The return of the Raptors’ fearless leader brought an energy to the Raptors and gave the Raptors their second win on CBC. Oh yeah, I’m sure when CBC signed this new contract, they looked at the Sunday schedule and thought, “Hey, great games, and the Raptors won most of them last year.” However, in what can be categorized as the first really quality win against a real, quality team, the Raptors finally managed to put some kind of clamps down on a team that usually is able to score quite handily.
Now granted, the Rockets are not a great 3-point shooting team (something that is the bane of existence for these Raptors most nights) but nevertheless, the Raptors managed to claw their way back after allowing Houston to shoot around 50% for the first half. How did they get back into it? Crash the Glass. That seemed to be the theme of today’s game. With CB4’s return, the Raptors looked to aggressively weather their early shooting woes by trying to keep the Rockets off the glass, and it was the play of Humphries and Nesterovic that caused the Raptors to come back from their deficit. The only thing that really looked bad in CB4’s return was the amount of minutes he was asked to play immediately upon his return. I mean seriously, 42 minutes? Did no one remind the coaching staff he was just coming back? Well, at least it allowed Bosh to get his feet under him, and it gave him a good workout that insured he found his game.
But how about Delfino? In what can be categorized as his breakout year, Delfino’s productivity has gone up consistently with more minutes. A hard nosed defensive player who is able to go inside at times, Delfino also gives the Raptors something that they desperately need: Consistent rebounding from their wing. His plays, along with the previously mentioned Rasho Nesterovic and Kris Humphries set the tone, and allowed the Raptors to completely dominate the glass even though Houston had Yao. In fact, all afternoon, the Raptors consistently punished Yao for walking into the paint.
There’s only a couple concerns. TJ Ford has looked incredibly average after coming out and giving the team incredibly smooth and steadying play in the first few games of the year. Nevertheless, we’eve seen it deteriorate back into the same guard I’ve always had concerns with, which is a guy that ends up not necessarily directly turning the ball over, but putting the ball in the hands of players when he gets into trouble. How many times did we see him dribble-penetrate only to get trapped inside and have to make a risky pass to someone on the outside? He’s gotta slow down and remember how he played in the first part of the season. However, it’ll be more interesting to see how many games it will take for Jamario to get back into his groove. He finally made his first attempt at a free throw in about five games, but no one can really blame him. He’s a (27 year old) kid that’s gotta learn by example. His examples did not include our most consistent free throw attempts guy, so it’s not surprising that upon Chris’ return, we find Jamario on the line. I’ve always had concerns though, about his reluctance to go to the rim strongly and consistently, and in this game he still largely settled for outside shots. Perhaps he’s getting the “Vince Carter Treatment” in the paint and getting pushed and muscled and fouled has left him a little weary. Maybe it’s even that pump-fake that causes him to turnover the ball. In any case, he better figure it out soon, or the Raptors might have to look for a trade to bring in some consistent inside-scoring to the team.
Next Game: Toronto @ Hawks