Colangelo's Presser From ATL on Gay Trade

Bryan Colangelo's presser from Atlanta on the Rudy Gay trade:


Raptors Take A Huge Gamble On Gay

So Finally a couple things have happened.....Jose Calderon is gone and Rudy Gay is coming to Toronto. It also cost the Raptors Ed Davis. As the deal works out Davis would be going the Grizzlies and Calderon would be heading to the Pistons who would be getting Prince and Daye in return from the hole left by Gay.

It may just be for Gay at the end of the day as this tweet suggests from Ken Berger:

I don't think anyone can successfully argue that Gay is worth his max contract. Which if the Raptors are willing to be a team that will venture beyond the tax threshold it really isn't an issue at all. If they do not this trade is loaded with risk. It also leaves the Raptors somewhat incomplete. The point guard controversy is now over. That said John Lucas III is not the answer as the back-up point guard. Lowry is battling back trouble at the moment as well.

The Raptors also lose Ed Davis who had been having a career year and was showing tremendous growth. You are left wonder what this means for the future of Andrea Bargnani. It has been rumoured he is as good as gone. That said if he is for what now would become the question? The Raptors would not exactly have a starting power forward unless they decided to move Amir Johnson back to the position. That would leave Quincy Acy as his back-up?

Give Colangelo this for whatever you think of him he does have a way of making the big deals happen. That said the history of his past big deals should cause you to be very worried about the future. They have never exactly gone as planned. One thing this does suggest is that his future is likely fairly secure as this is a serious investment he has been given the blessing to make by the MLSE board. That is not a sign of a guy on his way out the door.

I have a feeling this maybe just the first move of a few before we are done. It is easy to jump to conclusions but what this actually means for the Raptors still needs some questions to be answered and a few more moves to be made.

Calderon and Davis will not play tonight vs the Hawks... a clear sign the deal is done.

Jose Calderon for as much as I have wanted him gone has played well this season and you have to wonder what this offense will be like without him. He honestly had to go though as you were never keeping both him and Lowry. This puts a lot of pressure on Lowry to live up to the considerable hype that came with his arrival. He has failed to do that for the most part.

The Raptors shake-up is underway and this is likely just the start and it really does not change their outlook in terms of this season for me. What it means for their future moving forward remains to be seen.
I remain pretty damn sick by the way...But will keep up to date with this story but may not get into a recap of the game tonight. I will even attempt to do the Radio even though I may sound pretty horrible.


I Am Down With The Raptor Flu.

As much as I would like to re-cap all the madness that was last night including Aaron Gray's career high and MVP chants for a second year. However, I am feeling really sick and may have caught the bug that has been going around that has so many Raptors going down from Jack Armstrong to Landry Fields to now DeMar DeRozan. It was a typical fourth quarter tank job by the Raptors.

Make it 114-102 Warriors with the win at the ACC. As for me I am pretty sick and may need to take at least a few days off. But go back and listen to This Week in Raptorland It was a great show and my voice was much better...now it is not close to 100%


This Week In Raptorland: Super Sized Edition

This is a jam packed show with interviews with Ed Davis, DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson and Canada's own Tristan Thompson. Really do I need anymore to get you to listen to this podcast? I would hope not but we do have myself and Josh as well with are thoughts on the week that was for the Toronto Raptors and looking ahead to the future with players expected to return to the line-up eventually. It is a fun and informative 60 minutes plus that we hope you will enjoy.

Thanks to all our guests it obviously is a big plus for the show when I can get down to some games and get some interviews to be part of the program. So thanks to all the guest and to Josh Lewenberg who takes time from his schedule to come on and co-host with me each and every week.

If you enjoy the show please spread the word and let others know about it. Always looking to add to our audience and make more people aware of hard work we are doing on the podcast. We have not done the wing giveaways on last couple shows so look out for something on Twitter during games and will give of some chicken wings on behalf of our sponsors at St Louis Wings.

If you are unable to listen to podcast here or would like to download head over to our Podcast hosts and you can check it out there or download it via Itunes for that link.


Raptors Offer A Familiar Script At The ACC.

It had been awhile since I had made my way down to the ACC to cover a game. The results off the floor were pretty good as we have some great interviews set up for This Week in Raptorland. We talk with DeMar DeRozan on the heels of his game winner in Orlando, Amir Johnson talks about his google hangout, The Raptors Red Party tonight and a great month for him in January. Also Tristan Thompson of the Cavs talks about putting basketball on the map in Canada.

Speaking of the Red Party Remix Jerrica our Community Manager will be in attendance for that event. If your looking for he find Ed Davis and she should be somewhere near by. Kidding aside she is going to be there and capturing all the goings on and will have something in the blog on the event. So look for her and go say hello.

Now on the game itself. A couple of things of note in this one. It started out well for DeMar DeRozan who looked as if he was picking up where he left off with his game winner in the first quarter. He had a dozen after one and looked very good. Also pre-game I briefly chatted with Ed Davis and he mentioned about being excited to face his former UNC alum Tyler Zeller a rookie for the Cavs. It showed as well as Davis got off to a fast start.

The Raptors would fade heading into halftime and struggle in the third only to fight back and regain control heading to another nail biting ending. The Raptors had a two point advantage and it looked as if yet another overtime might be in the cards. Which for the Raptors would not have been good news given their record. Instead Kyrie Irving showed some of his All-Star talents hitting a deep three guarded by Alan Anderson. He left the Raptors less than a second to respond and their would be no magical finish for this one.

No Pizza, No Win as the Cavs take it 99-98. Kyrie Irving the star of then night with 32 points none bigger than that final deep three. The hometown kid Tristan Thompson had his best outing in his home and native land with 14 points and 8 rebounds. He has been rolling of late and so has Amir Johnson who had 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Raptors effort in this one. DeRozan after that strong first would only score 3 more points to finish the night with 15.

We will have a jam packed This Week In Raptorland with myself and Josh Lewenberg along with some coming up from Jerrica later in the week on the Raptor's Red Party going down tonight in Toronto.

It was great to be back at the ACC but unfortunate that it was a result I have seen far to often both sitting in front of my T.V or live at the ACC. The Raptors have just had a terrible time finding a way to maintain leads and close out games this season.

Was also great to see so many of the brave men and women who serve and protect us in Canadian Military on hand last night. They are true heroes and deserve all our respect. They don't hit game winners or dunk basketballs they just keep us safe and serve our country.


A Great Moment For DeRozan As Raptors Sweep Away The Magic

Being honest about it this game was a good cure for if you have trouble getting to sleep for most of the night. If you didn’t you were rewarded with a pretty cool moment for the Raptors and DeMar DeRozan. It is so rare to have the Raptors playing on Thursday night. This game was not on TNT but normally a Thursday night affair is on TNT. This was one of those rare games scheduled on Thursday not on the national broadcast in the U.S.

The Raptors after a 6-0 run to start the game would eventually find themselves trailing 18-10 later in the Quarter. They would rally to lead by 2 after one. It was this type of night where both teams could not seem to maintain and advantage.

Amir Johnson was having a big night in this one early. He ended up with a double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds and if not some late heroics would be the story in this game.

It was an all too familiar situation with the Raptors allowing a lead to slip away in the late going. The game seemed set to go to overtime where the Raptors are a terrible 1-5. The Raptors had a few seconds left but they never make last second shots. A long chuck from Jose Calderon or some forced hero ball effort from Kyle Lowry and let’s move on.

That is what you would expect to happen but it was DeMar DeRozan with the ball in his hands with the game on the line and he would nail the shot win the game at the buzzer.

Words do not do it justice. If you missed it have a look, if you saw it have a look again and be amazed:

This was a big break through moment for DeRozan. Sure it is just a win over the Magic and in the grand scheme of things likely means little. That said for a team that has lost so many close games and for a player in DeRozan that has had a forgettable January until last night.

Make the final Raptors 97 Magic 95 as the strange schedule week continues with a rare Saturday Night home affair against the Cavs. I will be in the house for that one. Hard to think it can be more exciting than the end of this one. 


Raptors Offer Good Effort and More Frustration

If you are not frustrated about something after last night I would question if you are human. It is all too familiar a script for the Raptors. They would shock everyone and actual lead by 14 points over the Miami Heat only to see it melt away and head to overtime in which the Raptors would get finally dominated.

Dwane Casey’s rotations were puzzling especially in relation to Ed Davis who early on was playing like a stud. In some ways if the Heat had won by 20 it might have been easier to deal with. The Raptors made a great effort against the arguable best team in the league and defending NBA Champion.

That said moral victories count for as much as overtime losses do in the NBA. Raptors had a real team effort with 7 players in double figures led by Alan Anderson with 20 off the bench. That said Anderson late in this game and into overtime was a major reason the Raptors lost. He became a black hole firing up shots that had stopped falling for him.

