on the squad, it was easy to predict what came next. Johnson is an elite rim protector. Greg Stiemsma is the only other Raptor who offers any deterrence at the rim (Bebe isn’t ready yet) and he did not get into the game.

- Effort was a problem for the Raptors on Sunday, and that isn’t often the case for a Dwane Casey-coached squad. Johnson’s absence can’t explain away what happened on the boards. Getting crushed 43-28 in the rebounding department by one of the NBA’s worst rebounding teams had to sting. Dwyane Wade nearly outrebounded Toronto’s starters by himself. Most of the discrepancy was a result of effort – Miami had it, Toronto did not – and smarts – The Heat did a better job blocking out and getting to the right areas.

- Patrick Patterson insisted the Heat was still a top opponent, even without LeBron James, then went out and had what might have been his worst outing as a Raptor. As Casey said afterward, it was a really bad time for Patterson to play poorly. He was a complete non-factor, failing to score a point or haul in a rebound. Unfortunately, reality says Johnson is going to miss a few games every so often because of his ankles. Patterson needs to play like he did last season when that happens.

- The Raptors really struggled to defend the pick-and-roll and were particularly susceptible to back-door cuts, often coming off of big-to-big passes. Jack Armstrong noted it on the broadcast, the Chrish Bosh-Josh McRoberts combo is going to produce a smart, high efficiency offence. We’ll see the same thing in Chicago with Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol.

- A lot of people think the Heat are going to fall off and struggle to make the playoffs. I don’t share that view (picked them to finish 5th in the East). This is still a good team. It has some flaws (troubling lack of size, rely too much on Bosh to score), but if  Wade looks like he did on Sunday, they’ll be fine. Wade looked like himself (sure, playing the porous Raptors helped, but still …) he split through the defence at will, getting into the middle whenever he wanted to. Though Wade doesn’t take it all the way to the hoop as often as he liked to, when he sliced through, he easily set up teammates for open looks. Without a true point guard, Wade could be going make to his earlier days, where he was tasked with generating a high level of assists every night. Arguably the best shot-blocking guard of all-time, Wade also got up to make an unreal rejection on a Valanciunas attempt. It’s a long season and Wade will surely wear down, but, for now, he looks like the guy who has been one of the NBA’s best players for a solid decade now.

- One Raptor positive through three games: The play of Tyler Hansbrough. Hansbrough never looked comfortable in his initial season in Toronto, but has been the first big man off of the bench in 2014-15 and has played well. Hansbrough might have modest stats, but he is getting under the skin of opponents, is hitting the glass, taking charges and not forcing as many shots as he has in the past. It has been a nice-bounce back so far for the former North Carolina legend.

- Another: Kyle Lowry is averaging nine assists for every turnover through three games (though he had only three assists and his first two turnovers of the year against Miami).

- The bottom line: There is no need to panic, it is early yet. Once Johnson comes back, the newcomers get comfortable, Patterson returns to form and the Raptors wake up defensively, this will be a good squad. Are there flaws? Absolutely, but not enough to prevent a top 4 or 5 finish in the East, with the potential to be pretty solid.

- Some bonus stats courtesy of FanSided, via the SportVu tracking cameras (stats are from last season): Only five players shot 50% or better on wide-open threes. Kyle Korver led the way and Terrence Ross was one of them; Opponents guarded DeRozan more closely on three-point attempts than anybody else in the league (4.52 feet away, just ahead of how closely Kevin Durant was covered from beyond the line).

 

Raptors PPG: Playoffs, we’re talking playoffs? Raptors go from tank to bank; What’s happened since the Raptors last made the post-season

- March 29th, 2014

So, the Raptors are in. Fittingly, Amir Johnson, exemplifying everything he brings to the table, was the one to supply the last push Friday against Boston. Amir and DeMar DeRozan have been suffering through down seasons together here longer than anyone else, the last remaining players from the end of the Chris Bosh era.

