Arsenalist

The Toronto Raptors Blog with an Arsenal touch

Series hinges on pivotal Game 4

Posted by Arsenalist on April 26, 2008

The good feelings after Game 3 should be wearing off by now and the stark reality should be setting in. If we don’t win pivotal Game 4, this series is practically over. A repeat performance is very much needed and there’s little reason to believe that it can’t happen. The Magic will no doubt come out with a higher level of defensive pressure and crisper offensive sets, the Raptors must match the early intensity and send the message that Game 3 was no fluke and if anything, they’re the ones that should be up 2-1 in the series hadn’t it been for some questionable calls in Game 2.

The Raptors PG tandem is getting some high praise from Stan Van Gundy and its not a shock that if they play as well as they did in Game 3, a victory this afternoon is almost a surety:

“That’s as good as a pick-and-roll game game as there is in this league, this side of Steve Nash. When you put shooters around them, that’s going to cause difficulties. The thing with Calderon that’s so impressive, he and Nash are the best at delivering the ball on target so that guys never have to reach. His delivery is incredible.”

Keeping the Orlando swingmen and point guards from penetrating and finding shooters has been a focal point in the series and Chris Bosh thinks the Raptors did a good job of preventing any breakdowns on Thursday night. I however beg to differ some, the Magic got a lot of clean looks on Thursday night, a fair share of them were semi-contested but Bogans, Evans and Lewis did miss some pretty wide open shots. My fear is that these guys are due for a breakout game because it’s never been the same since the first quarter of Game 1 for them. The Raptors need to continue to improve their close-outs on Bogans and Evans, these two corner snipers are liable to hurt us the most. You already know how I feel about Rashard Lewis’ potential impact in any given game.

Stan Van Gundy’s priority is to fix the issues the Magic were having with the Raptors pick ‘n roll which he admits “chewed us up”. Jameer Nelson’s acknowledged that he played like a statue and offered zero resistance to Forderon and vows to play better (I don’t think he will). Knowing Van Gundy, he’s probably lost a lung yelling at the Magic over game tape and has prepared them well enough that the pick ‘n roll won’t be as easy as it was in Game 3. There’s also some talk of Tukoglu and Lewis operating closer to the basket when the outside jumper isn’t falling, this is bad news for the Raptors. With the exception of Jamario Moon we don’t have anybody at a wing position that has a chance of staying with Hedo or Lewis in the post. Hopefully they’ll get a little lazy and stay on the perimeter.

A word about the Magic’s inexperience. If they lose Game 4, the psychological effect of blowing a 2-0 lead can’t be overlooked. The Raptors have controlled 75% of the play in the series and the Magic know that they were lucky to eek out Game 2. If we can pull out a convincing win on Saturday it can go a long way towards demolishing the psyche of the inexperienced Magic who’ll have to play Game 5 under the intense pressure of possibly playing their last home game. The Magic have shown that they are susceptible to lackadaisical play, inconsistent defense and settling for jumpers, if we put the pedal on the gas, they can crumble. Remind you of any one?

Jason Kapono’s play has been too good to be true, I keep expecting him to hit a wall and go 0-4 but he’s not showing any signs of slowing down and the Magic have yet to find an answer for him. Andrea Bargnani needs to take the same initiative Kapono’s been taking in getting his shots up, I’m not advocating Andrea jack it up ala Delfino but he needs to be a little more selfish early in the shot clock and see if he can drive ‘n kick or even challenge Howard’s lateral quicknesses, something that hasn’t happened all series long. The Magic will be looking to come out aggressive and we should take advantage of this; in Bargnani we have the weapon to saddle Howard with 2 early fouls and send him to the bench, the question is do we take the initiative to do it.

Checking out the Magic RealGM board we notice that those guys are getting a little feisty. They’re blaming the Game 3 loss on the referees and Howard being called for illegal screens. Some are also calling for some very bad things to happen to Violet Palmer. She’s a very mediocre referee who loves making momentum changing calls and probably shouldn’t be calling playoff games, but that comment took it too far. The longer this series goes on, the more the Magic fans and media appear to be irritable little c*nts. Nothing would give me greater satisfaction than seeing us win after being down 0-2. Wait wait wait. There is something that can give me more satisfaction.

There’s some high praise for the Sea of Red from Yahoo sports blog where Kelly Dwyer (don’t know him/her) ranks the crowd with some legendary audiences:

The Air Canada Centre on Thursday night was the most invigorating batch of supporters I’ve seen since Chicago and/or New York’s 1990s heyday. Not only were they on top of the game, anticipating the action and working the visiting team, but they were starting chants and cheers without the aid of a giant Jumbotron, or the prodding of a patronizing PA man. It was exhilarating to watch.

Kudos to the fans, I really can’t remember the last time a crowd affected a game in such a direct manner.

