If we had lost that game would you have written off this team? No, of course not. So let’s not get carried away after one win either, even though it happened to be the most impressive regular season win this franchise had registered in six years. Yes, six years. Excuse me if I’m giggling like a little schoolgirl but I haven’t seen a Raptors
defense man the paint that well since Oakley and Davis. Yes, Oakley and Davis. I haven’t seen a Raptors
player execute a legitimate professional post-up move since Vince used to take pathetic little guards and drive his shoulder into them until his shoulder was touching the rim. Yes, not since Vince.
There is a stat in this game which I fail to comprehend and am barely able to explain. We were outmanned by 23 rebounds - 56-33. Now if you had told me that we’d get killed on the boards that bad and still register a convincing victory on the road I would’ve taken you to be soft in the head and tried to sell you my Merrill Lynch shares. As was being discussed in the live blog I put out the theory that many of the rebounds Philadelphia was getting were of the Moses Malone type. You know, get four rebounds on one possession where you don’t even end up scoring. That appeared to be the case with Samuel Dalembert who ended up having 17 rebounds which all seemingly came in the first quarter and didn’t go unnoticed by their media. The offensive rebounding numbers were even for the last three quarters which showed that the Raptors
had some very serious early jitters which they overcame by quarter #2. If that doesn’t make up for the rebounding difference than I think Philly’s 34.5% shooting compared to our 44% definitely does.
During that first quarter Jermaine O’Neal looked rusty and got dominated by Dalembert on the glass. Brand faced up Bosh
and got scores on him and…and…well, that was about it. Philly only shot 6/15 in the first quarter which reprieved the Raptors’ 4/15 shooting. Had Philly been able to extend their lead during this crucial period we might’ve seen a different outcome to the game but as it turned out, the Raptors
regrouped in the second quarter and made it a point to establish Jermaine O’Neal in the paint. The rest they say is history. With O’Neal displaying a plethora of moves including post-ups, mid-range jumpers and even a blow-by of Samuel Dalembert, order was restored and the Raptors
offense started to click. Most impressive about O’Neal’s defense and his willingness to step in for charges, aggressively challenge guards who drove the lane and fight for rebounds. For the first time in a long time I felt comfortable that a guard driving to our key would be met with a force that was capable of repelling him consistently. Don’t get fooled by O’Neal’s lone block in the boxscore, he altered at least five shots and made the Philly guards think twice about how to finish when he was around the paint. A 17/8 night from O’Neal will likely not be the norm but we’ll take as many as we can get.
was once again the hardest working Raptor on the court. After the initial mess that was the first quarter Bosh
returned to his Olympian style of play and literally gave the 110% he’s been talking about. He wrestled away rebounds from would-be offensive rebounders and was belligerent in trying to finish his post moves with authority. Bosh
ended up writhing his way to two huge dunks in that crucial 2nd/3rd quarter stretch after he had caught the ball in the post in less than favorable positions. Sometimes a dunk sends a message that says FUCK OFF MAN, I OWN THIS RIM and that’s what CB4 was saying when he dunked around Dalembert. All game long I counted only two bad Bosh
shots - both long range jumpers (which he was otherwise making) that were the first option in the set. I’ve also noticed that he’s added a foot or two to his shooting range and feels very confident in taking the jumper when given space. Not hesitate in the least bit. Bosh’s work on the glass has become so good that we don’t even talk about it anymore, his 11 rebounds on a night where Philly was desperately assaulting the offensive glass need to be commended. Later he spoke about being aggressive and not settling, something I’d like to see over the course of a season not a game here and a game there:
“I wanted to be more aggressive. It was kind of like a chess match with me. If I do have an open shot, of course I’m going to take it, I’m not going to hesitate. The coaches are staying on me about settling, I want to keep the pressure on guys, I don’t want them to just be able to check my shot all night. I want them to have to move their feet.”