It’s been a long time coming, that’s for sure. A lot of bad basketball has been played since Bosh broke his face. It’s a new day. While nobody knows what the off-season will bring (a lot of change, or stability?) the tank is long-dead and thoughts about potential playoff opponents can now be voiced.

- Johnson’s been Toronto’s best overall player in the three seasons previous to this one and works harder and plays through more injuries than anybody on the team (though DeRozan is about his equal in both of those regards). That’s why it was nice to see him get the Raptors through.

- No question Kyle Lowry’s been the top Raptor this season (again, with apologies to DeRozan) and he showed what he’s all about as well in fighting off an ankle injury to make some decisive drives to the bucket that helped seal the win.

- DeRozan wasn’t about to let the pesky Celtics, who he’d already seen five times this season, including the two exhibition games, come back again. With his jumper shaky, DeRozan looked to repeatedly attack, getting five shots in the paint in both the third and fourth quarters. Now that he’s an all-star, DeRozan  is getting calls from the officials, which helps quite a bit, but it’s his mindset that is the key.

- Nice to see John Salmons find his game. To say he’s been struggling is a massive understatement. His game had completely vanished, but Dwane Casey kept the faith, even though using Landry Fields instead would have made a lot of sense, and Salmons responded by nailing his first two shots, picking up two assists, a couple of steals and no turnovers. He was also +15, tied for the team lead.

- A bonus thought: +/- is way down on the list of useful stats, but it’s a lot more relevant in basketball than it is in hockey, where power plays mess with the numbers. While it’s not a be all, end all, the eye test shows that Chuck Hayes has been excellent for the team lately. The +/- check shows Hayes has been +15 (tied for team lead), +3 (best of the reserves), +17 (2nd on team) and +16 (best on team) in his past four games. He’s supplied strong defence and helps move the ball around thanks to his surprisingly strong passing skills.

- Since Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu took out the Raptors in five games in the playoffs, Toronto witnessed (a lot more than this, but a few highlights/lowlights):

The ill-fated Jermaine O’Neal deal; The end of the Sam Mitchell era and the elevation of Jay Triano to head coach; Bryan Colangelo gifting  the Heat with the cap space to form the Big Three by dumping O’Neal for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks; The drafting of DeMar DeRozan; The Raptors “winning” the Turkoglu sweepstakes, only to almost immediately regret it once Turkoglu showed up to camp fat and unwilling to justify his payday; DeRozan starting 65 games as a rookie; the Jarrett Jack\Jose Calderon controversy at the point; A career year from Bosh, that ended prematurely when he got hurt and shut himself down in advance of his free agent flight to Miami; Bosh leaving, Bryan Colangelo ripping him, then saving some face by somehow dumping Turkoglu on the Suns (his former agent was in charge there); A disastrous season that ended with Triano out, Dwane Casey in and Jonas Valanciunas drafted in Colangelo’s ballsiest move, since he wouldn’t come over for a year and because Bargnani had soured nearly everyone in the city on European players; A lockout, followed by a shortened season where the Raptors were horrible to watch because the talent simply wasn’t there, but where Casey turned around the defensive culture and started turning around Toronto’s reputation as a soft team; The development of the youngsters and the drafting of Terrence Ross and Quincy Acy; Last season’s brutal start; The Kyle Lowry/Calderon and Lowry/Casey situations; Ross wins the slam dunk contest; The trade for Rudy Gay which sent Calderon elsewhere; The regression and booing of Bargnani; The arrival of Tim Leiweke and Masai Ujiri; The miraculous Bargnani trade that actually brought back draft picks; The tank talk; This season’s bad start and the Lowry trade rumours and questions about Casey’s future; The trade of Gay to Sacramento; The stunning turnaround of the team into a squad that wins two thirds of the time; Lowry’s all-NBA caliber campaign; DeRozan’s all-star nod; The return to the playoffs.

