So I attended the Wolves - Raptors game last night, and I am offically worried, yet somewhat hopeful, about the season. Here's a quick 3 things I like, 3 things I don't:
Things I liked:
1. Raptors Team Defense: An impressive performance once again from the starters. The offense took a while to get going in the 1st half (a painful 19 pts were scored by Toronto in the 1st quarter), but they completely shut down the Wolves as well (who scored an even more painful 17 pts). Also, when the bench allowed Minnesota to score 13 unanswered (more on this later) to close out the 2nd quarter, the starters were able to erase this deficit in short order at the start of the 3rd. Chris Bosh showed Craig Smith no respect whatsoever, and blitzed/trapped every Wolves pick and roll with Gold Medal winning fervor. The result? The Raptors forced a ridiculous amount of Wolves turnovers and rushed shots, and as an added bonus JO and Moon/Joey shut down the defensive glass. You think KG was intense playing the pick and roll last year? Bosh is gonna show him how its done in the new school.
2. Joey Graham: So Good Joey was alloed to START yesterday, and I must say I was very impressed with what I saw. The Raptors kept running this nifty baseline screen with Joey and JO, while Jose and Bosh intiated the high screen roll at the elbow. Corey Brewer kept getting stuck on the JO pick, and Joey ended up with 3 uncontested throwdowns, and had a couple of good post opportunities against the smaller Brewer. Of course, every time Joey took the ball to the hoop, he looked like he was committing an offensive foul, so let's not get ahead of ourselves. Defensively, Joey positioned himself well, and didn't give his man any open looks (although, Corey Brewer barely hit the backboard, even when he was WIDE OPEN!). Of course with Joey, you never know, so I am not too hopeful.
3. Defensive Rebounding: When the starters were on the court, the defensive glass was locked down. The entire team crashed the glass, and Minny didn't get many second chance points or even attempts. Considering the stress levels that the Raps caused me last year when they would give up 15+ offensive rebounds a game, mark me down as thrilled.
Things that I didn't like
1. The Bench: HORRIBLE. Will Solomon is not an adequate backup. He is probably just good enough not to turn the ball over, so I guess that's a plus. Roko is NOT ready to run the second unit. Sam used him as the main backup to Jose yesterday, and the results were disastrous. He does have a good handle, and he likes to attack the basket, so I definitely feel like his role should be the back up 2 guard right now. I'll give them more time to develop some cohesion, but I am terrified of injuries at this point.
2. Jason Kapono: He is still refusing to shoot treys. Is this because he feels compelled to spite the Toronto fans because I think he was 3/4 from beyond the arc, with many many other 3 opportunities that he passed up. I am angry, and he needs to grow a pair, and let it fly every time he catches the ball beyond the arc, and his defender isn't touching him.
3. Anthony Parker: Man, AP is cold as ice right now. I am sure he'll come around like last year, but his shot isn't falling. Let's just say if AP's shot was a woman, it'd be the frostiest bitch in the bar.
I won't be attending another game until game 3 of the regular season, but I'll probably do a round up of the rest of the pre-season next week. Until then, let's all pray for good Raptor health this year.