Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Bottom Line: When the Raptors need to score, they can’t. Same for rebounding.

Posted by Arsenalist on January 6, 2008

Cleveland Cavaliers 93, Toronto Raptors 90

Typical Raptors. Do everything right early and then slowly but surely screw everything by reverting to your true form of a team that’s lost on offense and plays shoddy defense. There shouldn’t be any surprise that we blew a 20 point lead at home because we’re a team that plays good in stretches but rarely put together a complete game and have trouble sustaining effort and quality. Today we played a good first quarter and from then on could only muster a couple stretches of play which came close to our first quarter form. Now Cleveland’s not much better and just about as inconsistent as us, if not more. The difference is that they have a superstar and we don’t. This is what a superstar does for your team, when everybody is struggling, he can bring you back into the game and elevate the play of others around him and that’s what happened.

Our rebounding is sore and lacking. Chris Bosh needs some help on the boards and he’s not getting it from Bargnani, Humphries, Delfino and Moon. When Anthony Parker is your leading rebounder with 8, you know you have a problem. If Lebron was killer #1, rebounding was #1a; it’s surprising that we haven’t addressed this problem this late into the season. Getting outmanned 52-33 on the boards at home reeks of complete domination but don’t take my word for it, look at the box score and you’ll find everybody on the Cavs hitting the boards while we simply watch Bosh attempt to rebound over Gooden and Varejao. Why is 7-footer Rasho playing only 14 minutes in a game where his rebounding and size are of the utmost importance? Why? How about Humpries and his 4 whopping minutes? What is the reasoning here? Given Bosh’s limited talent level and physical ability I’ll gladly take 23 points on 9-11 FG from him and remind everybody that he’s not a superstar and can’t be expected to carry this team on both ends. Him passing the ball to Jamario Moon with the game on the line speaks volumes.

When we were having success early two things were happening: 1) Cleveland was not playing any defense and 2) We were getting out on the break. Starting late in the second quarter both things changed and we regressed into our real offense which is just finding ways to run the pick ‘n roll against a defense that knows exactly what you’re doing. What follows is usually a late shot-clock situations with the ball in the wrong persons hands and then we have Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker trying to create mano-a-mano on the three point line. Tsk, tsk is all I say.

All you need to know about the Raptors offense is that we haven’t been able to pull two players who are very important to this team out of their funks: Kapono and Bargnani, both going an ineffective 1-5 and 2-9 respectively. The sad thing is that there is no end to their plight in sight because we continue to do the same thing over and over again on offense expecting success. There’s no effort being made on the part of Sam to get Kapono any looks and the man looks lost. As for Bargnani, he continues to launch low percentage jumpers hoping they go in. To quote Albert Einstein:

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Al

If we have anything else in our offensive arsenal besides two very obvious plays, somebody point them out to me. The scouting report bug has now bitten Kapono and teams are staying at home with him and the Raptors haven’t adjusted. Remind you of anyone? We played good enough man and perimeter defense to win this game and lost it because of offensive droughts and rebounding, two things that has plagued this squad since last year. I’m even getting sick and tired writing about them because it’s become redundant to the point of boring. Our offense is so stagnant that all you have to do is look at the movement when Bosh has the ball in the post. There’s none. There are no cutters, wide options, weakside screens, nothing. If Bosh manages to beat his man, fine, otherwise it’s a one and done. Nevermind that he seems utterly confused when he has the ball and the defense is showing the double but not doubling and waiting for him to put it on the floor before they do.

Damon Jones saving all his threes for us is simply classic and one of those “only the Raptors” things. Jones who had countless DNPCDs and trade demands coming into this game lights us up in the fourth after we surprisingly double Lebron off his man. Madness has no end. But it’s fitting that Cleveland won this game because let’s face it, they are the better team regardless of what Chuck Swirsky thinks of them. I believe Chuck was “unimpressed” by the Cavaliers and was “disappointed” with their effort and team structure. Sorry Chuck but you’re going to have to eat shit here.

If you want to stop the Raptors the forumula is simple, collapse on Bosh postups and switch on the pick ‘n roll. Since we don’t have anything to revert to (or if we do, it’s very poorly executed) after those two adjustments are made, our offense breaks down and we’re forced out of our comfort zone and so begins our offensive droughts, hence the need to get easy points. Jose Calderon ran the break early with success but later in the game the Raptors completely abandoned that source of points. As mentioned before on this blog Jose does not have the ability to break down the defense and create for his temmates, this is where we miss TJ the most. Juan Dixon is at best an average backup point guard and can’t be relied upon to do anything more than hold the fort down for about 5-10 minutes a game.

