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  The Tweet Spot On Gameday

Mar. 30, 2011, 12:20 PM

It’s game-day in Raptorland as Toronto plays host to the Milwaukee Bucks.

This is the first game at home for the Raps in more than a week … following their 1-4 west coast road trip and the Bucks are hungry for a win as they desperately try to stay in that battle (with Indiana and Charlotte) for the final playoff seed in the East.

To get ya primed and ready for tonight … and the final 9 games of the season … I figured it was time to check-in with another edition of the TWEET SPOT:

@dinonationblog - Instead of flipping out about Wright I would just like to applaud Sonny Weems in how he has handled things. Would you agree?

@Eric__Smith – Honestly, no.  Not that Weems’ hasn’t handled things well.  I just think the 2 situations are very different &Weems.  The roster improved (JJ) & he still plays

@plomo_plomo - What should be the plan for next season?  Should TOR develop through the draft? Sign some free agents or trade for some players?

@Eric__Smith – The best answer & the right answer is:  All of the above.  They have money to spend.  They’ll have a top pick.  And they have to be aggressive with moves

@tallpattours - Where are we going at the point spot?  Free agency or the draft?

@Eric__Smith – There are quality PGs in the draft (who would all benefit from a veteran like Calderon playing with them).  Who knows where TOR ends up selecting though (yet)

@Ronny006 - If you had to pick right now, who would you pick to win the NBA championship?

@Eric__Smith – I’ll stick with who I had in the Fall and all through the season thus far:  the LA Lakers (again)

@Moef23 - What are you thoughts on where the raptors end up lottery pick wise, and who would be a good fit in Toronto?

@Eric__Smith – The Raps can use more depth in a few areas.  DeRozan probably set at SG & PF depth is good (AJ & ED).  So in no order:  SF, PG, C

@weswong8 - Colangelo's future with the Raptors? Triano's? Projected target player in the draft?

@Eric__Smith – I say …that’s cheating, haha.  But okay here ya go:  Undecided, undecided, and who knows (yet) without knowing which slot TOR is drafting in

@freek_9 - Any word on who the raptors are eyeing in the draft next year?

@Eric__Smith – I only included you to not exclude you.  But others have asked already.  See above.  Thanks!

@Nicker33 - I know the Raps need a big man or PG, but could they really pass on H.Barnes or D.Wiliams who both play SF?

@Eric__Smith – You’re assuming they’d pass?  I don’t think they would.   I think they’ll go after the best player available, period – with focus on PG, C, SF

@saj1191 - Play GM of the Raps:  Do you take Irving or Williams with ur pick if both are available?

@Eric__Smith – You know how much I hate stuff like this!  But, fine, I’ll play along.  I reserve the right to change my mind but here on March 30 I’ll say … Irving.

-----

Paul Jones and I will be on Sportsnet Radio, the FAN 590 at 7pm tonight.  We’ll have all of the action between the Bucks and Raptors … and we’ll have our post-game show – “The Rap” – on the air until 11pm as well.

Have a good one!

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst
twitter.com/eric__smith



  My Favourite Road Stops

Mar. 28, 2011, 2:54 PM

Over the years, people have asked me to name my favorite stops on the NBA tour. It’s very hard to nail-down a list though 'cause there is a ton of criteria to factor in. Plus, believe it or not, we don’t see a ton of a lot of cities. Traveling in the NBA is not a vacation. Yes, there are a lot of worse things to do in life. However, the schedule in the NBA usually consists of arriving in a city at about 6 p.m., the night before a game ... going out to dinner with colleagues … waking up and attending shoot-around … doing some work … having lunch … getting in a workout (maybe) … doing some more work … then hopping on a bus to the game around 4:30 p.m. It’s rarely “glamorous”.

But on the rare occasion that I DO get a chance to do some sight-seeing or shopping, or when I’ve got a few hours to enjoy a fine meal or hit a few hot spots and take-in a bit of the night life … this would be MY list of the best cities to visit in the NBA. Note: I factored in the hotels (good/bad) and intangibles like shopping and coffee shops and proximity to the arena (for commuting easily to and from the hotel to practices, and shoot-arounds, etc. (TIME is of the essence you know).

Here’s how I’d rank ‘em … in THIS order:

1. New York / New Jersey – The Raptors stay in NYC even when they play the Nets. So that normally means four trips to the Big Apple. I can’t get enough of New York.

