Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Entry archive:

(ERIC MILLER)
(ERIC MILLER)

Don't book your playoff tickets yet Add to ...

So with a two-game winning streak against the two worst teams in the NBA, the Raptors get to play two of the best in Utah Wednesday and Denver on Friday.

Did we mention Chicago has won two straight? And Joakim Noah is back?

Don't book your playoff tickets yet.

It was interesting to watch last night's game for a few reasons.

One is how legitimately woeful the Minnesota Timberwolves are. Any time you might feel frustrated about the Raptors drafting Andrea Bargnani, take comfort they didn't draft Milicic No. 2 in 2003 - and they would have if they had the choice is my recollection.

When he was going up soft for those alligator-arms left jump hooks last night I kept thinking of watching him coast through his pre-game warm-up routine in Orlando. Most NBA players are on the floor for a position workout about an hour before game time ahead of the warm-up as a team. It's a certain kind of drudgery, keeping in mind that they've already had shoot-around in the morning.

I love basketball as much as the next guy, but at some point everything becomes a bit boring, which is how most guys look in the pre-game workouts: bored.

But Darko? Darko looked like a nine-year-old forced to clean his room: He was doing it reluctantly and not very well, which is probably why a nimble, huge (a legit 7-1 with long arms and giant hands), left-handed big man thought good enough to be chosen ahead Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, is playing out the string for his fifth NBA team.

And then there's Jonny Flynn, who's a fine tweeter, but a frustrating by-product of the no-hand check rule: If you're fast enough taking it to the basket is always an option and Flynn always takes it. Playing with him would be aggravating, as Al Jefferson seemed to be suggesting on the court at times last night.

What was also interesting last night was - and we'll just ignore the fact that the Raptors were relatively touch-and-go to beat both the Nets and the T-Wolves and their combined 21-120 record - how in one half you could see the Raptors strengths and weaknesses so plainly.

During the stretch when Minnesota was coming back from 14 down to cut it to four? There were lots of possessions when the ball went to Bosh and "stuck" - which is to say he got it on the first pass, held it and then went into his move. As efficient an offensive player as he is, this is a tendency he has to fight. He's a bit methodical and when the ball doesn't move in and out and side to side, the rest of the team tends to stand around. After that you get guys getting into "taking turns" i.e.: Bosh had his turn or two, now it's my turn etc.

Remember that possession at the six minute mark, after a timeout with 14 seconds on the clock? Ball comes into Bargnani. He throws it down to Bosh. Bosh holds it. Holds it. Then takes a jumper with about four seconds left.

It's the opposite of flow.

Then you have the type of attack they showed down the stretch. I thought Jack Armstrong made a good point when he said what was working for the Raptors was getting the ball to Hedo early in the clock, so he could run through some options, rather than late in the clock where he's just another guy rushing to make a play.

Bosh was setting screens and more of a piece in the puzzle rather than the primary option, and the Raptors were a harder team to cover.

This isn't to say that Bosh's role should be somehow reduced, just that the more they use him as part of the attack rather than the first, second and third options, the more likely everyone else gets served.

Follow us on Twitter: @Globe_Sports

 

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories