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. Iím 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. Hereís 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 canít 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, thatís what they are supposed to do. With all due respect to Al Thornton, while he is having a great season, he shouldnít be the guy breaking down the Raptors.
Lang mentioned in one of the threads that Samís 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 letís 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 wasnít 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 Duckís feetÖI mean, it was an angry missle), Bosh
letting a jumper goÖand missing. All of this is compounded when the Raptors
knew (well, letís 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 canít let your team come down the court that many times in a row and execute poor decision making. I have to admit, it isnít like they were forced shots, there were some good looks there, but as I said, nobody was really lighting it up, you donít 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 foulsÖthatís coaching folks. Itís 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 donít want to use that guy down the stretch. Jack the ball up! Itís not even a ďLive by it, die by itĒ situation anymore. Itís just die by it.
Ah yesÖthe 3rd quarter. Outscored 28-19 and provided a nice 18-0 transition into the fourth quarter. Now THATíS 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 Murphyís ďMr. WhiteĒ SNL skit? (if not, click here) Remember how when the last black guy gets off the bus, the party starts? Iím starting to think thatís how the Raptors
locker room works. When the cameras show everyone walking into the room at the break, itís all business. But as soon as we go to commercial and the cameras are off, itís all drinks, giggles and local call girls until the 3rd quarter is ready to start. That has to be the explanation. Itís 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. Letís not be stupid. Guy never met a shot attempt he didnít 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 canít see him fitting in with the Raptors
and he is going to demand major cash, so letís just drop that thought before it even has a chance to settle into your heads.
Next up, the WolvesÖand hey, talk about teams of the futureÖ