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October | November



  Game Day On New Year's Eve

Dec. 31, 2010, 2:17 PM

The Raptors enter their final game of 2010 this evening when they take on the Rockets in Houston.

Toronto is hoping to carry some momentum from their upset win over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night. But the Raps will be in tough against one of the hotter teams in the NBA.

Check out what Houston has done since their rough start to the season:

  Oct/Nov Dec
Record 5-12          10-4
PPG 103.6 108.2
Opp. PPG 106.3 102.0
FG% 44.7 47.0
3 Point FG% 35.2 42.5


And the banged-up bodies that Jay Triano has to deal with certainly won’t help matters against the Rockets.  Here’s the latest on the injury front for T.O.

Jose Calderon (foot) – game time decision
Jerryd Bayless (ankle) – game time decision
Amir Johnson (back) – expected to play
Leandro Barbosa (knee/shoulder/wrist) – expected to play
Sonny Weems (back) – OUT

Andrea Bargnani (calf) and Peja Stojakovic (knee) are both OUT as well.  In fact, neither of them is with the team.  The Raptors are HOPING to have Bargnani back for the Jan. 2 game at home against Boston.  But we’ll see about that.

Toronto could definitely use the offensive lift that the big Italian would provide.  Scoring could be an issue for the Raptors this evening if Calderon can’t play as well.  Just think of the offensive production that is gone from this line-up when you’re playing without Weems, Calderon, and Bargnani … let alone Bayless as well. 

Well, offence is what Houston does best!

Check out the numbers for the Rockets offence this season:

    NBA RANK
Assists 24.1 2nd
Points 105.7 5th
3 Point FG% 38.7 5th
FT% 79.1 5th
FG% 45.7 15th


Finally, thought the Raptors head home after tonight’s tilt (their 3RD straight on the road) their stop at the ACC is a brief one.  Following Sunday’s game against the Celtics, Toronto will be back on the road for 3 more … in Chicago, Cleveland, and Boston. 

Including tonight’s game against the Rockets, here’s what’s ahead for the Raps:

Next 4 of 5 on Road
Next 9 of 13 on Road
17 Games in January (10 on the Road)
4 sets of back to backs in next 18 games

Paul Jones and I will be on the FAN 590 at 7pm (Eastern) with all of the action from Houston.

Happy New Year!

All the best.

Eric Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst
www.twitter.com/Eric__Smith





  Game Day In Tennessee

Dec. 27, 2010, 12:53 PM

Unfortunately, the Christmas break did not prove to have any healing powers for the banged-up Toronto Raptors. The Raps continue to be walking wounded as they head into the FedExForum in Memphis tonight.

There's honestly not a ton to say; Jay Triano has a TOUGH task with an undermanned lineup this evening. Heck, if Amir Johnson doesn't play, the coach's rotation of 'bigs' could be Joey Dorsey, Ed Davis, and Solomon Alabi.

Here's the latest:

Johnson (back) - will be a game time decision for this evening's tilt in Tennessee.

Andrea Bargnani (calf) - is not with the team and word is that he may not join the club at any point on this road trip.

Sonny Weems (back) - with the Raps in Memphis but he will not play tonight. There's no word yet on whether or not he'll be able to play in Dallas or Houston.

Peja Stojakovic (knee) - Still not with the team after heading to New Orleans prior to the Xmas break to seek out a second opinion.

To say this game could be a challenge for T.O. may be an understatement, but Memphis is coming in on the back-to-back (after winning in Indiana last night) so the Raptors' first-quarter play is essential. Gotta set the tone.

Paul Jones and I will be on the FAN 590 at 7:30 PM ET with the pre-game show and we'll have the tip-off just after 8 PM.

Have a good one

Eric Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst
www.twitter.com/Eric__Smith





  Getting Ready For The Pistons...

Dec. 22, 2010, 3:19 PM

The Raptors play their final game before the Xmas Break this evening when they host the Detroit Pistons at ACC. Toronto enters action with a 10-18 record overall … sitting a game and a half out of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.

And one of those 10 wins came about a week and a half ago when the Raps shocked the Pistons in Motown, overcoming a 25-point deficit in the third quarter, coming back to win 120-116 in regulation. It was the biggest comeback win in FRANCHISE HISTORY.

