Originally Posted by Jay
So, in the Joy and Pain post, I was talking about how the Raptors have made coming out flat in the 3rd quarter into an art form. I wanted to find out exactly what goes on in the Raptors locker room at half time (well, other than Jose passing out Gatorade, which is some sort of trend from what I hear…hey Jose, can’t you get a rookie or maybe even Bargs to do that? At least it would make Bargs useful). So tonight, once again, I ask, “What the hell went on in the Raptors locker room at half time?” Why is it that the Raptors come out and continually get their asses kicked in the 3rd quarter? One might say that the tide started turning at the end of the 2nd quarter, ending with the Raptors going into the room down, but that’s the point. They had half time to get things back in order. They could sit down and say, “Here’s what went wrong at the end of the 2nd and how we need to lock down on these things. Here is how we are going to come out in the 3rd quarter.” Obviously, it wouldn’t be as simple of a conversation as that, but you get where I am coming from. There has to be some planning that goes on at half time, that’s the whole point of it. If half time wasn’t meant for teams to do a quick self-assessment, the break would be the same length as between quarters.
The problem with having a dreadful 3rd quarter is that it just doesn’t leave you a lot of time to mount a comeback. The Raptors almost pulled it off tonight, but what they really needed was another 4 minutes. If you are going to have a bad quarter, you had better make it the 2nd. You don’t want it to be the first, because you hate to get off to a bad start, it’s just demoralizing and it helps boost the other team’s morale. The 3rd quarter doesn’t leave you enough time to come back and the 4th quarter just ends the game for you. Even if you are able to mount a comeback, you can’t expect to keep doing it on a consistent basis, even if you are playing the worst team in the league. Teams are not going to blow leads every night, because it really takes two teams to work that out. You have to have a team playing bad defence and not being able to generate any offense and you have to have the other team scoring consistently and making a few stops in their own end. A comeback is a semi-complex equation (you can use that).
Carlos Delfino is a strange cat. I don’t know if I have ever seen a player so hot-cold in my life. He can just get into one of those zones where he is hitting everything and playing solid D, but then he can come out the next game and just look like he isn’t into it. By no means do I think he is a guy who mails it in some nights, I think he is a player who brings everything he has every night, but you can just see those games where for whatever reason, he just isn’t into the game. Tonight was one of those cases. He was 0-2 in 22 minutes and the fact that he only took 2 shots in that amount of time suggests that something wasn’t right, not only in his mind, but in the Raptors offence. Sure, sometimes he gets a little shot happy, but at the same time, for him to be effective, he needs to be shooting a little more than that.
You know why Gatorade Graham is so frustrating? Because he has games like tonight. Every time you think, “Man, we’ve gotta get Gatorade Graham out of here, even if it just for a new rack of balls”, he comes out and has a great game. 3-4 from the floor, 7-8 from the line and a couple of rebounds for 13 points in 16 minutes. He also managed to actually play a little bit of tough D. This is the kind of player he should be, the kind of player the Raptors thought he was going to be when they drafted him. I’m not saying that anybody figured he would be scoring at a pace of almost a point a minute, but if you were getting 10 points per game and 5 rebounds from him, I think everybody would be happy. Maybe the Raptors should see if they can get a group rate on a sports psychologist, throw Gatorade Graham and Gino in there and hope for the best.
Something I really hate hearing from commentators and other analysts is when they say how the Raptors were playing their fourth game in five nights and how fatigue caught up to them in the third quarter. Bullshit. You should be able to come out and play a solid game even if you are playing 4 games in 4 nights. The Sixers were playing their fourth game in six nights and it didn’t look like they were tired. If you want to use that excuse for losing a game, then how do you explain the Raptors being able to almost mount a comeback at the end of the game, one where they scored 39 points in the 4th quarter? It’s a lame excuse. If you are a pro athlete, sorry, if you are a pro franchise and are not able to play 4 games in 5 nights without having to hide behind a nancy-boy excuse like, “Oh, sorry for our performance, we were tired”, then you need to just spend the off-season on conditioning. Forget working on your shot, no exercise on footwork, just you, a pair of Saucony’s and 15K per day. Put on some headphones, maybe something inspirational, maybe something that tells you about how to grow some balls, maybe some damn Barry Manilow, but don’t give me that excuse about being tired. Listen up guys: Everybody in the world who has a job is tired.
Anyway, the Raptors will have a few days off to get prepared for the Celtics. They won’t be able to lay back on that tired excuse again, so we’ll have to wait and see what’s next. Sam better have these guys ready to go.