Bargnani once again showed that he can’t be relied upon to provide anything on either end of the floor. We were desperately looking for somebody to step up in the fourth quarter when Cleveland was doubling Bosh and nobody came to the forefront. Calderon’s deep three restored some hope late in the fourth but you knew we wouldn’t be able to get any points out of our half-court set and we simply died away while Cleveland and Lebron continued to drill us in the ass. It was sad.

Finally, I’d like to bring up the issue of rotations and how Sam’s are killing this team. Mitchell does not have a clue how to handle a rotation, it’s blatantly obvious that whatever his strategy for playing time distribution is, it’s not working. Rasho, Humphries, Graham and Baston are either being completely ignored or used in such an inconsistent way that they have no idea what their role is when they come in. Graham launched a jumper within two seconds of him being inserted and was promptly benched after he turned the ball over. Total PT for him: 2 minutes. Why even bother? Because his Dad’s in the stands? Rasho has also become the victim of strange DNPCDs and sporadic playing time, I still can’t believe he got a DNPCD against Detroit which boasts 4 huge PF/Cs. We need to either use Baston or trade him. As for Darrick Martin, I can’t understand why we haven’t freed up a roster spot by releasing him or making him an assistant coach.

One-Liners:

* There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that we were going to blow the 20 point lead.

* I muted Chuck and Leo. It was too much.

* I don’t want to hear about Calderon’s Assist to Turnover ratio anymore!!!!!

* Cleveland has a game-plan, it’s damn simple and revolves entirely around Lebron, but at least it’s a game plan.

* I don’t want to hear this “Sunday afternoon advantage” bullshit anymore.

* TJ Ford is the starter for a reason. He’s an out and out creator.

* Watching Bargnani is becoming sad but at least it’s tolerable now. I don’t have any expectations of him so when he tanks it with 4 points and 3 rebounds, I don’t even get bothered anymore.

* Jamario Moon was fun to watch today, especially early on the break. Still don’t understand why we didn’t look to run, it’s not like Cleveland was preventing the leaks.

* Every Raptors fan should get this through their head: Bosh is a not a superstar and it’s unfair to expect him to go head-to-head with Lebron.

* The Raptors are pathetic at leaking out and running the break and Calderon isn’t great at encouraging it. Given how nobody aside from Bosh is really helping out at the boards, I would think the least they could do is leak out and try to get some easy baskets.

* The Raptors can only win as a team because they lack the personnel to dominate with skill. Team rebounding, team offense and team defense are a must. Cleveland can afford to take three quarters off and rely on Lebron, we can’t.

* We played like this game was over once we were up by 20 which is funny because the Dallas game wasn’t that long ago.

* The Raptors are a jump shooting team and we shouldn’t be shocked when they struggle to score for stretches. That’s the nature of a jump shooting team.

I’m pissed and disappointed.

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18 Responses to “Bottom Line: When the Raptors need to score, they can’t. Same for rebounding.”

  1. RapsFan said

    Probably one of the best starts Raptors had this season, we were blowing the Cavs out of the water in the beginning and remained a 10-15 point lead until the 4th quarter. Shame we blew it, lol. You got to give credit to LBJ, only this guy can do what he had accomplished today, the guy was red hot and unstoppable down the stretch.

    However, you seem to forget to mention the little incident of the 2 girls on the sidelines who were rumored to be Bosh’s cousin and gf who were supposedly taunting and trash talking LBJ which lead to the spark and stepping up of Bron’s game. They were yapping back and forth at the end.

    My one-liners:

    – We choked and failed to produce on their end and unable to stop LBJ’s attack in the end.

    – We missed a LOAD of FT’s if I remember correctly… that killed us.

    – Daemon Jones is the certified ‘Raptor Killer’ as for now. After he second 3 he chucked up and I knew it was over.

    – Rasho needs some burn against the Cavs, he’s the perfect guy when playing them.

    – Barg’s is better now, NEEDS TO LEARN TO GRAB A DAMN BOARD though. Spectator on the glass.

  2. Arsenalist said

    You’re right about the FTs, that was huge. That was also a problem in the Detroit game. As for Bargs being “better”, it’s a shame because a 4 point 3 rebound performance is considered an improvement.

    The girls incident is off-court shit but I do agree on Rasho’s playing time. If not in the past two games, then when?

  3. PsychicSpy said

    Must be tough pointing out the same obvious things game after game. The internet critics are relentless… and dead right.

    Colangelo MUST know his Euro Master Plan is in tatters. The SMitch would have built a very different team. There MUST be a LOT going on behind the scenes.