Lebron James meanwhile had a triple double with 31 point 10 rebounds and 11 assists. Dwyane Wade had a game high 35 and Chris Bosh had a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds. In the end it is yet another night where the Raptors gave you an entertaining game but the result was all too predictable. Miami for the record takes it 123-116 in overtime.

What should be more interesting is how the Raptors respond to this with an extremely rare Thursday match-up with the Orlando Magic. The Raptors have not lost to Magic all season. Some of those wins have come without Glen “Big Baby” Davis in the line-up. He will be back for this one.

You wonder how much of a South Beach hangover the Raptors will have from the result of last night.

In the end in the bigger picture this Raptors season has gone completely off course from where it was suppose to go. The danger is that it impacts on what the future plans of this franchise should be. Especially as relates to Jose Calderon who has once again had a great season with his job and a new contract on the line.

That said in the bottom line of winning and losing he has not had enough impact to change that. He played well in the loss to Miami but as in many performances in his career it was in a loss. The Raptors should still look to move him but I highly doubt that they will. Frustration of another kind has been the up and down career of Jose Calderon.

Than there is that whole Andrea Bargnani mess to figure out. If the Raptors approach trade deadline with the glass is half full outlook they will not make the moves they truly need to make to move forward. What makes this more difficult are the struggles of guys like DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry at times of late. They were two pieces heading into the season that were expected to be a big part of the Raptors future.

While many are concerned with if Terrence Ross gets into a dunk contest, I would suggest there are far bigger things to be concerned with.

For the record on the Magic match-up the Raptors are 12-18 in the hometown of Micky Mouse and Disney World. If the Raptors were successful it would be only the second time they have swept the Magic in a season series the only other time came back in the 2006-07 season.


Reflections on Life After Chris Bosh.

The Toronto Raptors for the first time this season face the defending World Champion Miami Heat. This of course means a couple of things. Lebron James is on the other side of the court, love him or hate him the best player in the game today in the eyes of almost everyone. It also means Chris Bosh returns to face his former team that he was once the centrepiece of the Toronto Raptors.

Chris Bosh is still the same guy he was in Toronto, we just don’t find or accept his antics as funny anymore. Recently he was part of a karaoke contest and he won it. Doing a rather amusing Barry White number complete with costume and fake moustache.

If he did this same thing back in his days in Toronto, most would laugh. Praise and point out the event (Which was put on by Shane Battier) was for charity. It would have been painted as yet another isn't Chris Bosh a "good guy" stories.

In reality maybe Chris Bosh hasn’t changed at all and maybe it is us who have changed in how we feel about him. He obviously did a poor job in his exit from Toronto. Even if he still refuses to admit that, he has to know that he did. That said, was the reason he left wrong? Look at the Raptors currently and it is hard to debate that he was. In fact I think he was right and in the same position can not say I would not have done the exact same thing.

Before all the Tweeting of should I stay or go ever found its way to social media, it was a basic simple point that Chris Bosh was correct about. In order to be a true contender in the NBA a team must venture beyond the tax-threshold. Something the Raptors never did when he was here. Sure they got guys like J.O and Hedo and a list of others to try to surround him with. However they never made that major investment in building the team around him.

Will get back to Bosh is a second but this leads to Lebron James. He was an angry man on Twitter about the sale of the Sacramento Kings. No they are not named after him, but they did sell for a ton of money. This caused Lebron James to wonder what the heck the point of the NBA lockout was about when you could sell a team for a reported 525 million bucks. 

I actually agree with James but not for the same reason. James may make a valid point about the stability of the league from a money point of view.You can debate both sides of that argument and not come up with a clear right answer. That said is he right on his point? I think he is to a degree. That said, why I agree with his statement about why the heck was there a lockout in the first place is for another reason.

I say why did we have a lockout? Based on the failure of delivering on a promise of competitive balance being established in this league. The creation of the team in Miami with James, Wade and Bosh was the biggest blow to competitive balance prior to the lockout. Since we have seen a league of have and have not’s in this league. Not that it always works out as we have seen with the mess in L.A with the Lakers this season. The lockout did absolutely nothing to bring competitive balance to the NBA.

This leads us back to Chris Bosh who likes Vince Carter and others before him had lost faith in management of the Toronto Raptors. While we could ignore or deny that, by taking glee in the fact that guys like Carter and McGrady never found success elsewhere in winning a championship. Bosh however, did get his championship dream likely a year later than he thought it would happen but he did.

At the end of the day the Toronto Raptors are owned by a group that has the resources to be and act like a big market franchise and chooses not to take advantage of that. They are only willing to spend to a certain point on the roster. Ask yourself the question if the Toronto Maple Leafs were playing under the NBA system and CBA would they be a tax team? Would they spend the most money possible to try and put a winner on the ice? The answer is pretty clear that they would. That is not to say it would end up in a success. You still need the right people spending money on the right people to win.

The Raptors have been a complete joke and failure since Chris Bosh left. You can debate and argue about how that all came to be, but it is ultimately the truth. Andrea Bargnani is not as good a player as Chris Bosh was with the Raptors. Bosh was an all-star talent and Bargnani isn’t. You can debate Bosh’s merits as a leader and build a strong case he isn’t one. That said Vince Carter wasn’t either but the franchise surrounded him with guys that were. It led to the only real success this franchise has had for the most part.

So maybe when we boo guys like Carter, McGrady and Bosh we really should be booing the people that ultimately have failed. It isn’t them, it is the people that own this franchise.

As for the game tonight’s matchup with Miami it is self explanatory.  Miami has won all 8 games since James and Bosh joined Wade in Miami. The streak is 9 games dating back prior to that. This is not going to be close and if it is than it likely will be more about what the Heat fail to do rather than what the Raptors do well. That is much the case of the Raptors win over the Lakers.


This Week In Raptorland

Once again we are here for another week of talking Raptors basketball. It was a rough week for the Raptors despite an unexpected win over the Lakers on Sunday. We start off with talk about that game. Along the way we get to many of our usual features as well as some fun. So sit back and enjoy a fun conversation with myself and Josh Lewenberg of TSN 1050.

I really would like to keep the fan questions going as part of how we give away Chicken Wings for are great sponsors at St Louis Wings but we need you to get at us with your questions and topics. You can use the hashtag #TWIR5 at any time during the week to get your questions and topics as part of our show and give you a chance to take home a pound of Chicken Wings.

We will also try to come up with some new ways to give you chances to take home some wings and keep it fresh each week. But if we get the response to do the Fan Frenzy portion of the show that is the ideal way to make you a part of the show and also give you the chance to win something as a way to say thanks. So remember the hashtag #TWIR5 and use it anytime during the week.

Thanks for listening and for the continued support. We put a lot of time and effort into making a good program for you to listen to each and every week. If you are not able to listen here or would like to download the podcast you can go to our podcast host to get all of our audio features in the DNB.


Lakers As Desparate For A Win as The Raptors.

Quite simply the toughest team for the Raptors to play in their history with a 6-25 record. That improves slightly to 4-12 in Toronto. That said it is often not an easy win for the Lakers like last season in their only match-up it took a shot in dying moments from Kobe Bryant to win 94-92 last year in Toronto.

Lakers are in uncharted waters for them with a 17-22 record, winners of just 3 of their last 10 games and they are 5-12 on the road. They recently have been battling without Pau Gasol or Dwight Howard. A team that was expected to be much like what they had in Miami with James, Wade and Bosh has been anything but.

All of that said the Raptors are primed to be picked off as they have lost 4 straight games. The last couple in terrible fashion and were not talking the questionable calls at the end. We are talking blowing large leads in both games against Chicago and Philadelphia.

Speaking of the Heat earlier that is what is up next for the Raptors. So it gets no easier and the Raptors could very well be looking at a 6 game losing streak after a game down in Miami.

It is not so much a case of schemes or strategy for me today. It is you have two players in Bryant and Nash that have tasted nothing but success against the Raptors. They both have dominated this franchise in their hall of fame NBA careers.

Laker nation will be out in full force as well "The Toronto Chapter" of it. The only time the gold and purple will visit the ACC this season. It could be a long afternoon for loyal Raptors fans.

Keeping this short today but hit me on Twitter with your Raptors questions and topics using hashtag #TWIR5 on twitter. We need them for This Week In Raptorland and we reward the best with Chicken Wings from at St Louis Wings.


Raptors Blow Another Big Lead Lost In Controversy.

This night started strange and ended in a very familiar way for the Raptors. Let’s start with the strange as if you turned on this game on TSN you asked yourself who is that guy that replaced Jack Armstrong with? He sounds like Dick Vitale. But it was in fact a very sick and voiceless Jack Armstrong. As it turned out Jack and his voice would last about a half and that is about the same amount of time the Raptors would last in this basketball game.

