2007–08 Toronto Raptors season
The 2007–08 Toronto Raptors season was the 13th National Basketball Association (NBA) season for the Toronto Raptors basketball franchise, with the 2007–08 season scheduled to begin in October 2007. The major acquisition was that of three-point specialist Jason Kapono from the Miami Heat, and much expectations also rested on the maturing of Andrea Bargnani, Toronto's number one draft pick in 2006. With an overwhelming majority of home game sellouts (32, the second highest in franchise history), the Raptors qualified for the playoffs for the second year running, but this time around as the sixth seed. The Raptors faced the third seed Orlando Magic, and were eliminated in five games.
|2007–08 Toronto Raptors season|
|Head coach||Sam Mitchell|
|Owner(s)||Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment|
|Arena||Air Canada Centre|
|Place||Division: 2nd (Atlantic)|
Conference: 6th (Eastern)
|Playoff finish||First Round|
(Lost to Magic 1–4)
|Television||Rogers Sportsnet, Raptors NBA TV, TSN, The Score, CIII|
Toronto Raptors roster
Coming off a successful 2006–07 campaign, Toronto were one of the league leaders in season ticket sales before the season began. Toronto was barred largely by salary cap from making any drastic changes to its starting lineup, but they remained active in transfer activity. The Raptors first acquired Georgios Printezis from the 2007 NBA draft, and followed up with a trade for Carlos Delfino, and the free agent signings of Jamario Moon, Maceo Baston and three-point specialist Jason Kapono. On the other hand, long-serving swingman Morris Peterson signed a four-year, $23-million US contract with the New Orleans Hornets, while Luke Jackson was waived. Toronto played seven pre-season exhibition games—including five games in a tour of Europe—and won five.
The Raptors were once again led by captain and All-Star power forward Chris Bosh, while much hope was rested on the number one pick of the 2006 NBA draft, Andrea Bargnani, who was slated to start as centre. Point guards T. J. Ford and José Calderón were to be deployed in tandem, Anthony Parker filled in the shooting guard position and Kapono featured as the starting small forward (Jorge Garbajosa was ruled out for the whole season seven games into the campaign). Initially, this lineup worked well enough as Toronto won its first two games of the campaign; in its second game against the New Jersey Nets, it set franchise records for biggest margin of victory in a road game, and fewest points conceded in a road game. However, the Raptors lost the next three games: Bosh and Bargnani could not seem to play well together, and Parker went through a bad shooting streak. This prompted coach Sam Mitchell to replace Bargnani with the veteran Radoslav Nesterović as the starting centre to give the team a greater defensive presence. Toronto rebounded immediately with a road victory against the Philadelphia 76ers, and the athletic Moon was also promoted to the starting team in the next game against the Chicago Bulls, and the Raptors scored the largest win against Bulls in franchise history.
Nevertheless, the Boston Celtics, who had acquired NBA All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen before the season began, were setting the pace in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference as pundits had predicted (they would go on to record a league-best 66 wins in the regular season). Meanwhile, the Raptors struggled to maintain a .500 record. Moon was kept in the starting lineup for the most part and the rookie put up several good performances, while Calderón—who would lead the league with a 5.38 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio by the season's end—was equally outstanding stepping in for Ford who had suffered a severe injury to his back. Delfino was a revelation as well, contributing on both ends of the court when he was first brought into the fold. Bargnani on the other hand did not perform as expected and apart from Bosh, the frontcourt often saw the rotation of the Italian, Nesterovič and Kris Humphries. Kapono, in the meantime, was seldom used to his full potential, either in terms of minutes played or shots attempted.
December was a particularly challenging period, with injuries to several key players, a long road trip and games against some of the best teams in the league. Toronto reached the mid-season mark with a 22–19 record and ranked as the best three-point shooting and second best free-throw shooting team in the NBA. It marked the start of its latter half of the season with a road win against Boston, and January proved to be the best month yet as Toronto capitalised on home advantage and went 8–5.
The 2008 NBA All-Star Weekend featured four Raptors: Bosh as the starting power forward for the East in the All-Star game, Bargnani and Moon for the Rookie/Sophomore Challenge, Moon for the Slam Dunk contest, and Kapono for the Three-Point Shootout. By this period, Bargnani and Bosh were beginning to combine more effectively, while Calderón continued to put in impressive performances regularly. Juan Dixon was traded to Detroit Pistons for Slovenian centre Primož Brezec before the trading deadline.
