Tag:Chris Bosh
Posted on: November 10, 2008 11:03 am

Raptors - Celtics game Preview


What can you say about the Celtics that has not been mentioned yet? The Reigning World Champions are 6 - 1 having W's against the Rockets, the Cavaliers and the Pistons who started Allen Iverson last night. Their loss to the Pacers was their banner night and they shot 34%.

Tonight the Raptors visit after a solid road win in Charlotte over the Bobcats on a night when Chris Bosh had 30/15 and Andrea Bargnani had 18/5 with a 3 block night!

Tonight will be the first of 2 divisional games as they play the 76ers on Wednesday back home. The Celtics have a front court that is probably the most consistant in the league night in and night out which is why they are the champs!

 Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett provide a very tough front court to play man to man and both can beat you from mid range so we will have to see Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani as well as Jermaine O'Neal be ready for a tough struggle to contain these guys who are averaging 10 and 9 rebounds a game! KG is struggling on offense this season with only 14 ppg, but his presense alone gives defenses fits as he can attack from any where and always seems to be around the ball! Paul Pierce is averaging 16 and 7, Ray Allen is 15/4, Tony Allen is 11+ and Rajon Rondo is around 10 points and 7 assists per game.

Coming in to tonights game, the Raptors are lead by Chris Bosh with almost 27 points and 11 rebounds per game! What a season he is having! Jose Calderon brings his 16 points and 9.3 rebounds per game to a team with much quicker guards which seems to be a theme so far! Between Jose and Anthony Parker, we need to see the guards step up and play some much better perimeter defense! It has been painful to watch as we give up open look after open look! AP has had tough assignments nightly yet is still giving us 10.5 points and 2.5 rebounds a game!

Tonight, the Key for me will be the play of Jermaine O'Neal! If he can provide a 12 point 10 rebound game, this team will have a shot at knocking off the champs. The front court, whether it be CB4 and JO or CB4 and Andrea Bargnani, who has shown flashes of the talent he can offer with 3 games of 18, 19 and 12 against the Warriors, Bobcats and Pistons, brings a 9.7 points per game and 4.5 rebounds per game. If these two can combine for a 20/15 game, we should be able to control the front court. As i see it, our team rebounding has been awful and unless we can become a 44 or 45 rebounds a game team, we are not consistant enough to be always -9 or -10 on the glass, especially giving up Offensive boards! This is an area that Jamario Moon MUST contribute!

Category: NBA
Posted on: November 9, 2008 9:54 pm

Raptors Week 2 Review and Report

Time to digest the second week of games for the Raptors! To say it was a very uncomfortable week to follow this team would be very accurate! After the 3 – 0 start with some mainstream writers putting them as high as 4th overall in the league, we ran into the Pistons and the Hawks! Both teams were undefeated when we played them so I knew they were both going to reveal the depth of this team at every position! They didn’t disappoint!

Against the Pistons, we again were reminded that the Raptors are not truly able to defend with any consistency outside – inside pressure. Tayshaun Prince dropped 27 on us and I heard Sam say that they ran the same play on them 18 times and scored 15 of them! That is absurd and they should be embarrassed by that! Rodney Stuckey added 14 and Richard Hamilton added 22 for a total of 63 points from the back court and small forward positions. That has quickly become a theme that most teams are trying to take advantage of nightly! This is a game we could have won had we played a bit more intense defense in the second quarter. We had one of our best rebounding games with 38, but were -4 in offensive rebounds.

The Hawks were waiting for this team to show up! They attacked us early from the wing and never let up as we had no answer to the pressure from Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson and the entire back court scored 85 of the 110 Hawks points! Again, a back-court destroyed us from the outside as our defensive rotations were either late or not there at all! We were -9 in total rebounds again and this game was never close!

