Sunday, March 15, 2009

In-game: Raptors Watch

Okay I am taking some time off Championship Week to take in the Raptors play the Pacers this afternoon. This is a, for sure, winnable game so I am curious to see how they approach the game:

Slow start to the game and not surpringly Bargnani has come out firing in the 1st quarter. I wish I could say this will matter at the end of the game but the fact show that the Raps know how to collapse in the 4th quarter of games. Quick notes though: Pops is playing well, Kapono is shooting today, Marion is no where to be found and Calderon's defense is non-existent.

Quarter of the way into the 2nd Qtr:
Pops and Kapono are still going strong (Bargnani is on the bench so there is no offense right now). AP is so disappointing. One thing though, Triano has Graham on Granger (and this should be a crime); suddenly Granger is looking to destroy the matchup - it is the whole "mouse in the house" thing. This is a mismatch that favors Indiana. The Raptors are not getting good offense from Bosh right now, he is settling for too many jumpers. Rebounding is great, the pace of the game is great but the effort is lacking right now for the Raps.

Closing the 2nd:
The Raps seem to be imploding. For the life of me, I cannot tell what Calderon is doing on defense. Each Pacer possession it seems like they are playing 5 on 4. It is a travesty.
Good set out of the break for CB4 though and that seems to have gotten him into this game. They need more low post sets for him today.
Bargnani is a lot better than people (me included) give him credit for, he is carrying the Raptors right now.

53-50 Raps at the half but it is looking very deceptive. Calderon needs to play better defense in the 2nd half as it looks like the Pacers are going to run more off the ball screens to get him in a mismatch. He needs to jump out at the switch when he ends up high or one of the bigs (Bosh/Bargnani/Pops/even Marion) need to rotate faster off the ball to make the defensive stop. Marion and Parker have been non-existent this game. My prediction is that this game is going to come down to effort and defense. Troy Murphy, Granger and, Ford look poised to run the 3 man sets in the 2nd half.

It is looking like T.J. Ford vs. the Raptors but Bargnani is answering the challenge. I still cannot tell what Calderon is doing on defense (he just looks lost all the time) but his offensive production has been consistent since the end of the 1st quarter. Marion just looks like he does not want to be here; he is just not there at all - he just shot a fadeaway airball that went OVER the rim.

Sloppy play by the Pacers (overdribbling by T.J.) has led to a couple of fast-breaks which ended up in Marion getting some sweet dunks. He sure runs the break very well. Granger and Murphy have not done much so far this half but the Raptors effort seems to have gone up so that might explain it. Bargnani is a monster right now still.

Ford looks determined to beat the Raptors by himself much to the detriment of his team.

90-69 Raptors to end the 3rd Quarter. T.J. Ford should not see the court again, he single-handedly killed the Pacers in the 3rd. Great finish for the Raptors though, it looks like Bosh is going again and with Bargnani on the bench the Raptors should be able to close this one out in the 4th. Should, could, would still does not get it done though; I am looking for a solid finish in the 4th.

4th Quarter:
It's the Pops Mensah-Bonsu show! Everyone is looking for the guy right now and he seems to have breath new life into the Raptors this quarter. He is a beast!!
As predicted, T.J. Ford as been banquished. He should be reprimanded for that atrocious 3rd quarter.
Pat O'Bryant just checked in...hopefully, he has some energy; he has that deer-in-the-headlight aura right now. It is a free-for-all with the Raps right now.

Good game, great finish. It is a Pops lovefest in Toronto right now; wish he had been acquired earlier this season. Looks like we have a new Raptor in town.



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