2. Chicago – Music, food, shopping … and rabid fans!

3. Golden State (San Francisco) – From the architecture to the hills … the ocean, Alcatraz, and the sea lions at Pier 39 … what’s not to love?

4. Boston – See Chicago... minus the music (no offence to Beantown musicians)

5. Los Angeles (Clippers and Lakers) – The city is spread out too much. But certain areas, like Venice Beach, Marina Del Ray, and Santa Monica are GREAT and you normally can’t beat the weather.

6. Toronto – We don’t know how good we have it!

7. Miami – The weather is rarely bad (or so it seems). People-watching is at a premium, and the nightlife is unlike most other places

8. Phoenix – I’m glad we’re not hear when it’s 110+ degrees in July & August

9. San Antonio – You might not want to “vacation” here, but two days and one night or three days and two nights would be the perfect amount of time to enjoy the Riverwalk and the many restaurants and patios that line it.

10. New Orleans – Bourbon Street. ‘Nuff said.

11. Orlando – The weather saves this city … otherwise it’d be a lot lower on my list (too cheesy at times with all of the theme parks). Can’t beat the sun though!

12. Portland – The air just feels cleaner. If I can’t have Vancouver or Seattle, I’ll take Portland I suppose!

13. Dallas – From college and pro sports to historical ventures like the JFK route … there’s always something to do in Big D.

14. Denver – Even though the ride from the airport to the downtown core is about two hours long (or so it seems) the views of the mountains are great and the air is simply … clean!

15. Washington – The traffic can be a nightmare but the architecture is fabulous and the history is unmistakable.

16. Atlanta – Again, weather plays a big factor. But being in a media hot bed (CNN, Turner) can be fun as well. There’s a real vibe at times.

17. Detroit – The suburbs (well, the one the Raptors stay in) … not the downtown core!

18. Charlotte – See Atlanta … minus the CNN/Turner stuff

19. Oklahoma City – If it weren’t for “Bricktown” OKC would be a lot lower on my list. I will say though as well, the people in OKC are ridiculously nice! The arena staff may be the kindest / most fan (and media) friendly I’ve come across in the league.

20. Indianapolis (Indiana) – Three words: Buca di Beppo.

21. Philadelphia – After seeing the Raptors get heckled by a group of 13 year olds on Martin Luther King day (a couple of seasons ago) it’s hard to have Philly too high on the list, haha.

22. Minnesota – Let’s just say I had never curled in my life until going to Minnesota. It’s so damn cold, you’ve gotta find something to do inside … even if it’s inside on ice, ha ha! I’ve never been in the summer … but I hear it’s fabulous.

23. Houston – Yes, it’s Texas and the weather is decent (and other cities on my list are much higher based on the weather alone). But H-Town is sooo sprawling that after six years of traveling there I still have no feel for the place at all.

24. Salt Lake City (Utah) – Waking up to the incredible views of the mountains is breathtaking.

25. Milwaukee – Unlike Phoenix, I’d like to find out what it’s like here in July and August and forget about January and February.

26. Memphis – The music makes the city. Otherwise …

27. Sacramento – Respectfully, the homeless issue in Sac-Town is a major issue. The Kings’ fans are outstanding though and Arco is a wiiild building. Good to know that San Fran is only 90 minutes (driving) away!

28. Cleveland – I’ve had a great time in this city in the summer, with the zoo, the Indians, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But in the winter … not so much.

Hope to see some of you at the ONE 4 ONE event tonight at Real Sports!

Have a good one!

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst
twitter.com/eric__smith



  More On HOPE For Japan...

Mar. 26, 2011, 5:45 PM




  Gameday Blog: Raptors @ Nuggets

Mar. 21, 2011, 2:15 PM

Let’s forget about the (weird) fact that the last time the Raptors won two in a row … it was December 1ST and 3RD … and the victories were over the Wizards and Thunder (the same two teams Toronto has beaten on this current ‘run’) …

Instead, why don’t we take a close look at last night’s victory in Oklahoma City … and just how BIG it was for T.O. … considering how rough the road has been for the Raps this season:

  Last night @ OKC  Season road avg
Points Allowed 93  106.7
Opp FG% 40.0 49.0
Opp 3PT FG% 29.4 37.3
Turnovers 11 14.2


Toronto avoided setting a new franchise-low with their 15TH straight road loss.  The skid was stopped at 14 and Jay Triano’s crew will look to make it 3 wins in a row tonight in Denver.

But that’ll be no easy task.

