The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

The pain of watching the Raptors offense

Posted by Arsenalist on March 8, 2008

Washington Wizards 110, Toronto Raptors 106

That hurt. That one really, really hurt. It hurts me to see us suffer through offensive sets relying on Jose Calderon to do something to bail us out on every possession. Calderon’s exhausted trying to makeup for the pathetic excuse of an offense run by Sam Mitchell which doesn’t have a head or a tail to it. We’re freelancing on every possession, every single one. Sam’s idea of a play is to give Jose the ball, run a high screen for him and see if anything comes of it. The other option is to have Parker come off a baseline screen and go up for a fadeaway. That’s pretty much all we were running all game long so it’s not a shock that Washington defended the Parker fade to perfection on our last meaningful possession in overtime. When we needed a score, we failed to get one. The staple of the Sam Mitchell offense. The messed up part is that we ran that exact same play at the end of regulation and Washington had defended it really well!

Let’s get the Sam bashing out of the way, we had a chance to win this game in regulation. Three things happened in the fourth quarter which prevented us from doing that. Number One. The Raptors had ended the third quarter on a run and had managed to build a 6 point lead. You don’t need to be head coach to figure out that Washington was going to come out in the fourth quarter at full-force. Sam chose to start the fourth quarter of this crucial game with the struggling TJ Ford who played a key part in Washington’s 9-0 run to start the quadrant. On the quarter’s first three possessions Ford took two ill-advised shots and turned the ball over. Washington was back in this game and here to stay. Number Two. Down 2 at 1:59, the Raptors called a timeout to setup a play, what came out of the timeout was confusion followed by a Carlos Delfino 25 footer with the clock running down. On the ensuing possession, Delfino was caught on the switch against Jamison and a double-team was left begging, Jamison scored easily leaving me to wonder why we aren’t pressuring a team that’s shown all game long that they’re susceptible to it. Number Three. Why the hell are we going underneath a screen for Roger Mason Jr.?

Andrea Bargnani had a great game with 27 points but was largely invisible in the fourth quarter and OT going 1-5 FG in that stretch. Even then he had a commendable game but it was somewhat ruined for me when he unnecessarily fouled Antawn Jamison with 30 seconds left in a one possession game to make it a four point lead and more importantly, make an enemy out of the clock. A dumb play by Andrea that prevented us from getting another chance to tie this game in OT. Bargnani came out aggressive and hitting his shots and continued his good play into the second quarter. But as the half ended so did his effectiveness, Andrea went 2-6 FG for the rest of the game and wasn’t a very big factor. But 27 points out of Bargnani in an important game is great news and along with Moon’s play, one of the few positives on the evening.

A lot has been made about the depth of the Raptors team and how we can sustain with Bosh being out. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Washington Wizards: Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson, Antonio Daniels, Darius Songaila, Nick Young, Roger Mason, Andray Blatche, Dominic McGuire. That is called depth. It doesn’t matter to these guys that they’re two best players are out, they have a good coach and a solid supporting cast that understands their role and plays within it. Eddie Jordan has done a tremendous job with this group of players who play aggressive, hungry and most of the time, smart. In shartp contrast, look at us with Chris Bosh out. But we shouldn’t be shocked that we lost this game, our best interior defender, best rebounder, best scorer and best player wasn’t playing, thus exposing the false facade that is the depth on this team. But hey, we’re waiting for cap room to plug our holes, right? When is that? 2008 summer? 2009? On that note, it’s good to remind ourselves that we’re not the only ones with cap room.

Sam, you going to ride the Bosh excuse?

“There are just certain plays Chris can make and others can’t make. You can put the ball in his hands and create matchups that other players just can’t.”

How about Anthony Parker?

“We miss Chris every game, but that’s not an excuse. We just didn’t execute down the stretch.”

Execute what man? Don’t you just mean that the Raptors didn’t make their shaats? Let’s not use the word execute like we have a plan against a depleted team like Washington.

