It was a year ago today that The Score.com announced the launch of it's sports federation. The Dino Nation Blog is proud to have been part of just 2 basketball blogs that were part of that launch. I want to thank Scott Carefoot and The Score for a great year together. It has been a great thrill to work with a network that I feel has always had a passion and love for basketball. I have really been proud to have a The Score logo on this blog for the last year. I hope this partnership will last for years to come. Next week it will be the Blog's anniversary so I will not go to much into what has gone on in the last year for now. But needless to say I have come a long way and taken the Dino Nation Blog to exciting new heights. I thank Scott for all his hard work on behalf of the Sports Federation and he has always been great to me personally and I have enjoyed being able to work with him over this past year. In that year I have also got to meet and know several other folks from The Score and they have all been great to me. Holly Mackenzie, Randy Urban, D.J Bennett and others. It has been great to know them as well. It also great the we have now added Nat from Heels On Hardwood and Romy for Hip Hoop Junkies to our basketball family of the sports fed. Also Scott of course has Raptor blog as well.
Now on to what we do talking Raptors basketball and the NBA. The Raps return to the ACC with a 5-7 record and 1-3 west coast road trip in the rear view mirror. A though test for the Raps in D-Wade and the Miami Heat. The Heat like the Raps come in on a losing streak and have lost 3 of their last 4 games. Despite doing little in the off-season the Heat have had a decent start to the season prior to this skid in the last 4. The Heat are basically a team that goes as it star does. D-Wade has struggled and so has the Heat. After a fast start to the year Jermaine O'Neal has been having injury issues of late. I know that will shock both Pacer and Raptors fans.
Miami is a team on a given night that can get hot from beyond the arc. Chalmers is a youngster that can make the shot and when he is hot make it consistently. They also have Richardson who in his time with the Suns was a deadly 3 point gunner. The Raptors defense has been leaking every where as of late though not just at the 3 point line. The Raps have been dealing with injuries to Hedo and Wright and have yet to see Reggie Evans suit up for a game that counts. Depending on who is healthy for the Raps it will make the match-ups a challenge.
Michael Beasley is growing into a solid NBA player in his second season. He is another guy that you must account for. The Raps need to get on the glass and avoid giving up second chances. That happened far to often against Utah. Amir Johnson has been doing a solid job working at on the glasses. Jay Triano has been giving Amir lots of minutes based on his hustle and effort. Unfortunately despite the work of Amir and Bosh on the boards it has not rubbed off on some of the other folks. Andrea Bargnani has a couple big rebound night's on his scorecard but has not been getting on the glass in the way you would hope given his size. He also has had his defensive effort called into question. He has been struggling and when people mention the struggles of Calderon on defense his name comes a close second.
What becomes frustrating for the fans and I am sure Jay Triano as well is the lack of consistent effort from his team from quarter to quarter forget game to game. The start tonight will be key. The Raps need to engage an A.C.C crowd that should they see the type of start we saw in Utah could turn early. The expectation level of fans was to expect a team that would be improved on defense and they have seen anything but that. Flashes of it but very few full 4 quarter efforts. If you wanted to be the complete optimist you could say the Raps for parts of the games on this trip did not look out of place playing Suns, Nuggets and Jazz. They have proven that they really can score with anyone in this league. All of that being done with point guard play from Calderon and Jack that is far from what booth can do on the offensive end.
Raptors badly could use a win heading into what will be another tough challenge vs Orlando. They will not have Jameer Nelson but will have both Vince Carter and Rashard Lewis which they did not the last time they visited the ACC earlier in the month. Raps at worst need to get 2 out of 3 on this home stand. The one major difference from the team that won a Division Title to now is the way they play at home. The win total at the A.C.C has been on a steady decline in recent years. The fans still fill the building and if you give them reason to cheer they will. But as great as fans can be they can not defend anyone and they can not make shots. It takes the team to light the fuse to allow the A.C.C to explode.
Chris Bosh is playing like an all-star and the Raps need to take advantage of this great stretch by Chris and start getting some wins out of it. While Chris might need to step up off the floor and challenge this team to be better. Maybe that has happened behind closed doors we never really know. However a more vocal Chris Bosh might mean a better Raptors team as a result. I remember a game on the west coast in which he got into Andrea Bargnani. I wouldn't mind seeing some more of that when needed. Not just directed at Andrea but at anyone that is not pulling their weight on the floor.
I will be live blogging this one for The Score. I picked up that job along the way in this year. That is a lot of fun as well and nothing for me beats getting to do a Raptors game. So please come join me and be part of the fun that is a Score Live Blog. I will post the links later in the day (When I get them) both here and on Twitter. Speaking of Twitter, I chatted with Reggie Evans on there yesterday. I had an idea for a new feature for the Dino Nation Blog based on Reggie. I wanted to get his blessing before I did it and he did give the thumbs up. So over the weekend we will have the first edition of "Bet That". Which if you have ever tweeted with Reggie is a popular response of his when someone tweets something he likes or agrees with. It is meant to be a fun thing and hopefully everyone will enjoying. Including Reggie cause if he doesn't I may not make it to another year of working with The Score. Only kidding Reggie is a great guy and I thank him for his blessing of my new segment for the blog. We all look forward to when he can get out there and contribute. Still not sure when that will be. Hopefully soon. Last and not least the DNB is heading back to the ACC. I am going down to cover the last game of this home stand where T.J Ford and the Pacers come to visit. It should be fun to finally met up with T.J face to face. I was thrilled to have him as a guest here over the summer. I will be working hard to get lots of cool stuff for the Dino Nation Blog while I am in the house at the ACC. It is not something I get to do on a regular basis so I try to make the most of these chances.