Let’s look back to that historic evening on December 11 in Detroit:

  First Half Second Half
Raptors Points   53             67
PTS Allowed      74 44
Turnovers  14 4
Detroit’s PTS off turnovers 29 4
Raptors FG% 64.5 61.5

It’s actually pretty important that the Raptors take care of business on their home floor this evening … ‘cause there won’t be a whole lot of “home cookin” in the near future for T.O.

Following the game against the Pistons, Toronto will hit the road for 3 straight before the New Year … in Memphis, Dallas, and Houston. And when the calendar flips to 2011, it doesn’t get any better. The Raptors will play at home on Jan. 2 against the Boston Celtics but then hit the road again for 3 in Chicago, Cleveland, and Boston.

Thus … do the ‘math’ … that’s six-of-seven on the road (beginning in Memphis on Dec. 27). In fact, Toronto will have 10 of their 17 games in January away from ACC. Plus, the Raps will deal with five sets of back-to-backs over the next 20 games. So … hang on folks!

-----

But back to tonight’s game to close things out …

This will be a special game for Pistons forward/center, Ben Wallace.

Big Ben will suit up for his 1,000TH career game tonight.

Over the course of his career, Wallace has hoisted the championship trophy and won four Defensive Player of the Year awards – in 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2006.

He has averaged 6.1 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks in his 15–year career.

Wallace posted a career-high 23 points (had 14 rebounds as well) against the Raptors in that game back on December 11.

Enjoy the tilt tonight!

Paul Jones and I will be on the FAN 590 tonight at 7pm and we’ll have the post game show (“The Rap”) until 11pm from the Real Sports Apparel Store.

Happy Holidays!

Eric Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst
www.twitter.com/Eric__Smith

• Don’t forget to purchase your copy of “From Brooklyn to Toronto: Jack Armstrong and Eric Smith Sing the Holiday Classics” … CLICK HERE and order now (ALL proceeds to the Team Up Foundation).




  Off-Key For A Great Cause...

1

Dec. 21, 2010, 9:35 AM

The Christmas CD that is sweeping the nation From Brooklyn To Toronto: Jack Armstrong and Eric Smith Sing The Holiday Classics, can now be downloaded online!

From Jingle Bells to Holly Jolly Christmas and everything in between … you can hear 14 XMas tracks (and one special bonus track as well) on your computer, smart phone, MP3 player, or iPod within seconds by clicking the link below and ordering your digital copy immediately!

Once you place your order of $6.00, you will be sent a link to a file containing ALL 15 TRACKS + the JPEG file of the ALBUM COVER.

Payment can be made via PayPal or credit card.

It’s as simple as that!

——————————

NOTE: For some reason, the website that is hosting the online sale of From Brooklyn to Toronto DOES NOT WORK ON INTERNET EXPLORER. However, there are no issues with the link on browsers like Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and most smartphone browsers (including the Android). It is recommended that you download the latest version of Firefox or Chrome before placing your order of From Brooklyn to Toronto.

——————————

Ready to order now? Click on the link below:

http://www.fastwagon.com/add/rjuoke/2665

Remember, all of the money raised is going to the TEAM UP FOUNDATION ( http://www.mlseteamupfoundation.org/ ), so please be generous and order your digital copy of From Brooklyn to Toronto for only $6.00

Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra may be rolling in their graves when these songs are played, but Jack and I have been getting fantastic reviews in-person, via email, and on Twitter (even if many of the comments are clearly delivered tongue-in-cheek)!

Again, that link to order your digital copy of From Brooklyn to Toronto (on Firefox or Chrome) is:

http://www.fastwagon.com/add/rjuoke/2665

The online/digital version of From Brooklyn to Toronto is $1 more than the original hard copy … simply to cover the ‘fees’ that are being charged by the host website and the folks at PayPal. NO PROFIT IS BEING MADE ON THIS CD. You have my word that neither Jack nor I are seeing a penny from the sale of our music! If there are ANY nickels, dimes, or dollars floating around when all is said and done, ALL of that money will be forwarded to the Team Up Foundation!