February and early March featured mostly opponents from the lower half of the league table, but Toronto had difficulties pulling away from the .500 mark, although the home win over the Knicks on 24 February 2008—their 54th game of the campaign—was the fastest Toronto ever reached the 30-win mark in a season. Nevertheless, the loss of Bosh for several games in the final third of the campaign sent the Raptors struggle even further; in a heavy 102–137 defeat to the Denver Nuggets on 14 March 2007, the team set a franchise record for most first-half points given up. With Boston dominating the division—and subsequently winning the title easily—Toronto's problems were exacerbated by Ford's increasing frustration at playing backup to Calderón, and there were even calls for Ford to be traded at the end of the season. Nesterovič was one of the few players who played well in Bosh's absence, but was unable to halt the team's slide.
The return of Bosh in late March served as a minor reprieve, but the Raptors continued to capitulate in spectacular fashion in their remaining games, plummeting down the conference rankings with defeat after defeat, and fans were beginning to show their displeasure. In response, Bosh made a video on YouTube, urging the fans to rally behind the team as the playoffs were arriving. The Raptors went on to close out the season with a 41–41 record, qualifying for the 2008 NBA Playoffs as the sixth seed and setting up themselves with a matchup against the Orlando Magic. While ending the season as the league's best three-point shooting team (0.390) and the team with the least turnovers (13.1 per 100 possessions), the Raptors continued to be criticised for being defensively poor on the perimeter, and playing without enough aggression.
The first-round series against the Magic was touted as the matchup between two of the league's best young big men in Dwight Howard and Bosh, but the Raptors were perceived to have an advantage in their dual-point guard play. With Orlando holding home court advantage, however, the Raptors were unable to win their first two road games. In Game 1, Bargnani was deployed as the starting small forward (with Nesterovič moved to the bench) but this did not pay dividends. Orlando took a huge lead in the first quarter with nine three-pointers converted and with Howard dominating the game, Toronto were unable to cut back on the deficit. Game 2 was the same with Orlando opening up the first quarter with a big lead and Howard dominating yet again, but solid plays from Bosh, Kapono and Calderón saw the Raptors take the lead with just a couple of minutes remaining in the game. With 9 seconds left on the clock, Bosh had a chance to score the game-winning basket but his 18-foot jumper missed the mark.
Coach Mitchell promised yet another change in the starting lineup for Game 3 at Toronto (with Moon replacing Nesterovič), and this time the Magic were unable to dominate the first quarter as before. With Ford leading Toronto in scoring and Calderón stepping up his game yet again, the Raptors preserved some hope with a 108–94 home win. Only one point separated both teams leading up to the fourth quarter in Game 4, and despite Bosh recording 39 points and 15 rebounds, deadly shooting by the Magic in the final few minutes ensured victory for the visitors. Back on the road in Game 5, Toronto were outplayed by the Magic in the second half, and were thus eliminated from the first round four games to one. GM Bryan Colangelo said at a press conference thereafter, "Whether it's protecting [Bosh] inside the paint, getting a little bit more of a presence in there, to just getting him another scorer that's going to shoulder some of that burden, it's something that's clear we have to get better", hinting that changes to the squad beckoned for the next season. Throughout the series, Orlando's point guard Jameer Nelson capitalised on being left unguarded and shot 51.9% from the three-point arc, while Howard single-handedly outrebounded the entire Toronto frontcourt with 91 rebounds.
|2008 playoff game log|
First Round: 1–4 (Home: 1–1; Road: 0–3)
|2008 playoff schedule|
|T. J. Ford||51||26||23.5||.469||.294||.880||2.0||6.1||1.06||.00||12.1|
*Total for entire season including previous team(s)
|T. J. Ford||5||5||24.8||.362||.125||.938||4.4||6.6||1.00||.00||11.6|
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field-goal percentage||3P%||3-point field-goal percentage||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Source:|||
|New Jersey Nets||34||48||.415||32||21–20||13–28||4–12|
|New York Knicks||23||59||.280||43||15–26||8–33||5–11|
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