It has been a respectable start to the season for the Toronto Raptors as they are currently at 3-3 and only half a game back of the first place Philadelphia 76ers in the Atlantic Division.
So far this week the Raptors have defeated the Raptors have defeated the New York Knicks 90-85 and the Cleveland Cavaliers 92-77 to get back to the .500 mark after a three game losing streak to Indiana, Dallas and Orlando.
Over the last two Raptors wins, it has been the play of Bargnani that has been at a very high level. Bargnani had 21 points in the Raptors win in New York and 31 points in their win over Cleveland.
But it has been Bargnani’s defensive commitment that needs to be praised. He was a +22 last night, and that should please head coach Dwane Casey, who was brought in from Dallas in the off-season to improve the Raptors play on their own end of the court.
In Dallas, Casey got to know Dirk Nowitzki really quite well, and if he can make Bargnani half the player that Nowitzki is, the Raptors will be in great shape.
In terms of defense, one player in the NBA that has become a defensive stud to start the season is Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic. So far Howard is leading the NBA with 16 rebounds a game, including back-to-back performances where he had 24 rebounds last week against New Jersey and Charlotte.
In other NBA news, there have been two significant injuries to start the season. Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs is out five weeks with hand surgery and Zach Randolph of the Memphis Grizzlies is out eight weeks with a torn knee ligament.
Also today, the Sacramento Kings have fired head coach Paul Westphal and replaced him with Keith Smart, who has previous head coaching experience in Cleveland and Golden State. Smart also has a Canadian connection, as he played for the Halifax Windjammers of the World Basketball League in 1991.