Hard copies of the CD will still be available for purchase at the ACC on Wednesday night (when the Raptors host the Detroit Pistons). Find ME during the pre-game, halftime, or post-game show (at the Real Sports Apparel Store) to buy your copy for $5.

If you don’t have Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome, you can download the latest versions right here:

http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/
http://www.google.com/chrome

All the best for the holiday season. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you!

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst
www.twitter.com/Eric__Smith




  Gameday Blog: Raps vs. Nets

Dec. 17, 2010, 3:21 PM

As I Tweeted the other night (following a note that was handed to me by the Raptors Media Relations staff), Toronto sent out its youngest line up in franchise history on Wednesday night.

Rookie Ed Davis, 21, was a late insertion into the starting line up – subbing in for injured big man, Andrea Bargnani.

Davis joined Jerry Bayless (22), DeMar DeRozan (21), Sonny Weems (24), and Amir Johnson (23) in the starting five against the Chicago Bulls.

But even though this was the youngest line up in RAPTORS history, it’s not even the youngest line up in the league THIS YEAR. Check it out:

LA Clippers (Nov. 15) - 21 years 143 Days
Toronto (Dec. 15) - 22 years, 239 Days
Philadelphia (Nov. 24) - 22 years, 318 days

Jay Triano didn’t say anything this morning (after shoot-around) about his starters for tonight’s game against the New Jersey Nets … probably because he doesn’t know who he’ll actually have available … given that Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani are both game-time decisions.

----------

The Raptors are one of only 3 teams in the Eastern Conference with a losing record at home. But with games against the Nets and Detroit Pistons coming up (sandwiching Sunday’s tilt against the LA Lakers), T.O. may have a shot at getting its nose back above .500 at the ACC.

While no team can be taken lightly (it’s cliché but it’s true), there’s no denying that New Jersey is struggling, big-time:

PPG 92.9 (29TH in the league)
FG% 43.1 (28TH in the league
3PT FG% 34.5 (20TH in the league
Assists per Game 18.3 (29TH in the league)

The Nets are just 3-15 when scoring less than 100 points. However, Toronto has the second-worst defence in the league (as far as opponents FG% is concerned) and they’ve only held opponents under 100 points once in the last 7 games (Tuesday’s loss at Charlotte).

----------

If you’re heading down to the game tonight (or Sunday, or Wednesday), be sure to flag me down and pick up your copy of “From Brooklyn to Toronto: Jack Armstrong and Eric Smith Sing the Holiday Classics”.

Jack and I recorded our first-ever Christmas album last night and it’s sure to be a hit (for all of the wrong reasons I’m sure). You’ll laugh … you’ll cry … you’ll regret owning it! But for only $5 (with all proceeds going to charity) … how can ya go wrong.

“From Brooklyn to Toronto: Jack Armstrong and Eric Smith Sing the Holiday Classics”:

1 - White Christmas
2 - Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire
3 - Jingle Bells
4 - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
5 - Blue Christmas
6 - Silver Bells
7 - O Come All Ye Faithful
8 - Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
9 - Holly Jolly Christmas
10 - Frosty The Snowman
11 - Silent Night
12 - Deck The Halls
13 - Do You Hear What I Hear
14 - We Wish You A Merry Christmas

BONUS:

15 - The Night Before Christmas

Special thanks to Josh Gold-Smith (Keyboard/Music) and Lance Kennedy (Producer) … and big thanks to Mark Hoffberg (CD cover designer), Ryan Aleong, Paul Jones (back-up vocals), and Jakub Kaleta as well.

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Paul Jones and I will be on the FAN 590 at 7pm tonight with all of the action between the Nets and Raptors. And we’ll be on the air ‘til 11pm with our post game show (“The Rap”) as well … broadcasting live from the Real Sports Apparel store just outside the ACC.

Thanks folks. Have a good one,

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst
www.twitter.com/Eric__Smith




  How Do You Stop Charging Bulls?


Dec. 15, 2010, 3:05 PM

Needless to say … the Raptors need to come out with a better start to tonight’s ball game against the Bulls.

Though Toronto went on a 22-2 run in the first quarter last night -- and opened up a 12-point lead as well –- they were still quite flat for the first four-to-five minutes of the game and that appeared to be an issue for large chunks of the second half of the game against the Bobcats. The Raptors were beat handily in points in the paint (they ranked sixth in the NBA in that category heading into last night’s game) and were stifled on the fast break as well (number one in the league).

