Recently, I watched the new film Bridge of Spies, which goes to great (and entertaining) lengths to shine a light on a certain kind of professionalism. The film is set during the Cold War and we're asked to regard two men on either side of its ideological conflict. The American, played by Tom Hanks, is a lawyer tasked with defending a captured Soviet spy, played by Mark Rylance. As you'd expect, Hanks' character is attacked for putting forth a spirited defense. For many, being a spy in the US is a treason punishable by death. But the law is the law, and to be American or in America (or to just be a free people) is to respect it. So, some things happen and Hanks' lawyer character is vindicated by the righteousness of his actions and we all go home entertained.
What struck me about the film is what emerges as its whole thesis. Through its narrative complications, Bridge of Spies shows how these two men come to regard themselves as equals. They are professionals on two sides of a line. Yes, in this case, the two sides are pointing nuclear weapons at each other and threatening to destroy the world. But these two are just men doing a job and doing what they believe is right. (Even if one is wrong.)
I also watched some Raptors basketball which featured James Johnson and considerably (like, considerably) lower stakes. There are no parallels to draw here.
Did James Johnson Play?
Let's just say my bookmaking career is not off to a great start. Last week I set the over/under at 63.5 minutes, which was just far too optimistic. Look at me talking about optimism while the Raptors lose three games in a row. I'm starting to think the James Johnson Watch is warping my sense of perception. (I mean, more so than usual.)
Regardless, Johnson did play this past week in three games out of four, for a total of just over 36 minutes. So, if you took the under, congrats (you're a pessimist). But curiously, the Raptors lost all three games in which Johnson made an appearance, and won the lone game in which he sat. I will not draw any causality lines here because I fear reprisals from a) Daniel Hackett, b) the laws which govern nature, and c) I have to admit a very un-pro thing here and mention that I missed two of the games this week so I don't exactly know what Johnson looked like out there. In my defense, I was tired.
Since the return of DeMarre Carroll (may he be blessed in heaven), Johnson's minutes have taken a downward swing. And by downward swing, I mean cut by two thirds. As such, game highlights, already at a premium, have been hard to come by. For this week, I go all the way back to the showdown in Sacramento and rely on our friends (slash rivals) at Raptors Republic for the primo Johnson moment of the week:
James Johnson and Biyombo killin' it. pic.twitter.com/vJDeTDX4F3— Raptors Republic (@raptorsrepublic) November 16, 2015
That's Johnson starting at the three point line, flying by a hapless Rudy Gay, powering into the lane, drawing the defense and--here comes the best part--passing the ball to Bismack Biyombo who catches it for the dunk. Just a lot of wondrous things happening in those five seconds.
The Raptors lost this game. (I need to lie down.)
Prediction for the Week
Only three games to account for this week, as the Raptors get a merciful rest after the 25th for a few days. They play the Lakers, then the Clippers and then the Cavaliers. It's an anxious stretch of games. But then again, the 25th is also Drake Night, so there's lots to get excited about. But by the time of Drake Night the Raptors may be below .500 which is something to be sad about. But then again life is sometimes both good and bad, which is something to always keep in mind. I'm fairly confident James Johnson is zen about the whole thing. Playing? Not playing? Johnson will remain professional, regardless.
I'm going to have to trend Johnson's minutes down this week. He'll see bits of time in a (hopeful) dismantling of the Lakers. He'll be unnecessary against the Clippers. And by the time the Cavs game rolls around, everything may be up in the air.
Over/Under Minutes: 29.5 minutes
Over? Under? Let's hear your take in the comments.
(And as always, we'll see you next week.)