Monday, April 30

Vince's Strategy In The Playoff Series With TO Revealed.

Basketball observers are still perplexed about Vince Carter's roller coaster performance in the current Raptors-Nets playoff series. How can VC be so ordinary in the 1st 2 games and suddenly became superhuman in the next 2 games. Carter explained it this way . ' I am entitled to off days .' said Vinsanity. Vince made 30 points on 30% shooting in the 2 games held in TO. He was basically a non factor against the Raptors' defence and/or the non stop booing he received from 20,000 Raptors fans. No kidding ? 'I'm used to this kind of crowd. I experienced a lot worse in college games ' said Michelle Carter , Vince' Mom before the start of game 1 at ACC when asked about whether she and VC were affected by the rought reception . I believe her having read the book ' Blue Blood ' . The book is about the Duke-Carolina rivalry including accounts of the 2 schools' fans behaviors . So there , the fans' booing should not bother VC no matter what people in TO think. What about Anthony Parker's 'D' on Vince ? After game 2 , fans were hailing AP as the 2nd coming of Bruce Bowen ! Really . AP was coming in second all the time in games 3 and 4. He can't keep up with VC who averaged 32 points on 50% shooting.
I have a theory why VC is less than Vinsanity whenever he is in TO. It's simply business. Unlike ex Raptor Tracy McGrady who enjoyed sticking it to the fans everytime he was in town in the early years , VC still has plenty of ties here. ' Vince still has many friends in Toronto and in fact , he still has his club there'. said the ESPN man in game 3. Why anger the fans , er , the customers . See what some fans wrote about Raptors Super Fan , Nav Bathia . the owner of Hyundai, Missisauga. Bathia , a good friend of VC , is viewed by some fans as a traitor for accompanying Vince's Mom to ACC and for not wearing red the 1st day of the playoff. One suggested that Raptors fans should boycott his car dealership ! Let's see if VC will continue playing to satisfy the fans here or the basketball fans all over the world .

Sunday, April 29

Raps Need To Apply The ' VC Rules ' In Game 4.

Without the support of the hometown crowd , the Toronto Raptors must adopt a different tactic against Vince Carter to even the series with the New Jersey Nets . Raps assistant coach , Jim Todd , said what they have to do during the halftime of game 3 ,' We should contain drives to the basket. I'm not saying we should play dirty. ' said Todd. No doubt referring to Vince Carter numerous unopposed forays to the basket. The Raptors avoided touching VC like he has the plaque. Twice , VC scored against Chris Bosh in the same manner . I am not sure if there is anyone in the present Raptors line up capable of stopping Vince Carter . The coaching staff should teach their boys the ' Jordan Rules ' . Yes , the young Raptors believe in that Jordan rules . They still think that MJ is the master of the basketball universe up to now. To them , as well as millions of b'ball fans , there is no heir apparent to the Air Apparent yet. Not even MJ's son who will enter college basketball as a walk on.
Let's examine some potential tough guys in the Raptors roster. Kris Humprey is big and mascular but he's monicker Mr. Big Sexy says it all. He's more like someone who will hurt a woman's heart than one who will grab a man's heart from his chest and stump it ! Another thick body is Joey Graham. Would a threat of losing his starting position do it ? But Graham is out already of Sam's starting 5 . Besides , Graham is in awe of Vince. Before the start of this series , Graham said ' The crowd must come out and jeer Vince. It worked the last time VC was here'. What a wuzz ! Rasho Nesterovich once exhibited a mean streak when the Raps played the Denver Nuggets. He hurt bad boy Evans forcing the Nuggets forward to complain that Rasho's action was deliberate. But against a nice guy like Vince , I doubt if Rasho will try something nasty. How about Mo Pete ? Did he not give Richard Jefferson a hard foul in that game ? Yes , but that is against RJ not VC . Don't expect Mo Pete to roughhouse his BFF . Ever. Don't ever think that Sam never instructed his boys to toughen up. The coach was one tough hombre during his playing days. If there is one thing Bryan Colangelo needs to add to this team come off season, it is obvious . A European version of an enforcer. They have plenty of those in British football thugs ... er .. fans !

VC : Anthony, you can't touch me . Better call your sister !

Thursday, April 26

Wake Up Andrea Bargnani !