Caught some NBA tonight, Philly made Detroit look really bad and as we type the Spurs are laying a smackdown on the Suns in Phoenix Seven Seconds or Less style. I don’t like Mike D’Antoni too much so it’s not a bad result but I do feel bad for Steve Nash, he was really counting on Shaq to have a big impact. Could this be Steve Kerr’s last stop as an NBA GM?

The people over at Raptors Shot Caller emailed me a couple times and asked me to do a post for them. If it floats your boat, go for it. I tried signing up for it and chose the username “Arsenalist” but it kept saying “Your display name contains words identified as being potentially offensive to some people.” WTF? Don’t believe me? Go try signing up with it yourself.

One final note, if you guys have regular NBA sites/blogs you visit, do link them here. I don’t mind filling up my RSS reader. If you had taken my picks against the spread before Game 2 and 3 you would’ve made some money, but if you didn’t, here’s your chance. The Raptors are laying 3, this game will be close but not buzzer-beater close because in the end FTs are going to kick in and the Raptors will hold on to even this series up. Take the Raps.

Here’s hoping for a Game 4 win. Let’s go you Raptors!!!

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20 Responses to “Series hinges on pivotal Game 4”

  1. Nick said

    From a Magic fan, find me a series where opposing sides WON’T get tired of each other. In no way did the refs affect game 3.. we throughly got killed. Dwight needs to be more careful on offense since he does push off a lot. I agree with some of what you said though. This game is the most important in the series.. if we lose, we still have homecourt but they will not feel comfortable at all.

  2. dinonationblog said

    Seems the entire blog community has high praise for Raptor fans and it is well desereved. In a season where fans did dumb things like chanting for Pizza and Booing when they did not get it. They really came through and deserve a heck of a lot of respect.

  3. Raptors2009 said

    Not good, SVG is focusing on pick ‘n roll D and moving Lewis/Hedo inside. I hope Sam read that article and knows to expect things to be tougher. They’ll try to pressure our guards like they did in game 1, we got to stay cool and not get flustered. Just work our offense through Bosh and if he gets doubled, do what he did in game 3, if he doesn’t, do what he did in game 2. Our defense needs to keep us in this game if the shooting isn’t always lights out. 100% agree on this being THE pivotal game of the series.

    We haven’t experimented with the zone much so far, it might help in keeping Hedo/Lewis on the perimeter, maybe Sam should give it a shot. Bargnani’s due for a big game too, he’s been warming up the last couple games, might this be the game where he goes all Boston on them? I pray.

  4. FLUXLAND said

    Arse, did you opening sentence mean to say game 3?

    The Magic fans have a right to be mad at the refs to a degree. Everything was going our way in the 1st half. Gotta makes sure the suckers open up the wallets for the jerseys, foam fingers, beer and whatever else they sell there at halftime. (The NBA: where profit margins need to happen) It’s no wonder Bargs and Hedo got techs in the 3rd. All of sudden the refs changed everything again and no one know what a foul was on either team. I hate Stern and his money first policy!

    Kelly Dwyer is the man. Kind of surprised you don’t know who he is.

    I, too, expect a much better Magic outing. Think this is the Raps last home game.. enjoy it everyone.

  5. arsenalist said

    Flux, thanks for pointing out the typo, unlike you I think the Raptors have what it takes to pull this out. The refs were highly suspect but the bad calls were even, we actually had more fouls called on us 24-21 so to blame the game on the refs is a little absurd.

    I just googled him up and his SI articles rang a little bell. I had no idea that he was blogging with Yahoo sports though.

    I don’t believe those spoiled TTC brats went on strike – clearly the Union boss is NOT a Raptors fan.

  6. FLUXLAND said

    Hey Arse, nah, not blaming the entire game on the refs. I didn’t check that RealGM link (really selective about what I read), but from watching the game, stuff was going on, that, if I were a Magic fan, I know I would have had fits about. I know the home team gets the calls and all, but seriously it was outrageous. And then they flip the script to make things, as you say, even. Like I said Bargs and Hedo got techs cuz the shit just made no sense. Just call the game as it is.. don’t be appeasing the crowd. I mean the one foul took an hour to call when Howard was getting assaulted in the lane.. he even threw his hands up after..like: WTF are you kidding me? What were the refs looking at? Mop Girl?

    I think the Magic got a taste of the ACC environment and they know what to expect now. Expecting same results as game 1 and 2 and then the knock out blow in their house. You said yourself, how much longer do you expect Lewis and Hedo to have subpar games..I dunno but one of them is about to go off.

    Not familiar with the TTC deal.. but I would assume (if I’m guessing correctly) .. he’s trying to get the ppl to bitch enough so the powers at be fold..(talking out of lower extremity here)

  7. PapiJulio said

    Wow,

    Toronto has developed the ‘Sea of Red’. Pretty cool. Toronto Fans has also adapted the soccer chant “oLay, oLay oLay oLay”. It’s clear that the majority of fans are Soccer/Basketball fans.

    Not many ‘Blue Collar Non-Cheering Suits’ buying up the seat at the ACC like they do when the Toronto Leafs are in the building. We’ve developed a fan base that seems to really care about our team.