 

 

 

No progress on lockout front; Bosh-Valanciunas comparison doesn’t hold water

- August 17th, 2011

Not a whole lot happening on the NBA lockout front. Player’s Union VP Matt Bonner told Eric Smith on the FAN 590 recently no talks are planned anytime soon between the two sides and meanwhile, players are saying they hate the latest offer they have received.

On Tuesday, 60 players went to a regional union meeting.

“We all know we’ll have to sacrifice but something has to be done,” Kevin Love told ESPN.

“It has to be sooner than later. We have to get the ball rolling. We can’t wait around until October or November and then nothing gets done. The owners will keep stalling and obviously they have more means than us to lock us out.

“I want to play basketball … I want us to make a compromise with the owners but not sign what they’re proposing. We’ll play hardball if we have to. I want there to be an NBA season but it’s also apparent that we’re going to miss games.”

Apparently the hard cap is the main sticking point. This corner still maintains there will be one implemented whenever a new deal gets done, but not for $45 million like the owners are asking for at the moment.

Other major issues to be worked out include guarantees on contracts and revenue sharing.
- Hoopshype talked to Jonas Valanciunas and his club team coach recently. Valanciunas discussed how happy he was to (eventually) be coming to an international city like Toronto and about his improving English.

His coach oddly compared Valanciunas to ex-Raptor star Chris Bosh. That one doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Sure, they are both tall and slight, run the floor well (though Bosh doesn’t get up and down as smoothly as he used to), rebound extremely well, draw fouls and knock down their free throws, but the comparison kind of ends there.

Bosh makes his living by raining jumpers and beating opponents with his first step. He’s an elite offensive player, one of the best in the world, difficult to stop when he’s on. Valanciunas’ offensive game is nowhere close. His jumper needs work, he lacks the range Bosh has shown and he hasn’t shown the quick first step Bosh has. He scores more garbage points and rebound points and uses a hook shot more than Bosh.

Plus, Valanciunas impacts the game far more defensively than Bosh. He alters and blocks more shots. He also fouls a lot more because he is more aggressive. While Bosh is much more of a pick-and-pop player, Valanciunas is deadly in a pick-and-roll game.

Personality-wise, both play hard, but Valanciunas is as intense as they come, won’t back down from anybody and takes losses extremely hard. OK, maybe that’s another similarity as both have cried after defeats.

Valanciunas is much more similar to Amir Johnson than he is to Chris Bosh. Maybe one day Valanciunas will more resemble Bosh. If the big Lithuanian develops and starts relying on his jumper for most of his points that could be the case, but it doesn’t seem like that’s the way he likes to play.

For now and maybe forever, the comparison is a misplaced one.

Quick thoughts on Game 3 of finals and congrats to latest Canadian star prospect Anthony Bennett

- June 5th, 2011

Will get to the finals in a minute but first …

Canadian basketball fans should get to know the name Anthony Bennett. He’s yet another stud Canadian prospect making noise. I was a bit late on Bennett, but have been told all year he’s the next big thing after the current crop playing in the NCAA and the players who went to the McDonald’s All-American and Nike games.

Bennett is a 6-8, 230 pound power forward from Brampton (very similar size to Brampton’s Tristan Thompson who is expected to become the highest drafted Canadian ever later this month).

Like Thompson, Bennett plays for Findlay Prep in Nevada.

Graduating Findlay player Myck Kabongo won MVP at last year’s Pangos Camp, a very highly regarded prospects camp in the U.S., while Bennett was named co-MVP this time around thanks to some tremendous performances.

Currently ranked 46th by ESPN in the class of 2012, most believe it is just a matter of time before he cracks the top 20, or higher.

As for the finals, some quick thoughts:

Dirk continues to be spectacular. Very few teams go to a big man in the clutch these days and even historically. Karl Malone was the guy for Utah and I can’t think of too many more examples at the moment.

That’s traditionally the time for swingmen or point guards to shine, so it’s pretty amazing how Dirk seems to score the last 10-15 points for Dallas in big games. He’s an all-time great.

