Pacers Come Through Late To Beat The Raptors

Big news before this game ever got out of the gate on DeMar DeRozan’s contract.  Demar DeRozan is getting paid by the Toronto Raptors. It is for 4 years and 40-44 Million depending on who you heard from on Twitter. The number seems high and who knows it might be. However, you can’t have it both ways people. If you are going to complain about guys leaving, how can you also do the same when they stay? At the very least DeRozan will play hard and try and earn his money. This is a kid that left school early in part to be able to help his mother get better medical care. He is a good kid and he addressed the crowd prior to the game.

Pacers won the tip and wanted to text Jonas going inside to Hibbert and he slapped the ball out of bounds. Pacers would score on the possession though and the Raptors would not. Kyle Lowry gets the first points for the Raptors on the night. He would get a steal and hook up Bargnani with a trip to the line with Raptors down 6-2 early.

Jonas gets a put back shot on a Demar miss and Raptors had first lead of night 8-6. Pacers got a Gerald Green three pointer to go up 11-8 but Bargnani answers with a three of his own he has 7 of Raptors first 11 points. Jonas got take to school by Hibbert to make it 15-13 but active on the glass again finds him a basket. Nice ball movement got Jonas a foul line jumper to give the Raptors a 20-19 lead. This was a high paced game with lots of points Pacers jumped back in front 25-22.  Surprising that Terrence Ross enters this game as the first sub along with Ed Davis.

Jonas runs into a bit of foul trouble with 3:03 left in first picking up his second. Amir Johnson with Jose on the floor as well they hook up and make it a one point game with the Pacers leading 26-25. Raptors struggled down the stretch shooting 1-11 and their defence early was not great. When you consider all of that, to only be down 27-25 after one was pretty good for Toronto.  Bargnani had 11 in the first quarter.  And DeRozan 0-5 with no points not exactly a ringing endorsement for his new contract.

Amir Johnson scored to open the second and this thing was all even at 27. Jose would score to give the Raptors a lead for the first time in awhile. Make it back to back buckets for Jose and Raptors with a 31-27 lead. Stevenson was able to shoot it over Ross for a three pointer. Both coaches seem to have got the message of defense across in the break between the quarters. Pace slowing down and Pacers get back in front 32-31. Raptors get a call not go there way but get a stop and than Lowry three. Pacers answer with their own three and it was 35-34 closing in on mid-point of second quarter. Lowry was on a mission in this second quarter stealing and shooting trying to carry the Raptors on his back. Gets some help from Jose who was on the floor with him for an open three he hits and were tied at 39. Later Lowry goes DeMar going with a highlight worthy Alley Oop. Pacers were starting to pull away a bit though as Hibbert gets an easy two to give them a 46-41 lead.

That Alley-oop might have got DeRozan going he hit’s a jumper to cut it to a three point lead. Kyle Lowry is a heady player draws a foul on three point shot and makes all 3 at the line to make it a three point game. Raptors got this thing back to even and we were seeing a lot of bodies tonight even Aaron Gray who tied it up at 48. That is how it would stay.

Pacers shooting 51.3% will not please Dwane Casey and I am sure that was made clear at halftime. Raptors get the first basket but a quick third foul on Jonas as well. Jonas showed a little something with banging with Hibbert and getting a bucket he has 8 rebound and 8 points. He would get a slam and Lowry steal for a 6-0 run to make it 58-53 Raptors. Toronto’s defense was noticeably better and so was the Raptors overall aggression including Andrea Bargnani. Kyle Lowry draws a charge. Raptors build up a nine point advantage and the Raptors had the crowd all kinds of jacked up.  DeMar makes the lead 11 points at mid-point of third. It was a 12-0 run that was snapped by a West basket in the lane. Pacers were in a fight and they would respond but only got Raptors lead down to 6. Raptors really came to play in the third and had an 8 point lead in the third quarter primarily from tough defense.

A wide open three from Augustin on a second chance with the Raptors in zone was from an ideal start to the fourth. It was a sign of things to as the Pacers closed to within 3 points with 9:07 to play. Green airballed a three and the returning to the line-up Kyle Lowry went the other way straight to the hoop drawing contact. Raptors seemed to get back in their mindset of the third when Lowry returned.
Raptors were going with both Lowry and Calderon and Lowry started a play and it ended with a Jose three. Lowry feed Jose again and another three he had 15 off the bench and Raptors lead briefly went to 10 points at 84-74.

Raptors had a line-up of Lowry, Calderon, Anderson, Johnson and Bargnani. Not the line-up you would expect with 5 minutes to play in a game your winning against a team your not suppose to beat. That said it was working and so were the guys on the floor. West was the lone Pacer getting it done he was keeping Pacers hanging around. Roy Hibbert had no points in second half and is getting paid max money but dives to the floor and saves a possession for the Pacers.

Pacers took that extra possession and got a corner three from Hill. Raptors had the starters back in now and Pacers were killing them the lead was down to just one with score 86-85. Raptors were hanging on for dear life but the Pacers had a final surge in them and Hill was at the line with a chance give the Pacers their first lead since early in the third. But he would miss his second at the line and it was tied at 88. DeRozan would drive to bucket and leave a shot short. There was 22.1 seconds and some drama on who gets the ball on a missed Indiana shot that would be ruled the Pacers ball but was being reviewed.

Verdict is Pacers ball and honestly it was tough to call. Hill hit a runner in the lane with 2.1 seconds left to give the Pacers a 90-88 lead. Bargnani would get a contested look in the corner but was not close. Raptors fall to Pacers 90-88 in just a great game despite the result.

Jonas Valanciunas has a double-double in his debut only other Raptor to do that was Mighty Mouse. Kyle Lowry was great in this game. Unfortunately couldn’t get the stop on Hill when it mattered most. It was a tough loss but when you wake up tomorrow you should feel better about it. This was a great team effort for the Raptors and they did show they can compete with almost anyone if they play like that or a little better.

Raptors For Real Starts Tonight: Pacers vs Raptors

So it all gets started for real tonight for the Toronto Raptors. Before I get to my preview for tonight we already had a pretty nice on the Pacers with Mike Wells from the Indy Star if you missed it yesterday. He is one of the better beat reporters in the NBA. Also, Candice did a fun piece on getting some new Raptor gear for the season. The video alone is worth checking out. There is also This Week in Raptorland where Josh and I preview the season along with an interview with Ed Davis. Just in case you been busy running around getting ready for Halloween and missed any of that stuff.

Now on the the season opener against the Pacers. Here is my 5 keys to tonight's game:

1. Jonas vs Hibbert: Roy Hibbert has become one of the better Centers in the East and in the NBA. He was part of a trade between these two teams once upon a time and has grown to be an All-Star Level talent. The Raptors hope that can be the case for Jonas Valanciunas and have a lot of faith in him to be putting him out there as a starter from day one. It should make for an interesting battling in the paint all night. It won't be a case on Jonas winning this match-up as much as holding his own and being able to stay on the floor.

2. How the Raptors Start this game: The one major concern for a lot of people coming off an impressive 6-1 pre-season was the starts to games by this team. They have been brutal for the most part. Now with Andrea Bargnani being out with the flu the last couple days that could be a concern. He is suppose to be this team's best option to score. If he is out or limited that will make the challenge of scoring points early even greater. It will also change the spacing on the floor significantly. Raptors need to ride the momentum of what is sure to be a large crowd and get off to a fast start. If they don't coming back on the Pacers will be a much larger challenge than anyone they faced in the pre-season.

3: DeRozan vs George: Mike Wells brought up this one yesterday and think it is a good one. DeRozan has a lot to prove and at time I am writing this no contract extension. Paul George has a lot to prove with Pacers as well. Some see him as the guy that will take over once they are able to part ways with Danny Granger. These two know each other well and it will be a tough match-up for DeMar given the size and length of George.

4. Lowry vs Hill: This is a good point guard battle and one the Raptors need to win. Kyle Lowry will be counted on to do that. To point guards with good to great speed. Should be fun watching these guys match-up with each other. Both Pacers and Raptors now have capable back-up options with D.J Augustin and Jose Calderon should either point guard fail to perform.