The Raptors are 0-5 all-time against the Nuggets when they come into Denver on the 2ND night of a back to back.  And further to that … the Nuggets are 9-0 this season when their opponent comes in on the second half of a back to back!

Plus, George Karl and company have shown some serious improvements since dealing Carmelo Anthony (and Chauncey Billups) to the New York Knicks.  They’re scoring hasn’t dipped much but their defence has stepped up, big-time!

  Before Trade After Trade
Record 32-25 9-4
PPG 107.6 104.9
Opp. PPG 105.2 94.5
Opp. FG % 46.4 44.2
Rebounds 40.9 44.7


Finally, how ‘bout this one for ya …

As I type this … in only 48 hours … the Raptors have flown from Toronto to Oklahoma City and then Oklahoma City to Denver.  After tonight’s game they’ll take off from Denver to Phoenix as well.  That’s a TON of travel!

Five games in 7 days this week … but here’s how the kilometers will stack up for the month of March:

- To and from England: 11,422 km
- Fly to Detroit and back: 480 km
- This road trip when all is said and done will be:  10,310 km

TOTAL kilometers in March: 22,212 km

The travel this month will cover 5 different time zones as well.  Wild!

Paul Jones and I will be on Sportsnet Radio, the FAN 590 at 830pm Eastern tonight with the pre game show and we’ll have the tip off just after 9pm.

Have a good one

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst
twitter.com/eric__smith

p.s. – Thanks to stats guru Jumpin’ Johnny Rusin for his help with a lot of these numbers!



  Tournament Talk Before The Raps Host The Wizards

Mar. 18, 2011, 3:40 PM

I went 13-3 in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament yesterday ... but two of my three losses came from teams that I had pegged for the Sweet 16, so I may have dug myself into a deep hole already!

So far Day 2 has been perfect ... but it's early!

If you're interest in playing along at home, I'll give ya my Elite 8, Final Four, and Championship winner right now:

Syracuse over Ohio State
Duke over San Diego State
Kansas over Georgetown
Kansas State over Gonzaga

-----

Duke over Syracuse
Kansas over Kansas State

-----

Duke over Kansas (66-59)

It absolutely PAINS me to go with Duke as the champs again, but I try to pick with my head, not my heart.

--------------------

Speaking of Duke, I grew up as a fan of the Michigan Wolverines and, no, it wasn't (totally) because of the Fab Five.

At least 50-60 per cent of my family -- aunts, uncles, cousins, etc -- hails from Michigan. Thus, as a kid, I spent a ton of time in the state and had two of my closest cousins attend Michigan and Michigan State respectively. In fact, because of those two cousins, my brother and I decided to "pick a side" and show our allegiances to one school over the other. My brother took the Spartans and I went with the Wolverines. We actually spent a lot of money at a store called "The Great Divide" - which specializes in MU and MSU gear; with the two sides of the store mirroring each other -- Green and White on one side and Maze and Blue on the other.

http://www.thegreatdivide.biz/

So, as a Michigan fan ... it's against the rules to cheer for Duke. You have to "hate" them if you're a Wolverines fan.

But I would NEVER go as far as Jalen Rose did (and has since as well) in the Fab Five documentary that aired on ESPN earlier this week. Granted, he wore the uniform and lived it all first hand (and I was/am merely a "fan") but his references to "Uncle Tom" and basically belittling or calling-out African-Americans who have played for the Blue Devils is simply inaccurate, immature, and irresponsible.

Rose tried to back away from the comments -- slightly -- by saying that his words were how he felt as a "17-year-old" but he did nothing to clarify them or retract them as a 38-year-old man.

Grant Hill's response in the New York Times was OUTSTANDING.

--------------------

If you missed it last night, Amir Johnson joined Paul Jones and I, in studio, on the "Hoops" show on Sportsnet Radio, The FAN 590.

Johnson is holding a 'contest' right now and you don't have to do anything to enter. All you have to do is follow Amir on Twitter and/or Facebook and he will randomly select 50 winners to join him as his guest at the Raptors' March 30th game at ACC (vs. Milwaukee) and then for a post-game dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse as well.

You can hear our chat with Johnson here:

http://www.fan590.com/ondemand/media.jsp?content=20110317_203446_5120

Johnson told us he's HOPING to return to action (from his left ankle sprain) tonight against the Wizards.

--------------------

Finally, a quick note on the Washington Wizards.

Keep an eye on JaVale McGee tonight.