Before the start of the playoffs, I wrote that the coach of the year was wrong in keeping Andrea Bargnani too long in the injury list. Bargnani unlike Dwyne Wade, who also came from a prolonged rest , was rested way above the required period for sinusitis. The Raptors rookie only played one game (vs the 76ers ) before the end of the regular season. Not enough to remove the cobwebs in his game which are more like Spiderman's web. Now , the Raptors are still missing one part of their deadly 1-2 punch from the 3 point line. It's good that the other 3 point specialist , Anthony Parker , clicked in game 2 . Otherwise , the Raps will be down 0-2 before the series moves to New Jersey. Continental Airlines Arena crowd will not be as involved as Air Canada Center's. ' It's my first time to see 20,000 people cheering in a basketball game ' answered Bargnani when asked his impression of the ACC crowd. The Swamp is not expected to pull in 20,000 people.The 2nd round opening hockey game between NJ and Ottawa attracted only 12 thou fans ! It's alright. As long as Beyonce is there !
So far, Bargnani's performance in this series is pathetic. In game 2 , he scored just 3 points and his one missed attempt at the basket almost cost the Raps the game.. ' Sam is mad at Bargnani ' said Leo Rautins after the ill timed 3 point shot.. The fact that Bargnani has not develop his post up moves yet is now apparent. A lot of times , a long shot artist resorts to his drives to the basket or post up moves if his long shot is not working. Like Bargnani's supposed model , Dirk Nowitzki , tried in game 2 of the Mavs vs. Warrior tiff . In the 1st game against Golden State which Dallas lost , Nowitzki was ineffective. ' Dirk should post up his guard like last year when he manhandled the much shorter (Bruce) Bowen. ' said my favorite basketball Analyst , Charles Barkley. Maybe Andrea should fast track the acquisition of post up moves. Start practicing these moves 200 times a day. Look at Mickey Moore . The 7'0 center of the Nets suddenly became a threat at mid range by shooting 200 shots a day after team practice. Yes , do that Andrea. You may not make it to Sam's starting 5 , but you will surely be in Barkley's T Mobile Fav 5 !

Dirk : Beeeeeh, Dywane . I made it to Chucks fav 5 !

Wednesday, April 25

Raptors - Must See TV .

It was New Year inside the Air Canada Center last Tuesday as confetti rained down from the roof at the sound of the final buzzer. Game 2 was incredible . Incredibly noisy . It's like you are in Sacramento King's home arena before Ron Artest. Twenty thousand people all hyped up. It's like being in an NCAA basketball game. A Duke vs. North Carolina game. The fans went wild from the moment coach Sam Mitchell was announced the NBA's coach of the year and handed by David Stern the Red Auerbach trophy. It good the Raptors beat the Nets. It would have been a real downer if the Raps lost that night.
TNT was wrong not to cover the Toronto-New Jersey game. Yesterday's game was far more interesting than the 2 blowup games they featured later that day. Oh well. This is not the 1st time the network was wrong in featuring what games will offer nailbiting results. Even their panelists were wrong in picking who will win the match. ' The Nets will win. The Raptors will never beat the Nets ' said Charles Barkley last night before the Bulls-Heat game and at halftime of the Raptors-Nets game. Maybe , the Nets will eventually (?) win the series but Toronto will surely win more important things than this series. New fans .The Raptors won a lot of new fans especially in the period when the beloved Maple Leafs hockey team is out fishing . ' Hey Chuck. I'm a new basketball fan . I enjoyed the game last night. Will you talk about the rules of the game in your show today ? ' asked a caller to Chuck Swirsky Show. I bet a big number of those who showed up at ACC are Maple Leafs fans and/or their kids. As sports followers of the 2 sports will note , in Canada hockey fans are older than basketball fans .Raptors fans belong to the younger generation. Some or should I say , many Leafs fans are not happy about the increasing popularity of basketball. The usurper sports they say. That's why there are non stop debates about the merits or demerits of both sports happening in forums , in schools and between family members. ' The problem with hockey is , it is not made for TV. It's hard to follow the puck even in the age of high def TV '. I said to a friend , a Leaf fanatic. He quickly answered ' The problem with basketball is that you just need to watch the last 2 minutes 'cause that what matters ' . Not with this Raptors team. Every second is must see TV !