The Raptors were freestyling all night long with Calderon at the helm. He was getting caught up in some weird switches where Blatche, Haywood and Songalia often ended up guarding him and he took full advantage by driving to the rim and causing a little chaos. Delfino stepped up with 17 but all his points seem to come from one-on-drives, deep unexpected threes or just plain old-fashioned hustle points. I’m convinced that Carlos Delfino doesn’t know a single Raptors play (if one exists) because his game is completely detached from any offense we might run. He’s like that guy at school who doesn’t come to class, doesn’t do his homework but surprisingly, does pretty okay on the tests. Watching our offense is like scratching your nails against the blackboard, it’s a pain. Everything is predictable and guardable. The opposing team has complete control on what shot they want us to take and when push comes to shove, they can have their way. If it weren’t for Calderon’s penetration and a hard-working Parker, all 5 Raptors would be standing on the perimeter watching the wind blow.

It’s only appropriate that we got killed 49-38 and gave up two huge offensive rebounds in overtime which led to 4 crucial points. Jamario Moon’s man defense on Antawn Jamison was good all game but in the second half Jamison decided to play outside-in and kept cutting from the top of the key towards the rim and the Raptors never adjusted to his off-the-ball movement. Great adjustment from Eddie Jordan. We would’ve gotten blown out of this game if it weren’t for Washington turning the ball over 22 times to hand us 31 points. Many of them were caused by occasional great Raptor defense but many were unforced. Our perimeter defense wasn’t that bad but we were instead getting exposed underneath through backdoor cuts and East-West Washington movement. We played good defense in stretches in the third and fourth quarter but what good is a defense if it can’t come up with a stop when you need it the most?

The Raptors lose the season series against a team they could very well end up tying in the standings. It’s nice to win season series’ against the Indiana’s and NY’s but so far we’ve lost two of the three important ones: Orlando, Washington and soon we’re going to lose Cleveland. Talk about not showing up in the important games. Again, why am I shocked? Without Bosh, we’re a mess. It doesn’t look like Bosh will be back for the West coast swing and I’m guessing if we don’t beat Seattle, we’ll be 1 game under .500 when we arrive back home.

Till later.


  • Calderon didn’t have a great shooting game but it was because of him that the Raptors got back in this one in the third quarter. He’s the only Raptor that showed an ability to break down the Wiz defense and get to the rim. His shot count told me that he wanted to prove something after Arenas’ blog comments.
  • Jamario Moon had his second straight good defensive game. If he can just continue do the little things right on defense and add a drive to his game, he’d be a much better asset. He often turns down the open lane for a jumper which should be a crime given his athleticism.
  • I’m a big TJ Ford fan but his play today was worth of a wet puke. For all his quotes of being a team player, he sure doesn’t show it at times.
  • I like how Chuck Swirsky qualified a legal Antawn Jamison drive as a travel but on the very next possession kept quiet about a blatant Andrea Bargnani travel. Same for him questioning why Jamison wasn’t in the game in the third but remaining silent on Calderon’s absence.
  • Considering the Raptors shot 39%, we should be thankful we were in this game. Usually it takes a 45%+ FG for us to have a shot. Washington turnovers made up for a lot of our offensive problems and we did end up taking up more shaats (99-82)
  • Off-season super-signing Jason Kapono 2 points in 7 minutes, thought I’d throw that in there.
  • Another Friday, another loss.



16 Responses to “The pain of watching the Raptors offense”

  1. Lopez said

    I agree with you 100%! The Raptors offense is a joke! Am I the only one that noticed that they ran the same exact play at the end of regulation that they did on basically our last possesion of the game??(Anthony Parker curling around an Andrea Bargnani screen). Oh well Sam Mitchell is a pathetic excuse for a basketball coach, people shouldnt even label him as a coach because he doesnt coach, he watches. This team is so pathetic without CB4, I know he’s a big part of our success, but I didnt know that our offense couldnt function without him. Bargs was solid 2nite, Calderon was great and Tj Ford fucked us up again in the 4th! When he came in the game we had a slight lead im not sure what it was but it was a lead, and after his 2 missed shots and a turnover the lead disappeared. Im not blaming this completely on Tj, but he did have a part in it.

  2. AltRaps said

    We are as deep as a puddle.

    How much you want to bet that we will have little-to-no room under the cap because we sign 2 “complimentary” guys after we re-sign Jose and have $16-19mil tied up in one position?


  3. jeff said

    im a huge raptors fan…i hope we lose more games to really show that we are not a good team….then they will make some huge changes in the offseason….1st get rid of sam mitchell… i said it last year, he is not coach of the year….he has no plays…poor subsitutions… collangelo is also at fault, no idea why we got kaponno in the offseason. i dont’ get it…

  4. Andiamo said

    Sam’s idea of a play is to give Jose the ball, run a high screen for him and see if anything comes of it.


