Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Toronto vs. Boston - But Not the Maple Leafs and Bruins

Nope, today we're talking about two teams that actually matter.

If the reports on ESPN.com and everywhere else are true - and I always operate under the assumption that everything I read on the Internet is factually-based - then the Boston Celtics have somehow managed to trade for Kevin Garnett, formerly of the Minnesota Timberwolves. I have no desire to write about Boston's reaction to the trade or how they pulled it off, if you're interested in such things, here is Bill Simmons' column from yesterday about the trade.

What my concern is with is how this trade is going to affect the Toronto Raptors, reigning Atlantic Division champs - who just happen to share a division with the Celtics. My initial reaction was that the addition of Garnett meant the Celtics were now favorites to win the Division and probably the whole Eastern Conference. However, upon further review I'm not so sure anymore.

Make no mistake, the Celtics probably have more star power than any other team in the East, including Miami, Detroit, and Cleveland - with Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. But can you name another player on their roster? Because the Celtics had to trade away 5 players to get Garnett, their depth chart is now slimmer than Michael Vick's chances of being an honorary judge at the Westminster Dog Show. That's going to mean an awful lot of minutes for 3 guys who are all in their 30's.

Which brings me to the Raptors. The idea behind this post was to show how the Raptors matched up against the Celtics - as they should be the 2 teams vying for the Atlantic Division - and honestly I didn't think the Raptors were going to match up very well. So I started by writing out the probable starting 5 for the Celtics - Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo. Then I wrote out the Raptors that I thought would start at those corresponding positions - Rasho Nesterovic, Chris Bosh, Anthony Parker, Jason Kapono, T.J Ford.

However, as I was going down the Raptors roster I realized or remembered that the Raptors are a ridiculously deep team. These are the players that didn't make that starting 5 for the Raptors - Andrea Bargnani (my man Il Mago, who could easily be a starter, just needs some more experience), Jose Calderon (again could easily start in place of T.J Ford), Jorge Garbajosa ( a starter last season when Mo Pete was on the pine), Joey Graham (who was a bum in the playoffs, but played well in the regular season), and Carlos Delfino (by all accounts an above average defender who came over from Detroit - and averaged 16 minutes a game last year on a very good Detroit team). And my list of Raptors leaves out Kris Humphries, who I really like and was a great energy guy off the bench last year.

So if you're scoring at home, the Raptors have up to 11 guys (Nesterovic, Bosh, Parker, Kapono, Ford, Bargnani, Calderon, Garbajosa, Graham, Delfino and Humphries - pretty impressive when they're all listed in a row, eh?) that can contribute in big ways, as compared to Boston's 5 - well 6 I guess if rookie Glen "Big Baby" Davis can contribute.

Now don't get me wrong - Boston's Big Three are far and away better than anybody Toronto puts at those positions. I'm terrified the Garnett is going to eat Chris Bosh up every time they play. I don't know if Bosh has ever consistently faced a big man of Garnett's skill level and intensity. It's going to be a great challenge for Bosh at any rate - I'm hoping for some Optimus Prime vs. Megatron type battles from those 2 guys. And then Pierce and Allen are going to be better than anyone Toronto puts out there, unless Bargnani comes out and plays like a monster. At Center it's a wash between the two teams. The only position that Toronto has a clear advantage is at Point Guard - where both T.J Ford and Jose Calderon are going to be better than anybody Boston throws out there.

However, I don't know if you can win a championship or even a division with only 3 impact players playing big minutes over an 82 game season. I know that Toronto can't match the talent and star power of Boston's Big Three but I love Toronto's depth and I think that might be the key to them matching or surpassing what they did last year. I'm not going to say that Toronto is going to win the Atlantic Division and Boston isn't - but I think it might be closer than people think it's going to be.

All I know for sure is that I'm already all kinds of fired up for the NBA season to start. Toronto and Boston should have some epic battles this year - well, a guy can hope anyway.

This may be the year I break down and buy a Bargnani jersey.

1 comment:

Trebor said...

good post!

In the past 3-4 years the atlantic division has basically been a slow foot race to .500 . Last year Toronto did step up an create some space between them and the rest of the pack (lowly boston & philli, the once great new york and the damm nets). I don't see philli improving that much and New York.....I thought Isaah did some good things in TO but next to Mchale he's got to be one of the worst GM's out there, going after countless washed up players.

This next year looks to be a good one for the atlantic, perhaps gone are gone the days where .500 means your leading the division. New Jersey wasn't mentioned in your post but they have a solid team since they were able to keep their big 3, plus sign maglore for C, they also played last season without Krsitic a solid 12,6,2.

Even though I am a Raptors fan and I agree that their depth is amazing, it's going to be tough to regain the division title. Boston is now going to have 3 playes who have all been 'the man ' with their respective teams, carrying them on their shoulders into the playoffs. Toronto has the players but after Bosh who has the grit/ability to step up...boston now has 3 proven guys. true they dont have a pg.... but look at toronto's run. They were almost laughed at for picking up TJ, Calderon came from ???, Raefer 'skip to my lue 'Alston from AND1, Alvin williams... all no names before TO and arguably not great pgs but can still manage the game.

So how happy is Stern about this deal?? I'm far from the tin foil hat wearing conspiracy nuts out there BUT, is this not the best situation for Stern right now. A big market team lands KG, becomes an instant playoff contender, (wasnt that always a claim that the NBA wanted teams like boston and New york to do well and may have rigged a draft to help them somewhere along the way). You have people who all of a sudden are interested in how this will play out.. looking at how their tema matches up to Boston...forgetting about the Donaghy thing. Do you think Stern had any doings in this trade?? To add some sugar to this, this deal was going to go down during the draft but KG said he refused to play in Boston, setting off the whole debate, why black people don't wnat to play there? What changed his mind? Again I ask is this not the best situation for Stern???