The Raptors would look much like the team that 9 days earlier was able to put a hurting on the Sixers. The Raptors built a 17 point lead in the first half that by the end of the night would be forgotten by some. The Sixers stormed out of the locker room and dominated the third quarter out scoring the Raptors 29-13. The Raptors who once had a lead of 19 entered the final quarter up by just one point.

The Sixers would take the lead in the fourth but the Raptors initially would push back to rebuild a lead but eventually it would come down to a similar situation as it did with the Bulls on Wednesday. The NBA came out earlier in the day with for the second time this season an admission that an official screwed up a call against the Raptors. This game like that one would end regulation in controversy. The Raptors trying to inbound the ball would struggle to do so with 5.5 seconds left. Alan Anderson would eventually get the ball and stepped or was shoved out of bounds. No foul was called and the Sixers would get the ball and send this game to overtime.

In the overtime the Sixers dominated play and walked away with 108-101 win. The win gives the Sixers the season series 3-1 as well and leaves the Raptors just 1-7 in the Atlantic Division on the season.

DeMar DeRozan struggled in this game with just 8 points going 4-10 from the field. Ed Davis was one of three Raptors to lead the way with 18 points. Alan Anderson and Terrence Ross also had 18 a piece coming off the bench. Davis played 41 minutes and Amir Johnson played an amazing 46 minutes with just 9 points and 5 rebound and 5 assists. Despite the modest stat line Johnson made some key plays down the stretch trying to preserve the win in regulation.

In the end the non-call was the talk after the game. Not the fact that Raptors blew a 19 point lead, failed to show-up in overtime where they were outscored 12-5 or the fact this is the Raptors fourth straight loss. It also could easily extend to 6 games with a home game against the Lakers on Sunday and travelling to Miami to take on the Heat for the first time this season.

The Raptors playoff chances seem to be dead and buried. That has little to do with 3 games with controversial calls at the end. It has everything to do with what happened prior to that in blowing significant leads in all three of these games.


It's Not So Hard To Say Good-Bye To Sixers

The Raptors are 1-3 since a win 9 days ago that had Raptors fans thinking the playoffs were possible. Three straight losses to the Buck, Nets and Bulls have been a huge reality check to that. Philadelphia continues to struggle but still hangs on to ninth in the east despite being 2-8 in their last 10 games. The Raptors are just 5-5 in that same time period.

The Raptors struggles in the division have been equal to my worst fears with the only win in division coming in that contest 9 days ago at the ACC. The Raptors will have to get a win on the road in this one which is never easy given their 4-16 record thus far this season.

While the story coming out of the game against the Bulls was the refs it should have been how this team allowed themselves to get behind by 19 points. They also got dominated in the paint. Not exactly the strong suit of the Sixers. Philadelphia even though they will never admit it, likely brought in Andrew Bynum more to unload is big contract in the off-season and be a player in free agency.

Jrue Holiday is always the major concern when the Raptors and Sixers meet-up. He has had a great deal of success over the Raptors in his young career. The Raptors will need to keep him under control if they have any chance at winning. In the game they did win they did a good job of that in the first half but not so much in the second half.

The Raptors defense has it moments but still struggles to match the levels it reached under Dwane Casey in year one. The magic number that has nothing to do with Pizza seems to be 100. If the Raptors can hold teams under that number their chances of winning seem to increase greatly. The Raptors have not won a single game if the opposition reaches triple digits. In contrast they have scored 100 sometimes giving fans pizza and still coming out with a loss for their troubles.

Recently Quincy Acy has been seeing some minutes which might be a subtle sign of where the season is heading. It might just be the Raptors reality with Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valanciunas out of the line-up. In any case the Raptors will officially or unofficially turn the page and start looking towards next season. Or at least they should.

It sucks that Raptors look like they are not going to make the post-season once again but it might be for the best. The Raptors entering the trade deadline out of the playoff hunt will allow them to make the right moves as far as trades go to move forward with this team.

If they don’t move Jose Calderon at the deadline it would be a sign they could be considering what would be a major mistake signing him to a new contract in the off-season. His play has been outstanding this year but it seems unrealistic that he can remain your starting point guard moving forward with this young group for me.

Kyle Lowry is finally starting to look like the guy we say at the start of the year and in these months to close the season he really needs to step up and re-claim his starting role. He will never win a popularity contest with Jose Calderon. He doesn’t have to though. He just has to play well and make it clear he can handle the starting-role. Staying healthy will be a big part of that. In the end the Raptors paid far too high a price to get Lowry to just simply expect him being their back-up point guard.

Ask yourself this, if the Raptors had landed Steve Nash would they still make the same trade for Kyle Lowry? You would hope not given the high price they paid. So if we believe that is true, why should we think the Raptors would be willing to keep Calderon as the starter? It is the same price tag for a back-up point guard in favour of a less talented starter in comparison to Nash.

Landry Fields may always be haunted by the contract he got thanks in part to Nash. That said his play since returning from injury has been closer to what the Raptors expected when signing him. I don’t think playing at the power forward spot was part of that vision but he has done it at times.

The Raptors road record in Philly is a decent one at 16-18 all-time. They lost 106-98 in November in the first meeting this season in Philly. Raptors are 4-3 in there last 7 games in Philly. Perhaps the most famous Raptors game of all-time was in this city with a three that never fell from the corner by a very recent UNC Graduate named Vincent Lamar Carter.


Raptors Cry Foul But In End Lose Another Close One.

Why must every close game the Raptors play at the end come down to blaming the refs for the Raptors failing to walk away with a win. It is a chicken and egg argument at the end I suppose. Which comes first the refs making a call that doesn’t go the Raptors way or the complaining about it?

When this is the result it gets lost what happened in the game as a whole. The Raptors allowed themselves to get way behind in this game and it was shaping up much like the game in Brooklyn just 24 hours prior. It would be a successful push back by the Raptors finding a way to get this game to overtime.

All three of the injured Raptors from last night would play in this one. Kyle Lowry and Alan Anderson both playing extremely well, despite the injuries the night prior for both they excelled on this night.    They combined for 53 points off the bench Anderson fresh out of the dentist chair tied a career high 27. The bench as whole had 66 points in the Raptors effort on the night.

DeMar DeRozan started off this game hot but ultimately faded into the background after a 5-5 shooting start to his night. He was 1-8 after that scoring 18 points on the night in a shade over 40 minutes of action. He was not alone in fading into the background as Carlos Boozer was the story in the first half. He cooled off to a lesser degree in the second half. He also ended up in foul trouble by the end of this one. That said he had the game high in scoring with 36 points.

Ultimately this game came down to a series of calls hence the talking about the refs off the top. There were two main calls by the officials that decided the outcome of this game. But this didn’t necessarily need to be the case.  Kyle Lowry scored on a lovely floater in the lane but left 8 seconds on the clock. That allowed Deng to have a chance to win the game with a jumper in which he would clear out Landry Fields with his off hand and nailed a mid-range jumper. No foul called on Deng but it is a call that honestly is rarely made especially in the circumstances.

This left the Raptors down 107-105 with 3.3 seconds left. Amir Johnson would end up with the ball in his hands and he would draw a foul. But it would not be a shooting foul as it was ruled a pass by Johnson and a non-shooting foul. While Raptors fans say this is a totally bogus conclusion, Landry Fields does end up catching the ball at least giving some justification to the ruling. The Bulls did have a foul to give and it left the Raptors with about second left on the clock still down two.

They would get the ball in to Jose Calderon who had a very deep look at three for the win but he would miss it and that was it. This was another close but no cigar effort for the Raptors in this one.  They add to a less than impressive overtime record and in this season and in their overall history.  So the final score for the record remains 107-105 and a Bulls win.

The Raptors now find themselves on a 3 game losing streak and have rapidly fallen out of serious playoff contention talk. The loss sees the Raptors fall to 14-25 and by the end of night both Orlando and Detroit passing the Raptors in the standings

The Raptors face the Sixers on Friday and than the Lakers on Sunday. The realistic odds of the Raptors making the playoffs are becoming something for only the truly loyal fan can believe in. If you allow your brain to get into the equation you will come to the logical conclusion that the Raptors playoff chances are pretty much done.


Tank For Wiggins....No Convince Wiggins And Others

Andrew Wiggins is already a topic with Raptors fans and he has yet to play a game in the NCAA let alone the NBA. He is the number one prospect set to take his talents to college basketball out of high school this year. Florida State seems to be the place this will end up happening.

Wiggin’s impact on the Raptors has been so much so that you have fans convinced the Raptors should strip the franchise down to nothing and play to finish last next season.  Yes the tanks are back and they have a clear mission and clear target to land.

I don’t want to get into a tanking debate with this. That said, for the record the odds of the success of tanking to land a specific player is 25%. That is if you achieve the less than exciting goal of being the worst team in the NBA. Which if you look around might be harder than being the best team in the NBA these days.

