Preseason Recap: Raptors vs Wizards 98 – 64

It’s nice watching TJ do his best “Jose” imitation. With 8 assists last night and no turnovers, few shots (due to a bad shooting night) and 4 steals, TJ’s played with some poise, recognizing that if his shot isn’t good, there’s plenty of others that can and will make the shot. It’s this kind of play that a lot of TJ supporters point to when the invariable comparisons come up, and the best part of it is that he’s doing more of it with Chris Bosh on the floor. And for the second game in a row, the Raptors have more than 25 assists (28 this game, 31 previous) and shooting over 45% from the field.

On the flip side, Jose’s doing a pretty good “TJ” imitation with some anticipation steals when doubling down on his man. By anticipating the pass for the last two games Jose’s come down and grabbed the ball from the weak side by being more aggressive. In addition, it seems like his range has been extended out beyond the 3 point arc and as he’s looked confident and on target.

The Wizards without Arenas are going nowhere fast. Jamison and Butler, while more than competent, cannot hope to keep the team in games without a rebounder like Etan Thomas and a bench that is far from solid. In many ways, when I look at this Wizards team, I believe that it depends so heavily on its “Big 3” it reminds me about how frail the Celtics can be as well. Granted, the Celtic’s big 3 are far more acclaimed and have produced consistent All-Star calibre play for their entire careers, but that same question remains in my mind. We saw the Wizards sink like a rock at the end of last year, and one wonders if the same fate lies for the Celtics should one of their 3 fall.

Back to the Raptors though. It’s that depth that kept the Raptors in the season when they experienced injuries to major starters and contributors throughout the season. Nevertheless, yesterday’s game has shown that while Jamario Moon’s found his place offensively, defensively, he should prove to be a major liability. After his nice game on Thursday vs the Cavs I decided to keep a closer eye on Moon. In the Wizards game, we saw that Moon was often “floating” between people and playing some imaginary zone defense. Put bluntly, he often lost his man, and while he was deciding whether to double down or not his man would become open. Now, in this case, it didn’t cost the Raptors, but it’s important to remember that the Raptors were playing against third stringers and his teammates ended up stealing the ball on the plays. Moon also managed to get the proper position on his man but failed to box him out. Nevertheless, this is going to be the biggest problem for Moon if he is retained for the entire season.

With preseason ending we’ve figured out a few things:

  • Jason Kapono is probably going to start the season, but I’m still planning for Delfino to move into the starting lineup, or at least, play significant minutes down the stretch. In many ways Delfino reminds me of Alvin Williams: solid defender, streaky shooter, can drive to the basket, but his strength is in his “D”
  • Bosh’s knee looks fine. Garbajosa’s leg, I’m not so sure. Now, Jorge has told everyone that he’s playing the same as before but the question is whether psychologically there’s some hesitation. Traumatic experiences usually leave larger emotional scars than they do physical.
  • Ford vs Calderon. It’s just not going to matter from my perspective, so long as Ford continues keep his head on straight. It’s the only way to keep the argument at bay and Ford seems to recognize it.
  • Luke Jackson is the prime candidate to get dropped. While I have major questions about Moon’s defense his potential makes him worth keeping.

With that the preseason comes to a close and the Raptors open the season against Philadelphia on Hallowe’en.

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9 thoughts on “Preseason Recap: Raptors vs Wizards 98 – 64

  1. Good points, especially about TJ and Jose. What really set the Raps apart these last two games was the passing and conscious attemptm to find the best shot. Sam and his assistants are obviously preaching this. we saw a lot of it last year, but this preseason the ball movement has been fantastic. In that sense, it doesn’t matter who has the ball, TJ, Jose, Dixon or Parker. As long as they buy into Sam’s system, we will continue to see high percentage shots.

    Puffers Posts
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  2. I like your Ford/Calderon debate but I disagree with you on Moon. I didn’t watch him closely last night but when I have watched him on the defensive end he’s done a great job of denying the entry pass into the post and most of the time he’s able to push the player he’s guarding out to the perimeter. When he’s guarding a SF or PF this is ideal as they need to create their offense off the dribble.

  3. Dread – Thanks a lot. I’m just not sold that Moon pays enough attention on defense. I don’t think he was tested much against the Cavs, and while I respect his athleticism, his limited minutes in this Wizards game exposed some glaring faults in my opinion. I guess I’m trying to temper my optimism about him.

  4. Fair enough, I can respect the tempered optimism… just gives Moon a chance to prove your wrong šŸ˜›

    Hope you don’t sprain an ankle jumping Moon’s bandwagon this season. hehe

  5. hahaha! Nope šŸ™‚

    After watching him play in the preseason I’m glad I haven’t. As explosive as his offensive abilities are his defensive abilities are the complete opposite. I can’t help but think that your right by saying that by the All-Star break Carlos Delfino will claim the starting SF spot.

  6. How can we say that the “one to go” is either moon or jackson? What the team will do is get rid of their worst player, which would be Darrick Martin…. If either tj or jose go down, the other will play BIG minutes, while dixon will pick up 5 or 6 minutes at the point. I see it as a no brainer.
    martin has no upside to look forward to…the young moon and jackson do!

  7. Craig – I can see your point in some way, but Jackson is far less valuable to the team. Even though Martin can’t do much anymore, he’s a no-maintenance guy who is good enough to run the team for a spell and can get on streaks. I think you forget that when TJ went down and Jose went down during the year, Martin played about 15 minutes per game. Neither Jackson nor Moon are spring chickens anymore, and youth doesn’t always equal your best option at the end of the bench.

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