Tuesday, April 24

Sam A Coy COY Awardee

Coach Sam Mitchell has been named the NBA's Coach Of The Year today. In a press conference arranged by the Raptors organization this noon , Sam said the award is due to team effort. ' This is for the players , coaches and all people in the organization ' said Sam to the members of the press. No Sam . This one is for you. In the same manner as the unofficial title as the NBA's worst coach last year was yours alone. Even your kid said so. 'My kid went home and asked me if it's true that I was the worst coach in the NBA. Somebody in school told her that'. ' narrated Sam of last year's experience. ' I don't read the papers ' . he said when asked how he handled the vicious things written about him. Vicious is the right word because TO's press is exactly that. I recalled sending one sportwriter (?) a scathing e mail for describing then Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens as having the smell of formaldehyde.
So I say to Sam , accept it as due to your efforts and dedication to your work . Show the Red Aurbach trophy to all especially to members of the press. Remember that of all the individual awards the NBA hands out, the coach of the year award has the shortest life span . The award is effective only for 3 years at best for many awardees . Consider that included in the list of COY awardees in the last few years are Doc Rivers , Rick Carlisle and Larry Brown. Even last years COY awardee , Avery Johnson (shown holding the COY trophy here) , would be in trouble if hands on fav Dallas Mavericks fail to beat the GS Warriors in the 1st round (the Mavs are down 0-1) . When asked where he will put the Coach Of The Year trophy , Sam said ' My wife will take care of that '. Hmmm.I hope she will not put it on eBay next year !

Monday, April 23

Toronto Fans Have Too High Expectations.

Toronto folks were not totally dissatisfied with the result of Game 1 won by the Nets over the Raptors . As bad (?) as the Raptors played , the score was not lopsided, 91-96. ' We did not give our best efforts except maybe TJ Ford and yet we only lost by 5 points and even had the opportunity to seize the lead ' said Eric Smith of Raptors radio team . Actually, the Raptors did not play too bad , shooting 41% against 42% of the Nets. Bad is like how the Dallas Mavericks played last night. Or how the Spurs shot against the Nuggets in the 1st half of their game . Toronto folks forgot one thing . This is the playoffs. No one gets open shots like Andrea Bargnani got in boatloads in the regular season. They said that Andrea was not his usual self in Game 1. That's true. It's because the Nets swarmed him like bees to honey. Like paparazzis to Britney Spears . Poor Andrea . The graceful and deadly 3 point shooter was reduced to a fumbling fool. He's like poetry in commotion as Andrea was not able to jack up his long toms . The few times he tried to shoot , Andrea's shots were ugly and his poise awkward . In one play , Andrea was by surrounded by 3 Nets causing him to lose the ball. What about Joey Graham ? Joey was rattled to death. ' We were frantic ' said Chris Bosh . That's the problem . Sam could have prepared Mo Pete to assume the role that he's given to Joey. Unfortunately, Sam reduced the veteran Raptor to a benchwarmer. It would take a miracle to motivate him now. Mo Pete could be a lot of help in this series. Maybe he still will. So, the 2 guys that could help the Raptors' cause, Andrea and Mo Pete are totally unprepared. Not playoff ready. The first is out of condition from lack of playing in the regular season following a long rest and the latter from too much rest.The rest of the story will surely follow.
Raptors fans should not forget that this team is not expected to be in the playoffs this season. The fact that the team is #3 in the Eastern Conference and the Atlantic Division titleholder were huge accomplishments already. However , it kind of raised the fans' expectations. Many fans think that the Raps will compete for the Eastern Conference crown while some swear that they will battle for the whole enchilada - the NBA crown. Calm down. Bryan Colangelo is a very good GM but he's no miracle worker. Even God took 7 days to create the world. Chuck Swirsky is so sure the Raps will win their series with the Nets. However , Swirsky is such a homer that a fan thought his first name was Homer. The voice of the Raptors is convinced that the Raptors are better than the Nets. What if they lose again in Game 2 , are the Raps going to be swept ? ' If the Nets do that to the Raptors in this series, I would sweep the front of Rogers building ' Homer Swirsky said in his radio program today. Would anyone join Chuck ? God did not create all men to be sweepers too !

*Homer Swirsky logo courtesy of HoopsHype

Friday, April 20

Will All The Vince Bashings Work ?

There is playoff frenzy all around Toronto. Nowithstanding the 12:30 noon schedule of game 1 between the Raptors and the Nets, expect the crowd to come in droves. I know hotcakes are selling like tickets ! Or is it the reverse ? I don't know if the planned 'dress in red shirt' will come into fruitation or if the silent treatment to be given Vince Carter will become a reality. I doubt if the 2nd one will materialize. I'm sure the fans will likely boo Carter as usual. No , a lot louder this time. There will be lots of signs and placards in the ACC too. It's 'red alert' day Saturday said Jack Armstrong in the show Full Court Press.
Even a newspaper in Toronto is joining the fun (see above) . The question is : Will all the bashings affect Vince's performance. ' Vince played a bad game the last time he was here ' said Chuck Swirsky today to the Nets' radio guy. Reallly . Was it because of the fans jeering and booing him every time he touched the ball ? ' Coach Frank and his boys will fly back to New Jersey after the game ' said the NJ radio guy. ' They will be back here for the Tueday game ' . he added . Maybe the bashings will work. If you are a Toronto fan , you pray that these will !