Said in my piece in Monday’s paper that LeBron might get all the attention, but Dwyane Wade is the guy you want in the playoffs. He’s a killer. Not just on offence, where he’s brilliant, unless he goes into three-point chucking mode, but also defensively, where he’s an absolute terror – unless he’s outsmarted by Jason Kidd.

Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem continue to play underrated roles for the soon-to-be-champion Heat. They don’t show up much on the statsheet, but they’re invaluable.

Mario Chalmers, a guy Miami didn’t really want the past two years, is really earning his keep. Chalmers is nailing big shots like he did while at Kansas.

Shawn Marion is doing a solid job on James but Dallas can’t afford another 4-12 effort out of Marion. Somebody besides Dirk and Jason Terry needs to light it up for the Mavericks on Tuesday if they are to make this a series again.

These finals have been a treat for basketball fans.

Strange night for Chris Bosh. Started pretty well. Was awful in the second and third quarters. A bit better in the fourth until stinking it up late … but hit the game-winner.

One final thought. Dwayne Casey is doing a great job. He’s basically the defensive coordinator for Dallas and the team is buying in to what he is selling. Rick Carlisle has been fantastic as well, but I’d be shocked if Casey doesn’t get a head coaching job for next season, either in Toronto or elsewhere.

It is not easy to hold the powerful Heat well south of 50% shooting. Casey has helped make it happen.

Wade makes it a trio

- February 17th, 2011

To date the backlash of the big three deciding to hook up in Miami at whatever cost to their old franchises has been felt mostly by the two new newbies to South Beach.
That would be LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
James’ name is mud in his home state of Ohio. Likewise Chris Bosh learned Wednesday night just how unpopular his exit from Toronto made him after seven years in front of a previously adoring fan base.
Wade? He goes into Cleveland or Toronto and he gets cheered.
Wade admitted he realized this was done as much to mock his new teammates as in appreciation of his own game.
“That’s like a slap in the face,” Wade said. “We go back to Cleveland and I get cheered. We come here and I get cheered. That’s a slap in the face to these guys,” Wade said indicating Bosh and James beside him.
Then Wade, in a few words, joined Bosh and James among the ranks of the unpopular in both Toronto and Cleveland.
“It’s not I’m happy I didn’t have to go anywhere,” Wade said. “It’s just the decision that was made. Miami is just the better city. I’m not saying anything about Toronto but it wasn’t a focal point of mine. I wouldn’t come here and about Cleveland? I wouldn’t go there either. Miami was just the better city.”
Even James, the guy who thought it would be a good idea to go on nation-wide television and announce he was leaving his home to play in Miami saw that for the mistake for it was.
He buried his face in his hands and shook his head as Wade giggled nervously.
We don’t think Wade will have to worry himself about being cheered in either Toronto or Cleveland any time soon.
— Mike Ganter

On to boo or not to boo Bosh + the future of Bryan Colangelo

- February 15th, 2011

Chris Bosh made some mistakes on the way out, but is he worth booing to the same degree Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter have been?

I don’t think so.

Yes he said a bunch of incredibly stupid things and might have mis-led general manager Bryan Colangelo into thinking Toronto had a better shot than it actually did of bringing him back (though Colangelo has been around long enough to read the tea leaves and surely knew Bosh wasn’t coming back), but Carter and McGrady’s offences were far worse.

Carter quit on the franchise, might have given away a play (according to now-Raptor Reggie Evans who later took the accusation back), stopped playing hard and submarined his trade value after asking to be traded.

McGrady told Glen Grunwald there was pretty much a 50-50 shot he would re-sign in Toronto when his rookie deal was dealt, preventing the then GM from pulling the trigger on a number of enticing trade offers (a prime Jerry Stackhouse  or Larry Hughes among others) and left town as soon as humanly possible.