  5. Johnn19 said

    For some insight into TJ Ford’s performance check out Eric Smiths blog on the Fan590 and Michael Granges From Deep blog @ The Globe.

  6. SAMisCOY said

    lol … well, @ least the reigning coach of the year pulled TJ quick. I don’t think I’ve seen that happen before.

    AltRaps > I would like to see a different coach take a stab at this team though …

    I always wonder why …

    1> we don’t utilize Rasho more in the offense when he is in (he’s not a bad passing big buy–anyone remember when Sabonis used to run plays from the block?)

    2> it took this long for AP to get the green light to go to the hole

    3> not experiment with a big line up in a blow out/sure win/sure loss (no matter what the great basketball mind of Doug Smith says)

    4> we insist on playing small ball

    5> have more motion/cutters/movement w/out the ball

    … and how a different coach would do with this bunch

  7. khandor said

    re: “Calderon didn’t have a great shooting game … his shot count told me he wanted to prove something after Arenas’ blog comments.”

    This isn’t an accurate assessment/explanation of Calderon’s shot count.

    From the link that you provided:

    you should be able to see that Jose was 9-18 (50.0%) prior to the last few seconds of OT, when he hoisted up 3 FGA’s … in an effort to get a shot off vs Washington’s perimeter D, as the Wiz were closing this one out.

    Pretty much, all night long, Jose did a solid job of taking only what the Wiz’s D was giving him – drive, pass or shoot.

    Arenas’ blog comments had no bearing on Calderon’s shot count.

    Secondly …

    re: “On that note, it’s good to remind ourselves that we’re not the only ones with cap room … / … posted March 7, 2008 12:40 AM”

    Do your best to give credit where and when credit is due …

    posted on your own blog, March 6, 2008 8:07 PM


    Thirdly …

    re: “Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the Washington Wizards: Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, Brendan Haywood, DeShawn Stevenson, Antonio Daniels, Darius Songaila, Nick Young, Roger Mason, Andray Blatche, Dominic McGuire. That is called depth. It doesn’t matter to these guys that they’re two best players are out, they have a good coach and a solid supporting cast that understands their role and plays within it. Eddie Jordan has done a tremendous job with this group of players who play aggressive, hungry and most of the time, smart.”

    FYI … from February 26, 2008

    Last …

    1) Do not expect the Sonics to play tomorrow like they did yesterday vs Philly (last night)

    as the individual player match-ups between Seattle and the 76ers are totally different compared to what they are vs the Raptors …

    without Chris Bosh in Toronto’s line-up.

    The Raptors will be big favourites in the game … as they should be, playing at 1:00 PM on a Sunday … but, expect this game, as well, to only be decided in the final 6 min of regulation.

    2) If Bosh’s injury prevents him from suited up at all on the WC road trip …

    the next 10 days are going to be most interesting in Raptorland.


    In general …

    * Your Raptors’ game recaps are strictly 1st Class, and I enjoy reading them tremendously

    * Your blog is 1st Class, as well … because you allow others to express their opinions and insights about the Raptors whether they agree or disagree with your own … which, in my book, is a sign that you’re also a 1st Class person (who respects the rights of others)

    * Your blog is a breath of fresh air … in Raptorland

    Keep up your terrific work!

  8. Coolhandbud said

    Arsenalist, great job with the blog, keep up the good work. Thought I’d join the discussion as I think I’m going to snap.

    Your assessment of our freelance style of play and Sam’s lack of X&O’s is bang on. I’ve been feeling that same way for a long while.

    Couldn’t the Smitch pull at least one page of Sloan’s playbook and run some backdoor cuts? How about some double screens for Kapono?

    What about feeding our bigs in the low post every once in a while instead of the high pick and roll … say … why don’t we ever have our wing players cutting through the paint and setting the high pick leaving the bigs under the basket for … an offensive rebound?

    How about Moon continually running sideline to sideline under the basket looking for the alley-oop dunk as oppose to jacking up 3 balls?

    It drives me insane having to watch Calderon repeatedly trying to create… drive and kick to a stagnant team-mate camped on the perimeter … nothing like making the defence work … at least a little. And then we jack up the outside shot … with no one going for the rebound. Why not delegate Moon to run to the hoop for every outside shot taken and have everyone else go back for transition defence. He has the hops and length to maybe grab at least one board.

