Tag Archives: Andrew Bynum

Ex Raptors become X-Factors in Round Two

As round two begins in the NBA, we’ve said goodbye to a few old allies.  Jarrett Jack and Marco Belinelli have packed their bags after a very succesful first round series against the Lakers.  Matt Bonner had a disappointing first round with San Antonio as they were bounced by the Grizzlies and Roy Hibbert and TJ Ford find themselves spectators as round two begins.

As the second round begins,  a few former Raptor favourites could tip the scales in their second round series.  Let’s take a look at the key Ex-Raptors that will likely be X-Factors for their respective teams.

Miami vs. Boston

The Big three vs. the Big Three.  This is a dream matchup for the NBA and any fan who enjoys good basketball.  We know that Lebron and Wade are going to score in bunches and we know that Ray Allen will be tossing key three pointers throughout the series and Kevin Garnett will be intense.  What we don’t know is how Chris Bosh will play against some really tough playoff competition.

If Miami has dreams of championship glory, they will need Chris Bosh to fight like he has never fought before.

Chris Bosh will be the key to winning this series for Miami.  Bosh has played very well thus far against Philly, but he is about to match up against Kevin Garnett who he has never played well against.  He will also have to play against the likes of Big Baby and Jermaine Oneal.  These are not finesse players.  They get dirty and fight with everything they have for a loose ball or a rebound.

If Chris Bosh is to be successful against these tough players he is going to have to channel is inner Reggie Evans and JYD.  Bosh needs to be less finesse and more banger.  He will need to fight like he has never fought before and be the player that keeps possessions alive and gives Wade and Lebron second chances.

On the flip side, Boston will rely heavily on Jermaine O’neal.  There likely won’t be a Shaq appearnce until later on in the series so Jermaine will be handed the task of containing Chris Bosh.  This is someone he knows quite well from his days in the T-dot.

Jermaine O’neal has been through the rigors of playoff basketball and is no newcomer to intensity in the playoffs.  His Indiana teams played their fare share of tough games.  He will need to be defensively sound and provide help defense when Lebron and Wade bust through the key.  If you need a hard foul to send a message, Jermaine O’neal is your guy.  He backs down from no one and may be the last line of defense for the Celtics.  He will be a key if the Celtics hope to head to the Eastern Conference Finals.

If Bosh can find that inner fight, Miami wins this series.  If he gets bullied on the glass by Garnett and O’neal and is shut down on the offensive end then it will be a second round exit for the boys from South Beach.

Dallas vs. LA Lakers

This series will be a shoot out.  Scoring is going to happen in bunches and defense will likely take a back seat as it often does in Dallas.  The mavericks have a number of players that can score in bunches in Nowitzki, Terry and Jason Kidd.  These three will score but might have trouble keeping up with Kobe, Gasol and Bynum.  If they are going to keep up, they will need their supporting cast members to step up.

Enter Shawn Marion and Peja Stojakovic.  These two players have the offensive skill set to be deadly to an opposing team.  While the defense focuses on Dirk and Terry,  Peja and Marion will likely get their fair share of good looks.  Marion is a player that makes those around him better.  He can pass effectively, shoots the ball well and knows how to get to the foul line (a valuable asset in the playoffs).  Peja Stojakovic has enjoyed a resurgence with Dallas and simply needs to stand on that three-point line and deliver.

Neither player was in Toronto for very long so we never had the chance to see them at their best.  But this is the playoffs an both are very familiar with the battles of playoff ball.  If used properly these players will help Dallas overthrow the defending champs.

Throw in “Almost Raptor” Tyson Chandler and you have an absolutely lethal rotation that can beat you in a number of different ways.

If Dallas spreads the floor, shares the ball and gets plenty of supporting effort from their bench they will win the series.  If the bench can’t contribute against the defending champs then the Lakers will continue their quest for another title.

Atlanta vs. Chicago

Do not underestimate the Atlanta Hawks.  Pundits and “experts” are already counting them out.

Don’t.

They are a young team finally coming into their own and might surprise the Bulls, who looked a little sluggish against Indiana.  This is a Hawks team that was able to defeat a pretty good team in Orlando.

Although I expect the Bulls to win the series I think it will be a longer  series than anyone thinks.

