With all the success the Raptors had last season, finishing .500 this year has been a step back in the development of this franchise. The Raptors were unable to take advantage of easy stretches they had in the schedule to offset the massive injuries to BOSH and FORD. The only positive thing to come out of FORD's injury was the emergence of CALDERON as a legitimate NBA starting point guard. He filled in admirably, only fueling the FORD/CALDERON debate. When the shots rain down, the Raptors are as tough a team to beat then any top team, but when defenses have dug, the shooting has cooled down.
For the Raptors to be successful against the Magic, DELFINO will have to step up his level of consistency on the offensive end. He has to continue attacking the basket, and limit his attempts from beyond the arc. On the defensive end, he has to take away drive penetration, contesting shots and drawing charges. The one thing we can count on DELFINO for is his immaculate hair style!
Luis SCOLA is in a rare class of professional athletes. Translation? There are only 5 players in NBA history whose replica jerseys I actually paid money to own: YAO Ming, Robert HORRY, Remggie MILLER, Penny HARDAWAY... and now Luis SCOLA. It takes a certain type of skill and tenacity for me to wear a particular player's jersey. SCOLA has all the necessary qualities.
What do I expect to see from SCOLA and the Rockets in the playoffs? Well, we face Utah (again). So we get to see precisely how much the Rockets improved over a year ago. The Jazz, are essentially the same team as last year. The Rockets are missing YAO, but have SCOLA, Carl LANDRY and Bobby JACKSON as prime players. SCOLA is a grinder, and that fits right in with Shane BATTIER, Chuck HAYES and Dikembe MUTOMBO. I expect SCOLA to be the 2nd option on offense and the best rebounder in the entire series. Which I think will go the full 7 games... only this time - Tracy McGRADY wins that ever elusive playoff series. And he'll have Luis SCOLA to thank.
With that said, let me just end this article on the one last player that is left to talk about. Just who am I referring to? For some of us, he is known as El Guerero but for most of you out there he is Walter HERRMANN.
If there is one team that is capable of stopping the Boston Celtics it has to be the Detroit Pistons. No offense to others as my preferred team on the East has to be the Raptors. Their regular season record of 59-23 is even better than the Los Angeles Lakers. With the likes of “Need4Sheed” WALLACE, Richard Hamilton and Chauncey BILLUPS doing their thing, they should make it to the Conference Finals again. In recent games, coach Flip SAUNDERS decided to give his bench some time-playing and their responded with positive results.
But my main concern on this team is Walter HERRMANN, who will be going to the play-offs for the first time in his NBA career. From a Bobcats he became a Bad Boy. I'm still surprise on Charlotte decisions to sell him considering the way he flourished for them towards the end of last season. Going to Detroit wasn't really a good idea as he will in the pecking order behind Tayshaun PRINCE and Jarvis HAYES. But if you look at the stats, he does seems to contribute something despite of his limited time playing.
So big the question for the play-off will be, is that how much are going to see him in action against the 76ers? I will not be surprise that he might be place under the inactive list. But as SAUNDERS has already mentioned that he will not hesitate to use him if needed. So we will just keep our fingers cross for the time being.
With all that, so let the play-offs begin. I know can't really wait for this happen considering the number of mouth watering series that will take place. I would also like to give a big shout out and special thanks to Sam and Dream Shaker crew for their contribution. Really appreciated it. Good luck to all your respective teams.