With playoffs beginning in just over a month, and the Raptors in good position to visit the post-season for the first time since 2002, head coach Sam Mitchell realizes that his team's stay in the playoffs may be short-lived if they don't start rebounding the ball.
The Raptors are dead-last in the NBA in rebounds and were, in fact, out-rebounded 52-34 in their 120-119 OT win over the Seattle SuperSonics on Sunday at the Air Canada Centre.
"We talk about it, we talk about it," an exasperated Mitchell said yesterday, following Toronto's game against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center.
"When we do have time, we break out the old rebounding drills, but guys are just going to have to do it."
Other than Chris Bosh and, to a lesser degree Rasho Nesterovic, the Raptors don't have a lot of natural rebounders on the team and Mitchell said it's just a matter of guys paying the price and wanting the boards.
"You can't throw your hands up and say we can't rebound," Mitchell said. "You've got to keep trying to teach it, you've got to keep drilling it and it's just got to be something that stays on their mind.
"(As a player) you have to understand your strengths and your weaknesses," the coach continued. "If I'm not a big, strong guy, and I'm guarding a big strong guy, then I can't let that guy get even with me under the basket. I've got to box him out early. So as soon as the shot goes up, I've got to make first contact. Because once he hits you first, it's over with. Now, you're depending on how the ball bounces. If it bounces an awkward way, you're done. That's what we talk about, we've got to hit first."
"If we want to become a serious playoff team we have to find ways to out-rebound other teams," forward Morris Peterson added. "We can't be getting out-rebound by 15 or 20 and expect to win in the playoffs."
WHAT A GUY
Say what you may about former Raptor Jalen Rose. He may be flamboyant and not always the hardest worker on the court, and not in the best shape, but he does more for charity than most professional athletes, through his foundation. Rose's latest philanthropic endeavour is donating $100,000 US to the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital and Research Center in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The contribution will fund an operating room. The 300 bed hospital located in the city of Kinshasa, is funded by NBA veteran Dikembe Mutombo of the Houston Rockets and named after his mother.