5 Who Bomb's Best Wins? The Raptors have improved their 3-point shooting on this roster if they can gain an advantage from behind the arch that could help. They also must defend that line as well and do a solid job in that regard.

So that is my take. Not that I want it to happen but I would say the Pacers will win this game 98-89 making a statement for them they are ready to challenge Miami and the best the East has to offer. I hope that I am wrong of course. To all of you heading to the game including Jerrica our Community Manager and Candice our former member Raptors' Dance Pak, enjoy yourself.

Have a happy and safe Halloween and make sure you check for the kids be you going to the game or just out for the night. I will be watching this one from home and have a re-cap for you tonight. Also will have a morning after piece in the Bleacher Reporter on Thursday. 


Starting 5: Preview of Raptors and Pacer With Mike Wells Pacers Beat Reporter

We had a chance to catch up with Mike Wells the beat reporter for many year for the Indy Star about the opening night match-up with Pacers coming to town. They have made it out and are on route to Toronto for the game tomorrow. Something some might have been concerned about with all the bad weather. Thoughts and prayers go out to all those people impacted by hurricane Sandy on the east coast of the U.S.

We chat about Roy Hibbert the short lived Raptor part of the trade with the Pacers that involved J.O and T.J Ford among others. The young and rising star in Paul George that will likely match up with DeMar DeRozan. In addition the future of Danny Granger and his thoughts on this match-up tomorrow night from the Pacers point of view.

Really want to thank Mike who came through for us despite having his flight moved up. We hope to chat with him in the future and have a longer discussion in the future. We are closing in on the home opener and it is exciting. Make no mistake though the Pacers are not coming here expecting to lose. Also Mike in his blog does not have the Raptors making the post-season. He has that in his blog linked above did not get a chance to talk with him about that as he had to catch a flight.

Also, as mentioned, the Starting 5 is now brought to you by the good folks at St Louis Wings, 3 locations to catch all Raptors games home and away. We loved them long before they were a sponsor for us. You can catch the game with full sound up for all 82 Raptors games at 3 great locations to serve you on 595 Bay St (Atrium) , 528 Young St (At College St)  and Fairview Mall location. A great place with friendly staff and give you that feeling of being at the game. So, if you can't get a seat for tomorrow's home opener you might want to head on over there for a good time and good food. We are having are 5th anniversary Party there on November the 23rd at the Bay St Location. Hope to see you come out that night for some fun and join us to watch the Raptors take on the Pistons on the road. 


Hi! I'm back again [dusts herself off from summer vacation]
So, home opener is coming up, I know for a fact that the dance pak has new gear, and the players will have new gear, so, I don't see why you shouldn't get new gear for yourselves! What you just witnessed is James and I trying on, well more me trying on some Raptors swag, and James holding the camera, and then me dancing, and then me dancing some more. This video was taken a little while ago, so the Raptors basketball selection was at a minimal. If you were to walk into Real Sports Apparel right this minute (well after you read this post, so maybe like 7.5 minutes) you will talk into some awesome new stuff. I'm here to give you some ideas. Unfortunately, the Real Sports website does not provide photos of their product, luckily for me, I have stylish friends. I'm a huge fan in mixing Arena wear (this being raptors jerseys/ t-shirts etc) with your everyday look. Ladies, you like high waisted jeans? I love the look of a high waisted blue jean with a red Raptors T tucked in. Heels or kicks would work. The more you incorporate the fan gear into your everyday style, the more you make the clothes look like your own. Fellas, coming straight from work? Easiest way to turn from working man to Raptors fan, is bring a pair of jeans, put on your Raptors T-shirt/ Jersey, and keep on that blazer. Chic, and ready for the ACC.
This is my stylish friend, Kat (@matterofKAT) -- I'm assuming most of you know who this lady is. I totally stole this picture from her Facebook page, hope she doesn't mind! I love how Kat incorporates Raptors colours into her wardrobe. This right here is a perfect example about how to make it your own! I'll be at the home opener this week, so i'll make sure to take a snap shop of my Raptors gear and tweet it! You can catch me on twitter here, @iCandiKaye! 
Ok, that's all for me!
xo -CK


This Week in Raptorland- Raptors and NBA Season Previews

Today we are doubling up. Your regular This Week In Raptorland with myself and Josh Lewenberg from TSN 1050 preview your Raptors season. We also here from Ed Davis and Amir Johnson. We also have a big announcement for the Dino Nation Blog. In addition to that as an extra we have Ethan Norof from the Bleacher Report joining us to preview the NBA Season. This was recorded the end of last week and was prior to the James Harden trade to Houston. So keep that in mind. We do talk about that trade on This Week in Raptorland off the top.

So enjoy both as the NBA season is almost here.


Starting 5 NBA Preview

Be sure to come back tomorrow, as we have Candice back with a feature tied to the start of the NBA season. I am sure people will enjoy it. I got a preview last night and think people will love it. Also we have a great guest booked to help us preview the Raptors and Pacers opener that is very familiar with the Pacers. Mike Wells who covers the team is scheduled to join us.


Jamaal Is Out So We Have 15

In no surprise to anyone that has been paying attention Jamaal Maglorie was cut loose by the Raptors finally. It was announced via Twitter from Raptors PR aka Jim LaBumbard.

Why they went through this whole song and dance is they would like to see him stick around to work with the big men most likely. His entire run such as it was with the Raptors for me will be a dark cloud that will always tick me off on some level. But he is gone and we can move on from here.

Go back to enjoying your weekend and remember Raptors Season Preview on TWIR on Monday also an NBA Preview as well.


A Game, We Are Told Took Place In Memphis

Rumour has it the Raptors took on the Grizzlies tonight. There was no T.V of this one but we did see some eye witness accounts that a game was played. Andrea Bargnani on his birthday was the Raptors high scorer with 21 and was an efficient 6-12 from the field. The Raptors did fall behind in this one early and based on the NBA game companion Jerryd Bayless was a big reason why.

Raptors would rally from a 36-24 scoreline not in their favour to eventually win 120-106. The Raptors had 6 players in double figures none of which were named DeMar DeRoazan as he had just 6 in twenty one minutes. It hard to honestly give much thoughts on any of this.

The one thing the boxscore does tell us it this was far from the Grizzlies best line-up. No Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, Zach Randoplh or Micheal Conley in this game for the Grizzlies. Sometimes in the pre-season it is as much about who plays as to what the ultimate result is.

Whatever the case the Raptors for what it's worth have shown the ability to score in this pre-season and they have a 6-1 record and were just 3 points shy of being 7-0. Still a lot of things to be concerned about I would imagine for Dwane Casey and staff as they have 5 days to prepare for Pacers.

Some news with the blog we have opened up are DNB Fan Zone (See the Link Above on the Site) . So signup and join and have your say on all things Raptors as well as contribute your thoughts and ideas about the DNB. In future will also be giving you some info on what is coming up with all things to do with the blog. Jevon and Jerrica our community mangers will be taking care of things there. We have more news coming up next week that were pretty excited about and hope you will be too. So stay tuned as we get ready for our 5th season covering the Raptors. I hope it will be one of our best.

David Stern Is Leaving: My Thoughts

David Stern stunned everyone a little yesterday with the sudden announcement that he will end his time as NBA Commissioner in February, 2014. There is no question his popularity is not what it once was with people. For many years he was thought of as the best Commissioner in pro sports in North America. There is no question he is responsible for growing this league and has expanded it along the way.

Back in the late 80’s he started expansion and adding teams in Miami, Minnesota, Orlando and Charlotte. Three of those four franchises remain in the league. Charlotte left and returned as the Bobcats with a second expansion franchise.

He has made some decisions along the way that have not been popular with folks like the dress code he brought into the league in response to “Hip Hop” style dressing that was most notable with players like Allen Iverson.  He allowed teams to move from places that were not popular with public, like the move of Seattle to Oklahoma City.

What he also did was have a league that had Michael Jordan and was able to keep it rolling after all of his retirements. There is no question that the growth of this league can be tied back to Larry Bird and Magic Johnson and than Jordan. Stern was able to take that and grow and expand on that.