Thursday, April 19

Time To Upgrade The Quality Of Coverage.

Now that the Raptors are in the playoffs , the quality of the team's redio/TV coverage should follow. Enough of mediocrity and using unknown sports personalties masquerading as basketball Analysts and NBA experts. Viewers in Canada will now have the chance to experience ESPN's , and if the Raptors go deep in the playoffs, ABC's basketball coverage. Maybe the folks in Canada will enjoy a different brand of sportcasting . Maybe ? I'm not sure 'coz some people are so used to high octane announcing that they may find Merv Albert's style bland . You know stuff like a simple , Yes , to announce when a basket is made . Some like the way say a Buffallo Sabres' TV guy way of announcing. or shouting SCOREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE for every goal made by his team. What truly gets me riled up is when so called NBA/basketball experts like Eric Smith of Raptors radio (in right photo) , Norma Wick , Sherm and ' NBA lightweight ' like Leo Rautins or to some degree former NCAA coach Jack Armstrong , are continually utilized to provide analysis . Who the f--- is Eric Smith ? As one Raptors fan wrote ' He's just one of us '. Did Eric even played for Hamilton T Rex ? Give me an ex NBA player please . Aren't Leo and Jack cover college basketball for ESPN ? Let them confine themselves to their NCAA gig. Give me a bonfide ex NBA star so that they are more believable. You know. ' Been there , done that '. Not ' been there ...on the bench , done ...nothing during my NBA stint '. That's how really was Leo's NBA career. One former Raptor reportedly asked ' Who the f---- is Leo Rautins ? '. The ex Raptor was probably pissed off by Leo's constant sermons . Check his so called NBA career and take a look at Leo's short shorts in the photo at left. The quality of Raptors basketball has improved a lot. You know what should follow !

Wednesday, April 18

Be Careful What You Wish For...

Tonight will reveal the pairings in the 1st round of the playoffs. The Cavs and the Bulls arel battling separate opponents to determine the 2nd placer in the Eastern Conference.The Nets , the Wizards , and the Magic are doing the same 6th to 8th places. Here are the complete standings of the teams in the East and the above mentioned teams remaining games.
  1. Detroit 52-29
  2. Chicago 49-32 remaining game vs. New Jersey.
  3. Toronto 47-34
  4. Miami 44-37
  5. Cleveland 49-32 remaining game vs. Milwaukee
  6. Washington 40-41 remaining game vs. Indiana
  7. New Jersey 40-41 remaining game vs. Chicago
  8. Orlando 39-42 remaining game vs. Miami
- A 590 sports talk show host in the morning said he prefers that the Nets be the Raptors next opponents so that we'll see thousands of Raptors fans boo Vince Carter.' I want to see Chris Bosh guard Vince Carter ' he added.

- Wright of Cleveland press said to ESPN's Josh Smith that the Cavaliers are better off to face either the Nets or the Magic or the Wizards (everyone's choice) . ' A Miami Heat team with or without DWade will beat the Cavaliers ' justfiying his choice of opponent.

- Dwight Howard said he likes facing the Detroit Pistons. A first timer in the playoffs against the Pistons' big men ?

It remains to be seen if these wishes will be granted and if granted , the outcome will be favorable !

Tuesday, April 17

Will Bargnani Be Ready For The Playoffs ?

Andrea Bargnani will not play in tonight's game against the Detroit Pistons. AB's comeback after an appendectomy operation was moved back after the Italian rookie complained of sinus infection . A comebacking player needs at least 5 games to get back to playing condition according to Steve Kerr , the former member of the Chicago Bulls and now TNT basketball Analyst . That's why Miami coach Pat Riley played D Wade before the playoffs start. I guess , coach Sam Mitchell believes otherwise . ' What's the use of playing Andrea now .' explained the leading candidate for NBA coach of the year. ' We only have a few games left '. That's what a COY nomination will do one's self esteem. It built Sam's confidence sky high. Sam believes in his system and not what others say. l reckoned that Sam thinks that all he needs to do is point to the player and say Sam needs you , and the player will play well !

Andrea implied himself that he may not be ready to play good basketball. ' My condition is the same as when I was starting this season ' Bargnani said. At the start of this season , Sam hardly played Bargnani because he can't rebound and his deadly 3 point shot was still non existent. Nevertheless , Bryan Colangelo ordered Sam to give Bargnani more playing time. The Raptors will definitely rely on Bargnani to do his stuff in the playoffs. ' We need Bargnani to spread the defense of the other team '. said Chris Bosh. Oh well , with his present condition , the Raptors will just need Bargnani to spread some sinus infection germs to the other team !

