Originally Posted by Jay
Sorry, but I am going to keep going with this old school motif for a little bit. Tonight’s game against the Hawks was one of those ones where there were a lot of things to like, but man, there were also a lot of things to dislike. A lot of joy and pain (in case you really needed me to tie that back to the title). So just because I feel like it, I am going to break things down in a good/bad, joy/pain format…
Watching Jamario Moon play defense. He does miss a few more assignments than anybody wants to notice (commentators and others in the know talk about him like he’s a big time lock down defender and he’s not…yet), but he hustles. There have been many times this season where we have seen either Jamario or one of his teammates miss on the offensive end, only to see Jamario hustle and break up what looks like 2 the other way. He did it again tonight. Coach started talking about him playing DB for the Chargers this weekend and sure, that was a little over the top, it’s not like he was in a dead sprint back there, but the fact is that he is hustling back on D and you can’t say that about many guys in the league. You also have to like that he just keeps going after the block, whether it is on the perimeter or coming through the lane. Jamario doesn’t care if he gets dunked on, because getting dunked on in the NBA is better than being a star in the D-League or the CBL or (enter alphabet league here).
Andrea Bargnani’s starts to games. Here are what I think the two biggest problems are with Andrea right now. 1) His mental preparation for games. As I have mentioned a few times before, I don’t think there is anything in his stroke or his fitness that is different from last year. I don’t think his training in the offseason has affected his play. I think that he is thinking so much about taking the right shot or getting a good look or not airing it out, he isn’t letting his natural muscle memory kick into effect and take over. He isn’t allowing his natural ability to work because he is just overthinking the game. Part of me was joking before when I said that he needed a slump buster, but part of me wasn’t joking. The great thing about something like that (er…so I’ve heard) is that it becomes a big joke, you laugh at yourself, your teammates get on you about it and before you know it, you are enjoying being out on the court again. You stop thinking about how to play the game and just start thinking about playing the game. There’s a big difference. 2) His foul trouble. He is having some serious problems getting out of the first 5-7 minutes of games not in foul trouble. He would make Yogi proud right now. Once you pick up two quick fouls, you are going to see some bench. When you pick up 3 quick fouls? You are going to become part of the bench. People are going to accidentally sit on you because they think you are part of the bench. Andrea has to use his body better, finding better position on guys on realizing that when he has been beaten by a move, it does absolutely no good to reach in to try to strip the ball. When you’re that big, you’re not going to have hands fast enough to do it and even if you do, you’re not going to get the call anyway. If your teammates are quick enough, they will slide over to help. He is a player who is going to need some help on the defensive end, because right now, it’s nothing but pain.
Chris Bosh adding some variety. It shouldn’t be a big surprise that since Chris Bosh has been attacking the basket more and working closer to the rim, he has been able to dominate more. All it took was Sam getting on him for a while, but hell, if Bosh had been reading RF for the past year, he would have been playing like this for well, a year now. Come on Chris, we know what we’re talking about man! But even more important than Bosh attacking the basket has been his quick decision making. When Bosh is getting the ball in the low post, he is not taking his customary 5 seconds to take action. He has cut that down to about 2 seconds, whereupon he attacks with a two-step mini-hook, a direct pivot and attack or a nice little fadeaway jumper that he has developed. When you’re a defender trying to cover those options and also have to keep in mind that he can hit you with some long jumpers, you realize that you have a serious situation on your hands. As long as Bosh remembers to stay active and keeps up his quick decision making, he will see more and more success.
More than almost anything in the world, I would like to sit in the Raptors locker room at halftime to listen to what the hell Sam is telling them at the break, because man, they have turned coming out flat in the 3rd quarter into an art form. It’s almost like a Pro-Line commercial. Team goes into the locker room playing decent ball, coach gives them some sort of “Four score and forty years ago” speech and the team instantly comes out flat and nearly throws away the game. Guy up in the reds shouts, “Wooooooohoooooo!” What is going on at halftime? Isn’t that when teams are supposed to be making adjustments for the positive? Flat, flat, flat! Coach and Chuck were talking about how Atlanta really came out guns blazing to start the 3rd, but a lot of that can be directly attributed to the poor shot selection and absolutely vacuous defense the Raptors were displaying. The Raptors came out in the third with a Bargnani jumper (missed), a shot clock violation and four more missed jump shots before they remembered Chris Bosh has been having some success recently attacking the basket. On the other side of the ball, Atlanta came out with some layups, mini-hooks, some free throws, a dunk…strong interior basketball. That just can’t happen, especially in your own house. That just cannot happen.
For some additional rain…can we one time, JUST ONE TIME, have somebody on this team, stand up for his teammate? Just once? Can we sign Matt Bonner for a game to come in and put somebody on their ass when they go after our point guards? Jose takes an elbow to the head (and goes down two seconds later in true soccer fashion) and it’s almost like the Raptors thought it was a natural part of the game. True, it was not the easiest thing to see if you were on the court, but certainly, somebody had to have seen what happened and if not, you could gather what happened by the fact that your teammate was holding his head and looking back at a guy. We’ve said it a million times before, but would a Raptors team with Oakley have ever stood for that? Do you think the Bad Boy Pistons from back in the day would have stood for that? ESPECIALLY AFTER THEY HAVE ALREADY TAKEN OUT YOUR OTHER POINT GUARD? The Raptors just reinforced tonight that they have no balls. None. I’m not asking for a brawl or anything, just for a message to be sent. Even Jalen Rose was good for that.
Anyway, handshakes for Bosh and Jose, strong games from both of them and some clutch shooting from AP. It looks like he is finally rounding into form again, finally over his annual slow start to the season (although this year has been slower than others). Nice to see the Raptors sharing the ball a lot right now too, but they really have to get this whole situation with Andrea sorted. He’s thinking way too much.