You got a little dose of him during the NBA's All Star Weekend in LA, but the man is doing more than dunking this season. He's having a career-year -- a coming-out party in DC:

 

  Career  This Season
Points 6.8 9.2
Rebounds  4.5 7.7
Field Goal%  51.1 53.8
Minutes  17.0 26.8

Jonesy and I will be on the air at 7 p.m., tonight with all of the action and we'll have the post-game show ("The Rap") live from the Real Sports Apparel store 'til 11 p.m.

Have a good one

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst
twitter.com/eric__smith



  It's Not Easy Wearing Green

Mar. 16, 2011, 12:18 PM

The Toronto Raptors will wear their special “St. Patrick’s Day” uniforms this evening in Detroit and while many of you out there have indicated that you like these green and white threads, I’ve got to say … I’m not really a fan of them. I understand the marketing side of things –- I get that –- but the jerseys and shorts look too similar to those of the Boston Celtics. Thus, I go ‘thumbs down’. Even Anthony Parker, when he was with the Raptors, commented aloud “why are we wearing Celts’ jerseys?”

But I digress.

At the end of the day the green, white, and black doesn’t look bad. It’s simply too close to what we see in Beantown (a division rival to boot) so I’ve gotta vote against it.

However, the St. Patrick’s Day uniforms are far from the worst we’ve seen in Toronto. In fact, I might even put them in the Top 5 (in spite of my protest) with the current black jerseys and the current red one as well … with the home and away HUSKIES jerseys filling out the Top 5.

If we’re talking about the all-time low(s) … sorry to say … I’ve got to go with the ORIGINAL Raptors’ jerseys. The gigantic dinosaur on the front of the white (home) or purple (away) shirt made the basketball uniforms look more like something you’d see in the East Coast Hockey League. Actually, the white jerseys -– with the jagged pinstripes -– MAY have been okay if not for the dinosaur/Raptor logo. The purple one was bad all-around. I couldn’t have been more thrilled when Toronto got away from those jerseys and finally moved away from the colour purple all together!

The current uniforms are solid. I like the touch with the red maple leaf on the black jerseys and aside from the chevrons, there is little I’d change. I’d actually say that the Raps may have a Top 10 uniform in the league.

Here’s who I’d have in my Top 5 (of current teams/uniforms):

1. LA Lakers – gold
2. Boston Celtics – green OR white

Both are CLASSICS that have stood the test of time.

3. Miami – black
4. Portland – black
5. San Antonio – white

And now for the Bottom 5:

1. New Orleans – the “Mardi Gras” 3RD jersey
2. Phoenix – orange
3. Charlotte – orange

I guess I don’t like ORANGE that much!

4. Washington – blue
5. Houston – red or white (the font and numbers are too small!)

If you’d like to weigh-in with your favourites or your least-favourites you can always follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Eric__Smith or add me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000556766609

Paul Jones and I will be on Sportsnet Radio, The FAN 590 at 7pm tonight with the pre-game show and we’ll have the tip-off of the Pistons and Raptors just after 730pm.

Thanks … have a good one!

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst
twitter.com/eric__smith



  Tournament Time...

Mar. 14, 2011, 3:59 PM

You know the next few days and weeks are going to be interesting inside the Raptors' locker room (and in rooms around the NBA for that matter). With the NCAA Tournament starting tomorrow (with the play-in games) chests are starting to puff out and trash-talking is amping up as players begin jockeying for bragging rights with their respective alma maters.

Five Raptors have direct ties to this year's tournament:

Joey Dorsey - Memphis
Jerryd Bayless - Arizona
DeMar DeRozan - USC
Ed Davis - North Carolina
Julian Wright - Kansas

At practice today, nobody really came right out and declared an overall winner, but Wright probably has the best chance of anyone with Kansas holding down a #1 seed. He said it didn't matter though ... cause he'd be selecting the Jayhawks to win no matter where they were ranked!

DeRozan guaranteed a win for USC in their play-in game versus VCU (saying: "You heard it here first") while the most intriguing storyline -- for Toronto -- may be Memphis/Dorsey against Arizona/Bayless in a first round showdown!

Jay Triano joked that Amir Johnson will likely have a tough time cheering for anyone or locking down any bragging rights at all (because he didn't go to college -- he was, in fact, the last high schooler drafted into the NBA), but ... for what it's worth ... Johnson did tell my man Paul Jones that if he HAD gone the post-secondary route, he would have gone to Louisville.