Watch out for Al Horford.  He will be a tough matchup for Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah inside. He is tough to match up against in the post and provides sturdy defense that could give Chicago’s Bigs fits on the inside.

The ex-Raptor to watch here is Chuck Swirsky, who may just faint when his team reaches theEastern Conference finals.  If the Bulls win he’ll likely look more lost than Tomas Kaberle during the Bruins game 7 celebration earlier this week.

It is likely that the Salami and Cheese will be brought out for the Hawks.

Oklahoma vs. Memphis

This series has no Raptor connections, but the Raptors should take note of these young teams and how they have built themselves into winning franchises.  It wasn’t long ago that a 22 win season was considered a success for the Thunder and Grizz.  These teams were able to build themselves back into contenders and the Raptors should hope they follow a similar path.

Neither of these teams became a success overnight and they surely didn’t do it by trading draft picks or signing  a slew of veteran players to bad contracts.  They built themselves slowly through the draft and then added veteran pieces to compliment those young players.

Watching Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka face Randolph, Gasol and Conely could very well be what Raptor fans will see in a few years from Derozan, Davis and Amir.

In terms of X-Factors for this series I would go with Shane Battier and Kendrick Perkins.  Perkins has been a non-factor thus far in the playoffs but he will need to help lead this young team as they focus on Playoff advancement.  He’s been through the wars before and they will need him to help contain the beast that is Randolph. Hopefully he wakes up soon or the surging Grizzlies might be too difficult to defeat.

Lots to watch as a Raptor fan, as some old friends will likely be keys to the teams that ultimately prevail.

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Kristoffer Pedlar

The Zan Tabak Herald
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Young Raptors Can’t Handle the Champs

That was a lot better than anyone would have expected.

The Raptors, without Andrea Bargnani, were able to hang with the defending champions for most of the game and turned what could have been a horrible blowout into  very watchable game.

The Raptors were able to hang with the Lakers so long because they worked hard all game.  The Lakers suffered early on from the early start (1pm EST is about 10am in L.A.).  The Raps took the lead after the first quarter and were able to keep it close going into the half.  Strong efforts from Jose Calderon, Demar Derozan and Linas Kleiza made a huge impact to the game as well.  Without Andrea’s contribution the Raptors needed their other players to step up and they did.

On the other side of the ball the Raptors had no answer to Kobe, Pau and Bynum and that was the difference in the end.  The Raptors worked hard and at various points in the game were able to control those players, but a moment here and a moment there is not good enough for the full 48 minutes.  The Lakers seemed to get better and better as the game progressed, probably because they started waking up from the time shift.  Today the Raps could not control those players, but then again, few can.

Despite their strong effort, the Raptors could not fight the power of the defending champs at the ACC on Sunday.

Return of the Mack

How about that Jose Calderon kid?  Two straight games where he has looked dominant for stretches of time.  A young team like this Toronto Raptors team really benefits from having a floor general that is so careful and meticulous with the ball.  Calderon made smart passes and shot the ball very well today.  He is getting into a nice groove and the Raptors played well today because the ball was moving on offense.  The defense?  Well, that’s a different story.

Jose has potential to be an impact player on the court.  We’ve seen it before and we’ll see it again.  This team plays well with him as the general and he makes the young players around him better.  It is very important for this team moving forward, assuming winning is the goal,  for Calderon to be playing well.

The Kleizanator Returns

Nice to see Linas Kleiza finally living up to his billing in the off-season.  I had this guy pegged as a key to the Raptors hopes this season and was totally expecting him to have a breakout year.  He has been anything but impressive for the most part this season, but seems to finally be finding his role.

He is not a player that can create his own shot.  He needs to be a catch and shoot type player or be put into a position to finish easily.  Having him play with Jose Calderon is a great idea and when Sonny Weems returns Triano needs to think long and hard about moving Sonny to the bench.

Kleiza is playing within the system now and seems to have accepted what his role is going to be.  18 points against New Jersey and 26 today shows that in the right position, with the right mix of players, Kleiza can be very, very effective.

Walk Like a Champion, Talk Like a Champion

This was not a typical Laker win.  They certainly had to earn the victory over the Raptors and had to work a lot harder than they may have thought with Andrea Bargnani out of the lineup.  But they are also the defending champions and it was easy to see why on Sunday.

