Welcome to the YMCA Rec Center. Today, we’ll be seeing the Raptors play the Bobcats, with the star of the Slovenian national team, Rasho Nesterovic leading the way along with Spanish Superstar Jose Calderon. High Flier, Jamario Moon will also be making an appearance!
There was a feeling that I had, that although there was no Bargnani, Ford, or Bosh, we would see a Raptors team that would go through addition by subtraction. Here’s my theory: Although Bargs, TJ and CB4 can all change the outcomes of games, they also have a nasty problem of holding the ball on the offense and trying to make something by themselves. I’ve lamented constantly about how Andrea doesn’t seem to be interested in making the quick, correct pass, but instead is constantly looking for his shot and using the pass to bail himself out of a situation. In many ways, he’s taken on the worst of TJ Ford’s attributes in this early season.
However, without all three players, the Raptors would be forced to create something on their own by playing team basketball. Having 6 players score in double figures, Nesterovic playing great defense on Omeka Okafor and everyone who played managed to get an assist. It’s this kind of Raptors play that would have won the day for them in Washington over the weekend, and it’s this kind of play that saw them take it to teams in February of last year. With Parker, Calderon, Rasho, Delfino and Kapono all giving great efforts, it would have probably still have been difficult for the Raptors to pull out a win.
However, the guys that made it a great game were Humphries and Graham. Both managed to play within themselves without trying to take over the game or show what they can do. The kinds of things that both Hump and Good Joey displayed are the “team concept” plays that made the Raptors such a joy to watch. The most surprising aspect of their game tonight, was that they managed to get to the free throw line 8 times and 4 times respectively. However, it’s just a start. There still hasn’t been enough effort from the team as a whole to get to the line. Can we all honestly expect this team to shoot above 50% for every win? Is our defense good enough to create difficulties for teams on a consistent basis?
Granted, we managed to make Charlotte score an absolutely horrible 33% from the field while also out-rebounding them. Charlotte, with players such as Gerald Wallace, Jason Richardson, Raymond Felton, and Matt Carroll made it close a few times last year, but the Raptors ended up attacking them on the inside with an assortment of drive-and-kicks, dunks as a result of aggressive drives in the lane, and poor defensive spacing from the Bobcats. While some people might say Adam Morrison could have affected the game, I truly doubt it. Last year displayed that he was largely unwilling to share the ball and was a poor defensive stopper at best. One has to wonder where do the Bobcats go from here, especially after signing Gerald Wallace to such a huge contract.
The next game sees the Raptors against the Suns. Possibly without Bosh and Bargnani again, and with Ford still working his way back, most fans will be pleasantly surprised if our Raptors team manages to pull out a win. However, I’d say it’s a bit dangerous to play a Raptors team like ours right now. Who do you focus your team on? It’s not an easy question as without those “big three” on our team, everyone becomes a threat, and with Calderon running the point, he makes sure to find every single hot hand and exploit it as much as possible. If the Raptors manage a similar kind of effort, we may be in for an interesting game on Wednesday.
Next Game: Phoenix @ Toronto