I have yet to fill out my bracket. So I'll let you know about my selections tomorrow or later in the week!



  Looking At The Raptors' Rebounding

Mar. 11, 2011, 3:59 PM

How important is REBOUNDING to the Toronto Raptors?

How much better would the Raps have been if Reggie Evans wasn’t out of the line up for the last three months?

Well, you decide.

  TOR games w/ more REB than Opp.  %
This Season 29 of 64 45.3
With Evans 12 of 16 75.0
Without Evans 17 of 48 35.4

If you crunch the numbers further, you’ll find that the Raptors are in the top half of the NBA in rebounding (15th) when Evans is IN the line up. But heading into action tonight against the Pacers, Toronto’s is 24th overall.

One of the guys who has helped carry the load in Evans’ absence is rookie Ed Davis.

In fact, with his 6.8 rebounds per game average, Davis is quickly climbing the ranks of all-time rookie rebounders for the Raptors. He has moved ahead of Marcus Camby and is nipping at the heels of Chris Bosh. Check it out:

Raptors Rookie Rebounds

Chris Bosh (2003-04) 7.4
Ed Davis (2010-11) 6.8
Marcus Camby (1996-97) 6.3
Jamario Moon (2007-08) 6.2
Charlie Villanueva (2005-06) 5.1

Toronto will need plenty of Davis and Evans tonight as Amir Johnson will be sidelined for only the second time this season with an ankle sprain. He was hobbling around ACC in a walking boot earlier today. There’s no word on how long Johnson will be out of the Raptors’ line up.

Andrea Bargnani is expected to return from a one-game absence with the flu.

Paul Jones and I will be on the air tonight at 7pm with all of the action – on Sportsnet Radio, The FAN 590.

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst
twitter.com/eric__smith



  The Tweet Spot

Mar. 9, 2011, 11:20 AM

The Raptors have been back from London, England for a couple of days now and the Euro Trip is a distant memory. It’s time to focus on the final 19 games of the season and look ahead to a busy off-season for Toronto and the LEAGUE overall.

Jay Triano and Co. will host 3 straight games at home this week – beginning with tonight’s tilt against the Utah Jazz (Indian and Charlotte to follow on Friday and Sunday) and to get things rolling for this evening … I thought it was time to check in again with another edition of the TWEET SPOT:

------

@mr_edward_nigma - Who do you think is in the race for raptors MVP? Or MIP? I think DD for both.

@Eric__Smith – I’ll give DeRozan the MIP for sure. As for MVP … it’d be a toss-up between him and Bargnani. Would’ve love to see Reggie for a full 82.

@RyanJHTurvey - What does Ed Davis need to add to his offensive game this summer?

@Eric__Smith – Consistency. I think his game has evolved well over the season. But I’d like to see the range improve a bit too. He’s got a good future ahead.

@jakob_huber - Will the Raptors draft the best player available next year or will they concentrate on a specific position? I'm hoping PG.

@Eric__Smith – With a number of ‘needs’ on the roster … my GUESS would be they go after the best player available. Still got 3 ½ months though!

@craigballard77 - Alabi showing in D-League & Florida State that he can block shots. What does he need to do to get rotation minutes in NBA?

@Eric__Smith – Improve his rebounding; positioning. Diversify his offence. Increase court awareness/knowledge. He’s a great ‘kid’ with room to grow.

@Ronny006 – Who are your picks to win the MVP, 6th man, and coach of the year?

@Eric__Smith – Derrick Rose, Jason Terry, and Monty Williams (by a hair).

@alexthamexican - Who are the raptors more likely to keep? James Johnson or Sonny Weems? Can both survive sharing minutes at the 3?

@Eric__Smith – Not sure they can’t keep BOTH. But if it’s only 1, I’d say Johnson has the inside track (gave up a 1st rounder to get him).

@AnthonyDerbish – Who should we keep an eye on for possible future raptors in the NCAA tourney this year?

@Eric__Smith – Not sure they’ll be Raptors or not but watch for guys like: Jared Sullinger, Kyrie Irving, Enes Kanter, Perry Jones, and more

------

Here are a few key stats/storylines to have in mind when checking out the Jazz and Raptors this evening:

- Utah is 22-7 all-time against the Raptors and they’ve won the last 10 in a row over Toronto (5 at home and 5 on the road)

- The Jazz are walking wounded, big-time, entering tonight’s games:

Francisco Elson – OUT (sprained left ankle/inflamed left knee)
Kyrylo Fesenko – OUT (back spasms)
Andrei Kirilenko – DOUBTFUL (back spasms)
Paul Millsap – GAME-TIME DECISION (left patellar tendinitis)
Mehmet Okur – OUT (strained lower back)
Ronnie Price – OUT (sprained right big toe)

Paul Jones and I will be on Sportsnet Radio, The FAN 590 beginning at 7pm tonight … bringing you all of the action between the Jazz and Raptors.