We could also get into a side debate on the NBA Lottery and its strange and whacky history that causes many to question its legitimacy. We are not going to get into that issue either here.

Wiggins is perhaps the diamond of a generation of kids that have grown up with the Raptors and a more realistic goal of one day being NBA players. Many of these young men as kids watched Damon Stoudamire and Vince Carter with the ultimate dream to be playing for the Raptors in the NBA. Something Myck Kabongo has admitted freely in interviews with me in the past.

The common theory seems to be the Raptors need to draft these kids and that is how we build the Raptors with some home grown talent. If the talent is to the level of Wiggins it takes winning the NBA Lottery to do so. He is the clear favourite to have his name called first at the NBA Draft in 2014.

While this is the simplest way to secure these players it is not the easiest or the only way to do it.

Here is what the true focus of the Raptors should be. The Raptors should focus on continuing to build their franchise and be the best they possibly can be. If they make the focus being on building the franchise the best it can be eventually these talents will enter the free agency market.

The ultimate goal is making the Raptors as attractive a destination for all of these Canadian talents emerging to strongly consider the Raptors moving forward. The Raptors have had many disadvantages against their success in the past. In terms of players like Andrew Wiggins, Tristan Thompson, Andrew Nicholson and a list that is growing every year this is an advantage for the Raptors with these home grown talents.

The downside is this is a very long range plan for the Raptors. That said it is a plan that makes sense and likely has a higher success rate than the 25% you have by dismantling your franchise hoping for lottery balls to fall your way.

You also have a clear picture of what you are getting in terms of a talent in the NBA. These young men will have established their NBA legacies to some degree. In a world of big three’s and fours in the NBA who is to say in the next decade the Raptors could not have a super team power by Canadians to lead them to places they have not been in 18 years of existence.

What those 18 years have taught us is the answers for this franchise are far from simple ones.

That said one of the goals at the very start of it all was to grow basketball in Canada. The nation may get to experience that before the Raptors do with the potential team that Canada Basketball could put on the floor in Brazil in 2016 at the Olympics. After that basketball and all of these young men should have a much bigger profile with the average Canadian. Look at the Women’s Soccer Team as an example of that.

After those Olympics if some of those newly made household names become Toronto Raptors it becomes a win both from a marketing standpoint and from a basketball standpoint moving forward. In the meantime the Raptors can focus on building a franchise that guys like Andrew Wiggins and others can feel is worth coming too beyond the nationalistic appeal.

This isn’t a sexy or quick road to success but it is a pretty viable one if you keep it as the ultimate goal down the line. If you did somehow wind up lucky enough to land one of these emerging Canadian stars along the way it could accelerate the time table. That said if you destroyed the franchise to roll the dice to land Wiggins you are taking a far more risky approach and potentially a far more painful future should you not succeed.

So don’t go Tank For Wiggins….instead show him a franchise that is growing in the right direction and could be the perfect place for him to one day come and lead it to levels it has never seen before. While you’re doing that you are improving your odds of getting other lesser Canadian talents along the way. Who knows you might even get good enough to attract anyone by building a franchise that wins consistently.

Easy to say all this, but very hard to accept for fans that have experienced more pain than joy in 18 years of giving their loyalty to the Raptors’ franchise  That said if you want the ultimate joy this might be the most logical way to achieve it.

Bulls Offer A Serious Test For Raptors Offense To Overcome

As a lot of you may have already checked out earlier in the week, I chatted with Chuck Swirsky on the Raptors and Bulls. He shared some interesting things to say on the Raptors and the feedback I have gotten on interview has been pretty positive. So if you happened to miss it, go give it a listen.

Our reason for talking with Chuck was the match-up tonight with Bulls and Raptors getting together at the ACC for the first time this season. Derrick Rose has been gone for the entire season to this point but despite that the Bulls are a respectable 21-15 thus far in the NBA season. This includes a rather strange circumstance where the Bulls actually have a better road record (10-5) than a home record of (11-10).

The one thing that remains true of the Bulls is they are a very formidable defensive team as they proved in their last game on Monday holding the Hawks to 58 points.

In conversations I had with John Lucas III when he arrived with the Raptors he said that he saw many similarities in Dwane Casey and Tom Thibodeau. Casey since arriving with the Raptors has made defense a priority. It was a similar situation when Thibodeau arrived in Chicago. It led to him taking home a coach of the year award for his results. Things have not been as successful with Raptors but the roster obviously lacks the defensive talent the Bulls had to work with.

When you look at the Raptors playoff chances the Bulls and the eventual return of Derrick Rose could play a significant role down the stretch for the Raptors. On April 9th in Chicago and 3 days later back in Toronto the two teams will conclude their 3 game season series that starts tonight. Obviously a former MVP with the skills of Rose would be a big plus for the Bulls in a match-up with Toronto.

Keeping in with this theme of what lies ahead for Raptors they face the Knicks 4 times and Boston 3 times you add in the two games with the Chicago. That is nine games that the Raptors would be not favoured moving forward. It makes the Raptors playoff chances seem a lot bleaker when you consider that.

Since April 11th 2010 the Bulls have won 7 of the last 8 games against the Raptors. This includes a win in their only trip to Toronto last season. The Raptors are an even .500 against the Bulls in Toronto with 16-16 record all time. 

What will be interesting tonight will be the level of health of all the banged up Raptors that includes Jose Calderon, Kyle Lowry and Alan Anderson last night. Add Amir Johnson who has been playing banged up. Will see if all of these guys are able to suit up but even if they do what they will be able to provide in this one. It is safe to assume that none of them will be operating at 100%.

The Raptors are in tough in this one. It would be a surprise if they could pull out a victory in this one.


Raptors Get Roughed Up In Brooklyn

So the Raptors went to Brooklyn while the visiting Bulls landed in Toronto around 5ish local time. The Bulls likely were checked into their hotel and got to watch the Raptors battle with the Nets. They would have to be happy with what they saw to some degree. Injures and lots of them.

We already know the Raptors have no Bargnani and Valancuinas.  Add to the list of questionable for tomorrow night Jose Calderon who took a Reggie Evans knee to the hip. Alan Anderson needed some dental work after getting on the wrong end of a Brook Lopez Elbow. He did not return and Calderon tried to play after the knee to hip but sat down the stretch. Lowry came back and looked good on his bum ankle but you wonder how it will feel tomorrow.

Given the state of the game you love the heart but question the wisdom. Lowry led a futile attempt to get back in the game. At time Lowry re-entered the game the Raptors were down I believe it was down 10 points in the fourth quarter. Lowry led the Raptors even with missing a portion of this game with injury with 21 points. If Lowry’s injury is not bad this would be a nice bounce back night for him. That said his past history this season does not leave you hopeful.

The Raptors did battle hard through out this game but call me Mr. Negative if you like I never had any sense that I felt the Raptors would win this game. In the end the thought was the right one as the Nets had 3 starters with 20+ points. Williams had 21, so did Joe Johnson register the same point total and Lopez led the way with 22 points. It was more than enough to give Nets their seventh straight win with a 113-106 over the Raptors.

As the Raptors playoff chances become bleaker once again some have turned to Terrence Ross to ease their pain. He did nothing early on in this one but then one, two highlight dunks and the hype machine was underway.

I feel the need to explain to you the reason that Terrence Ross in the Dunk Contest is a marketing mission for the Raptors. Let’s be real about this. There is no chance any Raptor is playing in the All-Star Game itself. It isn’t going to happen. So the Raptors only chance to make All-Star Weekend might be getting Ross in the dunk contest. Hence this crazy insane push to get a kid in the dunk contest that really at the start of this had little interest in it.

I agree with Terrence Ross’ original comments that he was just an in game dunker and he really wasn’t all that interested in the slam dunk contest. Ross may have a chance to get in the Rookie/Sophomore thing. I really have no clue how they even do that mess anymore. Jonas can be ruled out of running for that safe to say.

So be amazed by Terrence Ross all you like. But understand that at the end of the day you’re getting played. Also understand that as great as his dunks might be the overall product still needs a ton of work. Vince Carter he is not even close too. I would even say DeMar DeRozan had a more consistent rookie year at least offensively.

This is not even taking into account the joke the dunk contest as a whole has become. DeRozan was screwed in this contest not once but twice. The level of competition is just getting lower and lower. Vince Carter and what he did against who he did seems like a far distant memory. Lebron James lied to all saying he would enter his name into the contest. Blake Griffin was more props than substance when he went in it. The motivation for top stars to get in dunk contest is as an all-time low. Fred Jones who once played for the Raptors represented the last low bar for me with this contest. That was until Jeremy Evans last season that was out performed by a former Raptor Sonny Weems in a dunk contest that was seen by far fewer on You tube from some European All-Star competition.