Let’s look at some other key stats and storylines for tonight’s tilt.

-----

The Raps will be trying to run down one of the hottest teams in the NBA, as the Bulls are currently on a six-game winning streak. And Chicago has put up some gaudy numbers during this stretch, check it out:

Points allowed per game 88.0 *
Opponents FG% 39.6
Opponents 3PT FG% 29.2
Rebound differential per game +8.5

* They’ve allowed only 80.5 points per game over the last FOUR games

-----

Derrick Rose (wrist) is a game-time decision for tonight’s tip-off and his absence would sure be a huge bonus for the Raptors. Though Chicago is still a dangerous team without Rose and there are no easy games for Toronto (or any team in the league for that matter), there’s no denying what kind of impact the dynamic point guard has had on the Bulls this season. He is putting up career numbers and some are even throwing his name out there in MVP discussions.

Derrick Rose

PPG 3PT FG%
2008-09 16.8 22.2
2009-10 20.8 26.7
So far in 2010-11 24.7 42.1

IF Rose is unable to play, he’ll join a long list of notable/star players that have missed games against Toronto this season.

Rajon Rondo – Toronto beat Boston
Kevin Durant– Toronto beat Oklahoma City
Andre Igoudala – Toronto beat Philly
John Wall – Washington won
Yao Ming – Toronto beat Houston
Carmelo Anthony – Denver won

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Paul Jones and I will be on the FAN 590 at 7pm with all of the action between the Bulls and Raptors … and we’ll have our post-game show (“The Rap”) until 11pm; live from the Real Sports Apparel store just outside the ACC.

Have a good one folks,

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst
www.twitter.com/Eric__Smith





  Pre-game Thoughts From Charlotte

Dec. 14, 2010, 3:31 PM

Michael Jordan will be inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame during a ceremony at halftime tonight.

For me, that begs the question:

Did the Hall just open yesterday?

How in the world was he not already in there? Heck, he could have been inducted before his PRO career even began (after his dramatic shot for the Tar Heels) but shouldn't he have been honored the minute he retired? How does a guy get into the Basketball Hall of Fame -- the cream of the crop for the sport -- BEFORE getting inducted into a U.S. state's Hall?

Bizarre.

Anyway ... a number of Jordan's former teammates will be in attendance tonight, including one-time Raptor (maybe the most beloved Raptor of all-time), Charles Oakley.

We are hoping to carry the speeches, etc. live on the FAN 590 this evening. Still trying to figure out if that'll be possible or not though.

Oh, and bug Doug Smith from the Toronto Star for some Oakley stories ... he was in a cab with the Oak-man from the airport to downtown Charlotte yesterday afternoon! Twenty minutes with Oakley had to have been entertaining to say the least!

----------

Bobcats coach, Larry Brown, leads all ACTIVE coaches in wins ... compiling 1,326 over his NBA and ABA career.

The veteran coach is only 10 wins shy of passing Don Nelson for the #1 spot on the all-time list and he's just 7 wins shy of passing Lenny Wilkens for second on that list.

Neither Nelson nor Wilkens coached in the ABA though.

----------

Another one from the history books for ya ...

On this date ... December 14 1990 ... Raptors assistant coach Alex English (then with the Dallas Mavericks) scored his 25,000th career point during the Mavs' 106-104 road loss to the Trail Blazers.

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Jay Triano said earlier today at shoot-around that he's still not sure when Jose Calderon or Peja Stojakovic will be ready to go.

Triano mentioned that the trainers haven't said anything to him about Stojakovic's knee being hurt anymore than the 'swelling' we've all heard about and Jose simply continues to experience pain in his foot; an issue that came up and worsened during the Raptors heartbreaking loss to the Knicks last week.

I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on TV (or radio) but I'd be shocked if we see either of them on the back to back tomorrow against the Bulls. That said, I've been wrong before :)

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Paul Jones and I will be on the FAN 590 at 7pm tonight.