He has had to deal with several CBA Wars, a referee scandal and countless other issues along the way. He has had to deal with many who look at the league's lottery system and wonder out loud if it is fixed. There was the "Malice at the Palace", as well which was a black eye on the sport of basketball and the NBA. 

What he also did and most notable to this blog and this country is expanded into Canada. He brought in the Raptors and the Grizzlies. The Raptors survived and the Grizzlies failed. However at the end of the day if not for Stern am I writing this blog and are you reading it? The answer is probably not.

You may not have liked everything that David Stern has done but he has a long legacy of things he has done right. Here is a scary thought for basketball fans. Let’s say Stern left long before now. You could have had Gary Bettman running the NBA. He came to the NHL after serving in NBA as Deputy Commissioner.

I have never been a David Stern hater. I don’t always agree with him. That said I respect his longevity and the fact that he is the guy that decided to take a chance on this country and bring the NBA back to Canada. So thanks David Stern, who knows what I would be doing had you not done that. I might have to be writing about a hockey lockout. Shutter the thought.  


DNB Top 10- Hope vs Fear

Normally the Pre-season is not as much of a grind. This season with all the changes here in Raptorland it has almost felt like the regular season from my point of view. I kind of took a mental break for a day or so to get away from things as much as I ever really do. Which isn't much. When you present yourself to the world as a basketball guy shockingly enough people want to talk basketball with you. Also adding the Bleacher Report duties to mix has increased my personal workload a little. Which by the way if you haven't seen it I break down the first 10 games and take the optimistic view of the Raptors being 5-5 after 10 games. 

Also there has been some behind the scenes stuff going on planning future interviews, a couple of exciting things we hopefully can announce soon as relates to the blog. Basically the DNB and covering the Raptors has been my 24/7 job for the last five years come end of November. Minus a little break for a labou stoppage. I love it for the most part. I probably would like to earn more for all my efforts. However I just continue to work hard and wait for that day to come.

Now on with your regularly scheduled blog for the day.

The Raptors have had about as good a pre-season to this point as you can hope for. It has honestly changed my opinions on a few things. Which for long time readers will be rather shocking. I tend to be pretty set in my opinions and rarely waver.

This is a list of 5 things to be hopeful about and 5 things to fear as we enter this Raptors season. One of the things I would have thought for certain would be on the fear side of this equation would be Jonas Valanciunas. Do I still feel that way? How about the playoffs am I drinking the tasty red Kool-aid on that? Not drinking it but really tempted to try some. So here is the things that give me hope and the things that I fear in my sleep at night.


5. The Offense Can Score Points: I am somewhat convinced the Raptors will be able to score points this season. Dwane Casey put almost all his efforts into repairing the Raptors badly damaged defense last season. He needed to do that and the offense was a causality of that. Their were times I had not so pleasant Kevin O'Neil flashbacks. The additions made and more time put in, along with a change in philosophy on offense have me encouraged they are on the right track. 

4. A Healthy Amir Johnson: It might get lost in all the Jonas hype and Lowry buzz, but Amir Johnson looks health and his jump shot and range seem to have improved. On a second unit lead by Jose Calderon who he has great chemistry with I think this could be a big bounce back year for hands down one of my favorite guys in the Raptor Locker Room.

3.DeMar DeRozan Sticking To Who He Is: Last night I went on a bit of a rant about what I am liking about DeMar DeRozan on the radio. I really think he is back to the DeMar he always should have been. A little bigger now too which doesn't hurt. He has not tried to be what he isn't. There seems to be this concern and worry about the fact DeMar not being able to make 3's. I say so what and to use a Deion Sanders line from Sunday Football "Do What You Do." DeMar is doing that and it is showing the boxscore with foul shots and points. No doubt the defense needs to get better but his offense was never as bad as people made it out to be.

2. Kyle Lowry Is Legit: Everything that Kyle Lowry has been billed to be he has been. A legit defender at his position, a lighting fast modern style point guard and a snarky disposition. Finally a guy that I can see as a leader on this team. It was worth the price and Lowry brings an end to Jose Calderon as a starter fiasco that has been not even close to good enough. 

1. Jonas Is actually "THE ANTI-BARGNANI" - I bet a lot of people are surprised by this one. All I ever said about Jonas is I needed to seem him produce on a NBA floor with NBA Rules. Yes this is early days for the young man. I am impressed with his play on the floor and his attitude off the floor.


5. Small Forward Position Still A Problem: Landry Fields has been nice but I just don't see a lot of depth here at this position. Colangelo claimed to have addressed this issue. I feel still he has far from addressed it and not sure how he ultimately will. Some of you will say trade Jose and get a dynamic wing in return. I would say to you would you do that on the other side of that trade? Kleiza has returned to his non-olympics form and we could see DeRozan log some time there but I am just not sold on this.

4. Happy Jose....Not Likely: I hear it so much about what a great team guy Jose Calderon is. It kind of makes me sick to my stomach. Human nature for me out weighs past alleged good deeds and lip service. Jose Calderon has said all the right things while here. Yet in his own native language sings a different turn as he states he expects to be traded. This gets to the core of why myself and Mr. Calderon will never be amgios. This is the same B.S he pulled to get his over priced contract. While here he was happy with his role and then returned to Spain and proclaimed he deserved to be the starter. Forcing the Raptors hand and having them make a terrible trade that will see them match-up with Roy Hibbert on opening night. I don't buy Jose is happy and don't think he will ultimately end up being productive eventually.

3. DeMar DeRozan's Contract Status: If you believe like I do that DeMar is going to have an outstanding season if the Raptors fail to extend him the price tag to keep him will continue to rise as he does on each and every dunk he throws down. It looks like the Raptors plan to roll the dice on the soon to be restricted free agent and if they get what they want out of Demar that will be snakes eyes in terms of his contract situation. I like Terrence Ross in what we have been able to see of him. I am not sure or convinced he has as much overall talent as DeRozan and if DeRozan were to make his way out of Toronto that would be a bad thing for the Raptors. They can match any offer he gets but the higher the price tag that is the more likely the Raptors try and sell themselves that Ross is good enough and let DeRozan walk.

2: The Start of the Schedule: It is a daunting beginning the Raptors season and I hope they can mange it. There is a lot of tough games and if this team were not able to battle through and get behind early the chances they rally to a playoff spot in a competitive Eastern Conference would be less likely. The NBA Schedule maker did the Raptors no favours. But really has he ever?

1. Andrea Bargnani Is Who We Knew He Was: The pre-season for Andrea Bargnani has been less than spectacular. I was one of the people that while impressed with his brief stretch of dominance last season was not sold on it. You can argue if it was 13 games or whatever. Ultimately is was a short window measuring up against a long career of under achievement. What I find even more funny is some of the people that defend Bargnani were some of the harshest critics of Chris Bosh. You might not like Chris Bosh and he has given you more than enough reason to feel that way. Here is the thing though he was a better player in many respects than Bargnani. People that questioned Chris Bosh's heart and desire defend Bargnani's. It is Crazy. Jonas has already a better level of compete and hustle than both players combined. When you stick that beside Bargnani it will only make his lack effort and defensive short comings more glaring. On top of all of it the stuff he actually does do well in terms of scoring has not exactly been on full display in the pre-season. The Raptors may have to win in spite of Bargnani on a lot of nights instead of because of Bargnani.

So you decide are you a glass half full or half empty. We have given you fuel for both.


Amir Johnson talking Zombies, Halloween and Basketball

Amir Johnson has embraced Toronto like few other Raptors have in his time here. He is always on of the people we like to seek out to talk with here in the Dino Nation Blog. He talks with us about becoming a Zombie, what he first was for Halloween as kid and how this team is coming along getting ready for the season.