Against the Bobcats, the team looked sluggish, but they did seem to attack the glass finally and were rewarded with a good solid road victory. They held the Bobcats to under 40% shooting with 37% from the floor and the Raptors were + 8 on the boards recording a season high 44 rebounds which is 10 more than their season average! The Bobcat back court platoon of D.J. Augustine, Matt Carroll, Jason Richardson and Ray Felton combined for 45 of the 79 points that they scored! OVER 50% of the points came from the back court who kept the Bobcats on top most of the game! The Raptors played a solid road game but committed 12 turnovers. That will not work against the Celtics!

So, here are some observations from Week 2 of the Raptors 2008 – 09 season!

Chris Bosh has to be considered one of the premier players in this league! He is averaging 26+ points a game, 10+ rebounds a game and leads this team on and off the floor. It is a bit frustrating to me that the guys who play with him day and day out don’t seem to be able to find a way to provide the support he needs to become THE dominant big man in the East! I won’t add to any MVP postings I have seen, but if his play continues, it will be hard to not consider him for such an award!

Jermaine O’Neal has been brought in to provide inside pressure on defense and to alleviate the double teams that CB4 faces most nights. Well, JO has provided the Raptors with around 11 points and close to 9 rebounds a game! I would love to see him begin to provide 12 – 15 points and 10 rebounds a night. As I see it, that would put pressure on most teams inside and help our perimeter players offensively with some space to move! Defensively, he has stepped up and provided 2 blocks a game and continues to be very active inside. The problem has been that he has been a bit slow to rotate at times and seems lost when attacked from the wing!

Jose Calderon is the heart and soul of this team! Whether he scores or doesn’t, he provides steady offensive management as well as a good sense of who to get the ball to in any situation. With 16 points and 9 assists per game, he has been all the Raptors had believed he could become allowing them to give up T.J. Ford.

Andrea Bargnani is an enigma wrapped in a mystery! He can provide games like today where he collects 18 points and 5 rebounds, as well as putting up 0’s against the Warriors and the 76ers. We need him to become consistent with 15 or so points and 7 to 10 boards a night to provide a 3rd or 4th option off the bench! We don’t need him to drop 20 though that would be great! I think after 2 seasons, he should know his role and should be more comfortable coming off the bench!

Anthony Parker has been a solid offensive player, but has struggled on defense as the whole team has. I won’t blame him for all the points that opposing back-courts score, but he draws the toughest guard every night and still provides us with 11 points a game!

Jamario Moon has become a floater again. Against the Bobcats he finally stuck his nose to the glass and picked up 9 boards! That should be a very attainable number for him on a nightly basis. Defensively he has been a liability most nights relying on his athleticism to recover a block a shot rather than to stick his face on his man and shut him down! His lack of focus is a huge part of why this team has no defensive intensity most nights. At 30 years old or so, he needs to realize he won’t have his hops much longer and needs to finish off his game in every area!

This team won’t outscore many of the top teams in this league as they are inconsistent inside as we saw again today against the Bobcats. With the three big guys we have we should not be struggling so much inside, but our offense tends to stagnate hoping to shot 55+% from outside nightly! That needs to change quickly or we will have more games like the Hawks handed us than we care to watch!

This team has begun, I hope, to recover its focus on defense. Shutting down the Bobcats in the 4th was a good start, but against the Celtics or the Pistons or the Lakers, or the Hornets that won’t cut it! They will be exploited off the wing until we can consistently put pressure on opponents and stop giving those open looks all day long!

Well, looking ahead to this week, we have the Celtics in Boston and the 76ers at home, then the Heat next Sunday. Three tough games coming up in an ever tightening Eastern Conference with 2 divisional games.

Category: NBA
Posted on: November 9, 2008 12:36 pm

Raptors - Bobcats game Preview!


Is it too early in the season to call this a MUST WIN game? At this point in the season, we have been embarrassed by teams who have figured out that we rely totally on the outside shot to win games. We don't rebound well if at all being dead last in rebounds per game at 34. We can't stop perimeter players from lighting us up – Tayshaun Prince with 27 and Joe Johnson and Mike Bibby with a combined 85 against the Pistons and the Hawks in our losses.

