Okay, I have to admit it. I’m not a basketball genius. You’ve probably already realized that. I understand the game and appreciate it, have a pretty good grasp of what should be done and when, but I’m not the Stephen Hawking of basketball Xs and Os. But just humour me on a few things here, cool? Let’s just pretend that I have a half ounce of a clue what I’m talking about.
When you’re playing the Boston Celtics, you have to make the most of every opportunity down the court and you can’t afford to fall into a hole, because once they have you down, they step on your neck (like good teams are supposed to). So I would think that how you come out in those first minutes of the game would be a statement on how you would like the game to play out. It’s your home court, you’re dictating how the afternoon is going to go, right? Okay, so then why do the Raptors come out with 3 jumpers to start the game, all no good? If I’m the Celtics, that tells me right away that the Raptors are going to try to rely on the outside shot to win, that they’re afraid to attack the basket. I’ve mentioned here quite a few times that the key to games like these is to attack, because even if you don’t get the basket, you get the foul and you put pressure on their best players. Sure enough, the Raptors opened their scoring on Bosh attacking the basket, where he got fouled and went to the line for 2.
Continuing with this theme, remember how I was just talking about Hump having some success with that jumper and then falling in love with it? Well, Hump had another solid game, picking up 7 boards and scoring a few points, but those jumpers from the top of the key made me cringe. On one series, Hump started to drive, collided with the defender and then just jacked up a jumper like the clock was running out, like he was Jordan looking for the hoop and the harm (and yes, that is the last time I will make reference to Jordan and Hump in the same sentence). If this wasn’t bad enough, he followed that play with a turnaround fadeaway jumper the next time down the court. A TURNAROUND FADEAWAY JUMPER. From Hump. If there was ever evidence of a guy falling in love with his shot and playing with some misplaced confidence, that was it. That play. That’s where Sam has to pull him aside and say, “Hump, you’re playing well, love the energy, but what in God’s name was that?” Then go a little street on him, “Hump…IS YOU CRAZY?”
There may be something to the Raptors not attacking enough, because the refs were really letting a lot of rough stuff go on, but realistically, they were letting more stuff go against the Celtics than they were the Raptors. How that call on Pierce wasn’t called I will never know. Then to get a technical just sealed the poor refereeing. But that would be too easy of an excuse for the Raptors. They just weren’t looking inside, even as they were shooting at a miserable percentage. At some point, the coaching staff has to get it through to the players (especially when the shots aren’t dropping) that you HAVE to play inside. You can’t be afraid of KG and Perkins in there. Are you going to get blocked? At some point, yeah. But you are also going to get to the line and have a chance to put points on the board without the clock moving, which is key against a strong defensive team like the Celtics.
So the Raps walk into the second quarter and can’t score a lick. Stuck on 17 points. Something like 4 minutes go by with them stuck on 17 and jumpers being let loose like they’re going out of style. I’ll let you guess what broke the scoring drought. Yup, Hump picking up a rebound and then going right back up for a dunk. Okay, so that’s something to fire up the Raptors, right? That’s where Sam can point it out and use that to motivate his guys, right? Well, somebody forgot to tell Juan “Instant Offense” Dixon, who while trying to make a move, fell, kept his dribble, got to his feet and JACKED up a J that didn’t have a prayer. To compound problems, he didn’t get back on D, 2 the other way. Nice.
The thing I loved about the Celtics today came down to one simple play. Posey’s hard foul on Bosh. Absolutely nothing wrong with it and it sent a message: Hey, Raptors. You guys might not like coming in here very often, but just in case you forgot why, here you go, SLAP! All Posey was doing there was letting the Raptors know that it was not going to be a Sunday walk in the paint if they ever decided on going in there. Then to provide a kick in the balls, Rajon Rondo walked through the Raptors paint, looking like he was running warmup drills with a bunch of pylons. Nobody touched him, nobody stuck out an arm, they just let him walk right through. He did it a couple of times. Somewhere, Charles Oakley was saying, “WTF, are these guys kidding me?”
So who would you think out of all of the Raptors would actually attack KG? Who would have the guts to try to dunk on him? Yup, Hump. Probably the guy with the least amount of skill on the floor for the Raptors, but at least he was able to figure out that his shot wasn’t working and that at SOME point SOMEBODY was going to have to attack KG. Too bad it took until 3 minutes left in the 2nd quarter for it to happen. It took almost half the game for the Raptors to realize that you shouldn’t get pushed around in your own building by a division rival. Embarrassing. So here’s the thing. Either Sam isn’t making it a point to the guys or they aren’t listening. Either way, that responsibility lies with Sam.
Note to Rajon Rondo: Dude, you’re having a decent system because of the guys around you. You still aren’t legit. You have no business talking smack to anybody.
Okay, so it took that long to get through to the Raptors, right? Come out in the second half and get the ball inside, get some ball movement going, right? A couple of screens maybe? Jose penetrating and dishing to Bosh maybe? High screen and roll at least? No. The way the Raptors start the second half is with a Jamario Moon 3 attempt. That would be the same Jamario Moon who shoots 24% from 3. Yup, that’s how the Raptors come out to start the second half. Of course, just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke the first time, that he wasn’t going renegade, Moon jackced up another 3…with the same disastrous result.
So maybe the second half could be saved by our 7 foot
shooting guard centre/forward, right? He’s due to have a decent game, right? Um…no. Right now, the magic is gone from Il Mago. Remember how Gordie Howe would have his own version of a hat-trick? The goal, assist and fight? Well, Bargnani created his own. The “fail to box-out resulting in 2”, followed by the “ludicrous off balance jumper”, capped off by the “getting burned by a sping move in the lane.” Nice work kid, take a seat.
The Raptors are making a run! The Raptors are making a run! Don’t they do this every time they are getting taken to the woodshed? Well, I though today they might actually get it close. There were finally working inside and the points were coming. Could it be that Sam finally got through to them? Well, um…no. Attention Raptors: Kill the rally via two forced 3 point attempts, the follow it with Gatorade Graham inexplicably dribbling the ball just inside the arc and turning it over…two the other way. Rally officially dead. Yes fans, that was our DRK moment of the game. Designated Rally Killing moment of the game.
Leo made a good point (I know…scary…but as Lang was saying to me yesterday, he has actually been better this season), saying that when your offense becomes predictable, it’s not going to work and one of the things that is going to happen is that shots are going to get blocked. Well, it’s not only that shots are going to get blocked, they’re just going to be tougher to get clean looks on, because the opposition doesn’t have to worry about a whole part of your game. If you’re a boxer and a guy doesn’t have a jab in his arsenal, it’s going to be a long night. At some point, he has to use it to keep his opponent honest, to keep them at an effective distance so he can execute the rest of his attack. The Raptors just don’t seem to understand that.
Alright, I’ve vented enough. But just to end…DID ANYBODY ELSE SEE THAT BLONDE MILF BEHIND THE RAPTORS BENCH? Please, please, please make sure she has a ticket to every game. Wow.