Remember you heard it through the DNB Grapevine. Good talking with Amir as always. As you may have heard elsewhere Amir spent an hour with a professional make up artist to pull off that Zombie costume he wore. He plays hard on and off the floor. As I said to him after the interview he will be one of the guys that Raptor fans will remember long after his playing days are done. Not just for his effort on the floor but the amount of things he has done off the floor as well. As for the feature I mentioned. DeMar said for him it was being Mike Myers from the Movie Halloween and Ed Davis was not into the whole costume thing. But he was in to talking with me and you can here that on TWIR (This Week In Raptorland) this Monday or sooner so to steal a line from Amir Johnson stay tuned.


5-1 Doesn't Matter To The Raptors, And That Is Good.

Dwane Casey has instilled more than just a catchy slogan in "Pound the Rock" with his Toronto Raptors. He has instilled a never be satisfied attitude as well. In the past in the pre-season, regular season or whenever if this team won 5 out of 6 games it would be cause for celebration. Not anymore. Even in victory the Raptors are finding flaws in what they have accomplished. Take the game last night as an example. The Raptors closed out the Bucks in the fourth quarter and won going away. They got to the line 36 times primarily through Jonas (10) Lowry (8) and DeRozan with (10).

Does Dwane Casey feel happy with that, which is something that will serve this team well given the style he wants to play? Not so much he was much more focused on the turnovers his team committed in the first have that totaled 14 in all. There has been a lot of talk of how the culture for the Raptors has been changed. Here is a direct example of that. There are a lot of excuses and valid ones as to why the Raptors have committed so many turnovers.

There is the fact this roster has had a major overhaul and has a new point guard in Kyle Lowry that was playing in just his third game. There is the fact Casey wants to bring in a new up-tempo style offense to blend with his new point guard and the overall talent on this roster. Doesn’t matter though as Kyle Lowry when asked about the turnovers was pretty blunt. He was asked what coach had to say at halftime about it. He replied “What do you think he said.” About the turnovers in general his response was initially three words. “Can’t have it. “

They say that all good point guards are a reflection of their coach on the floor. An extension of the values and ideals of that coach on the floor is what they represent.  It is clear already that Kyle Lowry and Dwane Casey are a solid fit. Both demand a lot of themselves and everyone else. They both are not the type to make excuses.

You totally understand why the Raptors were willing to do what it took to bring Kyle Lowry to Toronto. Together these two have already made an impact on the Raptors locker room. I walked out of that locker room tonight and had to remind myself the Raptors actually won this game.

It is not to say that this team was devoid of the things they have been doing right. They do take pride in those things but it is more a greater understanding of this is just a piece of a puzzle to a larger goal. They have not let the level of the opposition change in what they are looking to accomplish. They are focused on what they are looking to do. Along the way they totally shut down Brandon Jennings and in the second half responded to the problem of turnovers with just 5. Amir Johnson said even that was not acceptable.

Aside from this mental change there has been the emergence of Jonas Valanciunas who has been everything the Raptors could hope for at this point. He had 4 blocks in this game. I can’t even remember the last time a Raptor blocked so many shots in a game. Sure it might have happened but it is a rare event. I have a feeling with Jonas it will be a consistent contribution. Even if he doesn’t get the block totals on a given night he will always be challenging shots. He is doing all of this with doing a solid job of staying out of foul trouble.

He even looks like he will be a nice fit on offense. Kyle Lowry when asked about him said that no one even gets upset with him for any mistakes. The reason being he has been impressing people with how far along he actually is. The mistakes he may make on either end of the floor are never based on a lack of effort. That will earn you a lot of respect from everyone.

The main concern remains Andrea Bargnani. He had a decent night tonight. He had a much more efficient 7-15 from the field and 17 points.  He also was 3-6 from beyond the arc. Everyone just assumes that Andrea Bargnani needs to lead this team in scoring. It would be nice if that was the case without question. If Andrea isn’t scoring really why is he out there?  That said DeMar DeRozan seems to be finding his way to the line and consistently leading this team in scoring. The Raptors are a much more balanced scoring team now or at least have the potential to be.

Was nice to see Quincy Acy get to log some minutes but those will likely be hard to come by.
Raptors get another win, no big deal as they take the Bucks 104-95.

Dwane Casey talked about his rotation in the pre-game and if you expect these are the guys in the rotation that will not be clearly defined. Casey expects to have a rotation that will have 9 possibly go as deep as 10 on some nights. However, those 10 names may not always be the same ones given the match-up.

Think based on what we have seen these 8 guys are going to be in that mix most of the time

Starting 5

PG- Lowry
SG- DeRozan
SF- Fields
PF- Bargnani
C- Valanciunas


F- Ed Davis
F/C- Amir Johnson
PG- Jose Calderon

After that you have to think John Lucas will find a way to get on the floor when this offense is not firing. If we see teams with big rosters you likely see Arron Gray. Here and there you can expect to see Terrence Ross. Ross of late has had a sore knee and then was out tonight with FLU like symptoms.

Have I reached the point where I am sold that this is a playoff team? No. Am I sold they will bust their asses trying to be one? Yes. The change is noticeable. Last year was a good start but this year is another step in the right direction. The start of the Raptors schedule is far from easy and how this team attacks that challenge will be the next measuring stick.

Had a chance to catch up with Toronto’s Tallest Zombie Amir Johnson and Ed Davis who is not a fan of getting dressed up for Halloween. Lots of other good stuff from Casey and others. You will hear some of this in This Week in Raptorland. We may also do a starting 5 with the Amir Interview I just have to check to audio quality.

All in all, a great night at the office for yours truly. I have not walked away from the ACC feeling this good about the Raptors’ future in a long time. Will see come Halloween if that feeling is a legitimate one.


This Week In Raptorland THE THIRD

Time once again to look back and look ahead on another week in Raptorland. It is myself joined by Josh Lewenberg the beat reporter for TSN 1050 talking all things Raptors. On this episode we take a look at the debut of as Josh likes to refer to him as "The Head of Snake" Kyle Lowry. Did he meet our expectations from last week's show. Talk on an article I did for the Bleach Report on the five most overrated Raptors of all time. Josh has the same number one but 4 other candidates to fill out his list. We also touch on an article just written today on what Jonas Valanciunas' arrival could mean for Andrea Bargnani? This and a recap of all the games last week, a look ahead to the schedule this week and the usual features. This week's Raptorism is to funny for words and hard to believe but is true. It involves Andrea Bargnani and pasta.

As mentioned in the podcast I am down at the ACC tonight for the Raptors and Bucks it is the last home pre-season contest. If you are down at the game and see someone that looks like me make sure to say hello. Hope to have lots of material some of which you can here on next week's show. Also have a number of guests I am trying to firm up for the Starting 5 as we get set for the season that is just 9 days away.

Your thoughts on the podcast are always welcomed. We do call it the best podcast in the world on the Toronto Raptors but that doesn't mean it can't get better. So suggestions, kudos or things you maybe don't think are the best can all be sent my way and will look to address them.

This is something new for this season so if the can spread the word about this podcast and let others know about it that is helpful too. On Twitter try using the hashtag #TWIR and we can spread the word to the masses. It has been a blast doing this and I hope you all are having as good a time listening as Josh and myself are in doing the program.


Sortez le Salami et Fromage, Raptors Win Raptors Win

A sold out crowd will be new for the Raptors they have not been packing them in during the pre-season. Tonight in Montreal they take on the Knicks in which is becoming an annual event?  Andrea Bargnani is expected to play with his bruised calf the question will be if he plays well?  Kyle Lowry will play in his second game and will see how he does against some stronger competition. Landry Fields may not know everyone but is first look at his now former team. Pretty sure Spike Lee never made the trip to Montreal but who knows.

Andrea hit his opening shot and blocked a shot leading to a break with Lowry hooking up Fields and the Raptors lead early 4-2. Raptors were all kinds of fired up shaking off their slow start blues. Jonas took it at Amare and the DeRozan flies in for a score to make it 8-4. This was first sign of something that was a concern for Jonas to quick fouls and early seat with Raptors leading 10-8. Raymond Felton would give the Knicks the lead briefly 11-10. Amir Johnson was reason why quickly replying with score on the offensive glass. DeMar DeRozan showing us some post-up styles with a bucket to make it 14-13 Raptors.

