Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Garnett

Nets provide latest reminder that something is truly rotten with these Raptors; Don’t do the expected switch, do the smart switch; We’ll miss Garnett

- February 5th, 2015

- Dwane Casey has urged calm, pointing to Toronto’s great record and place in the standings, but if the Raptors want to bury their heads in the sand, they’ll be in fourth place and the underdogs in any potential first-round playoff matchup before they know it. Simply put, things aren’t working. The two point guard starting lineup experiment needs to end, the all-star break needs to arrive – yesterday – to give Kyle Lowry the rest he is dying for – the players need to make smarter decisions on offence and a change needs to be made with the starting lineup, two, in fact (more on that shortly).

- Lowry had a great offensive start, but continues to get annihilated by pretty much any opposing point guard. Greivis Vasquez guards the point sometimes, to take some pressure off of Lowry, but it doesn’t seem to be working. When Lowry is tasked with it, too often over the past month or so, he is barely in a defensive stance, or is not in position to prevent an opponent from driving, unimpeded into the lane. Vasquez doesn’t do it either. DeMar DeRozan is just OK at it. That puts all kinds of pressure on the big men to cover up for everything, and it’s just not possible for someone to do that unless they are Anthony Davis, a young Tim Duncan, a healthy Joakim Noah, or maybe a couple of others.

- The move that surely is coming – re-inserting Terrence Ross in for Vasquez – is not the answer. It will be better than what we’ve been seeing, but if the Raptors really want to improve without making a deal, when James Johnson is healthy, the smartest thing to try would be inserting him at small forward and Patrick Patterson for Amir Johnson at power forward. Amir has been resurgent, but he is going to be a crucial piece later in the season and in the playoffs and getting more rest and less wear and tear, would go a long way. Plus he would pair up great with Vasquez on the pick-and-roll against second units, with Ross waiting to bomb away and Tyler Hansbrough providing energy and rebounding. The first unit would have great size, good mobility, better defensive resistance and rebounding and enough shooting, given how well Patterson has played. The Raptors coaching staff doesn’t love the idea, but they should try it.

- Mike Ganter wrote a short piece on it (unfortunately didn’t make it on-line), but if you missed it, Wednesday might have been Kevin Garnett’s final game in Toronto (barring another playoff matchup). I know most Raptors fans dislike the guy, but you have to feel nostalgic when you realize that Garnett’s the only active player that was in the league when the Raptors started, 20 seasons ago (even more amazing when you realize Damon Stoudamire, the rookie of the year for Toronto in that inaugural season, has been out of the NBA now for seven years). He didn’t play here too often for most of the time when he was basically the forerunner to Anthony Davis (when he was with Minnesota and an MVP-level player, he only made one trip to Toronto a year), but he made up for it by becoming a memorable heel once he arrived in Boston (and later, with Brooklyn).

“You are talking about one of the best communicators ever to play the game as far as talking on defence and communicating to his teammates,” said Dwane Casey, who coached Garnett in Minnesota.
“The air in practice, the air in the gym changes when he walks in because he loves practice and he loves to compete. You just wish all young guys coming into the league could take that from him. His competitive edge and his competitive spirit.”

Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors Points Per Game:

- February 11th, 2012

So, that’s why they play the games eh? It wasn’t impossible to see this one coming (I noted yesterday that for once, the Raptors would be at home rested waiting for a tired opponent and then the Celtics went to overtime in a battle with the Lakers to exhaust them even more). But still, considering Boston had taken 17-of-19 from the Raptors and beat up on them multiple times this season, it was still somewhat of a shock that Toronto upended Boston on Friday night.

- Boston had been averaging 98 points to Toronto’s 68.5 in the season series, shooting 50% to 35.9% for the Dinos.

- After being called out by Dwane Casey and humbled by the Celtics repeatedly, the Raptors showed some pride by taking this one. Gold quote from Amir Johnson:

“Excuse my language but I guess we just got tired of getting our asses busted,” said Amir Johnson, who had 12 points to go with 12 rebounds. “They have been beating us all season and the preseason. We finally stood up and hit them in the mouth.”