    It’s fascinating to read “7 Seconds or Less” about the 2005-06 Phoenix Suns. Out of 315 pages… Bryan gets maybe one page of ink. He may still turn out to be all style over substance.

  4. Bustani said

    Props for writing a comprehensive report after each painful game, takes a man.

    I’m not a Bargnani hater, I’m a Bargnani as a #1 pick hater. He doesn’t have the skill to be a top pick. He’s in the same category as Olowokandi, someone who a GM thought had a lot of potential and ended up overvaluing his skill. Aside from knocking down open shots, he hasn’t shown anything of substance. His defense is a write-off, maybe that shit works in Europe, but not in the NBA. He’s a boy amongst men here.

  5. i was at yesterday’s game, and let me tell you, the level of intensity was pretty much the same for the whole game for the raptors. the only difference was that lebron stepped up when he had too.

    bosh’s rebounding number is a bit misleading. he only had 3 heading into the second half of the 4th, and most of his boards were garbage no contest ones.

    i felt the same way about the game as you arsenalist, that’s why i couldn’t write an article. says a lot about this team, that they are 500 at this point of the season, especially with the easy schedule to start the year. they did ok in december considering the injuries and schedule.

    the raptors are a freaking 500 team. and i blame chuck and the rest of those idiots for force feeding us the notion that we are an eastern conference elite team. we aren’t. not even close. yesterdays game brings the total to about 5 or 6 games that we should have won, but didn’t.

    what does that tell you? tells you that we are right where we should be. hovering around 500, hoping one of the other teams collapses so we make the playoffs, and mostly hoping we don’t face jersey again.

    was nice to watch lebron yesterday though, guy is sick.

  6. PsychicSpy said

    It’s a privilege for a fan to watch LeBron take over like that. Much like watching MJ circa 1990.

    Bargs was nailed to the bench because of the end of the half sequence. My recollection: with 15 secs left and Raps up by 13… Bargs drops an easy rebound. Another Raptor brings it up the floor. Bargs misses a contested 2 with 3.9 seconds left. LeBron charges up the floor
    for a layup… and one… because Bargs, while doing nothing to actually challenge LeBron, draws a foul as he tries to GET OUT OF THE WAY by twisting out of bounds like a girl. That’s 3 errors in 15 seconds
    that left Cleveland down by 10 at the half… instead of 13 or 15.

    BC should be publicly calling out Andrea for his SOFT, CARELESS play.

    The guy is a One Man Keystone Kop. Smitch is RIGHT because he KNOWS that SOFT FLOATERS like Bargs… can get better ONLY by earning their minutes the f*cking HARD WAY.

    Why Rasho was also riding the pine is much more of a mystery.

    Remember the winter RealGM thread about the Tanenbaum Christmas party where Bargs was a total wallflower. You can see it every game. Bosh, TJ, Moon are buddies… lots of close friends and good chemistry on the Raps… but Bargs is odd man out. He’s always alone. An outsider. This carries over onto the court. Where in the world did anyone get the idea that Bosh/Bargs would be a Championship Duo?

    Smitch would have built something like Aldridge/Varejao instead of Bargs/Kapono. At least we’d have Championship Hair.

  7. Sam is COY said

    I don’t agree with Caldy. Put it this way, who else have we got, and would you rather see another Mike James come in and be selfish? You think TJ could play better “D” or limit his jacking us out of games? Ever hear any Milwaukee fan bemoan the loss of TJ?

    I TOTALLY agree on Smitches horrible use of the bench. I was one of those that couldn’t care less the other game that his scoring came back because he had NO defence and did NOT even bother to block out for rebounds. Same for this game. He was a freakin’ liabilty, and the one guy who FINALLY can be counted on bang deep (aside from CB4), was nowhere to be seen! How the heck does Smitch justify not playing Hump?

  8. Sam is COY said

    Btw, it’s REALLY getting hard for me to defend Bargs … very hard …

  9. Red Rebounder said

    Can you please increase the font on this blog? It’s hard to read, gives me a headache every morning.

    @RapsFan: We were only blowing the Cavs out because they weren’t playing any defense. We moved the ball well early but it still had more to do with them than us. We couldn’t have played Lebron any other way, he just took over and Delfino or Parker couldn’t do shit. When we doubled, Jones hit his threes.

    @PsychicSpy: You don’t need to be best buddies to be a good team. If Andrea can elevate his game nobody will care whether he’s a social reject. Every time I look at him the word passive comes to mind.

    @Sam is COY: TJ never even played in Milwaukee much so nobody even remembers him. I think he would’ve made a difference late in the game, I’ll take TJ’s drives over Jamario jacking up threes any day.

  10. Arsenalist said

    Font increased! Anything for a reader.