Jose : Sinus ? No problema . Take Robitussin .
Andrea : Robitussin ? Is he a guard or a forward ?

Monday, April 16

Canadian Style Ball Whips Knicks

After disposing the Detroit Pistons 2nd squad, the Toronto Raptors took care of the New York Knicks 3rd squad last night , 107-105. In front of thousands of cheering ACC crowd , the Raptors reached another milestone in its unbelievable season so far. Home court advantage . ' It's important for us to have homecourt support being an inexperienced team ' said Chris Bosh who led the Raptors with 23 points . But it was the unheralded duo of Joey Graham (19 pts.) and Jose Calderon (18 pts.,6 ass.) who stole the show. Graham was impeccable again in his outside shots and Jose Calderon ran the team magnificently in the face of TJ Ford's prolonged absence on the court due to foul trouble. Poor Nate Robinson . All he saw last night was Calderon's backside. The Spanish baller left the Knicks' spitfirish guard as he ran past him over and over again on his way to the basket. I bet, if you if you ask Nate what's Jose's last name , he will say Calderun !
For sure if the Raptors continue winning , the US public will rally behind the Canadian team. The NCAA this year failed to produce a Cinderella team as is usually the case. No George Mason . Only George Bush . They're sick and tired of the war and Bush's failed policy. They hunger for an underdog team to capture their hearts and they don't care if the team is not US based. Hockey , Canada's national sports , failed to catch the fancy of the Americans . ' I don't care if we give it another 30 years, hockey just won't sell in the US ' said Bobcat in his radio show. Don't worry , basketball-Canadian style , will . Then, we Canadians can all shout that the NBA is really fantastic ! Naaanh. It's lacking the Canadian touch. I think it's better this way. The NBeh is fantastique !

Celine Dion : How appropriate . A team from the Titanic Division winning on the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic !

Friday, April 13

Skills Versus Experience

Listening to the Inside The NBA team of Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Reggie Miller last night , it was apparent they viewed Toronto as an easy opponent come playoff time. ' The Raptors are inexperienced and they should not go past the 1st round of the playoffs ' the 3 said something like that individually during the show. It reminds me of what Barack Obama's detractors said about him. That he's not experienced enough to run for president. ' Wait until you spend enough time as a Senator and on foreign policy ' suggested one of these critics. Does the American people agrees with them ? You can sit down , Sanjaya. The 1st term Senator from Illinois is running neck to neck with Hillary Clinton based on the latest polls. I guess the the thing to do is just to ignore the ' lack of experience ' tag and just play . After all , it's not the 1st time Simon , I mean , Barkley is off in his predictions.
Someone said that skills will prevail over experience. That's only true with excellent teamwork. Just as long as the Raptors play their unselfish kind of basketall , they will be alright. Aside from that , the Raptors are not totally bereft of playoff experience. Rasho has plenty of NBA playoff experience of championship kind as a member of NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. Juan Dixon and TJ Ford were members of Washington and Milwaukee's playoff teams respectively before joining the Raps. That's not counting the overseas experience of Anthony Parker and Andrea Bargnani as members of Euroleague champion teams- Maccabi Tel Aviv and Benetton. Jose Calderon was in Spain's team that won the World Basketball Championship team last summer. So you see, the Raptors have plenty of experience . Especially if the most playoff experienced Raptor of them all , Mo Pete , permanently removes the blindfold covering his eyes and starts playing good basketball again !

Thursday, April 12

The Playoff Picture Is Becoming Clearer Now

With Miami Heat's victory over the Washington Wizards last night , the top half of the Eastern Conference playoff is set. All 3 division leaders were determined and the top 4 qualifiers set : Detroit, Chicago, Toronto and Miami. Will the 4 teams playoff positions still changed ? Except for the Pistons (#1) who are assured of homecourt advantage in the East all throughout the playoffs , the Bulls , Raptors and Heat can still change spots depending the results of their last 3-4 games which are :

2. Bulls ( 47-32) : Bobcats,Wiz,Nets
3. Raptors ( 45-33 ) : Piston,Knicks,Pistons,76ers
4. Heat ( 43-36 ) : Pacers,Celtics,Magic

The Heat certainly looks like they have the advantage to dislodge the Raps from the #3 spot as their schedule looks lighter. Look again . Two of its last 3 opponents are fighting for playoff spots so the Heat will have their hands full. As to the Raps next opponents, the Pistons having secured #1 , they may take it easy in at least 1 of the 2 matches ( the last game ) with the Raps .The Bulls still have to face the Bobcats who are playing their best ball lately.The Bobcats beat the Heat twice in a row.There is definitely no tanking in Bickerstaff's last season as a coach. Next , the Bulls will face the Wiz which is expected to play hard to prevent them from being overtaken by the Nets.The Bulls last game against the Nets is definitely no gimme for sure.
I'd like to think that the Raps and the Heat would want to avoid facing Cleveland (#5) which is what team on the #4 spot will encounter . The team in #3 position will likely face the Wiz (#6) if the Wiz can hold on to the position. Maybe the Raps are better off not overtaking the Bulls (#2) . That way , they will avoid a resurgent Nets team (#7) . Stay where you are Raps !

