For this installment of Blogging with the Enemy, Hot Hot Hoops writer Jay Ramos pitched Raptors HQ writer Scott Campsall six questions about Miami's opponent on Jan. 23, the Toronto Raptors.
HHH: Being all the way down in Miami, or in the United States in general, I think it's safe to say the casual fan isn't up to date with recent Toronto Raptors happenings. These Raptors seem to be really struggling defensively after a promising showing on that side of the floor last year. In what ways are they being exploited the most? The numbers suggest they give up a ton of shots at the rim.
SC: Their defensive efficiency over the past few games have not been good. In fact, they have been horrendous. These are their numbers against their last five opponents. Lakers: 108.4. Philly: 109.1. Chicago: 109.2 Brooklyn: 127. Milwaukee: 117.6. As a point of reference, the best offense in the league is the Thunders at 110.
There are a couple of reasons why their defensive has been so bad. For starters, perimeter players are not stopping the ball at the point of attack like they should. Jose Calderon isn't a great defender, and that's not what's expected of him. But Kyle Lowry -- a player who has been heralded as a very strong defender -- hasn't been much better behind him. Their interior defense has also been an issue. Recently, the team has been dealing with a few injuries on the interior and because this, coach Casey has had to play Amir Johnson, and at times, Ed Davis at center, as well as Landry Fields out of position at the four which has lead to obvious mismatches in the paint.
HHH: I felt like Kyle Lowry was an excellent pick up for the Raptors last offseason, but he lost his starting gig to Jose Calderon. He's having a very productive season, so what happened? Calderon is also playing well, but who do you think is the Raptors long term answer at the position?
SC: This question seemed to be much easier to answer at the beginning of the season when Lowry was brought in to take over for Calderon, who would then presumably be traded. But, as the season has progressed, Jose has proven to be an extremely valuable player for the Raptors and one of their leaders on the floor on a nightly basis.
At this point, though, given everything the Raptors gave up and have invested in Kyle Lowry, it would be somewhat surprising to see Jose Calderon as the answer going forward. However, it also wouldn't surprise me to see Calderon re-sign with the Raptors next season.
HHH: There was a lot of Andrea Bagnani talk when he came under some scrutiny after getting hurt in early December. The team's play picked up a bit, especially defensively. Where does the Raptors fanbase, and organization, stand with Bargnani right now? I'm sure you've talked this to death by now.
SC: This has been a popular topic, not just this season, but for the last few seasons. With the exception of a now infamous - for Raptors fans at least - 13-game stretch last season, Bargnani has been extremely disappointing. At this point, I think it is safe to say that the fans are fed up with the seven-footer and wouldn't be apposed to a trade that saw Bargnani leave town.
The organization, on the other hand, is much tougher to read. With the way that his backup Ed Davis, and the team as a whole, has responded during his injury, it seems as though the organization is in a prime spot to try and move him. But, again, there have been many times in the past in which it has made sense to move him and he still remains on the roster.
One interesting wrinkle to this whole situation is how the organization responds to his return from injury. Dwane Casey has eluded to the fact that Ed Davis has earned his starting spot on the team and that is something that the fanbase, and most people in general, agree with. However, the organization may try and force Andrea back into the starting lineup in an effort to showcase him for potential trade suitors. If that happens, fans will not be happy.
HHH: I saw the Raptors snap a four-game losing skid to the Lakers in their last game. Ed Davis looked impressive, and although some of that was the Lakers porous defense, he looks like an improving young player. Team splits don't say Toronto is better when he's on the floor, so what's the prognosis on this former lottery pick? Heat fans live with a certain level of paranoia these days because of the team's sub par rebounding, and want to know if Davis is going to be the next big guy to terrorize the team on the glass.
SC: Ed Davis has always been a talented player, particularly on the boards. He was slated to be drafted much higher during his draft year, but he suffered a wrist injury at North Carolina, which severely hurt his draft stock. So when the Raptors got him with the 12th pick in 2010, it seems as though they may have grabbed a potential sleeper at that spot.
During his three years in the league Davis really hasn't had an opportunity to play extended minutes, although in his sporadic stints on the floor he always been a good rebounder. Now, with chance to start on a consistent basis we are really starting to see how good he can be and his rebounding certainly is the strongest aspect of his game. It should be interesting to see how he fares against Chris Bosh - the player he effectively replaced in Toronto.
HHH: Lastly, I want to ask a more Heat-centered question pertaining to Bosh, the former Raptor. It's been three seasons now. I'm curious to know how Raptor fans perceive him at this point. Is he revered or is the fan base salty about his departure to this day? What thoughts come to mind when the name Chris Bosh is brought up to the average Toronto Raptor fan.
SC: I'd like to say that most Raptor fans have gotten over his departure - some have - but the vast majority still holds a grudge against the former face of the franchise. We are given a reminder of this at least a couple times a year by the incessant booing that takes place every time Bosh visits Toronto.
But, there are some who recognize his decision as one that he needed to make in order to chase a title, and because of his departure, the Raptors have an opportunity to rebuild a team that could potentially win more games than they did during the Chris Bosh era - though, that remains to be seen.
HHH: And as a follow up, what observations have you made about Bosh's game in the present in comparison to his Raptor days that show growth and/or decline.
SC: It's tough to adequately evaluate Bosh's games in terms of growth or decline because he plays under much different circumstances in Miami. During his time in Toronto, Bosh was their go-to guy. He got the ball in a lot more isolation situations as opposed to now, where he plays almost exclusively in the pick and roll. In Miami he has become much more of a pick and pop player/ mid range shooter which was a big part of his game in Toronto, but it was mixed in with iso's and more drives to the bucket. To me, that seems like a function of where he fits in the Miami offense. In Toronto, they needed him to do much more than they do in Miami.
Again, rebounding is another areas where he seems to have digressed. His numbers are down, for sure, yet that may also have to do with playing next to better rebounders. In Toronto, Bosh played a great deal next to Bargnani, whom we all know isn't the greatest rebounder.
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