Have you ever been in a situation where you were with your friends and you really needed some help, but nobody came to your aid? For instance, back in the college days, my teammates and I were out in Columbus for a night on the town. Long story short, one of our rookies is getting his ass kicked by a couple of guys, but luckily, our veteran catcher comes to help him out, throws a guy down the stairs (which impresses a few girls) and they all get thrown out of the bar. The winning element? Our rookie escaped with his life and our catcher had a couple of girls at the stadium the next day. How is this at all relevant to the Raptors tonight? Well, Chris Bosh was getting EXPOSED tonight on D. I’m not sure if Al Thornton is really just that athletic, whether Bosh simply had a poor defensive game or whether he just needed a little help from his friends. Here’s the thing about Thornton on Bosh near the end of the game: he was beating him off the dribble not all that close to the basket, providing enough time for somebody to slide into the lane. Given, he is a quick player and it would have been tough for somebody to get over in time, but I can’t remember seeing somebody even try to help Bosh out at all.
As teammates, you have to be able to recognize situations where you are going to have to cheat a little bit in order to help stop the bleeding. As a coach, you have to realize that something has to be done to give one of your players some help when he clearly needs it. There is no point getting on Bosh tonight, he has been playing extremely well on both ends of the floor lately and it is very rare that you see him continually beaten like he was tonight, but you also have to wonder where the help was. No team defense there. Hey, if Corey Maggette or Chris Kaman beat you, well, that’s what they are supposed to do. With all due respect to Al Thornton, while he is having a great season, he shouldn’t be the guy breaking down the Raptors.
Lang mentioned in one of the threads that Sam’s plays out of breaks have been getting better and to some extent, I agree with that. It still puts him way behind just about every coach in the league in that category, but at least we are seeing some points out of dead ball situations. But let’s talk about what is going on down the stretch. Shot selection killed the Raptors tonight (along with a variety of other things). Down 6 points with about 4 minutes left, the Raptors were coming down the court jacking up quick 3 point attempts when there was absolutely no need to. It wasn’t even like somebody had the hot hand and therefore was letting it go because it was feeling good. You have Jamario letting a 3 go and missing, Bargnani letting a couple go and missing (and one of them had less arch than Daffy Duck’s feet…I mean, it was an angry missle), Bosh letting a jumper go…and missing. All of this is compounded when the Raptors knew (well, let’s at least hope they knew) that Chris Kaman was out there with 5 fouls. You get that guy to foul out and all of a sudden, some second chance opportunities are going to come along should you care to work the ball inside at all. This is where Sam needed to provide some direction to his players. You can’t let your team come down the court that many times in a row and execute poor decision making. I have to admit, it isn’t like they were forced shots, there were some good looks there, but as I said, nobody was really lighting it up, you don’t want Jamario settling for 3 point attempts, you had a lot of time on the clock (so there was no need for 3s), you have Kaman playing with 5 fouls…that’s coaching folks. It’s not like you could try to work down low to a guy who has 29 points, 11 rebounds and is 13-13 from the line on the night. Nope, you don’t want to use that guy down the stretch. Jack the ball up! It’s not even a “Live by it, die by it” situation anymore. It’s just die by it.
Ah yes…the 3rd quarter. Outscored 28-19 and provided a nice 18-0 transition into the fourth quarter. Now THAT’S coming out and making a statement after the break. Given, it was the completely wrong statment to make, but a statement nonetheless. Can we please, please, please get some halftime coverage in the Raptors locker room at halftime to see just what the hell goes on in there at the break? Did you ever see Eddie Murphy’s “Mr. White” SNL skit? (if not, click here) Remember how when the last black guy gets off the bus, the party starts? I’m starting to think that’s how the Raptors locker room works. When the cameras show everyone walking into the room at the break, it’s all business. But as soon as we go to commercial and the cameras are off, it’s all drinks, giggles and local call girls until the 3rd quarter is ready to start. That has to be the explanation. It’s the only one that makes sense. There is no other reason I can think of to explain why the Raptors are so consistently bad in the 3rd quarter (other than a few recent games).
Now, before all of the Maggette FA talk starts. Let’s not be stupid. Guy never met a shot attempt he didn’t like. Sure, he can get hot and own a team like he did the Raptors tonight, but he can also be cold and not give a damn, thereby punishing his own team. I can’t see him fitting in with the Raptors and he is going to demand major cash, so let’s just drop that thought before it even has a chance to settle into your heads.
Next up, the Wolves…and hey, talk about teams of the future…