This team quickly needs to re-establish itself as a balanced team that can play perimeter defense or teams need only shut down our interior and send in all their offense from the wing! The Bobcats have 5 players averaging between 10 and 20 points per game. Jason Richardson, Gerald Wallace, Emeka Okafur, Raymond Felton and D.J. Augustine. Though they average only 90 points per game, most of their scoring comes from the back court and the wings! Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon and Jose Calderon MUST play some defense or this will quickly become a very frustrating season. With Chris Bosh averaging 26 a game and Jermaine O'Neal averaging 11, our front court should be able to out-play the Bobcats. The question will be can Jamario, Andrea Bargnani or Jason Kapono step up and grab some rebounds! Until we commit to the glass, we will have a very hard time winning games in this league! Our defensive rotation the past 2 games has been awful! It is time to step up and shut down the slashing and box someone out!

When i watch the guys in time outs and on the bench, they seem to have become shell-shocked at what has happened the past 2 games. They have watched two very good teams eat them for lunch from the wing. We have seen our front - court struggle to score at times with inconsistent play from Andrea Bargnani and Jamario Moon, this team has been destroyed when the second line is on! Larry Brown is a good enough coach to not only recognize this, but exploit it as well! Can Sam find answers to these issues? He had better, and quickly. With the Celtics coming up and then the 76ers agains, the Magic and it won't get any easier as the season moves on! we are the WORST rebounding team in the league at 34 boards a game! we are consistently - 9 or -10 on the boards! This game will show us what these guys are made of as the issues are plain to see by anyone who has ever watched a basketball game! Ball control, attack the glass and play some tough defense both man up and as a team!

Let's hope these guys play the game we all know they have and Sam can convince them that they are a good team and to continue to play as a team! Especially on defense!

Posted on: November 8, 2008 12:06 pm

Raptors - Hawks! Am I glad that is over!!

"There was just nothing we could do to stop them," said Raptors coach Sam Mitchell. "We just couldn't guard them tonight. Almost everybody was off. It happens."

This was Sam trying hard to explain how this team with so much talent could be beaten so badly by a team that just wanted to win more! It will be hard to express my thorough distaste of how this team seems happy to score their 93 or 94 points a game while letting opponents run them into the ground.

A couple good things about last night, the Hawks had come into the game averaging 15 offensive boards a game and only had 7 last night! I think that when you seem to make 55% of your shots, there isn’t much need for offensive boards! The Raptors came into the game averaging 35.5 rebounds a game and finished the game with 32 LOWERING their league worst average to 34.8 boards a game! That one fact should scare Sam and Bryan to their core! Again last night we were – 9 on the glass. I am not sure of any team that is good enough to be out rebounded every night and win more than they lose. From what I saw last night, this is NOT one of those teams! Chris Bosh and Jermaine O’Neal were a combined 43 points and 12 rebounds which was a bit better than the Hawks front of Al Horford and Marvin Williams who had 21 points and 13 boards with Josh Smith adding 6 before he left. Off the bench, which some consider the Raptors strength this season, the Hawks offered Solomon Jones with 6, Ronald Murray with 16 and Maurice Evens with 15 with a combined total of 15 rebounds! The Raptors provided Jason Kapono with 14, Andrea Bargnani with 9 and Kris Humphries with 5 and a combined total of 6 rebounds. Our second unit provided us a total of – 9 points and – 9 boards!

What killed us was the back-court!

--Toronto's guards and small forwards were out-scored 81-35 by Atlanta in Friday's loss.

Mike Bibby and Joe Johnson destroyed Jose Calderon and Anthony Parker both inside and outside! We had no way to stop them as Sam Mitchell so expertly mentioned! He would know, he taught them how to play that way! With absolutely no clue how to stop driving guards as we saw with Tayshaun Prince and now Joe Johnson! This had better change quickly as most of the teams in this league have quick guards who can shoot!

--In four of their first five games, Toronto has given up at least 10 more shots than they've taken, a fact directly attributable to their lack of defensive rebounding prowess.

As I mentioned earlier, we are the worst team in the league on the glass! Jamario Moon has all but disappeared off the glass and out of the offense. He has his moments on defense but not consistent enough to warrant the PT he receives. That being said, Jason Kapono would be out played by most of the great athletes the league has playing on the wings night in and night out! A very difficult place to be for Bryan Colangelo after he put all his eggs into Jermaine O’Neal’s injury prone body!

Here are a few thoughts on the season that has just begun.

Team defense MUST become the number 1 priority on this team as they can’t stop anyone from the outside at this point. Teams are all well aware of how to attack this team as we are slow on the perimeter or seem to have no desire to pay the price to win.

The promising start has quickly given way to fear and trepidation! The Pistons and the Hawks have exposed our weak underbelly! We MUST become a team that wants to take the ball to the hole! We MUST commit to team defense as a priority and not an after-thought! We need to find another scorer to provide 10 to 15 points a game. With Chris Bosh at 26 and Jose now at 16,  JO and AP both around 11, we are at the middle of the pack offensively but giving up more points than we are scoring after just 2 losses!

There is much room for improvement and this next week will show us if Sam is able to do what it takes to move this team up the rankings or down the chart! The Ball is in their court now!


First, I could be wrong and I hope I am, but it is time to start looking for something other than Andrea Bargnani! He has some talent and a great touch for a big man, but he looks over-whelmed most games and has never developed the heart needed to play against some of the men in the league nose to nose! In his 3rd season now, he should be able to hold his own at both ends of the floor night after night, but he can’t seem to find a rhythm from night to night as teams just let him shoot knowing if he misses the first couple, his night is over! He has had success driving the ball to the hole, but seems very reluctant to commit his body to that kind of pounding night after night!
Jermaine O’Neal looks slow and out of place most nights. His 17 last night were great to see, but 4 rebounds just won’t cut it at some point. He is averaging 5.8 rebounds a game, while Jose Calderon is averaging 4! Surely your C/PF can average more than 2 more boards a game more than your PG? Is that too much to ask? Let’s hope that he can find his place and step up to the challenge and provide more rebounding as being – 9 or 10 every night is not a good plan to win games!
Category: NBA
Posted on: November 5, 2008 10:40 am
Edited on: November 5, 2008 10:41 am

Raptors - Pistons game preview

Well, game night is here! Raptors at 3 - 0 and the Pistons at 3 - 0. Chris Bosh and the Raptors are looking to hit 4 - 0 for the first time as a team. the Pistons welcome Allen Iverson to the fold and look to him to provide an intensity on offense that was lacking!

the Starters look like this.


Chris Bosh: a solid start averaging 26 and 11 a game with 4 assists.

Jose Calderon: after dropping 25 against the Bucks he is averaging 18 points and 10 assists a game and is in control of the team with a capable backup in Roko Ukic who is getting better every game!

Anthony Parker:  averaging 14 points per game while playing tough defense in every corner of the floor!

Jermaine O'Neal:  a huge part of a very active front court that can score off the drive or inside! had a tough game against the Bucks, but has provided the ROOM that CB4 has needed and has provided almost 3 blocks a game!

Jamario Moon: averaging nearly 11 points per game but has been a beast on defense on the wing! if he can start grabbing 8 - 10 boards a game this starting 5 would be a tough match against any team!


Allen Iverson: a career 27+ points per game scoring machine! not much room to criticize the man's skills, but worry that his shoot first style, and second and third at times could bring an uneasy situation to a very stable locker room. giving up Chauncey Billups who has kept this team focused on offense will require some adjustment! so far he is averaging 18 points and 7 assists per game.

Richard Hamilton: his back court mate, is averaging 19 points and 5 rebounds and 4 assists. he gives them a very solid back court with Rodney Stuckey able to step in when needed.

Tayshaun Prince: is averaging 12 points and 5 rebounds and will be looked upon to be a defensive stopper on the outside and provide some extra help inside!

Jason Maxiell: averaging 9 points and 4 rebounds per game. he will be looked upon to step up his game in a big way!