Mello airballed a three and on the next offensive possession Amir Johnson scores on the hook. Knicks got on a bit of a roll and Novak in the corner hit a three to give them a 23-18 advantage with just a little under 3 to play in the quarter.  Jason Kidd nailed a three and this was a reverse of fortune for the Raptors. In the opening pre-season games first unit has started slow and second unit has picked it up. Reverse tonight. Linas Klezia gets a score to make it 26-20 after one in Montreal.

Terrence Ross who missed the last game is on the floor to start the second quarter. Jonas was back on the floor as well and is kind to old people as he tapped it back into the net, on defense crediting Kurt Thomas with the basket. Raptors were getting torched with a mix of starters and reserves on the floor. Down 35-22 Dwane Casey decided to call an end to this hopefully with a timeout.

Casey throws Calderon on the floor with Lowry and Bargnani is back in. Alan Anderson and Amir Johnson make the rest of this curious 5. Lowry hit’s a three pointer the first for the Raptors on the night and gets them back to within 10 with score 35-25 Knicks. Fields checks in as the experiment worked well with a little 5-0 push to make this an 8 point contest. The early inspired Bargnani has faded into the Montreal night like smoked meat. Raptors had stopped the bleeding to a degree. Some nice hustle leads to a break and Lowry hooks up Bargnani for the easy score. DeMar DeRozan back in the game gets hook up from fields and Raptors were in midst of a 7-0 run and back to within shooting distance down 38-34. Raptors kept the run going with a three to push it to 11-0. Knicks got to the line but missed both. Finally a Chandler slam with some punch would end this run. Raptors got their first lead since 13-12 thanks to Amir Johnson making it 42-41. The Knicks would re-take the lead and get one last chance to add to it which they did. But Lowry had enough time left to make a buzzer beater three make it 46-46 all even after a half in Montreal.

Demar DeRozan breaks the tie with a rare three from him. Raptors took control in the early going jumping out to a 53-48 advantage in the first two minutes. Jonas picks up foul number three early in the third quarter. DeRozan has the ball slapped away but the Knicks can’t turn it into points. Mello would get the Knicks back to within one. Bargnani like in the first half off to a fast start with his second basket of the half and Raptors lead 55-52. The Knicks would get this game back to even at 56 with an Anthony drive and score.

Another DeRozan fumble this one recovered by Johnson and he scored two for the good guys. Alan Anderson would score and the Raptors were back in front with a four point lead. Apparently Kurt Thomas was not happy enough with a free two points as he picked up a technical foul with 2:38 to go in the third quarter. Calderon made the technically foul shot to give the Raptors a 64-59 lead. John Lucas III makes the long two to extend out the Raptors lead. As has been his mark with the Raptors Lucas went on to score 6 points in a short time span. Anthony was trying to keep the Knicks in the game on his own. Everything the Knicks were doing was going into his black hole with mixed results. The Raptors were more than happy with that and had a 76-66 lead heading to the fourth in Montreal.

The Carmelo plan was abandoned for Amare plan and that pays early dividends with slam to start the fourth.  Raptors were looking to hang on with 10 minutes to go and a Jose three would make it 82-72 Raptors. A steal and Jose Calderon with a lay-up and Knicks need a time out down a dozen to the Raptors. Clearly that Atlantic Division Title might not be as close as the Knicks think it is. John Lucas is starting to remind me of Vinnie Johnson who earned the nickname “The Microwave” for his instant offense. Lucas hit a very deep three to give the Raptors an eleven point lead. Lucas would get taken out and I am not sure why? Knicks would close the gap to 87-80. Jonas would pick up his fifth foul on what would be classed as a learning experience for him tonight. Raptors were hanging on to the lead though 89-80. With 5:49 to play.

Mello made two at the line than a turnover but the Knicks fail to cash in or they could have cut the lead down to five.  Jonas had one foul and was living on borrowed time but he was able to get a bucket after missing a chippy putback seconds earlier. He then travels it was an up and down night for Jonas.

Fields and DeRozan are becoming quite the combination as Fields hooks up DeRozan for the jam and the Raptors lead 95-82. Raptors were running away from the Knicks and looking like the team that was suppose to be competing to win the Atlantic Division. It was 98-84 Raptors with 2:41 to play and it is almost time to bust out some French. Sortez le Salami et Formage, Raptors Win Raptors Win. I don’t think you need a translator.

Raptors kind of let the foot off the gas pedal but Andrea Bargnani made a clutch bank shot three to make it 101-88 to end any doubt.  It lead to a three point barrage to end the game with Raptors closing strong taking this one 107-88. I would say to remember the Blue Jays when I say this but the Raptors are 4-1 in the Pre-season.

This was a step up in competition and the Raptors responded.  Easily the best game of the pre-season for Andrea Bargnani who finished with 20 points, 7 rebounds (Not a Typo) and 2 blocks. (Also Not a Typo)  Lots of good things in this game. A lot to like about these new look Raptors.

Le Knicks de New York contre le Toronto Raptors

This blog will not be in French just thought we would do the title in French as the Raptors take on the Knicks in Montreal, Quebec.

We have talked at length about expectations in the build-up to this 2012-13 Raptors season. Most just hoping the Raptors can crack the playoffs as the high end expectation. I was up late last night and caught one of those NBA-TV real training camps fittingly enough on the New York Knicks. Their goal as a team is to win the Atlantic Division. You might chuckle at that suggestion, I know I did. But that is New York for you where expectations tend to inflate.

The other thing that was made clear is how old the Knicks were which sounds like a punch line for a joke. The Knicks are so old that Marcus Camby is back. Oh wait a second that is true. Jason Kidd is back as well and celebrated his new contract to the point of getting charged with a DUI. Linsanity has left the building for the Geritol Follies.

All of that said the Raptors are taking a step up in competition tonight taking on the Knicks in Montreal.  Andrea Bargnani is expected to play which shows that concerns over his injury from that last game can’t be very high. It was just a bruise after all. Will be interesting to see how Kyle Lowry does in his second outing at point guard. I would suspect things go a little better despite a step up in competition against Felton and Kidd.

Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudamire will be an impressive twosome that has the size to match-up with Jonas and Andrea. This is a team the Raptors will see four times in the regular season as a division rival and as such this game might not feature everything the other has to offer. If the Raptors are to have any path to the post-season they must find ways to beat their Atlantic Division foes like the Knicks.

It is great to hear that once again they have a sell-out crowd at the Bell Centre for this one. Not all of those will be Raptor fans mind you as the Knicks have their own fan base in Montreal. But based on past history in this venue the Raptors will have the majority of the crowd and it will be an excellent environment and have a regular season feel to it all.

Montreal is a market that I have done Radio on for close to four years on two stations there. They do have a basketball culture and they do have a passion for the sport. It like in Toronto is never going to be more than it is for the Habs in hockey. However last we checked the Habs are not playing hockey and Montreal has a chance to have basketball front and center.

I really wanted to attend this game live but just couldn’t justify the expense of the trip for one night in Montreal. I have been to the city before though and it is a great place to visit for all of the obvious reasons. So maybe it is good thing I will not be there and focused on my task of watching the Raptors take on the Knicks.

Allons Raptors. Battez la Roche which means in English: Let’s Go Raptors. Pound The Rock.


Jonas Will Expose Bargnani One Way Or Another

Jonas Valanciunas is going to make or break Andrea Bargnani with the Toronto Raptors. Some have called Jonas the Anti-Bargnani as a way to explain to Raptors fans that this guy was not going to be anything like him. Also to justify a pick of Jonas for a fan base that just saw the Raptors drafting another Euro.

If you have watched Jonas in these 3 games it is very clear that he is nothing like Andrea Bargnani. He is opposite in a lot of ways. His compete level is off the charts. After having no rebounds in his debut he has scrapped and got on the boards as advertised. He has a far more advanced post game than Bargnani did when he arrived.

Amidst all of this Jonas hype we have seen Bargnani wilt back into his former self prior to the surprising improvement that had some feeling he had turned a corner. Watching his some time lackadaisical style next to Jonas’ hustle can be quite the contrast.

