The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Sam Mitchell can’t ride the Bosh/Bargnani excuse much longer

Posted by Arsenalist on December 8, 2007

Toronto Raptors 84, Boston Celtics 112

toronto raptors dazed and confused

Hmmm…you didn’t need to watch past the first quarter because the other three were the same: Boston tearing an undermanned Raptors squad inside out as the Raps struggle with their offense while the coaching staff simply waits for Bosh/Bargs to come back. Yes, we were missing two key players but that can’t serve as an excuse for offensive sets that were so stagnant that Joey Graham taking one-on-one contested jumpers was considered a good possession. There’s no point in spewing the bile about our unimaginative offense or porous defense because as long as Sam Mitchell is in Toronto, it’s not going to change. At best we can hope for games where our run ‘n gun style pulls us through and the occasional individual brilliance from our talented offensive players.

I didn’t expect the Raptors to win this game but I did expect them to compete and at least keep the game close until the third quarter, don’t think that was too much to ask. Not having Bosh and Bargnani hurts but that can’t explain how Rajon Rondo was able to blow by our PGs and then have enough time to casually pick out a choice of open shooters. Nor does it justify picking up silly fouls, simply losing track of your man and not fighting through picks. These are basic fundamental things that an undermanned team must do in order to have an outside chance of keeping the game close, it ain’t exactly rocket science. It needs to be preached pre-game and enforced by the coach. No excuses. The players take the blame for not executing and the coaching staff takes it for not instilling the concept in the team. A coaching staff is supposed to get creative when faced with adversity or challenges, that’s when they really earn their money. In our case Sam just threw his arms up in the air and just rode the injury excuse to a horrible and embarrassing loss. All we fans beg for is to try and so something: trap the ball, run back-screens, maybe a UCLA cut, try to get Garnett out of the game, force Ray Allen to the baseline, make Rondo beat you, something, do something!!! Here’s what Mitchell offers:

“They just drilled us. Got guys injured. Got guys in and out of the lineup. It’s just tough.”

Not good enough I say. Sam’s sub patterns are so erratic that nobody really knows when they’re going to play and who they’re going to guard. Tonight we saw the return of Juan Dixon from exile and he looked like a chicken with his head cut off and was just trying to get his points. Can’t really blame him. Everybody has injuries, you deal with them and come up with alternate strategies, you don’t moan about them and use them as excuses.

Another concept, one of rotational defense doesn’t seem to exist in the current squad; the opposing team only has to beat one person off the dribble and we’ll be lucky if help comes. Even if help comes, the rotation that the help should trigger simply never happens thus reducing the task of breaking us down to a simple drive ‘n dish. This problem is so deep rooted in this team that it can’t change overnight. I don’t think we had a chance in this game even if Bosh/Bargs played because we didn’t lose this game by not just scoring enough points, we also lost because we allowed the Celtics to push us over way too easily on defense. There was little resistance to anything they tried to do, we couldn’t even foul them so they could at least earn it on the line.

There are times when the Raptors can come off looking like the worst team in the NBA and that’s when it dawns on me that we are so horribly coached on both ends that it’s nothing short of a shock that we’re 4th in the East. Well, we did have an easy November and if early December is a sign of things to come, we’re in HUGE trouble. Our inability to establish a defensive system under Sam Mitchell is going to cost us; it already cost us the NJ series and it’s cost us at least 5 games so far this season. Concepts like rotations, switching and close-outs are either entirely missing from games or executed so poorly that you wonder if the player is just being lazy or doesn’t know what to do – Joey Graham is Exhibit A, he doesn’t know who to guard and what to do on a switch. Throw Juan Dixon and TJ Ford into the same category and we’re lucky that the ref doesn’t blow us for the three second violation every time. As for Joey, it’s very evident that he’s trying to win a spot on this team by trying to force his offensive game. Unfortunately for him, that’s the perfect way to shoot himself out of an NBA job. He needs to learn the basic fundamentals of defense, develop two or three good go-to moves and be aggressive on the boards. Maybe then he has a shot of staying in the NBA past his rookie deal.

Enough about the game.

Chuck Swirsky
chuck swirsky caricature cartoon

Apparently he contacted the RealGM folk and asked that threads bashing him should be heavily moderated and that the insults are too much. Fair enough but he does bring it on himself by wrapping himself in a Raptors flag while calling the game. You can’t expect to make the entire broadcast your own little toy by coining stupid catch phrases, giving shout outs to people, exaggerating the player abilities, forcing your viewpoint on others and not expect to be called out on it.