Rasheed Wallace: an underated big man who will torment you inside and out!

I look for this to be a great test of both lineups! i would love to see the Raptors pick up the Win as it would bring a bit more credibility to some of the lofty rankings they have received! i won't rate them in the top 5 until they BEAT a team considered top 5! i am sorry but the Warriors, Bucks nor the 76ers are there yet!

this should be a great game with many interesting plots!

all thoughts welcome!

Posted on: November 3, 2008 11:00 am

3 games, 3 wins - a good start for the Raptors

So, after the first 3 games of the 2008-09 season, we find the Raptors at 3-0 tied with the Lakers and the Rockets and the Hornets with the same record. I know it is early and that we beat “weaker” teams in the 76ers and the Warriors and the Bucks, but it is still a good start to a year that was to see them fall down the Eastern Conference standings with the rise of the Hawks and the 76ers and the recovery of the Bulls. This was the season that the Cavaliers were to dominate the East with LeBron James over-powering every team he played. So far, we see in the East that the Raptors are 3 – 0 and the Hawks are 2 – 0 as are the Pistons, who were supposed to be too old to compete!

I think one thing we are seeing this year is a general upgrade in the over-all play of all the teams! I have seen a trend toward tough interior defense and forcing teams to shoot outside. That has been the formula the Raptors have used so far this year. The game against the Warriors showed us that this team can run with teams and wear them down even with an 8 man rotation, this team does not lose a lot with the “second unit” on the floor. Well, the second unit has at times shown us Andrea Bargnani, who is scored 19 against the Warriors, but is averaging 5 rebounds a game and a little better than 2 blocks a game off the bench! It was his play in the 4th quarter of the Warriors game that helped tie the game with a couple key blocks. He did the same in the Bucks game! Should he continue to score and get closer to 10 or 11 points per game off the bench, this team will be very hard to match up with. Sam Mitchell has become fond of sticking either Jermaine 0’Neal or Chris Bosh in with the rest of the second wave with Joey Graham or Jason Kapono and Roko Ukic who has quickly become a solid presence on the floor. These minutes he can play and develop his calm steady play will only help this team in the spring as Jose Calderon can keep his legs fresh! The play of Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker has been welcomed to say the least. It is good to see Jamario not drift when he is not scoring and has been rewarded with 10 points, 2 assists, 2 blocks and about 2 steals a game. Anthony Parker has been playing some of the best ball he has played in a Raptors uniform dropping 14 points per game and averaging 2 rebounds, 2 assists and nearly 4 steals a game. Against the tough inside game of the Bucks on a night when Jermaine could not get moving, Calderon and Parker combined for 36 points and 12 assists. The margin of victory was 4 points and the Jose and Anthony out scored Michael Redd and Ramon Sessions by 5!!!

This team so far this season has focused on team defense! Sam and Chris Bosh have committed themselves to this style and we saw in the overtime win against the very short benched and very tired Warriors that this style can and will wear opponents down! A 6 – 0 run to start the OT with 3 steals by the Raptors sealed the win!

This week, we face the 2 – 0 Detroit Pistons who are coming off a 117 – 100 win over the Wizards and the not too surprising Atlanta Hawks who are 2 – 0 after beating the Magic in Orlando and the 76ers at home. The Hawks play the Hornets on Wednesday night and that should be a fun game to watch with Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler and David West hosting them. The Hawks offer Joe Johnson averaging 30 points a game, Mike Bibby and Josh Smith averaging 15 each. Al Horford is young and should be a very active presence underneath giving our front court all they can handle!

The Pistons bring their starting 5 of the past 4 or 5 seasons I think of Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Chauncey Billups and Antonio MacDyess or Jason Maxiell. Walter Hermann I think is playing good right now, but I think they will present Rodney Stuckey, Arron Afflalo and Kwame Browne and suddenly, the team that is too old is 10 or 11 deep! I would love to see the Raptors win both of these games and they could, but they will have to play spectacular team defense and NOT turn the ball over 19 times!