Andrea Bargnani has someone that has taken away his spotlight for the short term with Jonas. Not that Andrea is much for being in the spotlight. However as this contrast of styles continues to evolve and we see Jonas perhaps now crack the starting line-up what will this do to Andrea. It may and could bring that spotlight back to him for all of his short comings as player.

Bargnani left last night’s game with a bruised calf, that same one he strained last year. He did not bother to hang around to speak with the media. You wonder given his history if we will see him before the season starts now with this minor injury. Jonas on the other hand was chomping at the bit to return from his minor calf strain. If left to him likely would have come back sooner than he did.

While there are obvious positives with having the pair on the floor together you wonder if that contrast of styles will be a positive or negative for Bargnani. Will he embrace the things that his new fellow 7 footer brings to the table? Will we see a Bargnani that hustles and brings it on defense and on the glass?

It remains to be seen. Early signs suggest something different as Bargnani has struggled in the pre-season. Even with the things he does best like shooting and scoring. Jonas while his stock is on the rise it is Bargnani’s that seems in a free fall back to the guy that many Raptor fans questioned.

Do we reach a point that Andrea Bargnani becomes expendable if an Ed Davis were to show signs of turning the corner and being a player? Who knows really but the major concern of the pre-season is Bargnani.

Jonas may force Bargnani to be more aggressive and work harder or fade back into the guy that seems to lack effort and enthusiasm at times. It does lay inside Bargnani somewhere and we got see it last season. He is capable of more the difference now is we know he is and expects him to be that. Does he rise to that challenge with Jonas as the catalyst or motivation to do so?  Or does he just go back to being the Bargnani he was for the first five seasons of his NBA Career?

Time will tell.


A Little Bit Of Everything In a Win Over The Wiz

Some news before we get to tonight’s game. The Raptors announced via press release just prior to the game they have picked up the option for the fourth year on Ed Davis’ rookie contract. It is pretty much standard stuff, but a sign of good faith the Raptors still have faith in Ed.  Now on to what is healthy of the Washington Wizards taking on the Raptors featuring the debut of Kyle Lowry. I am interested to see what Lowry brings to the table. Probably shouldn’t expect much given it is his first game and the pre-season. Second start in a row for Jonas and Lowry was in the starting 5 for this one.

Wizards win the tip and get a three ball from Webster in the corner. Bargnani first attempt of night is no good. Not long after Lowry would drive to the hoop and score showing what he can do. Jonas with a basic post move draws contact and a non-shooting foul. DeRozan would get a pretty nice slam after an empty trip with a missed three for Lowry and Raptors lead 4-3.

Jonas shows what he can do with and a great fake than drive and slam Raptors leading it 10-6. Raptors were moving at fast pace and maybe needed to get things under control a little still up 11-10. That said, Kyle Lowry = Up-tempo offense. The lead would go away with a score from booker on the break. That sounds like a cheesy cop show sitcom. Booker shows Jonas a little something with a nice move that left him puzzled. The Wizards had quietly built a 20-13 lead. Andrea Bargnani with a block but gives it right back to the shooter and it leads to a foul and Wizards keep possession. Than another foul and that puts the Wizards in the Bonus and they lead 23-15 after a pair at the line.

My under the radar choice from This Week In Raptorland Alan Anderson hit’s a three to give the Raptors offense some life. Ed Davis would get a bucket and Calderon in his new role with bucket as well and Raptors cut the Wizards lead down to just three. The run would stall there and the Raptors defense was leaking badly in the first.  It was 34-24 Wizards after one and that will not make Dwane Casey happy.

Don’t expect to see Terrence Ross’ name in this re-cap as Matt Devlin informed us he is sitting out with a sore knee. Second unit was in for the start of second and doing a much better job so far with a 5-0 run to start the quarter causes Washington to call a time out to re-group.  A very sloppy effort by both teams out of the time out but Amir Johnson finally keeps the run going with a bucket on the jumper. Defense was much better the entertainment value wasn’t. The Raptors may win ugly more than a few times this season. Raptors had a 13-2 run in first 6 minutes of the quarter to take back the lead 37-36. A glimpse of something good with starters back in as Lowry with a nice pass to DeRozan led him right into drawing a foul and getting to the line.

Jonas gets another foul his second really was a questionable call, but doing a good job with fouls for most part. Lowry hooks up with Fields to tie it at 45.Raptors would fall behind again but a fading jumper from Bargnani would actually find the target and Wiz led 49-48.  More signs of Bargnani life and the Raptors had a lead 52-49 with under a minute to go in the half. Lowry shows his jets with 5.2 second on the clock he drives the length of the floor draws contact and gets to the line makes his free throws and the Raptors lead 54-49 at the half.

Demur DeRozan leads the way with 11 points at the half in the nothing new news from the pre-season. Raptors were running but kind of recklessly and as a result Wizards took control with back to back 3’s by the former Pacer A.J Price. Part of a 10-3 run to put the Wizards back on top by 2 and led 59-57. Raptors got back on track and a nice slam by Landry Fields made it 65-61. It turned into a back and forth affair tied many times the latest of those ties broken by an Amir jumper which looks really nice and Raptors nose ahead 69-67.  Wizards would pull ahead in the late going and take a 77-73 lead to the 4 th quarter.

Wizards would open the final quarter with a 5-0 run. John Lucas III seeing his first action would nail a three to make it 84-78. He was on the floor with Calderon and he plays monkey see, monkey do and makes another three to make it 84-81.  This was the good news but Andrea Bargnani was done for the night with a left calf bruise. Calderon blew an open lay-up he would make up for it with a three to tie the game at 88 only to give up the lead on the other end with some typical Jose defense. Raptors were fighting hard but the fact they were life and death with an undermanned Wizards squad was not doing much for me pre-season or not. Ed Davis was flirting with a double double with 8 points and 9 rebounds. Raptors swapped Lowry for Calderon with Lucas still in. Speed to the make with these two on the floor this could be fun to watch in the future. Raptors were still down 97-96 after a Lowry bucket on the Lucas handoff. Raptors took the lead back with two minutes to play 98-97. In the end this was far from pretty but the Raptors looked like they were going pull this one out of the fire. Lot of good, Lot of bad, a little of everything.  Raptors did try to give this one away late but would hang on for the win 104-101.

This game had a little bit of everything. A real good, bad and ugly pre-season affair. A bruised calf likely means Andrea will not play till home opener….I am joking. But he might not given last season. Bruise is not a sprain though. I never went to medical school but I am safe in declaring this. Fields had a good night. So did a lot of others. But they had their issues on D most of the night against a team given their roster should have been an easy win. It wasn’t that.

Wizards Not Exactly At Full Strength For Tonight

The Toronto Raptors will take on the Washington Wizards and have Kyle Lowry in the line-up for the first time tonight. The Wizards enter this game 1-3 on the pre-season, but are likely more concerned with a number of injuries they face. This won't be a great point guard showdown with Lowry and John Wall. The Wizards are going through the pre-season without John Wall who is suffering with a right knee injury.They also are without Nene who was the key piece in a trade Denver that sent JaVale McGee the other way, who infamously ran the wrong way vs the Raptors last season.

Still makes you shake your head doesn't it? Another member of the Wizards gong show is still around in Andray Blatche. But the Wizards would likely rather we talk about Bradley Beal who is expected to be one of the top rookies coming out of this draft class. He was selected third overall and is expected to help John Wall when he is healthy.

Some think this Wizards team will be one of the teams in the fight for that 8th spot in the Eastern Conference. That would be some kind of turnaround if they did. The Wizards are trying to leave there dysfunctional past with all it's ugly memories of guns and Gilbert behind them. 

Will get a chance to see the glass half full edition of the Wizards tonight. The Raptors with Lowry being added to the fold are finally at full capacity more or less. I have said that until Lowry suits up we will not get to see the complete changes that Bryan Colangelo has implemented for this roster this season.

Just like the Jonas debut, this will be a preseason game worth watching. It will be interesting to see how much of Lowry we actually get to see as the plan seems to be that will see all three Raptor point guards. That is good news on the Calderon front who left the last game with tightness in a hamstring. While John Lucas has taken full advantage of Lowry's absence to show off what he can do.