The Lakers were tired after their trip to Toronto.  They started this game at the equivalent of 10am L.A. time.  They had a rough start to the game and the young Raptors took full advantage of the Lakers’ sluggishness.  The Lakers were getting beat on defense and couldn’t score when they wanted to.

But these are the defending champions.  they dug deep and were able to pull away from the Raptors in the fourth quarter.  Good teams get stronger as the game continues and the Lakers just kept powering up.  The Raps could not stop them in the last quarter and the Lakers blew the game open.

A valiant effort from the Raptors Young Onez, but you have to wake up pretty early in the morning if you’re going to beat the defending champions.

…Plus the Foul

The Soloman Alabi Era Begins

Nice to Soloman Alabi get some burn today.  The Raptors were down one of their bigs and Alabi came in to provide rest for Amir Johnson, who logged some pretty heavy minutes today.  There is something about this kid that I really like.  Maybe it is the fact that he is 7 foot 1.  Maybe it is that he is quiet and goes out a plays hard.  He isn’t going to get a lot of minutes, but he is going to try to make use of any minutes that he does get.

He reminds me a lot of our man Zan.  A player that works hard in practice and makes the best of the minutes that he gets.  Zan Tabak didn’t go on to become a perennial All-Star, but he played hard for seven seasons in the NBA and won a championship with the Houston Rockets.  Zan was a star in Europe with the Croatian National team and was a large part of that country’s success on the international stage. He’s got something Lebron doesn’t have:  a ring.

Soloman Alabi may not ever be a superstar, but he looks like a nice role player and good guy to have in the locker room.  I’m happy to say that today I witnessed his first minutes and hope he becomes a player the fans enjoy seeing.  He’s got Zan potential.

Zan of the Game

Linas Kleiza

Way to bounce back and prove your worth to the fans, the team and probably yourself too.  Kleiza has been a hot and cold player, but he is beginning to string together some good games.  He is shooting the ball well, playing decent on the defensive end and playing within the flow of the game.  The Raptors are going to need to lean on him a little more as the year progresses and today he showed that he is up for the challenge.

Not Zan of the Game

Jarryd Bayless

Dude, you need to look for your teammates more.  Despite the fact that you are more of a shooting guard in a point guards body, you can’t always be looking for your own shot.  Today Bayless reminded me of old Raptor point guards like T.J. Ford and Milt Palacio.  He was always looking for the shot instead of the pass.

Bayless is a very talented young player and one who I think will work out well over time, but he needs to play within the flow of the game.  Calderon is obviously a different player and that’s a good thing to have a change of pace in the second unit, But Bayless needs to be more careful with the ball and take his time on offense.

 

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Kristoffer Pedlar
The Zan Tabak Herald
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Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @Zantabakherald

 

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Bosh Roulette: Where Will He Go?

It is becoming increasingly clear that Chris Bosh wants to play in another city next year.  He seems to be revelling in his free agency and being wined and dined by various NBA teams.  The one glitch in his plan for a 6 year max deal seems to now be the Raptors unwillingness to accommodate Bosh unless the Raptors stand to gain as well.  This could throw a wrench into the plans for a super team in Chicago or Miami and may force Chris to take less money in a city he wants to play in.  Still, many possibilities exist for the Raptors and Chris Bosh to find a deal that will appease both sides.

Let’s take a look at his potential suitors:

Chris Bosh has a lot of options when it comes to where to play next year. Many of them will depend on the co-operation of Bryan Colangelo and the Raptor organization.

Miami Heat: Before the onset of free agency and in the first few days of the frenzy, Miami looked like the sure-fire destination for CB4.  Miami had a deal on the table including Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers and Joel Anthony.  The deal would have combine Bosh with Dwayne Wade, but would have also left Miami’s bench pretty thin.  The deal fell apart and the Miami deal won’t happen unless Pat Riley ponies up some draft picks and a massive trade exception.

Odds are still high that Bosh ends up here, but he might have to take a little less money or a third team will have to be added to the deal.  Miami had hopes of combining Wade and Bosh, but those dreams are in danger of being dashed.  In fact, Wade has been visiting a number of other teams and could leave the sunshine state.

Verdict: Miami still looks like a possibility but Colangelo has made it clear that he won’t get taken to the cleaners. If Miami wants Bosh they are going to have to at least try to accommodate the Raps.

