1/26/10

The Heat Is On

The Toronto Raptors are red hot on their home floor at the A.C.C. Which is good considering the Miami Heat come calling to Toronto tomorrow. The Raptors, Bobcats and Heat are in a virtual dead heat for 5th place in the Eastern Conference. So to say the game on Wednesday means a little more than just another 1 out of 82 would be a slight understatement. Raptors beat the Heat 120-113 at the ACC in November. Heat would get revenge about month later winning 115-95 in South Beach.

Two more to go this season and if the Raptors or Heat can sweep the final 2 games that could be very meaningful come April. The Raptors travel to face the Heat in Miami on March the 28th. That will be followed by a game in Charlotte on the 29th where the Bobcats early in the season destroyed the Raptors. The winner of that game will win the season series. So store that one away in the back of your brain. That may be the most important back to back of the Raptors season in late March. It could mean the difference between a 5th seed and a 7th seed in the post season if these 3 teams continue to remain close in the standings.


However first thing is first and the Heat on Wednesday. Miami is only 5-5 in their last 10 games and bring in a 10-10 road record with them to Toronto. When you consider only teams as of right now in the NBA have a winning record on the road (L.A Lakers, OKC, Dallas, Boston, Cleveland, Orlando, Atlanta) Raptors hold victories over 3 of the 7 on the list at the ACC and have yet to face the Thunder so in reality they have a win over half of the teams that they could possibly beat of the best road teams in the NBA. What does that mean in terms of the Heat? Not much and Toronto already have an A.C.C win over them as mentioned above. However it does make you stop and think that at least at home the Raptors are a very good basketball team to face regardless of the opposition they face. They did also beat Orlando but that was actually a Road win as the Raptors played them twice at the A.C.C early in the year.

One thing that has changed for the Heat since those first 2 match-ups is the addition of Rafer Alston who was traded to the Nets in the Vince Carter deal and was unhappy in New Jersey ( Really who wouldn't be? ) and was bought out and signed with the Heat. If that brings up bad Vince Carter trade memories I apologize. However what goes around comes around I guess as the Nets sent the Raptors Mourning only to have to buy him out and he like Alston bolted for Miami. Alston like with the Raptors this will be his second tour of duty in South Florida. Rafer briefly played for Toronto be for returning as a free agent after a good season playing with the Heat at the time. When Rafer can keep his head screwed on straight he can be a better than average NBA point guard and is a huge upgrade from what Miami had at the position which was next to nothing with a steal young at time immature Mario Chalmers. A trait that hanging around Rafer Alston is not likely to return. I think my favourite Rafer blow up is when he basically retired in a post game scrum after a Raptors loss. He said something to effect he was dishonouring his family name on his back by the way he was playing and he should just quit. Rafer's retirement was shorter than a Brett Favre or Wrestling Retirement as he was back within a day. Moody but talented might be the best way to describe him. Some Raptor fans may say that sounds like T.J Ford and there might be a small thread of truth to that. But Rafer takes it to a whole new level. But he is happy now as he still has that "Thank God I Am Not On The Nets Glow" and is on a team heading to the Playoffs it would appear.

Raptors have managed successfully to keep harmony at their point guard spot and full marks to both Jose and Jarrett for making that the case. Jack is cementing himself as the starting point guard for this team. If you are surprised you obviously were not believing or paying attention when I told you this would in fact happen. I admit the Calderon injury sped up the process but this happening was inevitable and the writing was on the wall if you only cared to read it. Chris Bosh never was at the Press Conference when Jose Calderon re-signed with the Raptors. He was I assume home Texas or elsewhere. This is not to say that he should have been there. I am not saying that. However when Jarrett Jack was signed as a free agent he was here and made it clear to the Toronto and Canada by Hi-Jacking Jack's Interview on Raps-T.V. Reading between the lines if the day came that Chris Bosh ever felt Jack was the best point guard on this team the case would be closed. Not to say that Bosh would demand that his College roommate be named the starter. He wouldn't have to the fact of Bosh's impending Free Agency would do all the talking for him. Jose Calderon would just make the process a lot easier by getting injured before we every got to that messy point in time. Take it as you see fit you can say this is pure speculation and you would not be wrong. However I prefer to see it as basic common sense and understanding human nature.

Short of Jack being injured himself (Which is HIGHLY unlikely as he played all 82 games last season and has an excellent track record over his career in terms of games played) or the Raptors go on a major skid (also unlikely when you look at their upcoming schedule )Jack is here to stay as the starter. Given the way he rallied this team the last 2 games honestly why would you want it any other way?

The Raptors 15 year celebration makes you reflect at times throughout this season. Like with all this talk of point guards the Raptors have had their fair share of both talented and temperamental point guards over the years. Here is a short list off the top of my head.

Damon Stoudamire, Alvin Williams, Chancey Billups, Mark Jackson, Chris Childs, T.J Ford, Rafer Alston, Carlos Arroyo, Milt Palacio, Muggsy Bogues, Roko Ukic, Will Solomon, Mike James(Best Singer of this group)

That is quite the eclectic group for sure. Toronto has had a love hate relationship with many of these guys and for Jarrett Jack....Love is in the air....You can feel it all around.

That is at least until the Raptors lose a game fans feel they should have won. Then the Jose/Jack debate will rage on. However if you didn't believe me prior to the season maybe you will now...Jarrett Jack is and will be the starting point guard CASE CLOSED. If Jose is the stand up team guy that we have all seen and believe is he will accept his old role and do his best in it which has been the case so far.


Special Note For You The Loyal Readers Of The Dino Nation Blog


Welcome to Danielle and I have spoken with Anas if all goes according to plan he will begin his Dino Blog experience next week at some point. I am happy to welcome them aboard and hope you will enjoy their contributions going forward. If you worried at all that I would be doing less as a result think it is safe to say you have seen that will now be the case. I just felt the blog needed some new life to it and wanted to focus on making that happen. Getting into videos or V-Log and bringing in a couple people I feel I can count on to do good work were both good ideas and I hope you will agree. It will take a little time to get use to it all but I feel that at the end of it the Dino Nation Blog will become a much more Multimedia oriented site and an overall better site as a result that you will want to come to everyday and tell others about. The early signs are that I was correct as more folks have been checking out the blog as a result. I hope that trend continues and with the Raptors winning and my hard work along with my new team members here at the DNB I am confident that it will.

I will close by saying that I am always tremendously grateful for the support of you the loyal readers of the Dino Nation Blog. I work as hard as I do not only for myself and to achieve my personal goals but to do my best to represent all of you people that have become part of this world I have created that is the Dino Nation Blog. It is through your support and kind words over the last 2+ years that I remain motivated and hardworking to bring you the best I can possibly do to inform you, entertain you and hopefully make you feel a part of my work and in some small way my life. The amount of things I have had the great fortune to do truly amazes me and humbles me when I stop to think about. Know that any decision that I make in terms of this blog is always made with you the people that support it in mind.

So it never can be said to often....Thank you for reading, listening and watching The Dino Nation Blog and I appreciate so much the continued support of so many. I am not sure if you will ever truly understand how much it means to me. Never meant for that to be so long but I felt that need to show you folks some love today.

Update- 3:50 pm

Demar DeRozan was injured today at practice as he turned an ankle. The Score's Holly Mackenzie was @ practice and filed her notes from practice on The Score's NBA Blog- Nothing Easy. Holly is always on top of things and does great work for The Score.

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