    Oh well … hey one more thing for you to ponder … did you notice before the 2nd half started … TJ was sitting on the table right next to the Swirsk. Chuck was going on how Calderon was the leader of the team … yadda … yadda … and it had to be in ear shot of TJ. The quarter starts and as you’ve stated … the first three possessions Ford took two ill-advised shots and turned the ball over. Coincidence? Ya I know … active imagination …. be cool –

    – peace – chb

  9. RonKayAlexandra said

    You do realize the irony of your profane rants? Do you?

    Bryan (EOY) has no clue how to build an NBA team (the jury may still out on that one). And Sam (COY) with 20 years in the NBA + a very experienced coaching staff have NO CLUE how to run an NBA team.

    Specifically, what qualifications do you have in terms of playing and
    coaching BB on a high level? And what internal Raptor strategic plans, playbook, and scouting reports are you privy to?

  10. […] – Arsenalist […]

  11. Johnn19 said

    When all is said and done not many teams shooting 39% win in the NBA.

    Washington @ 29-31 is a pretty decent talented team playing without Butler vs Raptors without Bosh pretty even. Arenas out so long not an impact. Teams pretty even and better play from Wiz subs Mason, Blatche and Young determined the game.

    For Rap’s to win they must have contributions from TJ and the bench, especially without Bosh.

  12. Raps Fan said

    my kindred brother…100%. what is killing me is how jose starts the 4th on the bench all the time. if it is necessary to give him a breather in the 2nd half, it has to be in the 3rd quarter, maybe with a couple minutes left. phil jackson used to do the same with jordan/pippen when he coached the bulls. you play your best players for the whole 4th, not let momentum swing and bring them in.

    the raptors haven’t had any semblance of an offense since butch carter left. what we have had to endure for about 5 seasons is the high pick and roll, and jumper, or more recently, curl parker off a low screen for a jumper.

    after the raptor game, i was watching the spurs/nuggets game, talk about execution. every time the spurs dump the ball into duncan in the post, the person who passes it, cuts the through the key to the opposite side of the court, then the perimeter rotates, and creates space for everyone to operate. mind you, we don’t hae duncan, parker or ginobli, but with bosh, calderon and parker, we can do that too.

    the raptors are a deep team if you consider players who don’t rebound or play a role to be deep. we got a lot of guys who can shoot the ball well, but no one who plays basketball. i take the washington lineup anyday. they are missing two starters/all stars, etan thomas, and still play with pride/hard. hats off to them.

    oh, and if you weren’t counting, we went 3-1 against a sub 500 team this season. when will the talk of finishing 3rd in the east stop? can we officially say we are a good team, but not a really good team? that we aren’t better than 5th in the conference, and the only reason we were 4th last season is because we won a division with only 47 wins? please?

  13. cuzzy said

    Every time a game like that happens I can sense all Raptors fan feeling the same way.

    We invest so much time in watching and we keep getting screwed.

    They had to, HAD TO win that game.

    To make up for it now they have to win one out west, fat chance.

    I posted a video for the raps to watch, lets hope they do.

    SONGALIA and Young killed us, that can’t happen

  14. josh said

    To reply to comments of RonKayAlexandra … your comments have no validity and simply retarded!!!!

    20+ years in the NBA as a player doesn’t make Sam Mitchell a good coach. Sam Mitchell is NOT a good coach.

    Look at ISIAH THOMAS, enough said!!!
    Isiah is the top 50 great players ever in the NBA.
    I would say he is the WORST COACH and GENERAL Manager EVER in history!!!

    The best nba player with experience doesn’t make you a good coach…2 totally different things!

  15. Raps Fan said

    josh, i wouldn’t say he is the worst coach. i think that distiction goes to woodson in atlanta. definitely the worst gm (at least neck and neck with mchale). smitch isn’t a good x’s and o’s coach, but he isn’t that bad either, but not that good, lol.

  16. SAMisCOY said

    josh > LOL, I was going to reply with Isaiah as well, or how about MJ? Arguably one of the top 5 best players, but crap at running a team.

    Raps Fan > agreed. Smitch is a good “locker room” coach (nowadays–far cry from that shit he pulled during the VC days), but not (even by HIS OWN admission) an X and O’s coach. Smitch needs his own Tex Winter.

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