    It’s a good day to be a Raptors fans. I managed to pull myself out of work and put my useless opinion in.

    Game #3 was the best I’ve ever seem Sam utilize the team rotation since he’s been here. I’m starting to loose faith in Sam. You can tell he’s on a learning curve with the rest of the Raps. Sam lacks last minute game changing plays in his playbook. Plays that get us high percentage shots when it really matters. I was ready to totally write Sam off until game #3. Sam needs more experience. There are much worse coaches out there. So in retrospect it’s hard to complain. You can always find something wrong with every team. Sam is torn between two worlds. Euro VS American style basketball. People have commented about it before. Sam wants American. Brian C wants Euro. Let the head butting begin.

    I’m not against Female refs but it does seem like she makes ridiculous calls at times that impact the game. I think it’s hard for a female to understand what’s going on inside a males head when he’s all fired up. Just like a guy can never understand women when they are fired up. Plus guys can’t argue with her because you can’t say the same things to her you would to a guy. If you do you look like a jerk. Players just get really mad and walk away. Am I being Sexist??? I respect women HUGE! But…..

    Bosh has got to let his teammates get going early so he can keep something in the tank down the stretch. We have to come out with ‘Determination’ and our ‘Warrior Faces’ lock on. This has to be a total team effort. We have to take this game like it’s the last peice of food on this earth. The Magic know if they win today it will spell certain doom for the Raptors.

    There is a Tailgate party outside the ACC for the game today. Everyone should go. Big screen TV. FREE Game. Just hope for no rain.

    !!!!LET GO RAPTORS!!! LETS GO!!! !!! oLay, oLay oLay oLay! oLay, oLay!!!

  8. FLUXLAND said

    I think the chant is: OLE!.. OLE OLE OLE.. Jooose! Jooose! :P

    Just so you know, that is

  9. PapiJulio said

    FLUXLAND—-> Thanks Man!!

    OLE!.. OLE OLE OLE!!

    PS.. Tamato…. Tomoto… Tomato!

  10. FLUXLAND said

    Papi I wasn’t tryin to be smart..I was letting you know the last part of the chant is Jooose Jooose… if you didn’t know. Not correcting your OLEs

  11. PapiJulio said

    OLE!.. OLE OLE OLE.. Jooose! Jooose!

    To This Blog!
    To The Raptors!

    I’m great at the games Heckling & Cheering… apparently can’t spell! ;-)

    I’m going to Montreal Game #5. CRAZY FANS!! Thanks FLUXLAND! Imagine I held up a sign in Montreal that said “oLay oLay oLay!” They’d think I was cheering for Soap!!
    Peace!

  12. Lopez said

    Raptors win 104-99

  13. FAQ said

    If both teams play well, it will be a battle of the coaches and who out-coaches whom ..!!!!

    I suspect the refs will clamp down early on the players, so it’s wise if the Raps play tight but clean defense. No chippy fouls please !!!

    I hope the 4th quarter of an exciting game will determine the winner.

    GO RATPORS .. GOOOO …!!!!

  14. Crank said

    Papi, at game 3 they showed two guys on the jumbotron in their business attire using blackberries during the game. The crowd mercilessly booed them…so there are the fair share of ‘suits’ that come to Raptor games too. The only Toronto team thats devoid of them is Toronto FC.

    This game is going to come down to the wire, they’ve gotten used to the crowd (as flux said) and know what to expect. The Orlando Sentinel article you linked scares me a little, SVG is pissed and is going to fix their pnr defense. Raps are going to have to tough this one out, can’t expect Bosh to play like game 2, otherwise we have no chance.

    Ole ole you say, here it is (gives me goosebumps)

  15. FLUXLAND said

    Nice Crank! That gives me goosebumps too! All the idiots that where chanting Pizza! Pizza! and booing when not getting it are forgiven! (assuming they are the same ones, I suppose)

    And believe me I was at the game and some retard was whipping out his blackberry and immediately not rushing out of the building (emergency of some kind) he get such and earful from me that every time he’d use it after that his hands would be shaking and he’d be looking over his shoulder. Why are they there? WHY? IMBECILES!

    JJ with a dagger at the buzzer!

  16. FLUXLAND said

    Arse, are you going to the game? Did you decide?

  17. arsenalist said

    Nope, I’m watching this at home. The tickets I wanted were a little too expensive. I should’ve bought them before Game 3 because their price rocketed after the Raps got back in the series. You?

  18. FLUXLAND said

    No, I don’t live in TO or nearby.. is that a good enough excuse? : )
    I think the place will be bananas after the win the other night, tho!
    I can only imagine how much the tickets went up by.

  19. FLUXLAND said

    Enjoy the game Arse, everyone else as well!!

    HERE WE GO RAPTORS HERE WE GO!! *thunder stix*

    HERE WE GO RAPTORS HERE WE GO!! *thunder stix*

  20. Raps Fan said

    dude, thanks for th picture of whoever that is…made my day (i saved it, lol).

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