So far this year, the Raptors have played steady ball control ball. That has proven very successful. This week we shall see how committed this team is to the team game at both ends of the floor! After the Hawks, we will see the Bobcats, the Celtics and the 76ers again, this time at home. This young season starts with some critical divisional games and so far they are on top with the Hawks. This next week will be very much a litmus test for the conference.

Here are my thoughts on the play of the team so far!

Chris Bosh – averaging 42 minutes, 26 points, 10 rebounds and almost 4 assists per game! I am beginning to agree with the MVP threads I have seen on these boards! He has played unselfish ball leading the team in all aspects of the game. He has made some tough plays on defense, has distributed to the open man after he gets the ball where he wanted it keeping his team mates playing at both ends, he has played well when on the floor with the so-called second line which is a term I am beginning to look to replace! His intensity at both ends has allowed Jermaine O’Neal room to move again. Over all, Bosh’s play should be considered among the elite in the league.

Jermaine O’Neal – averaging 11 points and 7 rebounds as well as 3 assists a game. He has brought a breath of life to this front court by creating 2 double team options low. He is struggling a bit on offense, but he has averaged 2 blocks a game and is a defensive force to be sought when entering the key. He has provided the presence we were looking for to off-set Chris Bosh in the front court and he has given us a very tough interior defense that has allowed the team to tighten up outside which killed them last year!

Jose Calderon – Jose has become a solid point guard in this league! I would consider him a top 10 guard at this point as he does not focus on his own scoring, but as we saw against the Bucks, can step up as he needs to! I believe that we shall see this team rewarded by making him the starting PG! His steady demeanor on the floor has a calming effect on everyone out there. He leads with his heart and his team responds very well to his leadership! With Roko Ukic off the bench giving him some solid minutes of play while he rests, this team looks very good at the #1 spot! Averaging 19 points and 9.7 assists, he is off to a flying start. As he continues to score, teams will not be able to collapse or they will pay the price!

Anthony Parker – Jose’s back-court mate is off to a great start averaging 14 points and 2 assists and 2.3 rebounds and 3.33 steals. A very solid option off the wing as he is often guarding the other teams top scorer, he has acquitted himself well not letting anyone out play him so far this season! Whether he is on the starting rotation or the other rotation, he continues to play consistent intense defense and has been a pest to the 3 back-courts we have faced this season.

Jamario Moon – I feel he still can be a major contribution to this team, but he will have to figure out how to offer at least 15 points a game to stay in this lineup with Jason Kapono on the bench waiting! He is exciting to watch, but seems unable to consistently finish but when he does just let the ball fly, he can score in this league! He is still young mentally though at 28, the experiment has shown flashes of brilliance and some signs of concern. When he is firing from outside, this team can go on deep runs as he has stepped up his defense this year but needs to become way more active on the glass!

Andrea Bargnani – Is this the same kid who wore #7 last season? Where did he get the tough from? What a joy to watch him score 19 against a quick strong Warriors team, only to see him vanish against the Bucks! If he can continue to play solid defense, then the Raptors can find scoring, but if he can find a way to drop 10 a night, this team would be very hard to match to 8 or 9 players. I would love to see him grab 5 or 6 boards a night and keep his head in the game in the paint. That would allow that step out game he has to flourish.

This week should show us a bit more of the heart of this team! the games will be against 3 teams expected to be at or near the top of the Eastern Conference! Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will give this team all they can handle! enjoy the games!

Posted on: October 30, 2008 10:59 am

Raptors beat the 76ers 94 - 85

Here is a look at last night’s 94-85 victory by the Raptors over the 76ers.

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As I suspected, the Raptors struggled early as Jermaine O’Neal and Chris Bosh struggled to find their range. Jose Calderon hit the first shot around 5 minutes into the game – of course, from long range! The first quarter saw the 76ers destroy the Raptors on the glass grabbing 22 boards, most of them offensive boards, while the Raptors grabbed 4. Being down only 3 points at the end of the first was a huge victory in itself as they looked lost most of the quarter as the 76ers were flying everywhere led by Samuel Dalembert and Elton Brand inside. After the onslaught was done, Jose went to work and brought the calm back to the team. He began to exploit the weak interior defense of the 76ers with some ball movement and hitting open guys for quick hits and bringing the confidence level back on the offensive side of the floor. By half-time the Raptors were up to stay and the solid guard play was instrumental in controlling the flow of the game and taking the quick 76ers out of the game making them shoot from the perimeter.