Bosh played hard and gave his all for pretty much his entire tenure. Maybe he should have played with a mask after breaking his face and made more of an effort to get back in the lineup to get the Raptors into the playoffs last season, but everybody’s pain tolerance is different. Only Bosh knows if he checked out down the stretch, thinking of greener pastures.

It isn’t all on Bosh that things didn’t work here. He re-signed with the team and though he enjoyed being miscast as a No. 1 option, or franchise player, he clearly wasn’t and that isn’t his fault.

It’s up to management to build a strong team and take advantage of what it has. Bosh, while not that uber-stud, was the closest thing to an elite player Toronto had and the team couldn’t properly build around him. While every good team had a steady swingman or two capable of breaking down defences, Bosh was never given that complementary and crucial teammate.

Bosh deserves to be both booed and cheered. In what order? I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps booed now while the wound for Raptors fans is fresh and cheered sometime down the line when he is recognized for the records he broke while here.

In any case, he isn’t the villain that Carter and McGrady were. Their actions seemed malicious, Bosh’s silly comments, though stupid and shockingly lacking in common sense never did.

Back to the man who took some good swings, but couldn’t find a way to make things work with Bosh.

It appears all but certain that Colangelo will get ample time to sort things out in Raptor-land.

While there is no timetable for an announcement, according to a source with knowledge of the thinking of the upper echelon of the MLSEL board, “It is 99% certain that (Colangelo) will be re-signed before the end of his current contract (which is due to expire on June 30th) and likely for a further 5 years.”

Interestingly though, the same source added that Colangelo was eager to add veterans in order to make a playoff push (prior to the losing streak that sunk the season),  “but other voices wanted to stay with the youth and future drafts and they won out.”

So does that mean Colangelo will be back with less autonomy or was the decision to extend him made after he got on board with the rebuild?

Also unclear is whether he will get five more years because the board is happy with the job he has done so far (A off the court, C- at best on it), or because there simply isn’t another candidate out there as qualified.

Colangelo should study Burke’s latest move

- February 11th, 2011

The recent move by the Maple Leafs was exactly the type of transaction Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo should try to make happen.

The Raptors need to find a way to add young assets, either players or picks by taking advantage of players of value they currently have that aren’t part of the long-term picture.

The Leafs, of course, took advantage of some cap space they have to get a former 17th overall selection from Anaheim, along with an overpaid, but talented player in exchange for a guy with year left on his contract after this one that they didn’t necessarily need.

The Raptors have a $12.5 million trade exception, the expiring contract of Reggie Evans and Leandro Barbosa who has a year ($7.6 million) to go before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

If the Raptors can find a way to get a first round pick or a young talent (like they did in acquiring Jerryd Bayless) for either Evans or Barbosa while taking back a bad contract that expires no later than after next season, they should do it. Current contending teams have used that strategy as a means to improve (Oklahoma City being the most noticeable example, though Utah has done it in the past as well).

Yes, getting frontline talent via the draft and possibly the Bosh trade exception is the biggest key for the Raptors in order to move forward their rebuild, but adding secondary or future talent by peddling Evans and/or Barbosa would also bode well for the future.