I will be on the radio tonight talking Raptors and NBA at 11:15 PM on The Sports Grind. Check on twitter to confirm the time and use the link to tune in. Also if you haven't listened yet this week check out myself and Josh Lewenberg on This Week in Raptorland as we talked about the topic of Lowry's eventual return to the line-up as well as many other raptor topics. Also we have my interview with DeMar DeRozan, and a clip from our Interview with Jerome Williams.

The season is fast approaching and tonight should be one of the more key games of the pre-season with the debut of Lowry against a depleted Wizards squad visiting the ACC.


Lowry Is Set For Blast Off

Tomorrow we get the first true look at the new look Raptors. We have already got a look at Jonas Valanciunas. Now we finally get a look at Kyle Lowry who is set to debut vs. the Wizards. It should help in many ways. It will get this new up tempo Raptor offense into high gear. This new offense was put in place specifically to take advantage of Lowry’s skill set.  This should help make scoring less of a challenge for DeMar DeRozan and hopefully Andrea Bargnani as well.

The Raptors should be able to get out and run in transition more with Lowry running the show. Part of how this can happen might be from Lowry being able to get some steals. More importantly Lowry should have a tremendous impact on the defense.

The Raptors may never have had a more solid defender at their point guard position in the history of the franchise. The major reason Kyle Lowry was brought in was for this. Jose Calderon is just not able to guard the majority of starting point guards in this league. Lowry should be able to hold his own against almost anyone in the league.

Defense in general is like links in chain and the most important like in that chain is the man guarding the ball. If Casey was able to have a defense in the top ten in 2011-12 season with one of the weaker defenders as the first link in that chain, you can only expect things to improve with Lowry.

The Raptors should look different however you care to look at it with Kyle Lowry in the line-up. There was a ton of excitement for the debut of Jonas. This debut should be just as exciting and perhaps much more important to immediate future of the Toronto Raptors.

Unlike Jonas the expectations on Lowry are going to be massive and they should be given the price the Raptors paid to get him.


This Week In Raptorland Returns

It is time once again for This Week in Raptorland. The first show did fairly well and with the line-up today we hope to build on that. I am joined once again by Josh you friendly neighborhood beat reporter for TSN 1050 of your Toronto Raptors. Today on the show we both agree that Andrea Bargnani has been awful. We hear my interview with Demar DeRozan. Definitely a positive for the program. Also the JYD gets us going on a conversation about Kyle Lowry. We even have some Jonas Valanciunas in the program. This and the usual features that you will come to love like Rapid Fire Raptors that we try to make more Rapid. Do we succeed? The Raptorism of the week and our choices for the DNB Player of the Week. The player gets nothing for this seeing as he likely makes more than Josh and myself combine could earn in a lifetime. This and a whole lot more as Josh's love of John Lucas III and a self made nickname for Kyle Lowry also get some mention. While I suggest what Raptor the kids won't be going out as for Halloween. It was so much fun we go over the 30 minute time limit.

That was just a clip if you missed the whole interview with the JYD here is a link. Also we talked a lot about Jonas in this episode, I have my grades for all the Raptor Rookies in the Bleacher Report. If you go give it a read please leave a comment there as they are big on comments at the B/R. We welcome them here at the DNB as well to let us know what you think of this podcast. I hope people are enjoying it and if you are please let other folks know about it.


The Debut of Valancuinas At Home Produces A Win.

Dwane Casey opened his post game remarks with an apology to the inventor of basketball Dr. James Naismith. It was not a pretty contest at the ACC there is no denying that. What also wasn’t pretty was the attendance figure for the game of just over 10,000 at the ACC but it looked to be far less than that number. Canada was playing Cuba in a World Cup Qualifier down the road and BMO Field so that may account for some of the reason why.

Just my two cents, but if the Raptors had intended on starting Jonas Valancuinas which they did, perhaps letting the news leak out earlier in the day as opposed to around 5:30 pm might have attracted a bigger walk up crowd.  Obviously he is a major focus of attention for Raptors fans as he is finally getting a chance to get out on the floor.

Tonight the minutes restrictions were gone and the people that were in attendance got to see a big dose of Jonas playing the most minutes for the Raptors roster at just over 29. The major fear that a lot of people had about him getting into foul trouble early in his NBA Career have yet to surface and may not. He did have a stretch in this game where he picked up two fouls in quick secession. It didn’t become an issue beyond that.

The major issue for the Raptors in Detroit was defense it was pretty horrible in the first quarter of the last game in Michigan. Tonight a much better overall performance combined with some God awful shooting for the Pistons made it a good night in that regard.

Turnovers were the major problem in the first half. That was corrected for the most part in the second. DeMar DeRozan had 5 on the night despite leading the team with 14 points. Had a chance to talk with Demar in the pre-game and will have some clips of that in the podcast on Monday.

Turning the attention back to Jonas he had 11 points and 8 rebounds no blocks tonight but he challenged some shots and looked much more relaxed in his overall performance. If he turns out to be the big star everyone hope he can be that crowd of 10,000 that were there will grow to 20,000 than 50,000 and so on. All people saying they were there to see his first game. If I am one of those people at least I will have my press pass to verify it.

Ed Davis really stepped up tonight as well and he needed too. Casey talked post game about the maturity level and size of both DeMar and Davis changing from last year. Davis had 12 points 6 rebounds and a block and a steal, a very nice night at the office for him.

The only down side might have been Jose Calderon having to leave this game after a coming together with Rodney Stocky. Casey said Calderon was held out as simply a precaution. But hey no worries that just leaves more time for John Lucas III.

He has a solid outing on the night with 9 points and 8 assists and has been nothing short of brilliant to this point. Casey back on media day commented that Lucas was going to be a great addition and was going to make it hard for him in trying to find him some minutes on the floor. So far, in the pre-season, thanks to Kyle Lowry's injury and the Jose only playing just a shade less than 14 minutes with 0 points 3 assists and 3 rebounds, Lucas has stepped up to the plate and ran with it. 

I commented post game on the wild gold shoes John Lucas III had. Saying that “I could never pull that off,” it wasn’t a question or comment I said to him directly. However, he responded to me as if it was. He told me “Yes you could, you just got to have confidence.” This is something John Lucas has a full supply of and is just winning over people on and off the floor.

The other major concern for the Raptors has to be the play of Andrea Bargnani. Once is an accident, Twice is a trend and the third time we might just have a problem. Bargnani only had 7 points and just 3 rebounds which all came early on. Credit to @VaranDK on Twitter who responded via the social media device when I noted Bargnani had 3 rebounds fairly quickly “wills he get more than 5 is the question.” We gave you the answer and it was a negative. So is shooting just 1-5. He did have a couple steals and a block and is developing some chemistry with Jonas who some have labelled the Anti-Bargnani as well as many other things.

The thing you take away from this game is Jonas and his performance. It was not spectacular quite yet but was a much more true indication of what he is capable of. I just like the energy and passion he plays with. He is a nice and friendly soft spoken young man off the floor.

I may be starting to catch Jonas fever like everyone else. I still say we all need to be patient though. That said this kid is really easy to root for and that is never a bad thing.

Oh I almost forgot, even if it doesn’t count/matter we should mention the score. It was the Raptors moving to 2-1 on the pre-season with an 81-75 win. The Raptors will take the day off tomorrow and practice Sunday. 


Raptor vs Pistons Part II at ACC

This is going be a short entry today as I am off to Toronto to cover tonight’s game and have some other business to attend to prior to that. Want to make you aware of an article I did in the B/R that asks one major question of every Raptor. I have been mentioning this with out much luck but if you could spare a minute and leave a comment on those B/R articles that would be great. They view comments as an important aspect of things over there. Also beyond that I just would like to hear from some familiar faces I know from here in the DNB.

On to the game tonight and some points on the rematch between the Pistons and Raptors:

  • Better start on D (Raptors were awful in both games so far in that regard)
  • Jonas home debut should be interesting if he was excited to play in Detroit what will he be like tonight?
  • Ed Davis needs a solid game to get in the race for some playing time
  • John Lucas III has been arguably the best new Raptor so far can he keep it rolling?
  • Rebounding needs to improve
  • DeRozan has looked good need to seem him continue to get to the line
  • Andrea Bargnani- WAKE UP
  • Landry Fields has been underwhelming to say the least. 