- The trick for the Raptors will be building on this without a letdown against the Lakers on Sunday. Los Angeles is going to be coming for the jugular thanks to their struggles.

- Casey showed some smart coaching by making his team run on the tired Celtics, who are old in the first place and had nothing in the tank after Thursday. Starting off hot was a key, jumping on Boston early was the only way to beat them. Toronto managed that with a higher compete level and an extra effort for 50/50 balls and second chance opportunities. Toronto has the young legs and athletes to do that all the time. It’s just a question of effort and willingness to do so.

- Jose Calderon rebounded from some spotty efforts with 14 assists and zero turnovers. The turnovers were the key as he had been making some uncharacteristic mistakes the past few weeks. I believe he’s the first Raptor ever to post 14 assists or more in three straight games, though Damon Stoudamire also might have pulled it off.

- Aaron Gray was one of the rare effective Raptors in Boston this season, and he had another nice night, pulling in 11 rebounds. I like the spacing he gives the team with his size and his screens. Will be interesting to see a Bargnani-Gray combo once Andrea gets back.

- Have to love what James Johnson is giving the Raptors at both ends. He has proven that at worst he is going to be a great reserve forward and defensive stopper going forward, and possibly much more than that. While Bryan Colangelo deserves the hammering he takes for some of his disastrous moves (Giving up all-star Roy Hibbert and more for Jermaine O’Neal, than giving up way too much to get rid of O’Neal and allowing Miami to get the cap space to form the Big Three for example), but stealing Johnson for a late pick in a bad draft was a heist that keeps looking increasingly astute.

- And, just to get some pageviews, the Jeremy Lin story is absolutely ridiculous and very cool to see. Even if he turns back into a pumpkin on Saturday, it has been a fantastic story and a reminder of why we love sports. Linsanity will be in the house Vinsanity built on Tuesday and all of a sudden a dull meeting with the possibly Melo and Amare-less Knicks becomes a likely sellout and a must-see for basketball fans.

 

Previewing Suns-Lakers and Magic-Celtics

- May 14th, 2010

I’m going to hold off on commenting on LeBron James, he gets enough attention.

If you’re desperate to read about the King Without a Ring, here‘s a great take on it.

The NBA’s Final Four is one of the most intriguing in years.

I said at the beginning of the year at full health, the Celtics still had enough in them for one more run. But I think Orlando is just playing too well right now to be beaten.

Big fan of Kendrick Perkins, but Dwight Howard is going to overpower him. Yes, Rajon Rondo should eat up Jameer Nelson, but Mr. Howard will be waiting at the rim. Ray Allen and Vince Carter go back a long way so that will be an intersting matchup to be sure. Kevin Garnett and Rashard Lewis are two very different players, but both are keys for their team.

In the end, I take Orlando in six because I don’t see how Boston stops Howard at one end and I don’t see how Rondo dominates with Howard protecting the rim.

In the West, a Suns victory would be what most of the free world is rooting for, but again, in the NBA, size matters, and I feel the Lakers are too big to be beaten by the Suns.

The Suns have nobody who can stop either Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol. If both are at their best, this will be over quickly. If Bynum goes down with yet another injury, Phoenix has a legit shot. I also like the huge advantage Phoenix has at the point and in terms of pace.

The Lakers struggle against great point guards, Steve Nash is one of the best. I expect him to do damage even if Kobe or Artest try to check him. The Lakers also are at their weakest when teams push the pace agains them. The run-and-gun Suns must attack as much as possible and keep the Lakers on their heels if they are to have a chance.

The Suns have a chance, but if the Lakers stay healthy, they will win in six and we will see an NBA Finals rematch.

This time the Magic just might come out on top.

What  summer it would be for Raptor fans if Vince Carter wins a title and Chris Bosh bolts. And you thought the riots in Montreal were bad.