Thanks folks. Have a good one,

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst
www.twitter.com/Eric__Smith





  Toronto Connections In The NBA

Dec. 10, 2010, 1:46 PM

As the Raptors were flying back from New York City on Wednesday night I started flipping through the Knicks Media Guide and found a pretty cool feature that the New York media relations staff had put together. On each of the team pages for the various clubs around the NBA, the Knicks' staff had a picture and brief line about a former Knickbocker (coach or player) who no worked elsewhere in the league. For example, Phil Jackson in LA with the Lakers or Leo Rautins right here in Toronto!

Thus, with a guy like Chauncey Billups in town today with the Nuggets (Denver and Toronto at 7pm tonight at the ACC) I thought I'd try to compile a similar list and time-line for the Raptors. But as you'll see below ... with only 15 years in the NBA (this being the 16th), Toronto doesn't quite have the 'history' that the Knicks do!

I was, however, able to find Raptor connections to at least two-thirds of the league (11 in the East and 9 in the West) ... and I highlight a few Vancouver Grizzlies connections as well ... just for a little CANADIANA.

Boston - Jermaine O'Neal ... turned into Shawn Marion ... turned into Hedo Turkoglu ... turned into Leandro Barbosa
New York - Roger Mason ... one of the nicest guys you'll ever come across in the league
Philadelphia - Jason Kapono ... still can't get used to seeing that #72 on his back now
New Jersey - Kris Humphries ... not sure he would have met Kim Kardashian while with the Raptors
Chicago - Rick Brunson and Ed Pinckney are both assistant coaches with the Bulls
Milwaukee - Carlos Delfino ... on the road to recovery from a concussion and many in Toronto are still pulling for him
Indiana - TJ Ford ... recently called the PG combo in T.O. of him and Jose Calderon one of the best in the NBA in the last 10 years
Cleveland - Anthony Parker ... Jamario Moon still gets some love from the fans, but AP is the man
Detroit - Charlie Villanueva ... because he still gets booed to this day, I could go with TMAC
Orlando - Vince Carter ... I didn't mention TMAC so I shouldn't mention VC but you cannot ignore his impact on this city and team
Miami - Chris Bosh ... see above (unless you want me to talk about Carlos Arroyo)
Atlanta - Mike Bibby ... maybe the best member of the Grizzlies Vancouver has ever seen
Charlotte - Aside from Boris Diaw NEARLY becoming a Raptor this past off-season, I've got nothin' for ya
Washington - I hear Obama likes T.O.

San Antonio - Matt Bonner ... The Red Rocket is still as "Canadian" as it gets
Dallas - Shawn Marion ... "We're hear for a good time ... not a long time ... so have a good time ... the sun can't shine everyday ... "
Memphis - Another "Grizzlies" connection here - to Vancouver, but not Toronto. The entire TEAM should still be in Canada anyway. Heck, even their head coach has ties back to Van-City.
New Orleans - Take your pick ... David Andersen, Jarrett Jack, Marco Belinelli, Pops Mensah-Bonsu ...
Houston - There's a "future 2nd round pick" floating around the Rockets, haha (sent to Houston from Toronto in the David Andersen deal)
Utah - Tyrone Corbin ... is an assistant coach with the Jazz and once threw gum (inadvertently) at me in the middle of a game
Oklahoma City - Morris Peterson ... king of the 'circus' shot will always have a home in T.O.
Denver - Chauncey Billups ... had a cup of coffee with the Raps before (eventually) moving on to fame and fortune
Portland - Marcus Camby ... crazy to think he's been in the league 14 years
Minnesota - It's too far of a stretch to go with Jonny Flynn (who was born and raised just over the border in Niagara Falls, NY)
LA Lakers - Remember, back in the day, when some folks said they wouldn't even trade VC for Kobe Bryant?
Phoenix - Hedo Turkoglu ... sorry folks ... I had to do it Golden State - With Daddy Dell in T.O. ... Stephen Curry was a Raptor by proxy so I'm counting this one. C'mon!
Sacramento - Up until about 10 days ago I could have said Antoine Wright. But he's since been waived. The Kings assistant GM is Shareef Abdur-Rahim (former Vancouver Grizz)
LA Clippers - Marc Iavaroni ... the former Raptors assistant coach is not an assistant in LA

Don't forget ... Raptors and Nuggets at 7pm tonight. Paul Jones and I will have all of the action on the FAN 590.
----

Thanks folks. Have a good one,

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst
www.twitter.com/Eric__Smith




  No Changes To Starting Five In NYC

Dec. 8, 2010, 1:07 PM

Jay Triano said prior to this morning's shoot-around in New York that he will not be changing the starting line up for tonight's game.

