Originally Posted by Jay
As soon as I heard that Caron Butler wasn’t going to be playing tonight, I said to myself, “Here comes the letdown.” It was almost guaranteed. I don’t know what it is with the Raptors, but as soon as they are facing a team that is missing at least one of their stars, they go into this sort of trance, letting passable NBA players suddenly look like stars on the court, slicing and dicing through the lane, untouched like the most street of street people.
Well, let’s take a look at a few of the things I said were going to be part of tonight’s game. Entertainment value? Check. The Raps and Wiz always deliver on that front. Wiz playing the Raptors tough? Check. Without Caron Butler (and Arenas) they still found a way to win. Wiz gritty when they need to be? Check. How many big offensive rebounds did they pick up in the fourth quarter and overtime? Did Eddie Jordan have his guys ready to go tonight? Check. But most importantly, did I not say that if the Raptors didn’t come out with energy and a game plan in the third quarter, they were going to get buried? CHECKITY MOFO CHECK! The Raptors essentially handed the game to the Wiz by coming out as dead as CBC primetime, unable to execute and looking utterly lost. It took the Raptors 4.5 minutes to finally score after the half and once again, I have to ask, WHAT THE HELL GOES ON IN THE RAPTORS LOCKER ROOM AT HALFTIME? Turnovers, fouls, missed shots, they looked like a team that just had the NBA rulebook passed to them at the break, like they hadn’t played the game before.
Note to Raptors: When you have to run your star player out there for 50 minutes against a team missing their two best players, you probably don’t deserve to win. Let’s hope Chris Bosh’s conditioning is up to par, because tomorrow is going to be no treat. Making the flight back, then having another game tomorrow after logging 50 HARD minutes tonight, it’s going to be tough. Chris is a professional and you never have to question if he brings it every night, but he shouldn’t be put in that position when the Raptors are presented with a situation like tonight. You never want to look at the schedule and say, “Well, tonight’s game is one we should win”, but tonight’s game was one of those ones where you could look at the starting lineup and say, “Well, tonight’s game is one we should win.”
Can somebody explain to me why Gatorade Graham is taking three shots in a row for the Raptors? After having two of those three shots blocked, Sam had to put him back on the bench. The one good thing GG did was set a brick wall of a pick. Now, if he could concentrate on using his size in those kind of instances, along with some rebounding and some D, on a consistent basis, he cou…ah hell, who am I kidding? That’s never going to happen.
Okay, so now on to a few good things. I REALLY liked how Bosh welcomed Antonio Daniels to the HARDcourt at the end of the third quarter. If there was one good thing the Raptors can take out of that third quarter, it was that Bosh was man enough to not let Daniels walk in for another Wiz uncontested layup. Somehow, Bosh channeled his inner Oakley and said, “Oh HELL NO” and slapped Daniels like he was paying him by the hour. It wasn’t dirty, it was just hard basketball. That is the kind of thing the Raptors need some more of. I think there was a little pride intertwined in that foul. That’s good to see.
You also have to like the fact that the Raptors didn’t quit on the game, even though it looked like it was pretty much dead. Tell me you didn’t have a feeling they were going to hit a 3 at the end of the game, just because it was against the Wiz. I was hoping TSN would cut to a shot of Eddie Jordan, because my favourite thing about the shot MoPete hit last year was seeing Jordan’s face, where he just had that “I can’t believe that just happened” smile on his face. I’m guessing he had that again tonight.
Anyway, the Raptors need to come out tomorrow night and put a hurt on the Wizards, have a little pride on their own home court. This isn’t a must win game, but it’s one of those games that they need to win to tell other teams that they aren’t chumps. You can’t follow up a big win against the Celtics, then punish the Bucks and come out and lay that egg. Nope.