Wednesday, April 11

All Rosey In The Raptors Front

The Toronto Raptors are indeed a surprise to many Canadians. By making the playoffs and winning the 1st ever division title for the franchise , the Raptors were way ahead of the timetable set by new GM Bryan Colangelo. Its parent company, Maple Leafs Sports And Entertainment (MLSE) reeling from the failure of its more popular sports team , the Maple Leafs hockey club , to make the playoff this season is inundated with pleas to adopt the Raptors formula in changing the luck of the club. ' Why don't they hire a 1st notch GM like Colangelo to straighten the mess ' suggested more than one hockey commentator. There is even a talk that for this coming NHL draft (the Leafs are picking number 13) , BC should be involved. A basketball and hockey Guru ? Might as well elect Colangelo as the new Mayor of Toronto !
I'll tell you what. the notion that the Raptors are supplanting the Leafs in TO at least is heresy to a lot of die hard hockey fans . One puckhead said the NHL playoffs (involving other teams) , curling, figure skating, Blu Jays baseball will come ahead of Raptors playoff games in terms of watching priorities of Canadians. We'll see. Some 2.8 millions Canadians watched the elimination game between the Leafs and the Canadiens last Saturday night. Presently , the Raps are viewed by between 150 to 500 thousands Canadians in the regular season.
Not everybody is fully happy with the miracle progress accomplished so far by the Raps. Its coach , Sam Mitchell , is still in some sort of a limbo. ' We are still waiting for Brian to make the decision on that.' answered Richard Peddie , MLSE President and CEO , when interviewed yesterday by Bobcat .Mitchell , the favorite of many NBA observers to be the league's Coach Of The Year, is still rumored for replacement by BC 's handpicked coach next season. ' The success of the Raptors is not because of Sam but the system that BC installed when he took over from Rob Babcock'. wrote on Raptors fan .

Tuesday, April 10

Raptors Cage KG And 'Wolves

Anthony Parker punished the Minnesota Timberwolves last night with accurate bombings to lead the Raptors to a 111-100 win and 4th straight victory. Seven Raps scored in double figures and coach Sam Mitchell kept his perfect record , 6-0, against his former team. ' A lot of pick and roll ' said Wolves rook Randy Foye. And a lot more 3 point shots ! Especially in the 4th quarter. The Raptors broke open a close game when the Timberwolves shifted to a zone defense . Perfect. The Raps especially AP made them pay . He scored a team high 24 points , 15 of them in the 3 point area. The Wolves are really fucked up . Don't they know that a game ago , AP burned the Bulls from the same spots of the court. What's the use of scouting reports ? I guess next time the scouts need to put A&P store signs on all 4 corners of the court !
The game last night told me that the KG era in Minnesota is coming to an end. The Raps were lucky they caught Kevin in an off night according to former mentor Mitchell. Off night ? I think KG called it quits several games ago. There is no more fight left in him eversince the Wolves were out of the playoffs. KG just registered 17 points and 10 rebounds and was outplayed by the combined efforts of Raps' big guys, Chris Bosh (16 pts.,13 reb.) and Rasho Nestorovich (12 pts.,7 reb.) .It's just too bad KG is not like NBC's shock jock Don Imus . Despite the contoversy resulting from his stupid remarks about the Rutgers womens basketball team , Imus refused to quit.

Don Imus : I just beat Rutgers by my stupid remarks. AP's sister, Candance , beat them for the NCAA crown !