Chicago Bulls: The Bulls have dreams of building a super team with Bosh, Wade, Noah, and Rose.  Unfortunately for Chicago, they need other teams in their conference to help them do it.  A super team that looks like that would entice anybody.  Lebron is also a possibility in the windy city, so it could get crazy in Chi-town.

Bosh likes the look of the city and how could you not want to play with a starting five that consists of those players?  Again, max money will be hard to come by unless the Bulls are able to come to an agreement with the increasingly steadfast Colangelo.  Unless the Bulls are able to offer up a player like Joakim Noah, I don’t think a deal gets done.

Verdict: The Bulls are all over the free agent market right now, but seem to be unwilling to give up any sort of asset to get these players.  If Paxson doesn’t start to get serious about a sign and trade, the bulls could end up empty-handed.  I do believe a compromise can be worked out between the Raps and Bulls that is somewhere between Taj Gibson, Luol Deng and Joakim Noah.  The Raps are right to hold out for something more lucrative in order to accommodate Bosh and an Eastern Conference rival.

Houston Rockets: This would be the Raptors most preferred situation and Houston is close to Bosh’s hometown.  The Rockets were apparently the first ones on the “Bosh Scene” at midnight on July 1st.  They love the idea of pairing Bosh with Yao Ming.  That would be a pretty strong frontcourt.  The Rockets also have a sea of assets that intrigue the Raptors including multiple first round picks and skilled players such as Aaron Brooks, Trevor Ariza and Luis Scola.  The Raptors seem to be pushing Bosh towards Houston with their unwillingness to take the Bulls and Heat offers.  Bosh would also end up out West, away from the Raptors in the Eastern Conference, and couldn’t come back to haunt them the way Vince Carter has in previous seasons.

Verdict: This is probably the best scenario if you are a Raptor fan.  Bosh would bring back top dollar from the Rockets and we wouldn’t have to worry about “super teams” in Chicago or Miami.  Not only that but Bosh would be out west where Raptor fans wouldn’t be taunted by his potential success.  A definite possibility if Colangelo can stay strong and hold out for the best sign and trade deal.

New York Knicks:  This is the least likely scenario, but if Bosh is looking for fame and money New York could be his best option.  There is every likelihood that Wade and Lebron will return to their current teams leaving the Knicks out in the cold.  They would then put all of their energy into saving face with their fans and throw the moon at Chris Bosh.  Bosh has given every indication that he wants the moon this offseason.  So the Knicks might be a good fit.

Verdict: Unlikely, but possible as other dominos begin to fall.  A rumored Lee for Bosh sign and trade was talked about during the season and could be a deal Colangelo considers.  Not the best news if you are a fan of defense, but a possibility nonetheless.

Los Angeles Lakers: This was a team considered quite a bit during the year.  Every Raptor fan with access to the internet has posted about a potential Bynum for Bosh deal.  The deal would strengthen the Lakers considerably and would give Bosh access to the thing he craves even more than a championship :  attention.  He would be close to his buddy Jay Leno and he wouldn’t have to become the focus of the offense with Bryant and Gasol around.  He could be a key to returning the championship to L.A. for a thrid straight year.

Verdict:  A bit of a pipe dream if you’re a Raptors fan as Bynum would be a beast in the East.  A great idea, in theory, but one that is unlikely to materialize.  Los Angeles won the championship with their current roster and they don’t really need to bulk up with another max contract.  Bynum has potential to be as good, or better than Bosh in the long-term.  A long shot at best.

Cleveland Cavaliers: Playing with Lebron would be a dream come true for Bosh.  He would benefit from being a secondary option and playoff berths would be plentiful.  But, he would be playing in Cleveland.  If Bosh wants exposure and media attention, surely Cleveland isn’t the route to go.  Rumours indicate Bosh has no desire to play in Cleveland, but would love to play with Lebron elsewhere.

Verdict: Unlikely because of Bosh’s desire to be a media mogul or some such nonsense.  Playing with Lebron?  yes.  Playing with Lebron in Cleveland?  Not so much.

