We played to their strengths all game long. – Leo Rautins
If “playing to their strengths” means showing all the energy of a Sunday morning shootaround, then Leo’s bang-on. It’s not that Charlotte played particularly well, it’s that our game could be best summed up with one word: YUCK. What a weekend. I don’t care if Doomsday wasn’t playing, there’s no excuse for this one (or the one on Friday, but I’m trying to move on).
Pre-season I made a bet that the Bobcats would be an +.500 team and make the playoffs. Then they lost Adam Morrison, Sean May, and Gerald Wallace and became a compulsory part of every team’s winning streak. Yet this shell of their former selves is the second severely crippled team to beat the Raptors in as many games. This is bad news, Raptors fans. I’m not sure which made me more furious: The complete and utter lack of intensity and will from any Raptor not named Primoz, or Sam Mitchell’s continuously confusing and arbitrary rotation, which has sunk to new lows. Arsenalist made this point, and it’s totally accurate:
Either Sam has no clue on how to manage a rotation or he’s too busy trying to incorrectly react to what the other team is doing instead of imposing our strengths on the style of the game.
Sam may be good at a lot of things (walking and chewing gum simultaneously, for one), but managing a roster is not one of them. Rasho made the difference in the first, using his size and savvy against the small Charlotte frontcourt to score 13 pts and 4 boards. Clearly, this was working. So when Rasho sits, the obvious replacement would be the similar-sized and skilled Primoz, who even the most casual fan knows was pumped up to play against his former team and coach who Brezec felt slighted him. And on a night where intensity and toughness was more vacant than the stadium itself, why Sam didn’t let Brezec use that fire is inexplicable. Isn’t that coaching 101: knowing when to get the most out of your players? Instead of continuing with what was working, Sam decided to go small and that killed the Raps. Why go small when getting boards with two seven footers in there has been an issue ALL SEASON? Primoz managed only 11 minutes of action, all coming late in the second half. Why hold him until late in the third, when all his energy is so pent up it’s all but leaking out of his ears and so he goes out and commits 4 fouls in 9 minutes?
Maybe one day we’ll get a real coach. Ah, to dream.
All you needed to see is the play where Primoz hits a fadeaway and trots past the Charlotte bench glaring at Vincent and clearly calling him a fucker to show that even if Primoz can be a little much at times, his energy and grit is something we needed to feed off early in the game, especially with Bosh out. Without Chris we’re softer than a jelly roll in the middle and couldn’t grab a rebound if we coated the ball with Elmer glue. After watching the fans battle it out to hold onto those inflatable bingo beachballs, I’m not surprised if the best rebounders at the ACC are sitting in the bleachers.
Ray Felton is now officially Baron Davis Lite after feasting on our PG’s and using his body to get into the paint for a dazzling array of circus shots. Only because he eventually settled for outside jumpers did he not join J-Rich on the 30 point plateau. Clearly Ray’s got some onions (barf), but you can’t tell me that Primoz wouldn’t have laid a hard foul on him early on had he the chance. Andrea should be doing this, but he’s too busy pump-faking the open three and taking two dribbles before pulling up for the deep two (the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen) to think about things like bumping in the paint. He IS a center, right? Just checking.
36-0 second chance points is the most telling stat. It’s more mind-boggling than last Thursday’s episode of “Lost”. How do you not manage ONE fucking putback, one long rebound swung around the perimeter for a three…something, anything, would be better than NOTHING. The Bobcats aren’t a good team, but logic says a team that takes 20 more FG attempts than you is usually going to come out on top.
Add Jared Dudley to the list of scrubs who dominate us. Guy’s averaging 5pts and 3boards, yet registers a season high 17 points and 10 rebounds against the Raptors. It’s way past embarrassing. Last time we played Charlotte, Dudley had 16 and 10. The only other team he’s got a double double against is Phoenix, and that’s no coincidence: not the defensive company you want to keep. I’m pretty sure every player earning less than $1 million has all their Raptor dates circled on their calendar. Over the next few games we have Orlando, Miami, and Washington, which means you should start Maurice Evans, Daquean Cook, and Dominic McGuire in your fantasy leagues.
How bad was the rebounding? Matt Carroll grabbed more rebounds than any of the Raptors bigs. That’s farmboy three-point specialist Matt Carroll. This should be blown up and taped to the locker door of every Rap over 6’5. It’s got to come down to effort at this point, right? Twice in a row we’ve been beaten by inferior personnel, the difference being the will to win – or lack thereof. Toronto’s much too content to rely on the jumpshot, while it’s been long documented (Spurs and Pistons are recent examples) that you can’t be afraid to get dirty if you want to win.
Carlos doesn’t want to mess up his hair, Jamario’s looking like a lost puppy out there these days (we’ve got to bring him off the bench, enough’s enough), and the Kapono Situation’s somehow gotten even stinkier. Our need for a quality 3 has never been higher. It takes a big man to admit his mistakes, and I hope BC has the constitution necessary to accept responsibility and endeavor to correct the error.
And if the night wasn’t bad enough, adding Tweedledum Rod Black stumbling through awkward motorcycle-Raptors metaphors or climbing up to the empty upper deck make me want more “Ask the Expert”. Congratulations, Rod. You have made Chuck and Leo palatable.
(Though I gotta say, I knew we were losing when 9 minutes into the game and the Raptors up 10, Chuck and Leo start talking about the salami and cheese.)
As we get closer to the post season it’s looking increasingly clear that Toronto’s going to end up with Orlando or Cleveland, neither very favorable matchups. Another first round loss for Toronto, and I’m okay with that…but this deserves (and will get) its own post shortly.
Ready to get pounded by Superman, now that Doomsday’s gone back to Krypton for repairs? It’s going to be a really tough game to watch, fair warning up front. I suggest taking a Percacet* before turning on your TV.