Well the Toronto Raptors played their best basketball game of the season last night. It was thanks in part to a great game plan that Jay Triano and his staff put together. Devin Harris and Vince Carter were the reasons that the Nets were able to steal a win in Toronto. They were highly ineffective in the re-match in New Jersey. Triano decided to match athletic people on Harris like Joey Graham and Jamario Moon. He was able to hide Jose Calderon on defense and not allow a faster point guard to take advantage of him. Meanwhile Vince Carter struggled and did not make a field goal in this basketball game. Even late in the game he went to go in for a dunk only to find Jermaine O'Neal who would foul him and not allow him to get a dunk. A little thing but an important thing that was more of a statement than it was meaningful to the outcome.
Even for the average fan this was an example that they could see the difference between the Sam Mitchell lead Raptors and the Jay Triano lead Raptors. Toronto was making a better overall defensive effort and it was creating turnovers and easy chances to score out of the fast break transition. The Raptors have started to look like a different basketball team and seem to have a much better defensive scheme that they are going out and executing. Granted they have only beat the Pacers and the Nets. But the signs of change are there for this team and it has been easy to see. A much tougher task will lie ahead on Sunday against the Hornets but the Raptors will come into that game with a lot of confidence and momentum.
I Believe In Joey?
The player that most has loved the Jay Triano era is Joey Graham. 6 straight double figure games for Joey Graham has that ever happened? I am not going to look it up but I will guess no. Joey Graham has a new found confidence and is getting it done. Joey is not playing with the fear of if he makes a mistake he will be back on the bench. Under Sam Mitchell his growing frustration with Joey and his mistakes had made the hook for Joey a very short one. Triano has not been so fast to get the hook for Graham and is being rewarded. I can't believe it but I am starting to have faith in Joey Graham. I have been sucked in again by what Joey Graham can do. He does show you some skill and highlight making ability. Joey Graham has had more highlight dunks this season than Jamario Moon. Joey Graham could be saving his NBA career and is increasing his trade value on a daily basis. But now some people may not want to trade Joey with the way he is playing. But whatever the case maybe it is all good signs for Joey Graham and his loyal fans. I will say that Joey Graham does have a small loyal fan base. Well that fan base is growing and they will all say they always knew Joey could do it. I will be honest in saying that I didn't.
Still A Tough Road Ahead
Despite all of this good feeling the schedule that is in front of the Raptors is a tough one. But if they can keep their heads above water good times lie ahead for them. This team is on a similar course as the team that won a division title a few years ago. That team that won a division title had it's struggles early, but when the schedule turned and they saw easier opposition, they took advantage. Will this team do the same thing? It is yet to be determined but the early signs may be showing that they can. The Raptors are just 5-10 against teams that are over .500, but when those teams pop up on the schedule below that mark they must take advantage.The Raptors will also need to find a way to steal the odd win from some good teams as well. The Raptors have yet to have that big unexpected win over a good team. There will be lots of chances to do that on the rest of the December schedule.
Couple Things Of Note For Record Books
Jose Calderon is in the NBA Record book as he has made his first 55 free throws of the NBA season. That is the best start ever from the line in the history of league. The Raptors also extended that much talked about 3 pointer streak to 800 games and counting. These are nice things but in the end it is about the W and L's and Jose Calderon would be the first to point out that fact.
Future For A.P?
Anthony Parker has be sidelined with an ankle injury for this 2 game winning streak. There has been a lot of talk even coming into the season on if he would remain with the Raptors. Jason Kapono has looked alright in the starting line-up. It all makes you wonder what will happen once A.P is declared healthy. Could he find himself on the bench? Is he a guy that Bryan Colangelo is shopping around to make a move? These are questions that will be answered moving forward. Some have noticed that A.P seems to have perhaps just lost a step and is not at the same level he was when he first arrived in Toronto. It is not likely he can bring back a significant player on his own. But in this mad world of creating cap space he does make a decent amount of money and that may be more important for a team that would look to acquire him. A.P has always been a stand up guy in his time in Toronto and be it getting put on the bench or part of trade rumours I have confidence he will remain the professional he has always been. He is a great person and done a lot in his time in Toronto for the community. A good person that you wish nothing but the best for Raptor or not. It would not be a shock if A.P is not on this squad when the trade deadline has passed in February 2009.
December 15th Is Coming
There has been some movement in the league with a few more trades and move earlier than the norm this year. But come December 15th everyone on all the NBA rosters in theory becomes available. Bryan Colangelo has not been hiding the fact he is working the phones. If only we had a wire tap on his cell phone. It would be very interesting I am sure. So next week we can expect to see some teams looking to make a move. Will the Raptors be in that mix? Bryan Colangelo seems to be suggesting that at the very least they will be in the conversations going on. One thing is for sure that all eyes will be looking to see who is going to make a move. That will mean a big week for the people in the rumour business. So get ready for a week of lots of speculation from around the league.
That's A Rap For Today
I was up early on the radio in Montreal making another appearance on off the bench on CJLO 1690 AM. If I get a copy of it or a link I will post it and you can hear what we were talking about. So thanks to Gerry for the invite to be back on the show. I have a radio background so being on the radio is a lot of fun for me. I hope that I can do this in more places around the country. I love talking basketball and it is a lot of fun. Dino Blogger is always willing to come on and talk ball be it big show or small show it does not matter to me. I put in a lot of time doing college radio and it was a blast. So I am always willing to talk with anyone that wants to have me.
Speaking of Radio Paul Jones the Radio Play by Play voice of the Raptors is hopefully going to be dropping by to visit here next week. So that is something to look forward to as well.
If you need to get in touch with me for any reason be it you have a question, comment or maybe you want me to ask Paul something? It all goes to the same place.
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