Well, we all saw what the Raptors could do on the road when Bosh decides to show up for a quarter. Although Bosh was miserable for most of the game and once again fell in love with his shot (what in God’s name was he thinking launching that 3 after blocking Vince at the other end?), he started to play like a man in the 4th quarter. Too bad he couldn’t have played that way throughout the playoffs.
So let’s look at some key decisions down the stretch. First, Bosh hits a bank jumper. As soon as I saw that, I thought, “Oh God, the next time down the court, I know what’s coming.” After all of the success the Raptors had down the stretch with Bosh going inside, sinking that one bank shot got Chris back into his love affair with being outside. So he bricks one up and the Nets come back the other way. We’ve said it all season long, so it is kind of poetic that Bosh missed a jumper down the stretch.
Now let’s look at how the Nets used their last possession. They went inside to one of their athletic players and let him back in (on Bosh, who refused to get tough on D and plant his feet, letting RJ back in), putting him in a position where he was either going to put it in or get fouled. THAT’S what you do down the stretch. Vince showed what NOT to do down the stretch, going for a completely unnecessary 3 (and with MoPete in his face after initially stepping back to guard the dribble). RJ had it right.
Okay, now Jose’s pass on the last play wasn’t a good one, but that happens sometimes on lob passes. But the rule is, if you’re going to put up a lob pass, you’d rather have it go heavy than end up short. It was a well designed play and Bosh was open, but it didn’t work out.
So can anybody tell me why TJ was put on the bench down the stretch? The guy was actually playing in control, taking good shots, breaking down the D, I don’t get it. Especially down the stretch, where you need the option of being able to dribble penetrate (the Nets proved throughout the series that if there was one weakness they had, it was stopping dribble penetration), you have the PG with the bum ankle on the floor. This is not a dig at Jose, he played well, but as far as providing options down the stretch where you need to get into the paint, I think TJ should have been in there just to provide more attack options. People are going to talk about his attitude when he was put on the bench, but I’ve got to go with him on this one, he shouldn’t have been taken out.
While I think the chances are extremely slim, I hope some scenario arises where the Raptors can find a place for MoPete and he actually chooses to stay in Toronto. Personally, I don’t think MoPete should stay here, he is a great defender and while his shot was off this year, he is a legit shooter. After getting burned a couple of times by Vince going left, it was a nice adjustment down the stretch to shut him down when he tried it again. He was tough on Vince all night and you need that defensive toughness in the playoffs. Vince was so frustrated tonight, he was thumping his chest after getting fouled on the way to the basket. Didn’t hit the shot, didn’t dunk over somebody, he got fouled. Yep…and now I am watching him in the post game conference for the winning team. I just vomited in my own mouth.
Let’s be honest folks, games 3 and 4 were the series. No excuse for playing like that at all. No heart. That lack of heart killed them. They needed a bit of Warrior in them. I hope the Raptors learn a lot from this series for their playoff run next year. I hope they learn that you have to show up every game and how important each possession is. I hope Bosh learns that when you play against a tough D, you have to find ways to beat it. You have to adjust your game and get tougher than your opposition. The Raptors are young, inexperienced, ready to learn. Let’s hope they learned from this series loss to the Nets.
One other note: as awesome of a player as Jason Kidd is, I just love how the guy is a class act. When RJ hit that shot and the Nets were celebrating, go back and check the clip. The one guy who is walking to the bench, looking for Lawrence Frank to draw up the D is Kidd. All business. He knew the game was far from over with 8 seconds left and a 1 point lead. Kidd is a true leader.
Good luck to the Nets, they deserved to win the series.