Toronto Raptors: Yes, there is still a glimmer of a hope that Bosh will return to the Raptors next season.  The Raptors can offer more money than anyone else and Colangelo seems steadfast in his desire to get a decent deal for Bosh, should he move to a new team.  If Bosh can’t get his money elsewhere, he might stay and collect it in Toronto.  This becomes even more likely if Lebron and Wade stay with their current teams.  Joe Johnson was rumoured to be on the move and he ended up staying, it could be in Bosh’s and his agent’s best interest to stay where he is a focal point of the offense and where he can get the most money.

Verdict: Borders on never going to happen, but there is a possibility that Colangelo’s game of hardball brings CB4 back to the ACC.  A long shot at best, but still possible.

In the end, I believe in my heart of heart that Bosh will end up elsewhere this offseason and the next time Toronto fans see Bosh on the court, it will be in a uniform other than a Raptors one.  My hope is that Colangelo is able to orchestrate a deal that will land the Raptors young players or financial assets that will benefit the team going forward.  So far, Bryan has shown that he won’t be taken to the cleaners by the Pat Riley’s and Paxon’s of the world.  Hopefully a deal will materialize that gives Bosh the riches he so covets and the assets the Raptors will need to take a step forward.

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Kristoffer Pedlar
The Zan Tabak Herald

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Redemption, Thy Name is Turkoglu

Chris Bosh and Jarrett Jack embrace after an emotional win over the defending champions

The Raptors rode a productive bench and clutch play of their stars in the fourth quarter to take the huge “W” over the Lakers.  This is probably the biggest win of the season for the Raptors and they did it by making smart plays late in the game.  A win like this builds confidence going into a very favourable stretch of the schedule.  The fact that Hedo Turkoglu made the two biggest free throws of the game to clinch it is a very positive sign for this team going forward.  If Hedo gets going this team will continue to be tough to beat.

The Zan For Three

A Monkey off the Back

No player in the last few months has been criticized more that Hedo Turkoglu. Hell, his acting was even being criticized.  How nice it must feel to have made the deciding baskets to win a game against the best team in the NBA.  He wasn’t having a great game tonight but Jay Triano and the Raptors’ players showed confidence in him and Hedo rewarded them with a strong drive at the right time.  Let’s hope this lights a fire under Turkoglu  and we will all look back at this moment as a momentum change in the race for the playoffs.

Bench Depth

Andrea Bargnani doesn't let Andrew Bynum get an easy basket. One of many strong defensive plays by Number 7 on the night.

The Raptros relied heavily on their bench today in order to snatch victory from the clutches of defeat.  Marco Belinelli was phenomenal off the bench and is looking more and more confident all the time.  Amir Johnson also played strong minutes. And in the final seconds of the game who was asked to guard Kobe?…Antoine Wright.  If the Raptors are going to continue to be successful this season they are going to have to continue to use their bench strength.  It really does separate them from some of the other pretenders in the league.

4th Quarter Smarts

The Raptors were battling back and forth with the Lakers in the fourth quarter and instead of relying on their jumper they drove the net.  Bargnani, Jack and eventually Turkoglu all drove the net on key possessions.  These decisions led to points in all instances and were possessions that decided the game.  I hope Jay Triano and his staff jotted that note down because it is something the Raptors need to keep doing.

Plus the Foul

Mr. 4th Quarter

Hedo made the crucial freebies at the end but I’m talking about Andrea Bargnani.  He played great defense on Gasol and Bynum down the stretch, contesting every shot that came near him and almost coralled a huge steal at a key moment in the 4th.  Bargnani was also incredibly smart with the ball.  He had 12pts in the frame but made smart passes and took the shot when he knew it was wise to.  His drive with only a couple of minutes left cut the lead to one and inspired his team to fight for the win.  He didn’t take the final shot but he was the reason the Raptors had the opportunity to.

Zan of the Game

Andrea Bargnani

He made the shots at the right time, played excellent defense and continues to look more and more confident in his game.  This is a period of time we all may look back on as the beginning of something special.

Not Zan of the Game

Anyone who wasn’t at the game.  That was one of the more electric crowds I’ve seen at the ACC this season; and they got a treat of a match up.  Yes, it was the Lakers.  Yes, it was Kobe.  But the crowd was in it every step of the way and was much more concerned with the result on the court than the free pizza each of them will receive tomorrow.  An awesome night for anyone lucky enough to see it live.

Kristoffer Pedlar
The Zan Tabak Herald

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