It’s amazing how one man can do one thing very well and another not so well in the same game. No people, I’m not talking about TJ (relax, I’ll get to that in a second), I’m talking about Sam. Sam Mitchell at times this season has not done the greatest job managing Jose and TJ’s court time, at times taking guys off when they were in a groove or inserting guys when they were dead cold. We’ve seen some moves that have been perplexing at best. Tonight, Sam had it right. He didn’t like what he was seeing from TJ, didn’t like the fact that he was not being aggressive (which almost sounds impossible), so he got him out of there and turned it over to Jose. When Jose started to tire (and after talking with TJ), he got TJ back in the game and while his shot just wasn’t there, he was attacking and dishing, creating room for his teammates. You have to give Sam credit for managing the PG position tonight, he got everything right there. But as we have seen so many times over the past few seasons, if you need a play drawn up at the end of the game, it just isn’t going to happen. It almost hurts to see that at the end of the game, after a timeout, the play that the Raptors ran was one where Jose reacted like something had broken down and Bosh decided it was best to jack up a jumper instead of attacking the basket. You have to think that maybe Bosh was having some flashbacks of the non-call his last time with the ball, where Howard was awarded a block (I’m still 50/50 on that call, could have gone either way, but I think because Bosh was travelling sideways, it’s tougher to give the call in his favour).
Sam said after the game that you can only do so much as far as drawing up plays, that players are the ones who are out on the floor and they make the decisions. NO. NO. NO. You are the coach, you outline what is supposed to happen and if they don’t follow what you say, you give them hell. Do you think the Utah Jazz are going to come out of a timeout and have somebody decide that they’re just going to go against what coach Sloan has drawn up? You only get that kind of pass when your name is LeBron or Kobe or Michael. When you have shown time after time that you can create your own good look and then follow through on it, then okay, take that option if it presents itself. The Raptors do not have anybody who fits that tab. You need to have a set play and if something breaks down, then you have to attack. You cannot settle for a jump shot taken by a guy whose strongest game is inside, it just doesn’t play into your favour. If you are going to settle for a jump shot for the win, then you might want to take a look at a guy named Kapono, who has just been lighting it up all night and needs a millisecond to release the ball. I don’t understand how you just forget a guy like that down the stretch.
Note to Raptors commentators: ENOUGH WITH THE SUPERMAN COMMENTS. Okay, I get it, Dwight Howard is good, he has a big body, he’s likeable, he did a memorable “dunk” in the dunk competition, okay, got it. Do we really have to hear him referred to as Superman all night? I don’t know if this annoys anybody else, but really, it is driving me nuts. What if he had come out in a Batman costume for the dunk competition, used a utility belt to hook himself to the rafters and then swung down for a dunk? Would we be calling him Batman all season? Okay, this is the worst hypothetical ever, but really, enough with the Superman stuff, it’s stupid.
The technical that was called on
Superman was horrible. Howard was just having a little fun, there’s nothing wrong with that. He wasn’t shouting, he wasn’t making any obscene gestures, it’s the playoffs, let that stuff go. What I loved about the play was that by stepping up and not letting him have an easy dunk, Delfino showed that the Raptors do have some guts. Believe me, that is serious business going in for a block on Howard, so it was good to see that Delfino just said, “To hell with this, you’re not getting an easy dunk here.” I’ve said it before, the most exciting play in basketball isn’t the dunk, it’s the blocked dunk. Could you imagine how you would have jumped out of your seat if Delfino had blocked Howard? Did you see how the next time down the court, he somehow just didn’t have a grip on the ball when he went in for an easy putback dunk and missed? I’m not saying by any means that he was thinking about Delfino, but you have to wonder if even for a half second, he was just telling himself to make sure he used his body to go up strong. Taking that extra millisecond (yes, second time I have used “millisecond” in this post) to think about it could have had its effect.
Man, we talk a lot about how when the Raptors complain about playing a lot of games in a few nights, they need better condititioning, but after seeing Bosh in a couple of games here, I really think he does need to work on his conditioning a bit in the off-season. True, he is battling against Howard and Lewis all night, so that is going to take its toll more than playing against other NBA players, but the dude was sucking flies at the end of the game. This is why it is even more perplexing that he would let a long range jumper go for the win. If you’re that tired, your legs are not going to be under you, so that shot is probably going to fall short. Run some laps in the summer and do a lot of swimming. Big time players come up big and make big time plays in the 4th quarter. If you’re too tired to do it, then you know what you have to work on.
Anyway, good to see the Raptors come back again and in better fashion this time, but spotting a team a 15 point lead every game just isn’t going to help you win games. The Raptors need to come out and get off to a good start, because we have seen in the past two games that they can definitely play against the Magic. The Raptors have been able to win quarters 2-4, but if you’re that far behind after the first, it just isn’t going to happen.
Well, Game 3 back in Toronto and if you’re going, make sure you help make the ACC the noisiest arena in the league.