While many worry about this nonsense be more concerned that Raptors are rapidly being not bad enough to be considered bad. While not good enough to be considered good. This leaves the moves that they should have made without much thought now all come into question.

The Raptors really run the risk of being caught up in the present and lose sight of the overall future. The Raptors now are 1-6 in the Atlantic Division and still have 3 games vs. Boston and 4 vs. Knicks. In the end the Raptors might be the team I always expected them to be. Good enough to not be terrible but definitely not a playoff team.

Points will likely be a premium against a Bulls team that only allowed the Hawks to score 58. They also sport a 10-5 home record despite being just 11-10 at home. It will be a Raptor team that is a best banged up and tired. At worst you might see John Lucas III as your starting point guard with lord knows who as his back-up. In any case the Raptors streak to close 2012 is fading away and the reality of who this team is and who they are not is coming back into focus.   

In Brooklyn's House

Raptors are Brooklyn for second time this season. Candice who does some features for us in the DNB took in a game at the Barclay's Center and made this cool video back in 2012:


So there is a bit of a scene setter for you. The scene has changed in Brooklyn quite a lot with the firing of Avery Johnson in Mid-December and being replaced by former Raptors assistant coach P.J Carlesimo on an interim basis. The Nets have responded to the coaching change in a positive way. They are 8-2 in last 10 games and winners of 6 in a row heading into tonight. This is the third meeting of the season between these teams. It was the Nets is their unplanned home opener over the Raptors 107-100. Lowry and DeRozan combined for 53 points in that loss and Brook Lopez led the Brooklyn side with 27. The second game came with the Raptors coming back from that infamous 0-5 west coast road trip in December. It was the Net again taking the the win 94-88, as both teams were looking to snap 5 game losing streaks.

That game featured a monster double-double by Ed Davis of 24 points and 12 rebounds in his first game in starting line-up after the Bargnani injury in the previous game with Portland. Raptors also played that game without Kyle Lowry which has led to the transition to Jose Calderon as the starter since.

It goes without saying both of this teams have changed quite a bit in just about a month's time. The keys to this match-up have not much though. Deron Williams is always a concern and has enjoyed a decent amount of success against the Raptors and Calderon. The Raptors undermanned front court is going to be in for a long night battling on the glass.

The Raptors face a similar situation that they did with Sixers few days ago. If they win they can hope alive of a split of the season series. The Raptors in the game with Philly got their lone win so far in the Atlantic Division to this point.

On this Week In Raptoland, I said this would be a loss and I remain convinced that will be the case. Will see if the Raptors can pull off a surprise. I would not count on it. Nets have been just as hot as the Raptors of late in fact a bit more as the Raptors have sort of fizzled to start 2013 just 3-3 so far and all home games. 


Get Out The Salami & Cheese Chuck Swirsky Is In The Starting 5

The Chicago Bull will be in town Wednesday and that is always a chance for us in Dino Nation Blog to re-connect with Chuck Swirsky. He spent a decade here covering the Toronto Raptors both on Radio and T.V and made himself a fixture in the community. He will always hold a special place in the hearts of many Raptors fans for life. I personally have always been grateful to Chuck for sharing his time with me. Our relationship dates back to him being a guest of mine of college radio in Hamilton and he has always been happy to do so. Chuck these days is the radio voice for the Bulls and can be found on twitter @Swirsk054. He still is as accessible as he always was and maybe even more so in this social media age.

Chuck as you will hear despite is work with the Bulls still pays close attention to what is going on with the Raptors and he shares his thoughts on the Raptors point guard situation, Andrea Bargnani as well as offers his take on his current club the Chicago Bulls.

He use to say it was always a pleasure talking Raptors ball and for me it is always a pleasure talking with him. So have a listen as we catch up with Chuck in what has become something we try to do at least once a season in the DNB.

Thanks to Chuck and wish him all the best. He has always been a first class person and that has not changed. I thank him for sharing his thoughts and opinions with us. It is always appreciated.

You can here more of my thoughts and that of Josh Lewenberg of TSN 1050 on This Week In Raptorland. It is our weekly podcast each and every week that can be heard on Mondays. We also encourage you to get involved in the show and give us your questions or topics for us to discuss. Use the hastag #TWIR5 any time through out the week on Twitter with your Raptors or NBA questions or topics. We choose at least one and sometimes more winners of 1lb of Chicken Wings from our great sponsors at St Louis Wings.

If you have difficulty listening to the interview or our podcasts you can head over to our podcast host and listen there or download them including on I-Tunes.  

This Week In Raptorland: Buck Short Of Playoff Contention

It is Monday and as always the means it is time for This Week in Raptorland. We talk about a missed opportunity for the Raptors against the Bucks. The play of Kyle Lowry of late. We also became aware after this was recorded that:

Lowry missed practice to attend a funeral. This likely played a role in some of things we saw with Kyle in the Bucks game. That said was not info we were aware of at the time of recording the podcast. It may well play a role in the performance we saw from him in the game vs Bucks.

In any case we also talk about the Raptors second unit at length. A conversation on the toughness of Amir Johnson and relate it to the Robert Griffin III debate in the NFL. As well as much much more.

You might have noticed we forgot to pick a winner for the 1lb of Chicken Wings. My apologies and congratulations to Mitch McClure you are the winner. Also we teased an interview with Chuck Swirsky which is done and will be posting later today.

I encourage you all to use the hashtag #TWIR5 at anytime though out the week and get us your Raptors question or topic. We really enjoy having your participation in the show and we are able to reward you with a chance to get some good food from our sponsors St Louis Wings. We encourage you to get involved even if you have won in the past. There is no rule against winning a second time but we do try to favor the new contributors. Regardless of the prize being a part of it we just want to hear from you.

If you have trouble listening head over to our podcast host and you can listen or download there including I-Tunes. 


Bucks Come To Town For A Game That Could Mean A Lot

The Raptors open up what could be a real game changing three game series with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks and Raptors could be in a dog fight for the final playoff position this season. They meet today in Toronto and than in March and April in Milwaukee. The bad news for the Raptors is the Bucks have swept the season series for the last two seasons winning the last 7 contests between the two clubs. Historically the Bucks have been a tough team for the Raptors to beat. They are just 12-20 vs. Bucks in Toronto and an even worse 10-22 on the road.

This is a personal rivalry for DeMar DeRozan who is good friends with Brandon Jennings. While at times DeRozan has got the individual nod over Jennings he has just one team victory in ten tries in his NBA career. Ironically though, it is DeRozan with the more secure future in Toronto and Jennings likely exploring his options elsewhere in the off-season as things played out.  Jennings did not get an extension from the Bucks and has more than hinted he would like to be elsewhere over the years.

While DeRozan is having perhaps the best year of his NBA career you can argue that Jennings has slipped back slightly or at least reached a plateau. Jennings is earning a reputation as volume shooter he is only slightly above his career field goal percentage of 39.5% entering play at the ACC with just a 40.9% from the field. DeRozan in contrast is better with a career 45.4% and slightly behind that with 43.9% this season but still better than Jennings. There scoring averages are as close as they have ever been in their careers with DeRozan averaging 17.8 a game and Jennings just slightly better at 18.5 per game.

The comparison is a valid one beyond their close relationship as they were selected back to back in the draft. The Raptors selecting DeRozan first at the ninth pick and Jennings going at ten to the Bucks in the 2009 NBA Drafted Jennings was able to reach the playoffs early in his career in 2010 while DeRozan continues to dream of that opportunity.

While things have calmed down surrounding the Raptors it has not been the case with the Bucks. Scott Skiles recently parted ways with the Bucks. It was said in some reports that Skiles hated his team. Keeping in mind the Bucks still hold a playoff spot in the East and a record above .500 at 18-17 currently in eighth and the final playoff spot after recently being passed by Boston. They still are some what comfortably ahead of both the Sixers and Raptors who are 3 and half and 4 and half games behind them in the standings.

The Raptors will look to make that 3 and half with a win in a matinee at the ACC. The Raptors are the hotter team despite the terrible history in the head to head of late. Winners of 10 of their last 13 games as the Bucks are just 4-6 and come in off a loss to Detroit.

It seems with the coaching change the Bucks are much in a mode like Dwane Casey was in earlier in the season looking for answers. They dressed 13 players against Detroit and played them all. Beyond Jennings the Bucks have Monta Ellis, Larry Sanders, Ilyasova and others. But much like Toronto they really lack that consistent star to perform night in and night out.

It is a team that under Skiles at least was focused on defense not unlike the Raptors under Casey. They really do have a lot of similar type traits. But ultimately the Bucks despite all of that have consistently found a way to beat the Raptors.

Still, history in the last match-up was not on the Raptors side against the Bobcats either. A win over the Bucks would be a significant step towards playoff contention and shift the pressure on the Bucks to sweep the two remaining games on their home floor in March and April. Who is to say what either of these squads look like at that point.