After the loss to the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, Triano said he was he was contemplating a change.

However, he said today that when he thought about making a move, he came to the conclusion that ( A ) the problems/struggles of the team over the last 2 games can't be pinned on one guy ... and further to that ... ( B ) nobody in the 2nd unit has played SO well (so obviously better than one of the starters) to truly earn or warrant a change.

-----

I chatted one on one with Amir Johnson this morning (you can hear that interview on tonight's pre-game show on the FAN 590 - beginning at 7pm) and he told me that the start to the game is the key for the Raptors tonight. They cannot afford to come out with another flat effort in the 1st quarter and dig themselves into a big hole again.

Johnson also spoke about the way the Raptors may try to go at Amar'e Stoudemire (something Triano discussed as well); perhaps letting him 'get his' while being sure to lock-down everyone else. It's an approach that many coaches use with various bigs around the league and it's an approach that Toronto has used -- successfully -- in the past with a guy like Dwight Howard specifically.

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How hot is Stoudemire right now? Well, he's coming off Player of the Week honours in the NBA and ... oh by the way ... he's the leading scorer in the NBA over the last five games. Check it out:

Amare Stoudemire (NYK) - 34.2
Kobe Bryant (LAL) - 30.2
Kevin Durant (OKC) - 25.2
LeBron James (MIA) - 25.0
Monta Ellis (GS) - 24.6

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As for those first quarters I mentioned above ... this isn't very pretty either:

The Raptors were down 33-18 after one quarter on Sunday against the Knicks.
The Raptors were down 31-18 after one quarter on Monday against the Pacers.

Toronto is 5-1 this season when leading after the first quarter.

So, you do the math. The opening 12 minutes are going to be a key for tonight's game -- and most games throughout the season for the Raptors!

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Finally, totally unrelated to the Raptors or Knicks ... I wanted to pass this along ...

I got a chance to see "LOMBARDI" on Broadway last night and it was outstanding!

Dan Lauria was magnificent -- and beyond believable -- as Vince Lombardi. The voice, the mannerisms, the walk ... were all dead on and I'd be shocked if we don't hear about him being nominated for a Tony Award at the next ceremony.

Lauria was a huge presence on stage and he certainly stole the show as the lead character. However, Judith Light was as equally impressive as Maria Lombardi and she had the audience laughing with her dry wit and quick deliveries; the only person who could stand up to Vince.

If you're a coach, athlete, or sports fan you'll love this play and I urge you to go check it out at the Circle In The Square Theatre in New York City.

You can read more about the play, "LOMBARDI", at http://lombardibroadway.com/

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Thanks folks. Have a good one,

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst
www.twitter.com/Eric__Smith



  Number Crunching From Indy

1
Dec. 6, 2010, 1:03 PM

The Raptors will try to bounce back in Indy tonight, following a rough outing at ACC yesterday afternoon.

Though Toronto beat the Knicks on the glass, in points in the paint, second-chance points and fast-break points (and they allowed fewer points off turnovers as well), New York STILL managed to win by 17. The Raptors free-throw shooting was horrendous and the poor start to the game (falling down by as many as 16 points in the first) really dug them in a deep hole that they simply couldn’t climb out of.

Take a look at yesterday’s game, which dropped Toronto to 8-12, compared to the previous two tilts (wins over Washington and Oklahoma City):

  vs WAS/OKC vs NYC
 PTS Allowed 103.5 116
 Opp FG% 44.7 48.9
 Opp 3PT FG%  37.0 44.4
 Opp 4th QTR PTS 24.5 34
Turnovers 13 17

Turnovers could be a key to tonight’s game against the Pacers as well. Though the Raptors do a decent job of protecting the ball –- especially with Jose Calderon back in the starting line up -– Toronto can’t afford to give away extra opportunities to the opposition. When you’re a ‘good’ (not ‘great’) team your margin of error is slim, so you’ve got to protect the ball.