Those are just the first few thoughts that jump in my head for tonight’s game. Will be working hard trying to get some good interviews and stuff for this Monday’s show This Week in Raptorland. As I always say if you are a reader of the blog and happen to see me at the ACC or in Toronto feel free to approach me and say hello. I do not bite and am actually pretty friendly most of time.

That is about it. I have to get my butt in gear so I am able to get everything done I need to today and get my first chance to see the Raptors in action live this season. The game can be seen on NBA TV Canada I believe if you are not heading down to the ACC.


DNB's: Fantasy Guru: Pacific Division Depth Chart

Before we start off, here are the links to the Eastern Conference depth charts:

Pacific Division

Los Angeles Lakers

D. Howard
J. Hill
R. Sacre

P. Gasol
A. Jamison
E. Clark

M. World Peace
D. Ebanks

K. Bryant
J. Meeks
A. Goudelock

S. Nash
S. Blake
C. Duhon

The Los Angeles Lakers have a straightforward chart to deal with.  Barring any serious injuries four out of the five positions have solid starters.  However, the aging Nash and Bryant may be rested more or less throughout the regular season.  That leaves some openings for minutes at the one and two spot.

Meeks has never really been a substantial threat or even a marginal sleeper throughout his career with the Sixers.  I see him as much of the same on this squad.  He may be useful for the odd three but the more athletic Goudelock may push for back-up minutes to Bryant.

At the PG, Nash will be rested plenty throughout the regular season and that gives Blake some minutes to play with.  However, Blake has really been the same old story in Los Angeles.  He has had all the opportunity to shine but with a few young bodies in there, we may see him sparsely used.  I’d avoid him in most cases; unless you are completely desperate for a couple three pointers and decent percentages.

Howard missed some time in Orlando last season and word out of camp has been good in terms of his health.  He was not expected to play in the season opener but look for the management team to push for him to play as it will create much hype for their first game.

Sure bets: Howard (early), Gasol (early), Bryant (early), Nash (early)
Sleepers:  Jamison, Goudelock, Ebanks
Pass on: Blake, Meeks, Clark, Sacre

Los Angeles Clippers

D. Jordan
R. Turiaf
R. Hollins

B. Griffin
L. Odom
T. Thompkins

C. Butler
G. Hill

M. Barnes
T. Leslie
C. Billups
J. Crawford
W. Green

C. Paul
E. Bledsoe

The Los Angeles Clippers have have a solidified starting line-up.  On top of that, they have one of the best second units in the league with new additions Lamar Odom and Jamaal Crawford.  Both of these guys are comfortable coming off the bench and both have collected the 6th man award in recent years (Crawford in ’09 and Odom in ’10). 

It doesn’t end there.  The Clippers have picked up Matt Barnes and Grant Hill to bolster their perimeter.  However, all these second unit guys should lose some production value.  In particular, Barnes and Hill will most likely depreciate in fantasy value.  You may be able to count on Barnes for some steals and threes, but it is unlikely that he will get any significant minutes on this team.

Another interesting second unit player is Odom.  He is coming off of a disastrous season with the Mavericks.  His year ended in embarrassment as he was called out by former teammate Dirk Nowitzki, which led to his removal from the team.  Well, Lamar is back in lala land and will look to bounce back with the other NBA team in Los Angeles.  Lamar is a versatile big man that can handle the ball.  This gives him an edge over some of the other guys he is competing with for minutes.  If he does get his act together, there is no doubt he will be utilized fully.

Sure bets: Griffin (early), Jordan (mid to late), Paul (early)
Sleepers: Odom, Crawford, Bledsoe
Pass on: Hill, Barnes, Turiaf

Golden State Warriors

A. Bogut
F. Ezeli
A. Biedrins

D. Lee
C. Landry
D. Green
J. Tyler
H. Barnes
B. Rush

R. Jefferson

K. Thompson
B. Rush
J. Jack

S. Curry
J. Jack
C. Jenkins

There is an interesting battle for the Small Forward position brewing in the bay area.  Rookie Harrison Barnes has been impressive in camp but Brandon Rush has been right with him in the thick of things.  Aging vet Richard Jefferson seems to be the odd man out here. 

The Warriors have an interesting bunch of players to look at here.  David Lee will most likely give fantasy owners more of the same solid value that he has given since New York.  Bogut when healthy will have plenty of touches and rebounds.  Landry is also another nice piece to consider in the late rounds for some good percentages and rebounds.  You will want to avoid Biedrins completely this season.  Fantasy owners gave him one last chance for redemption and Biedrins failed miserably.  He is a black mark on your free throw percentage and does not cover that issue up in any other category.  He is a must pass.

Klay Thompson should give fantasy owners some good value as he is slated to start at the two.  There should be some caution hovering around Stephen Curry at this stage.  Although word out of camp regarding his ankle is positive, he is a chronic case and will have issues throughout his career.  That being said, Curry is still a solid PG moving forward.  If he stays healthy for long stretches of the season, he will give more than enough value in many categories.

Sure bets: Lee (early), Bogut (early to mid), Curry (early to mid), Thompson (mid)
Sleepers: Rush, Landry, Jack
Pass on: Jefferson, Biedrins

Sacramento Kings

D. Cousins
C. Hayes

J. Thomspon
T. Robinson
T. Outlaw

T. Evans
J. Johnson

J. Salmons
F. Garcia
M. Thornton
J. Fredette

I. Thomas
A. Brooks

Sacramento is in a serious situation at the three.  At this stage they have been experimenting with Evans moving to small forward to make room for Thornton at the two.  In their first preseason game, Evans was able to put up a nice stat line for 20 minutes.  However, I just see Evans as a little undersized for this role.  He will have difficulty covering some of the bigger SFs in the league.  Look for the Kings to experiment a great deal with their rotation. 

At this stage the bigs in Sacramento are set.  Cousins and Thompson should start the season in the starting lineup.  However, rookie Thomas Robinson is breathing down the inconsistent Thompson’s neck.  If this is another lost season for Sacramento, Robinson will surely end up starting at some point. 

The glut of small forwards on this team includes a bunch of has beens that should be devalued in the context of fantasy basketball no matter what comes out of camp.  Salmons, Outlaw, Garcia and former Raptor James Johnson will all be battling for minutes.  I give the edge to James Johnson since he is young, athletic and isn’t a defensive liability. 

Thomas and Brooks should go into the season battling to start at PG.  Brooks had a couple of stellar seasons in Houston before he fell out of favour.  A year in China may have revamped his attitude.  Look for Brooks to prove that he is worthy of his former role as lead QB on the floor.

Sure bets: Cousins (early), Evans (mid), Thornton (mid)
Sleepers: Thompson, Robinson, Thomas, Brooks
Pass on: Outlaw, Salmons, Garcia, Johnson, Fredette

Phoenix Suns

M. Gortat
J. O’Neal
C. Frye

L. Scola
M. Morris

M. Beasley
J. Dudley

P.J. Tucker

J. Dudley
W. Johnson
S. Brown

G. Dragic
K. Marshall
S. Telfair

The new look Phoenix Suns come into this pre-season with a lot of question marks and position battles.  The only real sure bets to give fantasy owners good value are Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola. 

The real battles on this team begin at the two and three.  Michael Beasley seems like a good bet to start at the three since he is by far the most talented of the bunch.  He should be set to receive a lot of looks. 

Competing with Beasley, we have Nash era perimeter player Jared Dudley looking to stay relevant.  He has been shooting the lights out in camp and should get his minutes on this team.  Dudley’s shooting touch and his experience with Alvin Genrty gives him the edge to beat out Wesley Johnson and Shannon Brown for the shooting guard position. 

Sure bets: Gortat (early), Scola (mid), Beasley (mid) Dragic (mid)
Sleepers: Dudley, Johnson
Pass on: Frye, O’Neal, Brown