The Raptors and how they manage trade deadline could go a long way to determining how capable they will be to make the post-season. The Bucks might consider moving Jennings if they truly feel he will want out in the off-season. It is not like that has not been done elsewhere.

In any case that is the future for both these sides. The present will be very important down the line as these two clubs are expected to be in battle down the stretch for a final invite to the playoffs. Funny when we entered this season that is about what I said the Raptors would be doing. I guess they really have started to put the awful start to the season behind them. If they want to keep climbing in the right direction they need to break a streak of domination by the Bucks and win two out of three games starting with this one at the ACC. They fail to do so and it seems unlikely the Raptors could win twice in Milwaukee. It could come down to that when deciding who gets an invite to the playoffs and who is a spectator.


Amir Johnson is One of a Rare Group "Sports Warriors"

Sometimes some of the things I have been most proud of writing are just ideas that have popped into my head. This is one of those moments. I was watching NFL pre-game coverage for the playoffs and the debate of what should have been done about Robert Griffin III came on. He played last week and eventually was injured and forced to leave the game against the Seahawks. He as a result has had to have surgery and should be back in time for the next NFL season.

At this point you’re thinking what on earth does this have to do with the Toronto Raptors. It doesn’t other than it sparked thoughts of Amir Johnson and how he, like Griffin, has been a true sports warrior and fought through injures and  played through pain. He never seeks out praise for this, as is it just the way he is. The type of person he is at the core of his make-up.

The Raptors had a similar player in their history. Alvin Williams was this same type of "sports" warrior. He paid a tremendous price for that likely, having a far shorter career than he likely would have otherwise. However, as part of that price he paid, he is perhaps with out much debate one of the most respected Raptors of all time as a result.

Sports... all of them, you pay a physical toll on your body. While we constantly complain about how much athletes are paid. They are paid to this level, in part, because they truly risk their physical well being every time they step on the field of play. Amir Johnson likely gets paid a little more than his stats would suggest he deserves. Yet the noise about that has drifted to the background. Fans are quicker to point out what Landry Fields is getting paid.

Johnson gets a pass in this regard because he has quite frankly earned one. Through his actions we are convinced that if Amir Johnson is able to play a game he will play a game. Regardless of what you think of his contract, no one can deny his effort to earn every dollar of it. He does it by fighting through nagging injures and likely more pain than we are ever truly aware of. Only Amir Johnson knows the damage he has done to himself and fought through to play the game he truly must love to do so.

I think as society we have become far too soft and far too hypocritical. If you are going to question the toughness of some you can’t stop others from displaying that toughness.

Pro athletes are given the best medical advice and medical opinions to ensure they can make informed decisions. They are huge investments for franchises and as people have careers and lives after the sport to consider.

At the end of the day given all that advice and knowledge they make choices. Would we consider all of them the wisest choices personally? Perhaps not, but it is all about who these individuals are as people. In life we all have choices and they are made with many factors that make up that process. Athletes are no different.

The Raptors have had their share of what would be considered “soft” players and guys that would not risk playing through a hangnail.

In the end the guys who earn the true respect of fans are not guys like Chris Bosh, Vince Carter and others. It is the guys that are warriors that fight with pride, for both the name on the front and the back of their jerseys.

Instead of questioning what is morally right or wrong, maybe we should just appreciate what is courage, determination and ultimately loyalty. Maybe that message is lost on people who are so quick to boo over not getting a free slice of pizza. It is the people that truly understand what this game is about and life is about that should respect these rare individuals with their support.

Amir Johnson is a young man that entered this league at such a young age and has grown into a man while playing professional basketball. Perhaps the reason he was able to do that is he has always had this warrior spirit inside of him.

He does this with a contrasting fun side off the floor. Johnson is a giving person that goes out of his way to thank and appreciate the fans beyond any athlete that I can think of. 

We all should never forget what guys like this are doing for us. In what ultimately is for our entertainment watching a sport that we enjoy. People may look down on my love of professional wrestling but in the end the guys in sports entertainment do some of these very same things. They are playing through pain to entertain you at the end of the day. 

Next time you decide to cry about what someone is paid, or moan about something that really is secondary, remember there are people in this world putting their bodies and physical well being at risk. They are compensated for that financially. That said the ones that are the true warriors will do it regardless of that.

We live in a world that tries to destroy heroes and fails to acknowledge the greatness of others not nearly enough. Be it Robert Griffin III, Alvin Williams, Amir Johnson or CM Punk, they all have one common element. They are warriors that fight hard to do what they love to do.

If you don’t respect that, love that and cheer for that there is something wrong with you. You are missing out on some people with true values that should be admired and respected.

They all know what they are doing and understand the risks involved. It is not society’s job to tell them to not be who they are. They have every right to decide what they want to do and what risk they are willing to take with their bodies.

These folks are rare and if you don’t have respect for them and their right to do it, we really are done talking here.

Bobkittens Slaughtered As Stands Bleed With Pizza Sauce

The Raptors never trailed against the Charlotte Bobcats, they won every quarter and dominated this basketball game. This should be an exciting glowing re-cap of all that went on last night but because of the final score it will not be 100% positive. Will get to that at the end but let’s talk about the good stuff first.

Normally beating the bobkittens is not cause for celebration in most NBA cities. The simple fact is that Charlotte has had the Raptors number in the recent history of this match-up. They were winners of 7 of last 8 games despite their horrible record over the last 3 years.

It is also a simple fact that if the Raptors want to have people talking seriously about them being a playoff contender they can not afford to lose many if any winnable games. A lose to the Kings was one of those type games.

The Raptors got this done with a team effort in the real sense of the word. Just look at the box score and you see that. Alan Anderson led the team in scoring with just 16 points off the bench. They did it with DeMar DeRozan having a pretty awful night by his standards with just 6 points going 2-8 from the field.

You can go up and down the line-up and no one player stands out in terms of a stat line. You had Landry Fields starting once again and leading the team in rebounds 11 rebounds but just 8 points. Jose Calderon had 15 points and was shooting well but had just 6 assists. Amir Johnson had another solid night with 13 points and 8 assists.

In the end this win was more about defense than it was about the Raptors offense. They held the Bobcats down in the first quarter holding them to 16 points and leading 29-16 after one. They had a complete 48 minute performance on defense no matter who was on the floor. Quincy Acy played some significant minutes in this game and contributed with a couple blocked shots in less than 20 minutes on the floor.

Good news on injury front as well as Terrence Ross was back and showed his ankle is doing just fine as he was set up for a dunk by Kyle Lowry. In the end no Bobcat scored more than 12 points in this one and they were pretty much shutdown by the Raptors.

The Raptors get a 99-78 win and instead of cheers for a great effort from the Raptors we heard a smattering of boos. Yes the Raptors did the horrible injustice of not providing a free slice of pizza for fans. Instead John Lucas III would dribble it out and be satisfied with 21 point victory.

We have done this to death about this Pizza nonsense which is exactly how Jack Armstrong referenced it as it became the only thing in doubt in this game in the final moments. Last season after Stan Van Gundy mocked fans for cheering for a basket while losing to the Magic here we again have to talk about this. Check out the video below it sums it up in a fairly funny rant on my behalf.

This has stopped being a laughing matter though or an isolated incident. MLSE needs to step in and alter this promotion to make it for a more positive goal of holding teams to under a certain number. It should have been done years ago. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it to happen. But it clearly reflects badly on what is a great loyal fan base around the rest of the league.

The players laugh this stuff off and really are not bothered by it. You should be though as it is how you as fans and the city is portrayed around the rest of the league. There is nothing wrong with wanting something free. How you act about it is what problem is. It brings me nothing but joy to run contests for readers of this blog. As a way to say thanks to you for being a reader and supporter it makes me feel great to do so.  That said if contests every developed a negative connotation such as this promotion has with the Raptors I would stop it in heartbeat. 

If your lucky enough to be able to afford to go to a game. You also have more than enough money to pay for a 3 dollar slice of pizza.

We should be talking about much more important things than this on a fairly regular basis. If your at a game and see one of these people I would suggest you tell them to shut up as they are giving us all a bad name as fans.


Will The Raptors Fall in A Cat Trap?

The Charlotte Bobcats started this season looking at the very least respectable compared to the complete embarrassment they were last season. Then they fell off a cliff with a double digit winning streak that finally ended with a win against Chicago of all teams. Regardless of how bad the Bobcats suck the Raptors have always had difficulty with them. The last game it was determined the Refs played a role in aiding the Bobcats to a win. The NBA in a rare move admitted a foul should have been called an Andrea Bargnani shot at the end. That was only one of about 4 or 5 fouls that should have been called in the last 30 seconds of that game. It was for me the worst 30 seconds of officiating I have seen in NBA personally.

