Bosh From Twitter
That sure sounds encouraging doesn't it. I mean he has reason to think that way as well. The Raptors have won 3 out of 4 games and are starting to figure out how to hold leads and get wins. Sure the Wizards are a bad team but they did the same against the Magic and Rockets. At this point it really isn't as much about who the Raptors are playing as much as it is about if they are winning or losing. A brilliant football coach once said " You Play To Win The Game" now Herm Edwards may not have been able to get his Chiefs to do that very often but he is right. It is what it is all about when you cut through all the stuff that is written and said. It is about getting wins. When the season is over they don't ask you who you beat or how you beat them. They just ask how many times did you win. But it does seem clear the Raptors are starting to see the path back to the playoffs.
Andrea Has Figured It Out?
One of the biggest changes has been with Andrea Bargnani. I really was in the camp of the folks that wanted to trade him and move on. But he has shown some things that we have not scene from him in his two plus years in the NBA. The guy we have seen in the last 5 games is much more the one Bryan Colangelo had in mind when he drafted Bargnani with the first overall pick. A confident shooter that has ice water in his veins and makes and takes big shots at key points in games. When Andrea displays these kind of skills it makes the Raptors a much different team. The Wizards last night did all they could to make sure that Chris Bosh did not beat them last night. They succeed for the most part. What they did not count on was that Andrea Bargnani would.
The fear and concern is what happens when Jermaine O'Neal becomes healthy? Jay Triano when asked about if O'Neal would start when he returned ducked the question altogether. He said he had not even thought about it. I am not sure if that is true but eventually he will have to think about it. Bargnani when asked about if it matters if he started or not claims it does not. He seemed to suggest that it was more about the amount of time he gets on the floor and not if his name got called in the starting line-up. The biggest test of Triano as a coach will be when all three (Bosh, Bargnani and O'Neal) are healthy and able to play. The Raptors tried unsuccessfully for the most part to play all three together. Bargnani as an over sized small forward was a failure. So can Triano come up with a rotation that allows Andrea to get his floor time that he thinks he needs and based on his play of late as earned. It may be possible to make it work as you can try to keep O'Neal healthy by reducing his minutes and same for Bosh. You can use Andrea to fill the bulk of those minutes. It will take Triano to be able to convince all 3 players that it will be the best thing for the group as a whole. Based on the recent developments he can make a strong argument for it. The one problem will be when it comes to those last 6 minutes of games. I think it is clear that all 3 players want to be on the floor for those. Bosh as the franchise player is going to be 99.9% of the time. So it becomes a choice between O'Neal and Bargnani for those minutes. O'Neal is the better defender but not by as great a gap as you would have thought heading into the season. Bargnani is the better offensive weapon when he is on his game and going well. Just with the range he has he becomes a match-up problem for any team. I have no doubt Jay Triano wants to be the coach of this team going forward. No one likes to be interim anything. How he handles this issue will define him as a coaching candidate and will impact on what Bryan Colangelo might do in terms of moves for this roster. If Triano can show a way that Bosh, O'Neal and Bargnani can all play together and be productive it may allow Colangelo to feel he must hang on to all 3 players. Despite all of that this team still badly needs a slashing and scoring wing player. I am not convinced that player on a night to night basis is on this roster. So it will be interesting to see what happens. But some new questions have started to become part of figuring this all out.
Jose When He Returns Will That Help Or Hurt
Seems a bit silly of a question on the surface. But if you have been playing close attention some things have improved with no Jose. Those improvements are mostly on the defensive end of the floor. Jose Calderon when he returns must answer the challenge and work as hard on defense as he does on offense. It has to happen or this house of cards of improvement will all come crashing down. I am not saying he needs to be an all world defender. He needs to take a man blowing by him as personally as he takes it when he makes a rare turnover.
That will be what Jose will help with and improve on what has been happening of late. He is very good at protecting the ball and getting his team to play with less mistakes on the offensive end. He will need to take the odd chance as well to not break the momentum that has been built in his time away that was being established. But he was starting to show signs of starting to make those king of plays and choices. Jay Triano is slowly getting Jose to understand the benefits of taking chances and making it work at times in a game. I will give you an example from last night's game made by Will Solomon. He looked way up the floor and hit Anthony Parker( I think ) with a long pass and it lead to an easy score as Parker was ahead of the play. In the past if Jose was in the game he likely sees that same pass to make but views it as to much of a risk and just sets the team up in the half court. Transition points and easier chances can make life much more easy for any basketball team.
I have always said that Jose Calderon was a very good point guard. But he is not a great point guard. However if Jay Triano get work with Jose and tweak his game in some ways along with a true commitment to defensive improvement by Jose he could grow into being a great point guard. Jay Triano worked with Steve Nash on team Canada and Nash credits Triano with helping him a lot. It is not that Jose will become a Steve Nash like point guard. They are very different in a lot of ways. But can Triano give Jose the direction to make improvements in his game as he did for Steve Nash with his game. I was hopeful that he could and was starting to see signs that he was. Calderon is a great guy and people rush to his defense at times based on that. I like Jose but I just expect and want more from him. That is what signing that contract in the summer meant. To be the starting point guard in the city has always been a focus from day one with Damon Stoudamire and it continues to be to this day with Jose.
Matt Devlin last night suggested we may see a Jose return as soon as tomorrow against the Grizzlies. So it will be really interesting to see what the impact will be on the Raptors on both ends of the floor when he does. No one is saying Will Solomon and or Roko Ukic is going to steal his job. But maybe they could see more minutes if Calderon is not as effective in some aspects. Ultimately maybe it should happen any way as Calderon is really showing signs of wear this season. Sam Mitchell had no confidence it Solomon or Ukic and really over played Jose through the early part of the season much like he did with Chris Bosh.
Live Blogging on Monday
Just a note for all of you and an invitation. I am going to be working doing live blogs for The Score from time to time. Most of the time it will be for Raptor games. On these nights I will not being doing Raptor Rewinds as you have become use too. But I will provide you links and access to the live blog instead. The first of these is going to be on Monday for the Raptors and Celtics and as soon as I have the details of how you can take part I will provide you a link. These live blogs are great for those of you who are on the go and have the tech toys like Iphones or Blackberrys. If you want to keep up with what is going on with the game. If you are out on a date or visiting family and have to miss a game. Now you won't have to on these nights. Even if your watching the game it is a cool way to have interaction with your fellow fans. I will when I live blog try to show up a bit early and have a bit or an open pre game chat like portion and same for halftime and post game. You are all welcome to be a part.
So that is about it for today unless we have any breaking news to pass a long. I will be doing my usual Thursday thing in taking in the "Hoops" show on Fan 590 and Raps TV. Show has been gone last bit for holidays. I am not sure if Eric, Paul and Jack will be hosting but I will tune in regardless and likely call and have my view. So have a great day and take care. Tomorrow the O.J Mayo show hits Canada that should be fun.