Before we get into the Bulls and Raps tonight in the Chuck Swirsky Bowl at the A.C.C. Never really did give my 2 cents on the lose to the Spurs. When you face any team in this league with out their top 2 players it needs and should be a win for you. When you shoot 58% and don't get a win that is unacceptable. When you not only don't guard the 3 point line, but allow just about anyone (Sorry Matt Bonner) to dive the lane . Chris Bosh has been taking shot after shot getting to the line, He leads the NBA in getting to free throw line. When you are getting that kind of effort from your star he deserves far better from the other 11. Bosh is on one of the biggest tears of his career and the Raptors need to translate that into wins. Yes there is 9 new faces and things take time. However anyone who is not concerned at least a little, about the Raptors defense and effort on that end of the floor, is not being honest.
I think everyone tries their best to be objective and honest in their work. However it is in the best interest of all that the Raptors do well. If they do not that means less people read this blog, read newspapers and watch Raptor related programing. That is the cold reality of things. So everyone has a stake in this team being better. So there is always a battle within to remain objective when you look at things for all that cover this team. That being said the last 2 games have been very obvious to even the most casual fan. This team did not even come close to playing to an acceptable level on the defensive end of the floor.
Now on to the Bulls, who are likely seeing red coming into tonight's game. When the final buzzer went last night in Chicago, the Bulls thought they had won a game on a last second Brad Miller shot to win the game. However after further review the basket would be taken away and the Bulls would lose by a single point to the Nuggets. The shot by Miller was just touching his finger tips as the buzzer went off. They say football is a game of inches, well I guess basketball can be as well.
If you checked up my interview with Chuck Swirsky yesterday, he feels Derrick Rose is about 70% in terms of health. Rose entered the season missing the last 7 pre-season games for the Bulls. He was injured in the opening game of the pre-season. He has shown flashes of brilliance still, even if he is not yet back to 100%. My money is still on a Rose at 70% to still be able to give Jose Calderon fits. Calderon had his trouble staying in front of a back-up for the Spurs. Rose will offer a significant challenge. Jay Triano on the Fan 590 admits his team is not quick laterally in terms of movement. Jose Calderon for most would be at the top of that list. It is frustrating that you always have to be but at a disadvantage by players not being able to stay in front of their man. Even Jack has had his moments of not being able to keep his man in check. Zones, Presses and other little tricks and tweaks are only quick fixes and not lasting ones. Teams in this league are far to good to let you get away with that for more than a possession or two.
The other thing that is frustrating and lost in the fact the Raps are only 3-4 and the defensive woes, the offense is really... really good. This mind you with a Hedo Turkoglu that is just starting to come close to the player he was expected to be. Also you have a young Demar DeRozan that should get better. Part of the credit goes to Andrea Bargnani for the offense being on fire. He along with the hot start of Chris Bosh are providing a fantastic one...two punch for the Raptors. The Killer Bees tag team in the WWE were no where close to these guys who are closer to the height of an Andre The Giant but not that big. In fact you add Bosh and Bargnani weight together and you likely don't match the weight of the wrestling star. Maybe the Raps should whack someone with a steel chair that might be some effective defense. But the way things have gone for the Raps they would likely miss and knock out Bosh.
Some people feel that when Reggie Evans returns that will help fix this mess. Reggie Evans is not going to come in and be the defensive savior. I tweet back and forth with Reggie often. I learned that yesterday that he actually played football and was a wide receiver. He one played it for a short time and you would picture Reggie more as a defensive player smacking someone so that was a surprise. Reggie will improve this team on the glass when he does comes back. When will that be? He says that is still about 2 weeks away. He has stopped wearing that protective boot on his injured foot. Although he was on the recent road trip because he had not packed his other shoe. That got mentioned on the broadcast but you might have missed it. As much as it cool to see Reggie's unique fashion sense, we all look forward to seeing him in a jersey soon. He is itching to get back in there and contribute. I am sure for him these last 2 games were as painful to watch as it was for anyone. I am betting a rookie like Blair would have had a much tougher night at the office had Triano had the option of an Evans in his line-up.
Once again the Raps catch a small break in the schedule with the Bulls coming in after playing a tough and close contest with Denver. It will be interesting to see how the Bulls come out after likely feeling they have had one stolen from them last night. It has been an up and down ride for the Bulls. They lost Tyrus Thomas but luck for them they drafted Taj Gibson. He played with Raptors Rookie Demar DeRozan and together they won the Pac-10 tournament last year in the NCAA. DeRozan was the M.V.P of that tournament. Maybe seeing his former college buddy will get Demar back on track. He had his struggles in the the two awful losses. It is going to be a process and take time. I believe to take him from the starting line-up is not the right answer at least not yet. A quick hook for him is fine but still give him the confidence he will be able to get a chance again the next night. If you throw him to the bench now it may have to negative effects. One it would have a negative impact on his confidence. The second thing is it would make him feel he needs to try to do more offensively. That is not what he needs right now. The main message for Demar is to improve on D and that is mission #1. In staying the starting line-up he will need to keep that focus. If improvement does not start to happen that is the time you start to look at his role going forward.
This is the lone home game the Raps have coming off that 3 game trip south. They head back on the road for 4 games on the west coast. This is one the Raptors really have to get. The Raptors have never had a great amount of success in their history when they hit the west coast. So heading into that trip at 4-4 instead of 3-5 would be a big difference if only mentally. The Bulls at just 4-3 will be hungry for a win as well.
They are going to honour Chuck Swirsky tonight at the ACC. He gave a solid decade of work to this franchise and deserves it. He probably in some ways deserves it a lot more than the guy on the 22nd. I am confident that the fans will give Chuck cheers.
A final word on this Remembrance Day. So often we talk in terms of sports being games as do or die. That this is going to be a war. Truth is that is not true. The people that actually do face do or die everyday are the soldiers that are serving this country in Afghanistan. The fact we can enjoy a basketball game is thanks in part to the sacrifices made by are military through out history. My father served in the Air Force and I still have a reminder of that every time I drive some where. His personal plates were of the year he left the service. Thanks to any and all that served this country. The guts and courage you show or showed is far greater than any athlete in any sport.