Toronto Raptors 105, Philadelphia 76ers 103

For a second there this looked like a weekend-ruiner, you know one of those games the Raps lose on a Friday in soul-squashing fashion to destroy your weekend. Thank God for Bosh recovering to get a key block right after him and TJ were faked out by Andre Miller. This came right after Louis Williams missed the FT part of a four point play which would’ve tied the game with seconds left. Verdict: We played better but got lucky in the end. Now 3-3 sounds a whole lot better than 2-4 and I’ll take a W in Philly’s hostile but empty Wachovia Center any day but that doesn’t mean we played close to our full potential.

Before we get to Bosh’s renewed determination to go to the rim and Jamario Moon’s flashy defensive display, let’s thank and applaud Anthony Parker for coming out of hibernation and sticking that J like only he can. Parker’s 22 including 4 big-time 3′s at crucial junctures kept the Raptors always a step ahead of Philly which went through enough offensive droughts for the Raptors to maintain their slim advantage through the game. It’s great that this is Andre Iguodala’s shot-jacking year because for every good shot he makes, he takes three bad ones and whether he knows it or not he’s got the ability to suffocate his own team.

I think (hope) Bosh has figured out that he can get his points at the FT line and doesn’t have to dance around the perimeter and hoist pretty little jumpers, going a manly 16-18 from the stripe against Dalembert/Evans/Smith says a lot about his willingness to will his team through in tough times. He isn’t the smoothest player but over the last two games he’s shown a hunger and desire (yes, desire – I’m not just using this word, it actually carries weight) to draw fouls, throw off defenses and get to the FT line which is where real men make their living. Kudos to Bosh for showing up tonight, I’m harsh on him when he’s making bad offensive decisions but tonight he was merciless. Gotta love it!

Jamario Moon has this crazy kink in his jumper which unless he fixes will restrict him to a 40% shooter for the rest of his career. Lucky for us we don’t count on his shot but his DariusMiles-rivaling raw athleticism that can contribute oh so much on defense when applied through the right channels. The key play by Moon was an offensive rebound which he had no business getting and would’ve easily earned a pardon if he just went back on defense instead, but no, he wanted the ball and wanted to contribute. Where there’s a will there’s a way and Moon’s offensive rebound with 2:29 left which was later followed by another Bosh offensive rebound managed to drain the clock long enough for the Raps to hold on. A couple nice finishes around the rim and you’ve got a contribution from such an unlikely source that there’s no way Philly could’ve planned for it.

So how did the Rasho for Bargs starting lineup pay off? Well, we had a lead after the first quarter and Rasho had 8 rebounds in 12 minutes, Bargs played twice as much but did struggle offensively. But the good news is that his problems can all be fixed by a couple practices. I suggest two areas of improvement:

1) He’s hesitating to shoot the three. This is death for a three point shooter and he’s passing up shots which deserve a shot attempt. I counted three times where he passed up a three when there was enough space for him to fire one up and he had his feet set. The “fake ‘n go nowhere” just isn’t his thing and he needs to avoid it.

2) Post positioning: He’s catching the ball either so close to the baseline that it becomes a defender or too far away from the basket that he’s confused whether to shoot or drive. Better post-positioning during possession switch-up is required from him to be effective down low. I’m not worried about Bargs, he’ll come around if he just keeps the game simple.

Carlos Delfino who would’ve been the goat because of his FT choking late in the game but deserves an honourable mention: 9 rebounds, all of them contested and some good D on Iguodala, CD is the most unsung Raptor and will be that all season, you won’t find him on the stat sheet but he’s making game-winning contributions. Sam didn’t do much to screw things up tonight and must be given credit for bringing in Moon early, good move the coach but it doesn’t make up for Thursday night.

But don’t let a W cloud your judgment about the team, we have issues. Perimeter D is a problem and so is shot-selection We need to manufacture shots out of sets for Kapono which is simply not happening right now, anything he gets is out of pickup-type plays. This needs to change if we don’t want to see the leagues top shooter go to waste. Kinda like Billy Koch and is 100mph fastball being hit out of the park. But we won tonight and let’s just savor the taste of victory.

Watch out for the collaborative podcast coming soon featuring other Raptors bloggers and aficionados. Until tomorrow, later.

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