That is one game though it does not explain away how the Bobcats have won 7 out 8 against the Raptors in the past 3 seasons so far. That was the bad news if there is some good news for the Raptors the only win came last April at the ACC.

As much as we try to over analyze things in this modern world sometimes the simple truth of one team having another team’s number still exists.  Consider the Bobcats are 50-132 in this time period of domination over the Raptors. There is no real common thread to explain this as both teams have changed coaches and rosters over the last few years.

If there was ever a time the Raptors should be able to shake this it likely is now. The Raptors are playing some of their best basketball of the season recently. The Bobcats have won two of their last four including their surprising win over the Bulls to snap an 18 game losing streak.

Want an odd stat for this one? Don’t let the game go to overtime as the Bobcats are 3-1 in extra time. Cats come in off a loss Wednesday to the Utah Jazz 112-102. Ben Gordon led the team with 20 points off the bench.

This has the makings of a trap game for the Raptors as they will face the Bucks on Sunday a team they ultimately could be chasing for the final playoff spot in the East. The Raptors given the history likely should not be looking ahead to that one at all. If they do it will leave Raptors fans once again wondering how on earth we lost to the Bobkittens again?


Raptors Break The Ice In The Atlantic Division

Last night was an important game for the Raptors as we mentioned in the preview yesterday. In the first half the Raptors seemed to be heading towards an effort that was not going to produce a positive result. They did take a lead into the half but gave a struggling Sixers team every reason to believe they had a chance at victory.

Throughout the night Dwane Casey went with a very tight rotation of eight players and it proved to ultimately be successful. Terrence Ross missed this game with an ankle injury. The Raptors also made some more changes to their starting line-up giving Landry Fields the nod at the small forward position replacing Pietrus. This follows the change of adding Amir Johnson to the starting line-up in favour of Aaron Gray.

The result ended up being a Raptors starting five that all produced in double digits which has been a rare event. Fields, Johnson and Calderon all recorded double-doubles. The Raptors came out in the third quarter and established control of the game. The one constant throughout the night was defense as the Raptors held the Sixers to a season low for them 72 points and their lowest point total since 2009.

In the end it was enough to give the Raptors a 90-72 victory over the Sixers. Why that is potentially important is it gives the Raptors still hope of splitting the season series with the Sixers who they will play again later in the month. It was also the Raptors first win in the Atlantic Division. The Raptors were the last team in the NBA to get a win within their own division. This is important because the Raptors still have 10 games remaining within their division. If they are to put any kind of a playoff run together that MUST include some success against divisional opponents. The main team the Raptors are chasing for the eighth spot is the Boston Celtics. They are a full five games behind Boston in that quest.

The Raptors are playing some good basketball and winning against teams that you would expect them to beat. The constant talk of trade rumours and disruption to this current group might not be as necessary as it was in early December.

That said no one really expects Andrea Bargnani to change and most feel his time with the Raptors needs to be up. The Raptors also have Jose Calderon with his expiring contract. While he has played well it has been a mixed bag from Kyle Lowry as his back-up. The moves the Raptors could make with Bryan Colangelo still in control could have a significant impact on the current team being able to succeed.

People might be upset by this, but the ultimate result of this season should not be the issue. While making the post-season as the 8th seed would have it’s positives, it would not do a lot in terms of the long term questions for this team.

It also might not be all that realistic to expect. Boston is without a doubt going to be active and trying and shake up their roster to give them a chance to get in the post-season and see what happens. There are also the Bucks just ahead of them and realistically that is likely the Raptors are chasing.

There was a lot of talk of Bryan Colangelo’s future ironically enough at Toronto Maple Leafs press conference to announce the firing of Brian Burke. I personal took away from the comments that Bryan has till the end of the season to justify an extension or picking up of the option on his contract.

The Raptors are not unlike the Leafs in that they have an experienced person in place that could take over for Bryan Colangelo if he were to go the way of Burke. Ed Stefanski would be that guy and if the Raptors were going to pull that trigger would they not have done that already. It would be the logical thinking.

Than again with MLSE does logic ever enter the equation at times? That would take to long to answer right now so will call it a day and watch and wait to see where this Raptors roller coaster is heading next.


Raptors Face An Important Game Potentially With Sixers In Town

It is back to business after a day off from the DNB for me.  It was not completely a day off though as I did do an article for the Bleacher Report on Ed Davis and DeMar DeRozan. Both have had some issues of late and will look to bounce back tonight against the Sixers. This is a big game for a lot of reasons for the Raptors in a number of ways. First being the Sixers already hold two wins over the Raptors and if they were to win tonight would hold any kind of tie-breaker with the Raptors should it become a factor for the playoffs. The Raptors are 0-5 in the Atlantic Division so far this season. This is a big problem for them in terms of them trying to legitimately earn their way into playoff contention.

Way back on November 10th, 2012 it was Sixers with a balanced scoring effort defeating the Raptors 93-83. Philly had 5 players score in double figures for them. Raptors actually had got a decent game out of Andrea Bargnani in that one leading all scorers with 23 points.

The second meeting came ten days later in Philadelphia and Nick Young went nuts off the Philly bench scoring 23 points. It would lead the Sixers to 106-98 win over the Raptors. Jrue Holiday was also great in this one with 19 points and 12 assists. In addition Jason Richardson found the fountain of youth and scored 21 points. Raptors despite the loss had 5 players in double figures led by DeMar DeRozan with 24 points and Bargnani with 22.

You can certainly make the argument that the Raptors are much improved since that time. You can also make the case the Sixers have not been as good. Will that translate to out on the floor at the ACC tonight that becomes the real question.

The Raptors always use to have a clear advantage against the Sixers with Bargnani in the mix. The Sixers really had no option to guard him defensively. The current Raptors are a lot more like Philly now being a bit under sized and rolling with a smaller line-up based on injures.

The Raptors also seem to be working behind the scenes at trying to improve the roster. Rudy Gay is once again becoming one getting tied to the Raptors in trade rumours.  Hasan Alanam Of Canada.com speaks of a deal the Raptors might have with the Grizzlies in this article. So much for my article about Ed and DeMar being together for a few years more in Toronto if this happens.  Trading Davis and Calderon to Grizzlies for Gay is not really something I think ultimately helps this team. In the short term it might improve them. In the long term you are saddled with an over-priced contract for a player that I would not say is a franchise player but is being paid like one.

Also if you trade Ed Davis is that saying Andrea Bargnani has once again been saved from being moved? Clearly this would not be something that this fan base would embrace with open arms. Bryan Colangelo if he fails to move Bargnani really has shown loyalty that should ultimately end in his firing. Only way it wouldn’t is if the addition of Gay would somehow get the Raptors into the post season. It would also take an Andrea Bargnani that has under gone a miraculous transformation.

I somehow fail to see this happening. If the Raptors don’t finish this home-stand strong it is a moot point of talking about the playoffs.


The Week In Raptorland: Talking Basketball In Canada

Yeah Hockey is back and if you are suffering from hockey talk fatigue or just love basketball and don't care the Leafs are coming back. We are here for you with all the goods on your Toronto Raptors. We do touch on the chance missed for the Raptors with hockey being away. Also Amir Johnson on the program once again. Lots of talk of what the Raptors might do heading toward the trade deadline. All this and more so have a listen.

Make sure you join us each and every week. If you have trouble listening or downloading the podcast you can go to our podcast home and listen or download from there. It will get you all our audio content from the Dino Nation Blog. Don't forget to use hashtag #TWIR5 anytime you have a good topic or question for us and be a part of the Fan 5 Frenzy and have your chance to take home chicken wings for St Louis Wings.


Thunder Rolls Into ACC Long Before Leafs

Yeah it has been a while since we went in Video Form so if your sick of looking at Hockey Pucks and Talking Heads look at my talking head instead talking about basketball:

Watch K.D do his thing on poor DeMar DeRozan:

Not one, but the double cross and it was so nice he did it Twice. Here is the Boxscore with all the stats on this one.


Cousins Smashes The Raptors Winning Ways To Pieces

Can’t say we didn’t warn you in the DNB Preview of last night’s game with the Kings and Raptors. DeMarcus Cousins was a beast and half. While the Raptors regressed to their pre-winning streak ways in many respects. We saw sloppy turnovers and defensive letdowns all of the things that were costing this team games showed up last night other than Andrea Bargnani. This is one we can’t blame him for.

Let’s start with looking at Cousins night. The Raptors tried everyone on him and really no one could stop him. When I say everyone it is almost a factual statement as even Quincy Acy was matched up on him because of foul trouble. Cousins has 31 points and 20 rebounds going well above his career averages against the Raptors of 20 points and 11.5 rebounds. He was dominating in this game.