Monday, April 9

Raptors Reborn

This Friday , the Toronto Raptors reached a new milestone . They clinched the Atlantic Division title. First the Raps beat the 76ers , 94-85 . Later that night , the Raptors got some help from the Chicago Bulls who beat the New Jersey Nets . How did the Raptors got the news ? The bearer of the good news was the pilot of the plane that took the Raptors back to Toronto after the game said the Raptors radio guy , Eric Smith . Then Eric asked Jack Armstrong whether he joined in the celebration . I am asleep when the announcement was made . I was briefly awakened by the applause then fell asleep again ' answered the Raptors TV basketball Analyst . Not all Raptors are extra excited about winning the Atlantic Division. Jose Calderon said ' That is only the Atlantic , I am a World Champion '. Jose's Spanish team won the World Basketball Championship last summer. Senor que es humbug !
A day after , more good news courtesy of the Chicago Bulls when the Raptors tamed the Bulls , 103-89. Anthony Parker shot the lights out with 27 big points making 6 out of 10 in the 3 point area. The game was over in the 3rd quarter when the Raps gave their opponents the equivalent of points diarrhea . Continuous barrage of points without let up. Don't you love those Bulls ? No bullshit. But wait , the Raptors might meet the Bulls come the playoffs . The Bulls TV guy said so. Don't worry. The Raps are not the same team the Bulls beat non stop for like 2 years straight. They are really a different team now. BC (Brian Colangelo) made a miracle by raising the Raptors from the dead . Another B.C. was not as lucky. B.C. , the comic strip , lost its creator , Johnny Hart , yesterday. Too bad , B.C . the General Manager , can't draw comics . But his team continues to draw big crowd now to Air Canada Center !

Friday, April 6

Joey Graham , Back In Business . Again Or For Good ?

Toronto F/G Joey Graham continues to baffle a lot of Raptors fans and NBA watchers around the league. When Joey G. first came into the league as a rookie from Oklahoma State , coach Sam Mitchell groomed him as a defensive stopper/ scorer in the mold of the Suns' Rajah Bell and the Spurs' Bruce Bowen . Joey G. started as a member of the Raptors starting 5 ahead of fellow rookies Jose Calderon and Charlie Villanueva , now of the Bucks. His talent was so tantalizing that Boston coach Doc Rivers singled him out as one the promising rookies during a pre season game between the Celtics and the the Raptors. Why not ? Joey got the defensive mentality, scoring abilty and the BIG body. Something that Bell and Bowen do not have . Bewhen will Joey G. reach full his potential ? Why is Joey not a star yet ? In some games, Joey even finds himself warming the bench ! There is one constant answer as to why that is . Joey is consistently inconsistent ! One game , Joey works inside the paint like Karl Malone. The next game he' rather be inside the locker room... painting. One day , he plays tough 'D' , the next day , he's as soft as Lady Di. One day he dunks like Vince Carter - half man , half amazing . Next game , he plays like Vince Carter - half man . Period. Joey is a complete player if he remains consistent.
With the recent sidelining of Andrea Bargnani due to appedectomy, Sam turned to Joey G. So far , Joey is delivering . Not relief goods via single engine plane that he flies during off season but delivering great stats. In the last 4 games , Joey G. is averaging in double figures in points . Last Wednesday , Joey displayed a hidden talent-the ability to shoot and make 3 point shots. He made 75% (3 of 4) in the 3 pt. area leading to 19 points and a Raptors victory over the Magic. I think Joey is really back in business. Not again but for good. All he has to do is play well all the time . Otherwise , Joey must hope those Italians have multiple appendices !

Thursday, April 5

Raptors Continue To Perform Their Magic

Toronto dug themselves a hole last night in the 1st quarter but climbed out of it in time to beat Orlando, 111-108 . In a physical but clean game, the Raptors behind the play of the dynamic duo /PGs , TJ Ford and Jose Calderon (combined 24 points, 15 assists) , and snipings of Anthony Parker (20 points) and surprise , surprise a suddenly sharphooting Joey Graham (19 points on 3 of 4 from 3 pt. area) negated Hedo Turgolou's career high 37 points . Graham was a big revelation last night. Yes , Graham's performance goes up and down like Sanjayay's voice when singing at American Idol but last night he was like the reincarnation of former Raptors' 3 pt. specialist Dell Curry. ' You know that the Raptors are back when Graham made a long shot before the buzzer ending the 1st half '. said ex Magic coach Matt Guokas of Magic TV . ' The guy is a 25% three point shooter '. he added. Graham can now can hit long bombs ! I guess Joey, a licensed pilot , can now fly long distance planes too !
Chris Bosh was fantastic scoring 20 of his team high 28 points in the 1st quarter. Asked to explain the bad start by the Raptors . ' We just came out flat ' said Bosh. You can say that again .The team came out as flat as Noma Wick's chest as the Magic burried them by as much as 15 points .It's good they are able to recover despite what Guokas noticed was the friction between the 2 main guys of the Raptors .' There is definitely something going on between Ford and Bosh '. Guokas said in the 3rd quarter of the game. Earlier, he pointed out that the 2 were involved in animated discussions during the game especially in the 3rd quarter when Bosh was limilted to one basket while TJ was quarterbacking the Raps. Hmm. Is there a brewing fight between the 2 as to who is the real leader of the team ? No worry. The 2 were seen embracing after the game. Embracing like co equal in importance to the team. Equal in everything except in height !
Mutt & Jeff : Yes, TJ and Chris .You are like us two. I mean us , 2 1/2 .

