An interview with Sam Holako of the Raptors Republic.
1. Toronto has lost both games to New York so far this year. What adjustments do they need to make against the Knicks in the third game?
To start, it would be nice to hit some free throws (11-22 last game). For all the talk of the Raptors improved defense, folks have been getting plenty of open looks from all over the floor against them. Sunday against the Raptors, the Knicks took 29 threes, with more than 20 of them being damn good looks. A lot of that came from the attention Amar’e was getting in the paint, Felton on the perimeter, and Landry on the glass.
Offensively, Weems and DeRozan need to do a better job of attacking the basket, and putting pressure on the Knicks defense every time they catch the ball in motion. That, and they need to not give up so many bloody open looks (the bench didn’t help much either in each regard). Bargnani needs to use his size in the post to his advantage, and not fall in love with shooting pull-up (long) jumpers.
Unless Bargnani is hitting every shot, or a majority of the players are carrying their weight, than the Raptors will have a hard time winning the game because the Knicks can play at the pace the Raptors like to play at, but do a better job of it…must be something to do with coaching.
2. Amir Johnson has some impressive statistics, namely TS%, per-minute rebounds, and blocks. What is the mainstream/common-man impression of him?
He is probably the most loved Raptor on the team because he really plays hard every minute he’s on the floor. The general consensus is that if Amir can get his foul troubles under control, he could be a 15pts 10reb type of player. As is, he’s hit or miss in that department, with folks willing to look the other day on nights he’s on the bench because foul trouble has him planted there. I think the kid has potential, and needs some solid mentoring to learn how to think the game, and not act on sheer instinct and athletic ability.
3. How are the guys from New Orleans fitting in?
Peja got the craziest ovation the first time he checked into a game at home, I’ve never heard anything like it; gave me goosebumps. He has a big following in Toronto, but he’s really only good for spot-up duty off the bench – could be a Spur in a couple months… Bayless was the clear winner from the trade. The kid is fitting in nicely on this team, and seems poised to live up to some of the potential folks saw in him in Indiana and Portland that has yet to materialize. I’ve actually been really happy with his willingness to drive to the rack in traffic.
4. Now that the Raptors have gone a quarter season without Chris Bosh, how is the franchise adjusting?
It’s really bittersweet; the ball movement is much better, and the guys are actually playing like a team and not standing around watching Bosh go to work. On the flip side, there isn’t a guy on the team you can throw the ball into and let him manufacture something with a high degree of reliability; not even Bargnani. It would be nice to get a guy who could do that, but to tell you the truth, this team is much more fun to watch this season.
5. Which guy on the Knicks, other than Stoudemire or Felton, do you wish were on the Raptors?
That’s easy, for me it’s Landry Fields (with Chandler the next choice). He’s a very smart player and is able to pick his spots to score. I really love his rebounding ability. He reminds me a lot of Shane Battier.