Ironically, in spite of being one of the surprise teams in the East so far (kind of like this year’s version of last year’s Milwaukee Bucks club that burst onto the scene), Indy is one of the worst in the league at coughing it up. So the Raps may have a chance to capitalize on some miscues tonight.

Most Turnovers per Game - This Season

Minnesota - 17.8
Charlotte - 16.8
LA Clippers - 16.7
Washington - 16.2
Indiana - 15.8

Well, now that I’ve ‘knocked’ the Pacers a little bit, I’ll bring ‘em back up with a little love.

The Pacers -– thanks to former Raptor draft pick, Roy Hibbert -– are one of the top teams in the LEAGUE at blocking shots. In fact, they’re second only to the team the Raps lost to yesterday, the New York Knicks. Have a look:

Blocks Per Game

New York - 6.91
Indiana - 6.72
Chicago - 6.33
Washington - 6.26
Charlotte - 6.20

Toronto is dead-last in the NBA at 3.20 blocks per game.

Finally, as is often the case, Andrea Bargnani could be the ultimate key to tonight’s tilt at Conseco. When Bargnani is ‘on’ the Raptors generally tend to be a balanced, effective unit. When he struggles, Toronto’s struggles; searching for a go-to guy to lead the offence (that was part of the case yesterday against the Knicks).

But perhaps it’s a good sign for Raptors fans that Bargnani’s career-high (34) came in Indiana last season –- on Feb. 2 2010 –- and the big Italian has been getting on the glass of late as well. Check it out:

Bargnani’s REBOUNDING - Last 5 Games

vs New York - 7
vs Oklahoma City - 12
vs Washington - 8
vs Atlanta - 7
@ Boston - 8

Bargnani has tied or led the team in rebounding in four of the last five games.

Paul Jones and I will be on the FAN 590 at 7 p.m., with all of the action between the Pacers and Raptors.

Have a good one folks

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst

Thanks, as always, to Raptors TV stat man John Rusin for his help with the numbers!




  No Durant Expected At ACC Tonight...

1

Dec. 3, 2010, 3:03 PM

Captain Obvious to the rescue!

But the Thunder will miss Kevin Durant tonight. Arguably the third best player in the NBA (behind Kobe Bryant and LeBron James), Durant is a dynamic scorer and teammate and his low-key personality is just as entertaining for some folks ...in that he comes across as the 'anti-LeBron' ...

That said, Oklahoma City is still a stacked, young team without KD and they'll prove to be a handful for the Raptors tonight.

It's early in his 'career' but Russell Westbrook is having one of those career years and some are already touting him as the front-runner foe the Most Improved Player award this season (though it should be noted that he didn't have a ton to improve upon).

Westbrook is averaging 24.6 points and 8.6 assists this season (shooting 44.6 FG% as well) and when you combine him with Durant's 27.3 points (6.9 rebounds, 41.9 FG%) you've got the highest scoring duo in the league!

Durant's knee will keep that 'duo' as a single assassin (Westbrook) tonight. But don't sleep on the depth Scott Brooks has on his roster -- even without KD.

ONE MORE NUMBER FOR YA

The Raptors have won four of their last five at ACC and they're 5-4 overall at home this season. But protecting their home court may be tough for Toronto -- whether they're facing Durant or not.

OKC has one of the top road records in the NBA -- a true sign of how well they're playing and how legit the Thunder have become; a true powerhouse in the West.

Here are the top ROAD records from around the Association:

San Antonio: 8-1
Dallas: 6-1
Oklahoma City: 7-2
Utah: 7-2
Boston: 7-2
Atlanta: 7-2

Enjoy the game tonight folks. Paul Jones and I will have all of the action at 7pm on the Fan 590

Have a good one,

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst
www.twitter.com/Eric__Smith



  Game Day In The Tweet Spot...

Dec. 1, 2010, 3:14 PM

It’s been a couple of days since we checked-in with the Tweet Spot so let’s do so right now … we’re JAMMED.

@AlanSimpson - What's your advice for all those men going through "stache-withdrawal" today?

@Eric__Smith – Just grow one back. But only if you looked good. You may have uncovered your new ‘look’. Make sure your girl likes it though.