Have a good one.

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst
twitter.com/eric__smith



  The Well-Traveled Deron Williams

Mar. 5, 2011, 12:50 PM

We're just over two hours away from tip-off in the UK -- game two of the NBA's Euro Trip with the Toronto Raptors and the New Jersey Nets.

But before we get to that I figured I'd pass along an interesting graphic / story I saw yesterday from TV stat man John Rusin.

Here is what Nets' PG Deron Williams has dealt with over the last 7-10 days:

TRAVEL in kilometres ...

Dallas to Salt Lake - 2,019 km
Salt Lake to Newark - 3,472 km
Newark to San Antonio - 2,915 km
San Antonio to Houston - 304 km
Houston to Newark - 2,613 km
Newark to London - 5,597 km

TOTAL: 16,920 km

In a word ... Ouch.

He was showing the wear and tear of those travels in the first half of last night's game but he got the juices flowing in the second half and helped knock out the Raptors in Jersey's 38-point fourth-quarter comeback.

Paul Jones and I will be on Sportsnet Radio, the FAN 590 beginning at 3 p.m. Eastern (8 p.m. GMT) today.

Enjoy the game!

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst
twitter.com/eric__smith



  Game Day Photos From London

Mar. 4, 2011, 9:21 AM





  Day 2 From London

Mar. 3, 2011, 12:30 PM

Here's more great photos from Day 2 in London in my latest PHOTO GALLERY.





  First Photos From London

Mar. 2, 2011, 2:18 PM

Check out my first shots from London in this PHOTO GALLERY. More to come throughout the Raptors' trip.





  Number Crunching Before The Hornets Hit ACC

Mar. 1, 2011, 3:23 PM

The Raptors are getting set to host the New Orleans Hornets tonight and Andrea Bargnani is expected to return to the line up. And there’s no doubt that Toronto could use the big Italian … for his offence if nothing else. The Raps struggled mightily in the second half against Dallas on Sunday night and, in fact, the last two games (vs. Big D and Phoenix) have proven to be offensively challenging for T.O.

Was last week’s victory over the Chicago Bulls a blip on the radar? How ‘bout the first two (three?) quarters against the Mavs?

Maybe we’ll find out tonight against the Hornets.

  vs CHI vs PHX / DAL
Points 118 94.0
FG% 58.1 49.6
FT Attempts 34 17.5
FT% 94.1 64.8
PTS in Paint 58 53.0

That final stat –- Points in the Paint –- is an interesting one for a couple of reasons. Not only have the Raptors long been a team that is perceived to be very perimeter-oriented, but they’ve also been a club that’s been knocked for having little ‘size’ up front and minimal aggression in getting to the hoop.

But that has changed this season with the evolving offensive skills of Amir Johnson, the athleticism of DeMar DeRozan and the improved post game of Andrea Bargnani … to name a few.

Add it all up and, would you believe, the Raptors are in the Top 3 in the NBA in Points in the Paint?

Memphis 50.2
LA Clippers 46.0
Toronto 45.4
LA Lakers 45.0
Sacramento 44.2

Toronto has averaged 54.6 point in the paint over the last three games against bigs like Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, Robin Lopez, Marcin Gortat, and Tyson Chandler.

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Speaking of the improved offensive skills of Amir Johnson … while there’s no denying that he gets a ton of his buckets around the hoop (on lob passes or pick-and-roll sequences with Jose Calderon and Jerryd Bayless), but the forward’s work with assistant coach Alex English has vastly improved his range as well. Johnson is consistently knocking down 15-20 foot jump-shots … daring opposing defences to get out and guard him. Thus, it’s impressive to see where he is amongst the league-leaders in FG%.

Nene (DEN) 62.6
Dwight Howard (ORL) 59.7
Amir Johnson (TOR) 58.9
Emeka Okafor (NO) 58.7
Al Horford (ATL) 57.1

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I’ll be off to London, England after the game tonight … but I will be back from the other side of the pond later in the week!

Have a good one

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst
twitter.com/eric__smith


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