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Posted on November 10, 2009 | 10 Comments
If you’re missing you’re two top scorers, and you still have Manu Ginobili and Richard Jefferson on the floor, it’s probably an indication that you’re a pretty good team. For a team built on defense, they sure have some impressive offensive firepower. And it’s why they’ll end up probably playing the best basketball of anyone, come March and April, and `suddenly’ become favourites to get to the Finals.
I predicted Ginobili would have a breakout game, and he did. It wasn’t hard to predict. He’d been playing poorly so far, but the guy is simply too good to keep playing that way, and with Parker out, he would have to do a lot more ball handling and scoring. How better than to get back in rhythm than to be given the ball. I hope Belinelli was watching closely, because Ginobili is who he should pattern his game after. As I previously said, they have a lot of similarities in their games.
Jefferson had his best game as a Spur, and showed why he was probably the best offseason acquisition (they traded Bruce Bowen, Fabricio Oberto and Kurt Thomas for this guy??), but it was Ginobili that killed the Raptors. There was no one that either could, or seemed to want to, guard him on the Raptors.
Even Matt Bonner broke out of his shooting slump against his old team, killing them with his three point shooting, and showing again why Bargnani can never, ever defend shooters like himself and why he can never, ever play small forward again.
Speaking of Bargnani, he didn’t play horribly, but he was as non-existent as a guy who scores 17 points can be. After two good rebounding games in a row, Bargnani reverted to being pushed around in the paint and grabbed only 4 tonight. Unacceptable, especially against a good rebounding team, like the Spurs.
Bosh was Bosh, scoring 32 and 10, but he was certainly as guilty as everyone else on the defensive end.
Calderon now sees to have settled into his groove on the offensive end, while on the defensive end, he still has some work to do, as do the rest of his teammates. George Hill scored one off his career high by driving relentlessly to the hoop, which was as much a team defensive breakdown as the fault of Calderon.
I know that Raptors fans are going to be griping about this loss, and that defense most definitely has to be improved, but the one thing the Raptors have shown in this short season, is that they can score. They have played some very good defensive teams and have never scored less than 101 points. They are currently scoring more than 10 ppg more than last season, when they often struggled to find the hoop. Of course, there’s the other side of the court.
The Raptors are currently undefeated when keeping an opponent under 100 points. The problem is that they’ve only done it three times. You can look at it one of two ways. One is that when the Raptors play defense, they win. The other way to look at it is that when they play an opponent that doesn’t score much, they have a better chance of winning because they won’t HAVE to play much defense. The three teams the Raptors have won against are in the bottom ten in scoring in the league. Cleveland, New Orleans and Detroit all average less than 98 ppg. The good news is that Chicago, their next opponent, hasn’t even cracked 100 points yet, this season, and is 3rd last in points per game. The bad news is that the next four opponents (Clippers, Phoenix, Denver and Utah) all average over 100 points per game.
Still, if the Raptors beat Chicago, Indiana, Charlotte and Washington, who all average less than 98 ppg and who, except for Charlotte, the Raptors all play at home, then they will end up with a 7-13 record. No, that’s not going to get them into the playoffs, but a 7-13 record is exactly what they started with 3 years ago when they ended up winning 47 games. Both this team and that team were completely overhauled and needed time to gell. A reason to be optimistic, if nothing else.
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