Shoot or sit -- Mitchell

Point guard T.J. Ford works on his three-point shot, while challenging his teammates to one-up him...

Point guard T.J. Ford works on his three-point shot, while challenging his teammates to one-up him at the end of Raptors practice yesterday. The Raptors are next in action tomorrow in an exhibition game at Boston against the Celtics. (Toronto Sun/Craig Robertson)

MARK KEAST -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

The Raptors will be a faster, more up-tempo team this season. That, we know.

That's what the seven-second clock -- now eight-second clock -- in scrimmage has been all about. That's what all the talk about conditioning has been about. Fast break up-court, three, four passes, and get the shot off.

For coach Sam Mitchell, the key stat is how many shots you take, not how many you make.

"I don't know how much easier that can be: Shoot an open shot, stay in the game; don't shoot an open shot, you're coming out of the game," Mitchell said. "I'm trying to get to that 100-shot mark."

And the Raptors appear to have the flexibility in terms of individual pieces to carry out what the coaches are preaching.

On Sunday, during the team's 91-90 pre-season win over the Cleveland Cavaliers -- pushing the Raptors to 6-0 -- guard Fred Jones saw some time at point guard, a necessity because starting point guard T.J. Ford was sitting out because of back strain and a tight hamstring.

Mitchell said he wasn't sure he would try that experiment again, because it took Jones' focus away from what he should be doing: Shooting the ball. That's why Darrick Martin was substituted back into the game faster than one of those Ford passes.

Still, the move may not have been a bad thing. Jones said it benefitted his offence and got him into a good rhythm. Jones, who had 22 points on the day, still has 20 assists overall this pre-season, third on the team behind Ford and backup point guard Jose Calderon.

"I got layups," Jones said. "And I could get people lay-ups around me."

That leads us to the headache Anthony Parker is going through adjusting to the NBA game, at least the game the Raptors organization is pushing. No one on the team has any complaints about Parker's defence. They want to see more on offence.

That was what he and Mitchell talked about during the game Sunday, a game where he had two field-goal attempts in more than 25 minutes of court time, finishing with four points.

"Right now he says he's just trying to fit in," Mitchell said. "We're telling him you already fit in, just play."

For Parker, playing in the Euroleague with Maccabi Tel-Aviv for most of the past five seasons, he was the go-to guy. He had the ball in his hands more. The adjustment here is more mental, knowing that when the ball comes to him, he needs to get the shot off.

ADJUSTMENT

"Here, I have the ball less times and you have fewer opportunities to get shots," he said.

"I've passed up on a lot of those (shots). It's an adjustment I'm trying to make. You have to get to the point where when the ball is coming around you know this is going to be the shot. You need to read the situation, see it developing, and be ready to shoot."


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