I was watching the Celtics/Raptors game from way back when Vince hit the game-winning three at Boston Garden and John Saunders was calling it. There were no onions, no salami and cheese, no hyperbole, no insane shouting, nothing that would be qualified as stupid. He just called the game as he saw it and it was fine, everybody enjoyed it and never talked about the announcer. That’s how it should be. BTW Chuck, thanks for shoving the most useless stat down our throats for the past two weeks, you know Jamario Moon having a block in a dozen straight games. Is there one for steals? Or how about one for defensive rebounds. You know like “most consecutive games with a defensive rebound”. Ughh.

Horrible night for the Raptors, best to forget about it and hope that we find our form Sunday against Houston at the ACC.

You might find this little video clip amusing. Later. Get the feed.

10 Responses to “Sam Mitchell can’t ride the Bosh/Bargnani excuse much longer”

  1. Red Rebounder said

    Great post. Didn’t expect to win the game but wanted to see what hte Raps would do to compensate for Bosh and Bargnani being out in a big game on the road. Not surprisingly they did nothing. The whole team played like shit. And whoever said the Celts didn’t have a bench was a fool.

    How much Boston paying House? Isn’t he the same as a Kapono only much cheaper?

  2. Darrick Martin 4 3 said

    Truer words about Joey Graham have never been spoken.

  3. Tafo said

    I’m glad to read that you disagree with Smitch’s point of view.
    I’m an Italian fan and probably I’m too much “european-oriented” about the game to judge an NBA team, but honestly…Raps just have no idea on the court! May be Sam’s a good man or a second-father for young players but please, don’t call him Coach! Basketball isn’t just pick’n’roll / pick’n’pop & random actions.
    Gherardini knows the game and IMHO he still can’t believe the voted him COY! Provaci ancora, Sam.

  4. Raps Fan said

    you are bang on. coaches earn their money when the chips are down, and things aren’t going well. mitchell hasn’t shown that once. sure, with a whole team complement the raptors are solid, and can compete with most teams on any given night. but this incarnation of the raptors will always have injury problems (bosh and ford have a history already, and they are 23), so if this franchise is serious about winning, there needs to be better leadership from the coaching staff.

    as for swirsky, the bashing on RealGM is rough. i thought i was bad, but people go far there. i can understand how that would affect someone, cause at the end of the game, he probably is a nice guy. but like you said, his antics and weak analysis overshadow his personality and excitement. he needs to find a happier medium, and not be such an homer. more like armstrong, but keep the excitement. i say lets bring in barkely, he will balance the equation.

  5. coach said

    swirsky affected by the fans’ viciousness(?)of attacks on him ? hmmm.
    why don’t he just say ‘ he said all those stupid things by the strenght of his convictions ‘ and shut up. after all, swirsky used that reasoning in justifying the lone vote for bargnani for rookie of the year .

  6. Raps Fan said

    the guy is in the public spot light, he has to expect these sorts of things. i just got through reading some of posts on realgm, and some of the stuff is harsh, but he gets paid a lot of money to do what he does. id trade with him any day.

  7. Raps Fan said

    not to be him, but do what he does. btw, that picture of him is freakin classic!

  8. SAMisCOY said

    Who knows. This may just be the year that we get rid of Sam. Cruelest joke the NBA played on the Raps was making him COY. :) I’m still not laughing, and I guess neither are any of you.

    Don’t be to hard on Swirsk though, I have watched game feeds from other teams, and a lot of small market teams seem to have the “homer mentality”, and Swirsk is actually pretty tame. No, I’m not a fan, and yes, I hate the whole salami-and-cheese business, but casual fans seem to like him.

    To be completely honest, the ONLY thing keeping me a sane Raps fan this season, is the fact that had we NOT been spoiled by the sudden resurgence of the Raps at the end of last season, we’d probably be happy right now that our team is at 500 in December.

    Any thoughts on who you want to see replace Sam?

  9. arsenalist said

    Chuck Swirsky is more annoying than anything. I can look past him pretty easily, it’s just that him complaining about being in the spotlight is a contradiction to his style of commentating.

    As for Sam, I think the Raptors need more X’s and O’s in their playbook and him and his staff just don’t have it. Maybe hiring a strategic assistant coach is the answer or maybe a new coach altogether. A replacement for Sam might be Phil Johnson who’s been the Jazz assistant forever. Worker under Jerry Sloan for 18 years is HUGE.

  10. […] We can’t ride the Bosh/Bargnani excuse much longerBy arsenalistThrow Juan Dixon and TJ Ford into the same category and we’re lucky that the ref doesn’t blow us for the three second violation every time. As for Joey, it’s very evident that he’s trying to win a spot on this team by trying to force …Arsenalist – […]

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