Saturday, May 05, 2007

Friday Night Wrap-Up

An easy one tonight as there was just one game. The Nets-Raptors series has been very underrated and so I'm sure a lot of people missed a great Game Six. Toronto really outplayed New Jersey tonight, but the combination of the home crowd, another great floor game from J-Kidd, and the play of Richard Jefferson managed to get the Nets over the top. And I'm not going to blame Sam Mitchell for this (although I love blaming Mitchell for things, if only to illustrate how insane it is that he was Coach of the Year), but Toronto waited WAY too long to initiate their final play of the game. When Jefferson stole Calderon's pass, there were less than two seconds to go. I'm not entirely sure Bosh would have had time to get up a good shot anyway. You have to get something started quicker than that, if for no other reason than to provide an offensive rebound opportunity.

It is too bad that Toronto's season ended just when Bosh was figuring out playoff hoops. He finally got deeper position tonight and used his proximity to the block to be more effective working out of double teams, as his nine assists can attest. He added 23 points and seven boards in easily his best game of the series. You could see Vince Carter whispering sweet nothings in his ear after the game, and I'm sure Carter was telling Bosh some of the same things I'm writing now; that the young Raptors big man arrived tonight. But, just as quickly, he now must depart.

Three other quick thoughts:

- Calderon looks legit. What are the Raptors going to do with Ford on the payroll at $11 million per? I'm sure any numbers of teams would love to acquire the heady and gutsy (and talented) Spanish point guard, so maybe the Raptors could demand a legit small forward in return. Portland seems like a possibility, as Travis Outlaw could really blossom in Toronto, while Calderon would be a huge upgrade over Jack on the Blazers roster. Calderon to the Clippers for Corey Maggette? To the Grizzlies for Mike Miller? How about the Hawks for Marvin Williams? There seem to be a few possibilities, but the problem is that with Ford's recent neck injury, it sheds new light on just how fragile he is. It might be hard to trade away that kind of depth at a key position. Tough call for Bryan Colangelo.

[Update: I meant to include Portland's Sergio Rodriguez in that proposed trade above. Outlaw alone probably isn't enough to pry away Calderon, but in Ridriguez, the Raptors would get a new Spanish backup point to go with the upgrade at small forward. Meanwhile, the Blazers could target Brewer or Jeff Green in the draft and roll out a lineup of Calderon, Roy, Brewer, Randolph, and Aldridge. Welcome back to the playoffs, Portland.)

- Speaking of Ford, how did he play just 15 minutes tonight? He looked healthy and spry and was Barbosa-esque off the bench, scoring 19 points in those limited minutes. The guy was on fire from the field and I thought Mitchell should have run both point guards at the same time, with Parker at the 3.

- The most underrated aspect of this entire game was Nachbar shaking off that brutal Game Five and going 3-for-5 from deep with 15 points. He is going to be so critical against the Cavs and New Jersey really needed him to have his confidence and stroke back heading into the second round.

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