    PsychicSpy, I don’t know about the plan being in “tatters” because Calderon is working out fine (I know he was acquired by Babcock) and Parker is playing decent, before Garbo got injured, he was fine too. It’s just that Bargnani is playing like such a bust (not saying he’s a bust yet) that it’s making everything look really bad. For this team to have success, we need a consistent 16/8 out of Bargnani every night, that’s just not happening for whatever reason (effort, coaching, defense, scouts, whatever).

    As I said in a post a long time ago, we need someone like Reggie Evans to help out on the defensive glass, it would help a lot and lift the pressure of Bosh on defense and give him more energy on offense. I think not having TJ is hurting us right now because as I said in the post, he’s our only true creator. When our simpleton offense gets shut down, we need somebody who can create their own shot and create.

  11. PsychicSpy said

    I’ve never played competitive BB… but I run a multi-million dollar hedge fund for 15 years. I think “strategically” for a living.

    Winning an NBA Championship depends ENTIRELY on having 3 Elite starters. The bench gets very short deep into the playoffs.

    Right now… we are FARTHER AWAY from having 3 Elite starters… than when BC got here. We have Bosh. TJ had some potential to be an Elite PG… but his injury history will probably lower his ceiling. And forget about Bargs ever being Elite.

    With no lottery picks… we are down to BIG CAP SPACE in 2009 as planned. But why would an Elite player come to Toronto to join a soft 0.500 Euro team?

    I’m sure BC is well aware of this… and is in full damage control mode for the short term. In the medium term there will be big changes.

  12. Johnn19 said

    Really missing the contributions of the 2nd unit, who were supposed to be a Raptor advantage, but are suffering from the loss of their leader Calderon and his 6 ast & 9 points as a back-up PG. Too bad Jose can only play 35/40 mins and not 48.

    If as I suspect TJ is still weeks away, BC must release Dmart and find a back-up who can create and score, as Dixon learning on the job is to painfull to watch.

  13. it is painful, but in all fairness, you can’t teach someone to be a point guard in the nba, you can only teach them to be a better pg. dixon is out of his element, he just wants to shoot the lights out, or take it to the rack. i actually like that fearless scoring thirst about him. not to say he doesn’t take too many shots, just that i like the drive.

  14. Birdman said

    Johnn19, you’re right – the Raps strength used to be their depth. When Smitch doesn’t rotate in the guys when he should (to make up for glaring deficiencies during gametime), we get exposed since our starting 5 can’t compete with the starting 5 of more than half the teams out there.

    Raptorstalk.com, you can’t blame Chuck and Leo for touting us as an elite team. We won the friggin’ division last year (albeit WAS the Tanklantic)! You can’t expect Chuck to come out and say “fans, don’t get excited over this team”. That’s like expecting Leo to be quiet for more than 6 consecutive seconds. He’s paid to be positive.

  15. birdman, yes the raptors won the atlantic last year, but they only won 47 games. so you have to take it in context. i don’t expect them to not support the franchise, but they really blow things out of proportion. i expect chuck et al to be a bit more responsible in their cock sucking of this franchise, thats all.

  16. PapiJulio said

    Oh, I think I found where real fans hangout. Thanks ‘RapsFan’!

    The Raptors are up, then down! Where’s the consistency?

    In retrospect, Canadians invented the sport but know very little about the game. The real game doesn’t start till the Forth Quarter. Everything else is just to see who’s hot and who’s not.

    My Grandma can hit a jump shot with no pressure! Add the forth quarter, game on the line… now it’s a whole new game! It becomes a metal game. You have to keep a level head and not get caught in the hype! That’s where Toronto needs to improve the most I think. We crack under pressure.
    We need someone …i.e. Coach or Bosh (SuperStar in the Works) to mentally buckle down and set the tone in the 4th for our team. In basketball players can smell weakness on the court a mile away. When Toronto shows weakness the other teams feed off it and their game is elevated. In essence we make them better.

    Fans also need to learn not to get over excited and praise our players like a bunch of Gods when they win a bit. As fans we need to be harder on our team. Not get excited like a bunch of school girls at their Sweet Sixteen Party. Who get panties for the first time. Run out to show everyone. Then get taken advantage of because we are too excited and before we know it… we got F*@ked again because our head isn’t in the game!

    Just a Thought!

  17. Undisput3d55 said

    This was my first time reading the blog and I must say that you speak alot of truth. You don’t sugarcoat anything, yet you don’t completely bash the team. It was a very good read and I will be back. Keep up the good work.

  18. […] Bottom Line: When the Raptors need to score, they can??t. Same for rebounding. […]

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