Wednesday, April 4

Raptors Get A Taste Of The Playoffs.

' There is certainly a playoff athmosphere tonight ' said the Heat TV guy. Why not ? The Raptors amd the Heat are battling for the 3rd spot in the Eastern conference and homecourt advantage in the playoffs. And the game certainly lived up to expectations as the Raptors battled the Heat toe to toe before losing the game , 89-92, and the series 1-2 . ' For most part , we did enough and dodged a lot of bullets down the stretch ' said Miami coach Pat Riley. On the other side, coach Sam Mitchell was the recipient of a lot of bullets after the game. Make that howitzers ! It's because his last second substitution of an effective Jose Calderon by T.J. Ford proved to be a mistake. Sam's decision not to foul Shaq, who was 0-6 from the foul line, was highlighted too. So you see , the tenure of Sam is not really that secure. Coach of the year one day . Cockroach of the year the next day !
It's another double double for Chris Bosh. He along with 10 day contractee Luke Jackson played real well. Jackson scored 10 points in limited minutes of play. However , the rest of the Raptors played medicocre ball. T.J. Ford , in particular , was ineffective that's why his insertion in the dying seconds of the game was questionable. ' The coach said to me to make a play. So, I made a play ' answered T.J. to a reporter's question on what was supposed to be the play to tie the game. T.J. was surrounded by three point shooters- Mo Pete , Anthony Parker , Jackson. If I am announcing last night, this is how I will describe the last 3.8 seconds of the game . T.J. inbounds the ball to Bosh . T.J. gets the ball from Bosh . T.J. dribbles the ball. T.J. passes the ball to... err... T.J. T.J. shoots a three. T.J. goes home to Mama .

Michael Douglas as Pat Riley (topmost pic) :
Nice shot , TJ !
MD as Gordon Gecko in Wall Street : Greed is good . Right, T.J . ?

Tuesday, April 3

Sayin' All The Right Things

It seems that the Raptors' march into NBA respectability even superiority is proceeding smoothly based on recent statements of the 2 long standing members of the team. Mo Pete said in yesterday's interview that as long as we keep playing unselfish ball, the team will be alright.That he does'nt mind playing second fiddle to the newer members of the team. This coming from someone previously playing 25-30 minutes and now reduced to sometimes negligible playing time is really commendable. Look for Mo Pete's rebirth come the playoffs.
Chris Bosh said in the same interview he's still not sure of the full capability of the team that has 9 new members. He sounded optimistic without the air of one who carried and continue to carry the team on and off the court. It's better to stay low key , under the radar. That way , the team can spring some surprises come playoff time. What about the US TV coverage - ESPN/ABC - that Raptors TV's Chuck Swirsky covets for the Raptors ? That will come eventually. The exposure of the team to Italian and Spanish TV will do for now ! Now, if B.C. can weave his magic and get China's Yi Jianlian in next season's draft ...

Monday, April 2

Playoff Fever Sweepin' Toronto

Toronto Raptors fans are all excited by yesterday's win by the team versus the Hornets to formalize it's entry to post season play. ' It's been a long time. The last time we were in the NBA playoffs was 2002 ' said the voice of the Raptors, Chuck Swirsky. ' Chris Bosh is hugging and congratulating his teammates even before the game was over ' added his TV partner , Jack Armstrong. Their radio counterparts were even more ambitious. Paul Jones said the Raptors battlecry in this playoffs should be Why Not ?. ' If the Heat used 15 Strong last season and the Mavericks have Finish this season as their battlecrys, why not Why Not ?' he justified the choice on radio yesterday. I think Jonesy, as he is more popularly known, was again carried away by the success of the Raptors. I remembered him saying during the height of the Raptors' popularity (Vince Carter era) that basketball will surpass hockey as the number 1 sports in Canada in 10 years time ! Then the team's suddenly went aray.Basketball is the fastest growing sports in the country but I don't know if it can ever overtake hockey here.
This season,the Maple Leafs hockey team is on the verge of missing the playoffs. The Leafs lost last night preventing them from moving up and latching on the last playoff berth. If the Leafs do miss the playoffs,are there going to be many hockey converts moving over to the Raptors' camp ? It's likely that the young ones will. They will be 2 sports supporters at least. Talking about hockey, Sabres fans are coming up with songs appropriate for the Buffalo hockey team's playoff run this season . I hope Jonesy would not suggest that the Raptors' playoff song be James Ingram's Just Once .