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Some random thoughts about the game!

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Chris Bosh has decided that this team will be a defensive team first! I was very happy to see the guys ALL rotating to the open man and give very few open looks to this team, even inside there were often 3 Raptors on the ball! Jermaine O’Neal and Jamario Moon both seem to enjoy protecting the paint! The Raptors missed that defensive edge last year and I hope this trend becomes a rallying cry! It is nice to hear Sam talk about how tough this team is defensively and not about how they gave up a lead late watching a team destroy them with open looks from all over the court!

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I knew Roko Ukic was a good player, but I had to look twice a few times to figure out which PG was on the floor! Neither he nor Jose committed a turnover last night which is a very good start! I think the one turnover they charged to him was a time count violation. Allowing Jose to rest as long as he did was and will be a huge determination as to how far this team can go! He had 4 points and 2 assists in his time on the court but his ability to break pressure and find open guys in traffic and on the wing is exciting to watch! I think that we again have to excellent point guards on this team and if they can keep moving the ball, they will be hard to match up against by any team.

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The second line now has Joey Graham, Andrea Bargnani, Jermaine O’Neal at times as well as Roko and Jason Kapono. This group is solid and should not lose much against any team. I would love to see Andrea become a 10/5 type player off the bench which would make them even more dangerous and hard to take lightly. 2 blocks, a steal, 5 rebounds, but no points leave me hoping for more from him.

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I found myself very intrigued at how little this team let up with Chris on the bench. Jermaine was able to attack from either high or low post and played some fantastic man up and team defense while on the floor alone. Together, these two play very well and complement each other very well! I hope he can get 75 or so games in, he looked like he was having fun last night for the first time in years!

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I think the preaching of Sam Mitchell has found a place in the hearts and minds of this group! They play unselfish ball, tough team and man defense, and run the floor when they are able and make smart passes. Of those 10 turnovers, I think JK made 2 traveling violations; they ran out the shot clock at the end of the game. Over-all, this team did not allow the 76ers floor space and turned them into a jump-shooting team which they are not!

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From this point on, I see Sam working the guys into a team that focus’ on the ball at both ends of the floor meaning that rebounding has to be the area of the game they win most nights to be consistently successful. Look for Chris to continue his rise up the NBA star power chart to become a top 5 power forward by the end of the season in ppg and rebounds pg. I believe he has a new outlook on the game now that he is not the double cover guy! Or, as he said last night, “pick your poison” - meaning cover me, or double Jermaine. Not only will that allow both the ability to use the talent they have, but frees up guys like Jason Kapono and Anthony Parker to do what they do on the wing.

The starters last night were Bosh, who had 27 points, and 11 rebounds, Jermaine O'Neal who had 17 points and 8 rebounds, Jose Calderon who had 13 points, 7 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 turnover, Jamario Moon had 6 points and 1 rebound, 2 steals and 1 block, Anthony Parker had 9 points and 1 rebound. Jason Kapono had 15 points, 10 in the 4th to seal the game.

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We shall find out against the Warriors how committed this team is to playing team defense! Stopping this team who started the season with a loss to the Hornets scoring 103 points will be a good test of the heart of these men!

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Over all, a solid win, a bit of a slow start, but they stuck to what they do and earned a good season opening win against a team many are picking to end up ahead of them in the division and the conference.

Posted on: October 29, 2008 5:28 pm

Raptors 2008-09 Preview

Welcome to the 2008 - 09 NBA season! I trust the summer was too long and the Olympics a good preview to the upcoming season!