The Raptors as result ended up in foul trouble no more so than Amir Johnson who could not even stay on the floor for 10 minutes. Johnson had 0 points and 1 rebound in just 9:26 of action. Aaron Gray who has been starting since Jonas Valanciunas broke his finger also had 0 points and more turnovers with 3 than rebounds with 2.

Raptors as a team also struggled at the line shooting just 25-37 from the line. Kyle Lowry and Jose Calderon who both did not put up a single point vs. Portland in a win did lots of scoring in this one. Lowry led the Raptors off the bench with 24 points and Jose with 13. The problem was the assist totals dropped off. Just 7 combined as both has more than that individually against the Blazers.

The other part of that big win against Portland was Terrence Ross. He shot just 1-7 and had only one three pointer on the night. He had 6 in the win over Portland as part of career high scoring night.

If there was any bright spot from an individual standpoint maybe it was Alan Anderson that had 20 points but was just 2-9 from three point range. The Raptors as a team were just 11-33 from beyond the arc. Ed Davis had a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds. It doesn’t seem to mean as much when you compare it to Cousins monster double-double of 31 and 20.

Perhaps the scariest thing is what is next for the Raptors. A likely angry OKC Thunder who recently had a game that Kevin Durant got the boot and so did his Thunder. Despite trading James Harden the Thunder have kept on rolling along.

The Raptors showed regression last night in a major way. The issue becomes that because of the Raptors horrible start to the season the margin for error is small for the Raptors. They really can’t afford extended losing streaks heading forward.

Was the Kings 105-96 win just a bump in the road or was it a sign of the Raptors falling back to being the team they were before this winning streak to close 2012 started. Only time will tell. But all the playoffs talk might want to chill out for the moment. 


Raptors Will Look To Keep Things Rolling Against the Kings.

Raptors face the Sacramento Kings tonight at the ACC looking to make it 9 wins in 10 games. The Kings have won 3 of 4 and are possibly not going to have Tyreke Evans in the line-up. They will have unless he does something crazy between now and 7pm: DeMarcus Cousins. He has been a guy that has given the Raptors fits in his short and troubled NBA career.

He has averaged an even 20 points per game with 11.5 rebounds shooting 58.4% (31 of 53) in just 4 games. Even going back to college at Kentucky when I tuned in to watch what all the hype was about with John Wall in the end I walked away impressed with DeMarcus Cousins.

The Raptors undermanned front court should have all kinds of trouble slowing him down.. You will have a motivated Ninja in James Johnson to deal with as well. Johnson hit a game winning shot for the Kings recently. It really isn’t his offense the Raptors will be worried about. It will be his defense and has ability to come from out of nowhere and block shots.

The Kings beat the Raptors in the previous meeting this season. It was part of the west coast road trip from hell. It was a 107-100 win in which Kyle Lowry led all scorers with 34 points on the night. Cousins had 25 to lead the Kings and Evans who may not play tonight had 23 points.

Terrence Ross in that game played 12 minutes and failed to register a point in that contest. He comes into this one riding a wave of momentum leading the Raptors in scoring for the first time in a game and getting a career high 26 points against Portland. His play was about as good as his virtual likeness in NBA 2K13 as he was a scorching hot 6-9 from behind the arc.

Almost flying under the radar in that last win was DeMar DeRozan scoring two less points than Ross. How did DeMar DeRozan bring in 2013? DeRozan was studying game tapes to prepare for the Trail Blazers from 1:30am till 3am according to the quote from an article written by Doug Smith in the Toronto Star.

When we talk about DeMar DeRozan being a dedicated hard worker it isn’t just talk it is reality.

Ed Davis meanwhile was just trying to find time on the floor behind Andrea Bargnani the last time these two teams met. He performed well with 13 points and 11 rebounds in roughly 23 minutes of action. Safe bet he sees more time on the floor than that this evening.

The Raptors have shown the ability to beat teams they are supposed to beat of late. The Kings have an identical 12-20 record as the Raptors but are also a terrible road team like Toronto with just a 2-13 record on the road this season. They are a respectable 5-5 in their last 10 games but the Raptors in the same period are 8-2.

The Raptors all time at the ACC have a 10-6 record against the Kings. Winners of 4 of the last 5 games the one lose did come last season under Dwane Casey though. Still you have to feel confident the Raptors can come out and get a victory with the way they have been playing of late.


Ross Leads Red Hot Raptors Into 2013

It is a new year and still the same red hot Raptors last night at the ACC. Portland was on an equally impressive streak heading into this one winners of  8 of their last 10 entering play last night. The night prior they had a surprising win over the New York Knicks. The Raptors came out and took a 10-0 lead and that set the tone for the night.

We could talk about a lot of things but at the end of the night the one guy that everyone was talking about was Terrence Ross. Aside from the fact he likely did a lot of good for an article I wrote for the Bleacher Report on him,  that was planned prior to last night. He showed all of his skill and this was Terrence Ross at his best. He led the team in scoring with a career high 26 points and was lights out from long range going 6-9 from three point range.

He also had a few key steals and was just a huge part of everything in the almost 25 minutes he was on the floor. I was fair critical of fans getting overly excited about Ross especially when it was during the Raptors losing games. However, now he is proving to be a key contributor when team is being successful. That is a big difference.

What also is a big difference is the fact this is basically a healthy Raptors squad at his positions of the 2 and 3. He now is truly earning his time on the floor. It is because of his play not injures that is keeping him on the floor.

His performance overshadowed a pretty great night for Demar DeRozan and Ed Davis. DeRozan had 24 points and 3 steals going 11-17 from the field. Davis had 19 points and was 9-12 from the field with 7 rebounds.

In another odd stat the Raptors became only third team in NBA History to have 3 starters register 0 points and win a NBA Basketball game. Calderon, Gray and Pietrus all failed to score. Kyle Lowry coming off the bench also had no points in his column. What both Calderon and Lowry did have was assists with Jose accounting for 13 and Lowry 9.

Other performances of note were Amir Johnson with 17 points and 7 rebounds and Landry Fields with a nice 7 points and 7 rebounds coming off the bench. In total the bench accounted for 59 of the Raptors 102 points on the night.

To prove how much a night it was for Terrence Ross he hit the three to deliver the pizza. At the end that was the only thing in doubt as the Raptors rolled the Blazers 102-79. The Raptors won every quarter in this game and this was perhaps their most complete performance of the season.

They face a less talented Kings squad on Friday and than get another big test against Oklahoma City on Sunday. The Raptors are rolling and playing just a very entertaining team first brand of basketball. There is very little to be critical about these days.

The dark cloud the looms is how the Raptors will manage to rid themselves of Andrea Bargain. That said we can hold off on worrying about that for now, as I suspect no one is in a hurry to have him comeback into the line-up. Ed Davis has all but forgot about Dre at this point. 


Raptors Face An Equally Hot Portland Squad To Open 2013

When we look back on this season a loss the Portland at the Rose Garden might be considered a turning point. That was the game that both Andrea Bargnani and Kyle Lowry went down with injury. The Raptors since that loss are 7-2 and playing a much better brand of team basketball on both ends of the floor.

This also marks the start of a season long 6 game homestand for the Raptors. The Raptors have a 7-5 home record so far this season. They ended 2013 winners of 7 of the last 8 games and they need to continue on this hot streak if they hope to climb back into playoff contention. They sit currently in eleventh place in the East and two of the teams in front of them are divisional rivals in Philadelphia and Boston.

Portland is hot in their own right and hold on the final playoff spot in the West currently. They have won 8 of their last 10 and are finally finding a way to win on the road. They come in off a major upset over the New York Knicks on New Year’s Day.

Batum led the charge with 26 points and rookie Damian Lillard had 21 points. The Blazer welcomed back Wes Matthews to the line-up from injury. While LaMarcus Aldridge the guy we passed on to take Andrea Bargnani had 14 rebounds, 7 of which came on the offensive glass, to go with 19 points against the Knicks.

This will not be an easy task for the Raptors but they should have the fresher legs with a couple days off and being back at home.

We are approaching that three week mark for Andrea Bargnani’s possible return to health. Rumours continue to circle but as things improve with return of Steve Nash in L.A it seems more unlike that is a landing spot for Bargnani. Lakers interest likely would be more in Calderon or Lowry at this point.

The Raptors continue to juggle their point guard situation since Kyle Lowry’s return to the line-up. I like his chances of keeping the Blazers rookie point guard under control over Jose Calderon. Although Lillard did not have a particularly good night vs. Toronto in the first match-up with just 10 points and 6 assists in the win for the Blazers.  Aldridge did the damage in that 92-74 win for Portland with 30 points and 12 rebounds.

The Raptors are just 5-11 all-time at home against Portland. Raptors have lost their last 4 games at home against Portland. The last time they defeated Portland was a double OT win back on January 13, 2008 they won 116-109 on that night.