If you had any doubt whatsoever that we weren’t going to blow that 24 point lead at some point during the game you probably haven’t been a Raptors fan for too long. That first quarter was just too good to be true and too similar to last year’s game in Dallas that we lost in OT. There was no way the Raptors were going to continue to shoot the lights out for four quarters and Avery Johnson’s a smart enough coach to replace ineffective chumps like Maurice Agger with defensive minded types like Trenton Hassell to counter the Raptors hot early offense. Of course these types of counter moves are all too unexpected of Sam Mitchell who once again pulled a substitution out of his ass that was so crazy that it singlehandedly cost us yet another game. Smitch took out Andrea Bargnani who was having a great offensive and defensive game in favour of Kris Humphries midway through the third quarter, a third quarter where we were struggling to score. He takes out our second best offensive option on the night in favour of a banger in a quarter that we’re struggling to score in. Does this even register with the brain? To make matters worse Dirk lights up Humph for four back-breaking threes (that apparently didn’t warrant a timeout) that essentially put the game away. See Sam, you can’t put a shorter player on a 7-foot three point shooter with a high-release point, it’s as good as leaving him wide open because there’s a better of chance of you winning COY again than Humphries blocking Dirk’s shot!
In that first quarter were were blazing guns, we were hitting our outside shots, getting penetration from TJ Ford and playing such suffocating collapsing defense on Nowtizki, Howard and Harris that they were forced to give the ball up and were running into short-clock situations way too often for their liking. But the most important part was that our offense was rolling and Dallas never did get a chance to get on the break, in the second quarter Avery Johnson specifically asked Devin Harris to drive the ball early in the shot-clock which got our defense in trouble. We never pressured or doubled Dallas PGs into giving up the ball or applied any sort of pressure to make life a little harder for them. Harris started their comeback in the second quarter and Dirk finished it off in the third. The Raptors made no adjustments to Harris’ driving, nor did they double Nowitzki, instead they were caught doubling Josh Howard off Nowiztki’s man which is like locking the window but leaving the front door wide open. Dallas won and deservedly so, they made the offensive adjustments that proved to be the difference.
We can talk all we want about how the Raptors are Phoenix East but when we really need a score down the stretch we look like deer caught in headlights. See, run ‘n gun doesn’t work with 2 minutes left in the game nor does the high pick ‘n roll which the other team has seen all game and has grown accustomed to defend. That offensive creativity down the stretch has always been lacking and again showed tonight through our out-of-timeout plays and inability to score with less than three minutes left. Defensively the decision to not double Dirk when he has a smaller man on him off a switch late in the fourth again burned us, he calmly hit a turnaround jumper to push the lead back up to 7 with 47 seconds left. Sam Mitchell just stood there looking like an idiot.
I was unfortunate enough to listen to Stormin’ Norman Rumack’s co-host Roger Lajoie and his criticism of a fan who called in questioning Sam’s offensive set (note the singular). Here’s what 60-year old virgin Lajoie said and I’m paraphrasing but the jist is 100% correct:
People calling in criticizing Sam have no case, he was voted Coach of the Year by respected journalists who watch every single game in the year. If they think he’s a good coach, then he’s a good coach. Period. Who knows more, the people who vote for COY or the Raptors fans.
First of all Roger, people who vote for COY watch maybe 10 Raptors games a year at best, the ones they’re playing against their own team and the ones on national TV if any. I’d take the analysis of some posters on RealGM over any journalist from Portland who had a vote in the COY voting. Second, you have no knowledge of the X’s and O’s of basketball because if you did you’d realize that we do really have only one real play, something which is unheard of, even by Maurice Cheeks standards. There’s also the issue of in-game adjustments which the Raptors just don’t make, just look at today’s game and contrast Dallas’ offensive approach from the first and second quarters for a real live example. Fuckin’ hockey puck.
Chris Bosh played well today and deserves credit for coming on strong even though he looked a little lost in the fourth and pretty much stopped doing what he was doing earlier. Anthony Parker had a miserable game and missed a few makeable shots which really hurt us. But the blame for the loss goes to our defense for allowing Dallas to make their run by providing the least resistance possible: no double teaming, no trapping, no weak side help, no rotational defense and most of all some bad substitutions. Give Avery Johnson credit for tweaking his lineups and calling plays which forced bad decisions out of the Raptors, most notably doubling off Dirk’s man in the fourth. Our major offseason signing managed to hoist up only 3 shots. It is mind-blowing that our coaching staff can only provide the league’s best three point shooter with only 1 3FG attempt (which he makes) when playing against the Dallas Mavericks. I’m sick of the freestyling hit-or-miss nature of our offense, unless we magically start nailing all our pick ‘n pop jumpers this will only lead to more frustration. I’m thinking it’s time for Bryan Colangelo to bite the bullet on Sam Mitchell or at least force him to get a little more creative with his offense and to standardize his substitutions so he looks like less of an idiot and stops costing us games.
It’s Memphis tomorrow. Grab the feed and let’s mourn together.