Another preseason game and another opportunity for the Raps to continue to work and improve on their team game. Taking a peak at what to look for tonight in match number 5.
The Raps continue to work things out as the preseason rolls along and as mentioned over the course of the past few days there is much to work on.
The next opponent for the Raps? How about America's Most Hated Team, your 2009-2010 Boston Celtics. I am sure Jose Calderon would agree.
There will be a few of things to keep your eye on Weds evening as the Raps face a team that has really had their number in the recent past.
1. When will the starters catch the feeling? Right now it seems readily apparent that the Raps bench have their act together while the starters are working things out. Maybe this is a direct reflection of the fact that the bench guys are all playing for PT while the starters know their minutes are coming and are easing into the season. Frankly whether or not the starters manage to play better this game or the next is pretty irrelevant. It's more important right now that the bench is playing well.
I won't be making any judgments about Jose/Bosh/Bargs until the home opener against the Cavs and beyond. Obviously things are not going that well and we are yet to see any true chemistry between the guys who actually wore a Raps jersey last season but there shouldn't be any alarms going off. That being said it would be nice to see the starters put things together sooner rather than later...might this be the night?
2. Who is getting less burn? It is at about this point where Triano will start trimming some minutes and will start shortening the bench even just a little. Who will see less time? I think it's fair to say that Quincy Douby, Patrick O'Bryant and Marcus Banks, despite having shown some improvement are all destined for the end of the bench and we will see whether Triano agrees. Perhaps the more interesting question is who out of Belinelli, DeRozan and Weems starts seeing less time and how does everything change with Antoine Wright is ready to see the floor. Are any of these guys sure bets for PT when the season starts? Outside of DeRozan it seems like a toss-up to me.
3. How rusty with Hedo be? Looks like the off-seasons big acquisition will be in the line-up tonight. This is the beginning of a beautiful thing or the start of a nightmare? It will simply be nice to see Turk on the floor. His minutes will likely be very limited and spent solely with the other starters. How he performs tonight is secondary to the fact that he is actually suited-up. Finally we will see Triano playing with close to a full deck.
Last, I wanted to get on my soap box for the first time this year and it's in response to the whole "it's going to take time argument". I think this is a totally acceptable argument when defending the Raps preseason play. These guys are all learning each others strengths and weaknesses and learning a new system. It is taking time and they are in the process.
What is not acceptable is when it's used in discussing the regular season. On more than one occasion I have overheard people discussing the season ahead and already they are defending a slow start by the Raps with this idea. Sorry folks but in my opinion once the preseason ends this argument is just a huge excuse with little substance. When people say it is going to take time for this team to gel it implicitly means that it's o.k. if this team struggles and loses games early in the season. That's BS. It's not ok and there shouldn't be any excuses. Every team in the NBA at this point of the year is working things out and could use the "time" argument to defend their play.
New coach? Need time.
New Players? Need time.
New System? Need time.
There are very few teams out there, in particular after a particularly busy offseason, who are not working out the kinks and trying to get everyone on the same page before the regular season kicks off. It's the teams that gel first that will be successful when the games count. By saying this team needs time to gel we are setting the bar awfully low and I, for one, am not onside. Forecasting losses early and already excusing them is just not acceptable in my books. Why not raise the standard? Isn't the month long preseason the time to gel? There are only a handful of teams out there who look very similar to last season. Ironically the Raps opponent tonight is one of them.
I hope, when the regular season kicks-off, that the Raps play doesn't need to be defended.