@basim3 - How do u think LeBron will play on Thursday? I mean this is the first time an entire arena will hate him

@Eric__Smith – If he is human, it’ll affect him. But the way he plays often makes us think he isn’t human. Maybe like Vince Carter, it’ll only motivate him more.

@LeonChen1 - would trading for Gilbert Arenas make sense for the Dinos? Something like a Jose+Reggie+Julian kind of deal

@Eric__Smith – You know my rules – No Fantasy Trade Talk! I don’t like it ‘cause ya never know what ‘the other side’ truly wants / would take.

@Daoud_S - Should Triano consider sitting DeRozan with the sore hammy or is it best just to let him play through it?

@Eric__Smith – If he’s playing I can only assume the doctors/trainers have given him and Triano the ‘ok’ so I don’t think you sit DD.

@mrsharpphoto - Give us what you think the ceiling is for DeRozan (especially with his regression), Davis and Weems.

@Eric__Smith – I think it’s too early to anoint or write a guy off. DD was good to start, has tailed off for 4-5 games. And Davis hasn’t even had a camp, let alone a game!

@bradleybundles - How long until Ed Davis starts for this team roughly?

@Eric__Smith – Impossible to know for certain. But my guess would be ‘later’ rather than ‘sooner’

@gunner4413 - Will the powder fly Thursday in Cleveland? Should it?

@Eric__Smith – I think it’s a lame routine anyway; always has been. But because he has always done it … I say … it will and it ‘should’

@movewiththe_flo - What would give the Raps the best advantage while Evans is out - Amir starting or keeping him on the bench w Joey starting?

@Eric__Smith – I don’t know that it matters because either way I think Amir will/would ultimately get the bulk of minutes anyway – if he stays out of foul trouble

@hk_rocketSINGH - From what you’ve seen so far, does Bayless have enough to be our #1 PG in the future. Would u still draft a PG with a high pick?

@Eric__Smith – I think you’re asking for a lot after only 3 games. But as long as I have Jose Calderon AND Bayless, no, I’m probably not drafting a PG.

@koky11 - How many minutes do you think Ed Davis will play tonight?

@Eric__Smith – My guess/speculation: 12 minutes … give or take. Remember, he didn’t have any of camp or any of the pre-season

@grizz905 - Should I invest my money in stocks, GIC's or should I diversify? Also, what's a good eggplant recipe?

@Eric__Smith – I like stocks, however, diversifying is never a bad thing in my books. Italian when it comes to eggplant: Eggplant Parm or Eggplant Lasagna

@eeshanp - Do you think LeBron is trying to get Spoelstra fired in Miami?

@Eric__Smith – I want to say no. But often where there’s smoke, there’s fire. I hope not though. He doesn’t deserve to be canned.

@jimkonandreas - Indiana so far has to be this year's Milwaukee no? And Hibbert's development makes the JO trade even harder to swallow.

@Eric__Smith – Good analogy. Accurate too. I agree. As for Hibbert … I can’t deny, he’s looking darn good right now.

@PdcD - At seasons end (barring further injuries) what would Raptors brass consider a good, progressive year from Ed Davis?

@Eric__Smith – Not missing anymore games and showing no issues with the knee. Also, maturing as a defender/rebounder – where he’ll likely make his mark in the NBA

@robkaminski94 - Why do star athletes make such a big deal bout going back to old team, old teams moved on, why can't the athlete, LeBron James

@Eric__Smith – Do the old teams move on? The fans sure don’t.

@stevecoady - Ok, how great will it be for the Raps if Rogers does end up as majority owners? I think getting the pension people out will do wonders

@Eric__Smith – I have nothing against the Teachers Pension folks, however, ‘one’ owner is always better than a ‘group’ … in my eyes.

@In_My_Lane - Where the heck is Michael Redd? Senator Kohl wants his money back

@Eric__Smith – He had knee surgery … So ….

Thanks folks. I’ll be back again before the end of the week.

Remember, tonight’s tilt between the Wizards and Raptors can be heard on the FAN 590 at 7pm. Paul Jones and I will have all of the action – including full post-game coverage ‘til 11 p.m.

Have a good one

E. Smith
Raptors Radio Analyst
www.twitter.com/Eric__Smith



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