The Toronto Raptors head into the new season with hope and a belief that they can challenge in the Atlantic Conference. I will lay out what i believe are some of the good things they are anticipating, and a few apprehensions I feel at this point.

Here is the opening night roster:

7 Andrea Bargnani - PF
Chris Bosh - PF
43 Kris Humphries - PF 
21 Nathan Jawai - PF 
6 Jermaine O'Neal - PF
3 Hassan Adams - SF
14 Joey Graham - SF
24 Jason Kapono - SF
Jose Calderon - PG
5 Will Solomon - PG
33 Jamario Moon - SG
18 Anthony Parker - SG
1 Roko Ukic - SG

The first thing that strikes me is that they offer no true Center! i think that losing Rasho Nesterovic could be something that will haunt them down the road as they are left with a lot of PF's and no one who can bang underneath night after night! Jermaine O'Neal has the POTENTIAL to be the inside help that Chis Bosh has been waiting for, but we won't know that until we see how much and how intense he plays. He has battled the "great potential" tag his whole life and with the Pacers, he was stagnating! i hope that he can play to that potential we all saw his 2001-02 Most Improved Player year! At 30, life for a big man can become a series of aches and pains which we have seen. As much as i like the deal, i am a bit hesitant to say it was a great improvement over what we had! if he can play to his averages of 14.3 ppg and 7.7 rpg, he could fill the void in this talented Raptors front court!

Chris Bosh will mature even more this season and become a greater force as he edges his scoring and boards up, his team will rise the standings with him!

The tandem of Joey Graham and Jason Kapono have the potential to score from almost any part of the floor. The problem we ran into last year was a lack of commitment to outside defense! I am not sure that letting Carlos Delfino walk and bringing in Hassan Adams will help in either aspect, but we can only move on and see which of the 3 will step up and play some defense! I believe that the issue last season was a lack of intensity on defense from the front court including Chris Bosh, but for sure the perimeter defense let too many games slip by them and in the Atlantic Division this season, that won't be acceptable at all!

I would love to see Andrea Bargnani and Jamario Moon emerge as top level players and become 15 point 7 or 8 rebound a game guys which would see a huge increase in bench scoring or a more balanced starting 5 if Jamario and Anthony Parker platoon as they did last season. If Andrea struggles, i suspect he will become a failed experiment and i am sure there are teams that would love to have him wandering around the perimeter! With the wealth of PF's we have, he could be used to find another SF to shore up the perimeter.

With the offense now in the more than capable hands of Jose Calderon, the addition of Will Solomon could be a huge factor. He looks more than able to step in and run the show and should allow the Raptors an interesting up-tempo option off the bench with Moon, Joey Graham or Jason Kapono with Andrea cutting.

As i see this team at this point, there are many questions i find unanswered! I am not sure that they are a lot better than they were when the season ended in the spring, but the POTENTIAL to be better is left in the hands and hearts of this group of men. I think if Jermaine can play 70+ games, this team will win around 45 which is about what they won last year! The lack of true Center will hurt them in the Atlantic Division as they play teams like the Celtics with Kendrick Perkins and Glenn Davis - though both are undersized, they are very adequate playing and banging it out down low. the 76ers will offer Samuel Dalembert and the Nets will present the rookie Brook Lopez as well as Josh Boone. As the season plays out, I can see this team making a move for either a true post or a larger PF who can help O'Neal contend underneath. I think the SG position is very solid, and i think that the PG position could use another body.

SO, over all, i see the Raptors as a team that is unknown in a lot of areas with the loss of T.J. Ford and Carlos Delfino leaving holes that will be tough to fill. I also see potential as this team can now present a very solid front line of Chris Bosh, Jermaine O'Neal and Joey Graham or Jason Kapono. With Jose Calderon in the PG and either Moon or Parker, this team will be fun to watch! I see them ending up 2nd in this division with 47 wins. I see them 5th or 6th in the conference behind the Celtics, the Pistons, the Magic, and the Cavaliers. Tonight we shall see if Sam Mitchell is up to the task of guiding this team to play with their hearts.

Bring on the games!

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com