Monday, October 12th, 2009 at 10:45 am  |  12 responses

Game Notes: Wizards at Raptors

Belinelli starting to find his groove.

by Ryan McNeill Marco Belinelli

It took a couple of weeks of adjusting to new teammates and being yanked from the starting line-up, but Marco Belinelli appears to be finding his groove in Toronto.

Sure, Belinelli looked to be having some early success due to being third on the team in scoring entering the game (11.8 points per game), but he was doing this while shooting an abysmal 16-41 from the field.

Throw in the atrocious 3-21 he was shooting from beyond the arc and his shooting was as cold as Toronto’s winters.

On Sunday afternoon Belinelli snapped out of his shooting funk and provided the Raptors with a spark off the bench with eight points in the first half while playing less than eight minutes. The Italian guard is viewed as a gunner without a conscious so what was impressive about his scoring outburst in the first half is he went 4-5 from the field to score his highly efficient 8 points.

Belinelli continued his strong play in the second half with a play in the third quarter fans will be sure to raving about around the water cooler about. He found himself in the low block with his back to the basket when the entry pass found it’s way to him. In one motion, he twisted toward the rim, got hacked and then made the bucket to earn the chance for an and one opportunity.

On the Raptors next offensive possession he continued to attack the Wizards defense by running the floor on a fast break and attacking the rim before getting hacked. Again. This time he missed the field goal attempt but managed to make both free throw attempts.

Belinelli finished the game with 15 points but what is sure to impress the coaching staff aren’t his flashy plays or scoring output, it’s the fact he’s playing more relaxed and appears to be finding a comfort zone playing alongside his new teammates.

“I’m [feeling] good right now,” Belinelli admitted to sheepishly after the game. “This is our third or fourth game and everything is good for me and the team. We’re improving every day and that’s important for us.”

One of the main areas he is improving is instead of catching and shooting on most possessions he is now using his passing ability to keep defenders honest. In the first few games it seemed he would strictly catch and shoot, but now he’s looking for open teammates which is helping to confuse defenders and prevent them from rushing at him.

While his scoring today was impressive, Raptors head coach Jay Triano was more impressed with how his court vision helped provide open looks for Belinelli and his teammates.

“We knew when we got him he could play the point guard spot and he is a guy that is a shooting guard as well,” Triano boasted to thMarco Belinellie media after the game.

“If you take away his shot he’s going to put the ball on the floor and create because he’s a play maker for other people as well. He extends the defense and you have to guard him on the three point line. Then if he gets it and if you run at him I don’t know if there’s a better situation than to have a defender running at you. He’s just a smart basketball player and he knows how to get into the lane and he can create for others.”

Court vision helps open up things for Belinelli to take defenders off the dribble or use his jumper, but it also helps get teammates open looks.

A perfect example of this came in the second half when he threaded a sweet behind the back dish between two defenders to Reggie Evans who was cutting to the basket. While his teammate missed the lay-up, it was still an impressive play nonetheless.

As impressive as this afternoons performance was, the key for Belinelli will be if he can be consistent with his contributions to the Raptors this season. Last year his production fluctuated along with his minutes so it will be interesting to see if he can be as consistent when given an opportunity to secure steady minutes.

Hopefully the kind of all-around performance he showed this afternoon is a harbinger of what he can this season when provided with consistent minutes.

Ryan McNeill is a freelance writer now in his third season covering the Toronto Raptors. You can read more of his writing at HOOPSADDICT.com and you can follow him on Twitter.

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  • Vince5

    It’s the same picture twice in the article. Anyway, he really fits well with the Raptors system, can’t believe the Warriors gave him so easily.

    Note: You could have mentionned Derozan who had 19pts vs the Wiz.

  • http://www.hoopsaddict.com/ Ryan

    Vince – Thanks for reading! I realize DeRozan was the story of the game but the local media did a thorough job covering him. After they were done with their quotes there really wasn’t anything unique or of substance that I felt I could add ot the conversation.

  • http://www.in-n-outnba.blogspot.com Lucas

    Bellineli is more of a slasher than people think (great read by the way), in my opinion that is exactly what the Raptors need off of their bench.

  • LeoneL

    If only he can start somewhere. Philly perhaps?

  • JD

    Nice piece Ryan, looking forward to more in the future.

    Beli was pretty impressive yesterday. I don’t want to get to far ahead of myself but he kind of reminds me a little of Ginobili/Salmons, a do everything kind of player.

    The Raptors are sure going to be a fun team to watch this year.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    He’ll be a great sixth man for the Raptors. Nice job, Ryan. DeRozan is finding his groove too. I also like the addition of Jarret Jack to the Raptors; he was cold last night, but I’ve seen how good he can really be.

  • Simmy Sosa

    These are not game notes. Someone change the title to Bellini: Overrated by some, underrated by others, but mostly irrelevant. I think that would be more appropriate.

  • that dude

    Or Belinelli: who cares

  • http://www.hoopsaddict.com/ Ryan

    Lucas – Thanks for the kind words. Glad to see you liked the article.

    LeoneL – He could possibly end up starting here in Toronto, or, at the very least get starters minutes if the team decides to keep DeRozan as their starter.

    JD – That would be great if he could turn into a Manu-esque player… but I feel that’s a bit of a stretch. I think the Salmons comparison is a bit better.

    Teddy-The-Bear – Thanks for the props! I agree that Jack is a nice addition and I’m currently working on a feature for Slam Online about his role with the team. Make sure you keep an eye out for that sometime over the next week.

    Simmy Sosa and That Dude – I was hoping to draw the attention of readers to a player who stood out but through a story line that beat writers aren’t covering. Sorry to hear you’re not a fan of this style of Game Notes.

  • andre anglais

    Ryan, nice writing, but you neglect to mention that although he started 4 for 5 (HOT!), he finished 6 for 13 (COLD!) and missed all 4 of his three pointers. Just trying to keep you honest. I do like Belly Nelly, but I don’t see him starting for any team for a while. Too out of control (that style only works if you’re Argintine and your first name rhymes with Keanu).

  • http://slamonline.com/ niQ

    SLAM I like your style. Take one picture and post it multiple times. Classy.

  • Ken

    It’s actually not the same picture. There are 5 differences between the first and second picture. Can you spot all five?