This is exactly what I was hoping to do with this new NBA section. A little back and forth with fellow bloggers from around the league. This week I was approached by Adam from RaptorsHQ for a Q & A back and forth. Here is what we came up with.
First Adam's questions for me:
1) First off, with all the hype regarding the Celtics, how good does it feel simply for the team to be relevant again? Do you ever just shake your head at the fact that in basically five months, Danny Ainge has gone from "GM soon to be axed at this rate" to "possible NBA executive of the year?"
Every day. It is the strangest feeling you can imagine. I actually have to re-learn how to root for a winning team. I always knew Ainge was going for the home run, I just didn't know if he could pull it off. Boy did he ever.
2) How about the team itself, do you think this squad can get to the finals without much of a bench, or without much playoff experience for that matter even with G.P.A.?
I think the bench is highly underrated. Posey is a defensive stopper and Tony Allen could be huge for us if he's healthy this year. The thing is, with this big three, we're going to have one of them on the court at all times, so that makes your bench that much better. And we are only really going 8-9 deep, so if those 6, 7, 8 guys are good, that's all you need.
3) Matchups for Sunday, what advantages do you see the Celtics having over the Raps and what do you think the keys are to a Celtics' win?
KG is a matchup nightmare for any team, period. Nobody can match up with Pierce or Ray Allen either. With that said, Toronto is so deep that they'll really put that underrated bench of ours to the test. If the Raps are hitting the 3 like they did in that first preseason game, it is going to be a tough, tough game.
Next, my questions for Adam:
1) How important is Garbajosa to your team? Did his injury last year have a deflating effect on the team down the stretch?Interesting question about Garbajosa. Most fans agree that had the Raptors had a healthy Garbs last year in the playoffs against the Nets, the end result would have been quite different. I'm not sure his injury deflated the team, but his presence, especially on the defensive end, was indeed missed so in that sense, he was very important to the team. This year so far, it's been a different story. We're not sure if he's not 100 per cent yet (as he looked ok when I saw him live in Spain) or if it's just the added depth of this squad, but whatever the case, he's barely getting off the Raptors' bench right now. So far Toronto has looked great without him, but I think against better rebounding teams like the Celtics, Knicks and Pistons, he's really going to be needed. Here's to hoping that leg holds up this year though.
2) Sam Mitchell went from goat to Coach of the Year. Will the real Sam Mitch please stand up? Do you think Doc can follow in his footsteps?
The difference between Mitchell and Rivers though in my mind is that Sam made great strides in his coaching ability over the past three seasons and that was only amplified by having more talent to work with. I'm not sure that's the case with Rivers in all honesty but he's got a great chance to prove me wrong. Sam would be the first to admit he's learned a ton while on the job in the past few years and I think in some ways we've always seen the real Sam Mitchell. We're just now seeing a much more experienced and honed version.
3) What is Andrea's upside and who on the Raptors really needs to get more pub?
Right now, the sky is the limit for Andrea. He's already improved immensely from his first season in terms of not settling for the outside shot, and defensively he's much more solid. He still needs to rebound the ball better but so far this season he's shown that he's improved in that respect as well. Dirk was one of the first players that size to be able to shoot and move with the ball and Andrea is even quicker, especially in terms of getting his shot off. Once he gets a low-post game going, with his current passing ability, size and athleticism, look out...
Finally who on the Raptors needs more publicity? Right now I'd say Carlos Delfino. Mo Pete was my favourite Raptor but with Delfino, I haven't missed Mo in the least bit. He's a bit of a streaky shooter, but does a bit over everything. He's one of the few Raptors who can get to the rim using his athleticism and is really showing what he can do now that he's out of the doghouse in Detroit.