Reggie speaks, Raps listen

- November 18th, 2010

Beneath the ever-present smile and the odd twist in the English language lurks a real leader.
Who knew?
Reggie Evans, based on recent events appears to have assumed the role of team leader in the Raptors locker room.
In the 24 hours between a game in Washington devoid of any effort or passion – Reggie’s summation but one shared by many inside and outside the team – the Raptors Energizer Bunny on the boards called his team together and let it be known that kind of effort would not be tolerated.
Effort was not an issue for the Raps that same night in a win over Philadelphia.
Now we are all well aware that you can only go to the well so many times with these team meetings.
This one was not only necessary, it was everything these things are at their very best: timely, well received, and effective.
Evans stepping up and putting it to his teammates in his no-nonsense way was the perfect candidate?
Why?
Because no one is going to point at Reggie Evans and say there is any other agenda at work there. There is no more unselfish player on the floor in a Raptors uniform than Evans. He does all the dirty work, all the grunt work and then hands it off to his teammates to finish it off.
Next time you are at a game, count how many times Evans pulls down an offensive rebound and kicks it out to someone else. More often than not he’s under the basket when he does this. A more selfish player would go back up and finish the play by himself, but not Reggie. He understands that possession has a better chance of a successful completion with someone else directing it into the basket. Yes, that is exactly what is being asked of him, but actually doing it and doing it without reservation immediately establishes his team-first attitude.
Evans sounded somewhat insulted Wednesday night after revealing he had called a team meeting when he was asked if he felt more comfortable doing this now that there’s no Chris Bosh or franchise player on the roster whose territory he might be trampling by calling the meeting.
“I don’t really care if Chris were here. It really don’t bother me because no one puts any fear in my heart just because he’s a superstar,” Evans said. “It’s just that it’s harder to address things when you are not playing. When you are on the court, you can let those actions by playing hard (back up what you’re saying). It’s kinda hard to do it when you’re not playing. They would all be ‘What are you talking about? You don’t even play.’”
In other words, Evans, had he been playing last year, would have been this voice then, but didn’t feel it appropriate because he was injured and not contributing.
A quick check with the likes of Sonny Weems and Jarrett Jack suggest Evans words were taken to heart..
That, more than even the win over Philadelphia that followed, make Wednesday a big day in the development of this year’s Raptors’ team.
— Mike Ganter

Raps need a voice

- November 17th, 2010

Here’s one you can’t blame on Chris Bosh.
The Raptors lack that necessary voice within the locker room. That guy that doesn’t allow the kind of mail-it-in nights the Raptors had in Washington on Tuesday.
Sure you can blame Jay Triano and his staff, but they are sending the message. It’s just not always getting through.
Monday in Miami after a spirited practice, Triano turned things over to P.J. Carlesimo for part of the post-practice here’s-what-we-need-from-you spiel. The message was the same one Triano has been delivering, but he was worrying it was falling on deaf ears.
Perhaps a different voice was the thinking.
Turns out the deaf ears aren’t just for the head coach and really you can say that about most of the teams in the NBA.
In today’s NBA, the good teams hold themselves accountable from within. It’s usually one or possibly two voices in the room doing that.
You can’t blame Bosh for this because he was never that type of player either so his departure did not change anything in that regard.
The Raps need someone to step up and be that guy. The young roster combined with the handful of strong, silent types in the room does not make finding this kind of guy easy.
But it would certainly be a worthwhile search if it meant never seeing the kind of collective shoddy effort the Raps put out on Tuesday.
— Mike Ganter

Shaq sets record straight

- November 12th, 2010

Quoting Shaquille O’Neal as the voice of reason is a dangerous game, but Shaq is nothing if not honest.
His attacks on Chris Bosh in the past – remember RuPaul – didn’t go over real well in Toronto at the time although chances are they would be much better received now.
But ask O’Neal a question and chances are you get a straight answer. If he doesn’t feel like answering it, he doesn’t.
AskMen.com caught up with O’Neal as his Celtics were making their way to Miami earlier this week for a game with the Heat.
They asked Shaq whether it was true that NBA players don’t want to play in Toronto, a notion we have long believed to be completely without merit.
The big man set the record straight while (again) managing to take a shot at one of his favourite punching bags.
“It’s not that,” O’Neal said. “It’s the double taxes that deter players from going there. Also Bosh obviously couldn’t handle the pressure, so he had to go join two other people to help him out. Listen to what I tell you: Toronto is in the top three NBA cities for every NBA player. Trust me on that, brother.”
We thank O’Neal for clearing up one myth but he does manage to perpetuate another. That whole double taxes thing isn’t exactly correct. “Double” is an exaggeration, but we appreciate his efforts for the true north, nonetheless.

— Mike Ganter