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Jay Triano Has His Raptors in Line for a Playoff Spot Right Now

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The Raptors had a very disappointing season last year. However, in the offseason, Toronto made some moves so they could try and compete and grab a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. That’s what they needed to do. During the summer of 2010, there are going to be a number of big-name free agents that could test the waters. One of those guys is Toronto’s cornerstone, Chris Bosh. If the Raptors didn’t improve in the offseason, there were some people that thought that Bosh may get dealt at the trade deadline or just walk following the regular season. Well, the additions of Hedo Turkoglu, Jarrett Jack, DeMar Derozan, along with the improvement of Andrea Bargnani and the All Star caliber play of Bosh himself, have the Raptors in line for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.  Right now the Raptors are red hot and have won five-straight games.  Now, the excitement needs to be lowered just a little bit based on the competition that they have played recently, but five straight wins is a nice thing to see after the Raptors got belted in back-to-back games against Orlando and Miami on the road. Jay Triano joined the Fan 590 in Toronto to talk about the Raptors recent winning streak, the improvements the team made in the offseason, and guys stepping up when injuries arise.

On his team being able to do the little things recently:

“I think so.  I think we have become a little more committed to playing at the defensive end of the floor.  Guys are a little hungrier, diving on the floor for loose basketballs; we just had a whole lot more energy.  I think a lot of that has to do with our schedule.  Our first 30 games were played in 53 days.  Our next 30 are played in 73.  That just means more days for practice, more days for rest and because of that I think we can become a better basketball team.”

On the way that shooting has been a lost art in the NBA:

“I think that it has, but I think the pure form to shoot has been lost at all levels of basketball.  I think there are a lot of guys that can flat knock it down, but sometimes the game and the way the game is played has filtered players to where they want to dunk the basketball all the time and the game has become super athletic and it’s about drives and flashy plays to the rim.  That pure slow setting jump shot is worth one more when you shoot it behind the arc and I think a lot of teams are finding success with the three point line and there are a lot of reasons why, but I think point per possession when you shoot a three at 33 percent rather than to a two at 50 percent is better because it gives you more opportunities to rebound the basketball because there’s longer rebounds and therefore people believe they are more free for everybody.  That’s one of the reasons I like to shoot the three and I’d like to have our guys shoot more of them, but at the same time, you wanna be proficient at it and you want to make sure you do it well.”

On the winning streak that they are currently on:

“Absolutely and I think our guys are starting to understand each other a little bit better.  I think we’re playing together better than we had and you look at the opposition and you’re gonna hit teams at different times throughout the NBA schedule where teams are not playing well and teams have hit us when we’re not playing well or are in tough situations.  Back-to-backs or a lengthy roadtrip and you take advantage of those.  I don’t think we’re feeling too ahead of ourselves but we do feel a little bit of confidence and I think that’s really positive and it builds on what we’ve been trying to do with these guys since day one and we’ve just got to try and keep it going.”

On the improved depth they have this season:

“Absolutely.  That was pretty much our downfall last season, the depth that we had.  If we lost a guy to injury it was very tough to compete in games for 48 minutes.  You can mask it for a little while but teams will find you and expose you.  That’s been the biggest difference for us.  We’ve had different guys that have stepped up.  Sonny Weems has been great lately, Marco Belinelli has been in a little bit of a slump but seems like he’s bouncing out of that.  When everybody is rolling, we’re a pretty deep team.  It’s just a matter of us trying to find the right guys to fill in.  Jarrett Jack has done outstanding in a replacement role for Jose (Calderon) and we’re hoping to have Jose back within the next week.”

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