Before the game Chris Bosh was asked to speak to the crowd and he mumbled something about how great the fans were and how they appreciated us coming out and so on. Then he said something that caught me by surprise, Bosh goes, “we’ve had a great season”. Haha is what I thought at first and then realized he was just giving the usual and fairly hollow thanks to the fans so I let it pass.
The Raptors played a very nonchalant game and figured the Heat would just roll over like they did last time, but Pat Riley’s team (no Marion, Wade or Mourning – not even on the bench) came to play and out-hustled the Raptors for 48 minutes and outplayed them for a half. It took the Raptors the first half and a halftime speech to finally get motivated for this one and come out in the third like they were supposed to come out of the gate – pressuring Miami into taking perimeter jumpers and cleaning up the glass.
In the first half Miami was getting way too much penetration through Chris Quinn, Daequan Cook (who?) and Kasib Powell (huh?) and were knocking down uncontested perimeter jumpers as Jamario Moon watched and Anthony Parker flailed by. You still had a feeling that the Raptors simply needed to go to 2nd gear to pull this one out and the frustrating part was waiting for an entire half for that to happen. This team came out with no sense of urgency, energy or fire and it was the Heat that looked like they were vying for the 8th spot in the East. So when the Raptors push finally came I was more upset that it took so long than be excited that it was actually happening.
The Air Canada Centre crowd has figured out the Raptors and know that the potential for this team is very limited. Sure they’ll cheer here and there and do the wave but every Raptors cheer is usually followed by a comment describing how flawed and broken this team is. Or maybe that’s just what I do.
Aside from Bosh’s hard work which is usually the thing to hang your hat on most nights, the point guard play was stellar yet again. TJ Ford’s 4 turnovers being the only blemish on a cumulative 13 points, 15 assist night for Forderon. TJ Ford hit a couple big jumpers in the first quarter to keep the gap manageable and pressured Quinn in the third to key the defense. Calderon went assist crazy in the second and fourth quarters and displayed an excellent ability to pull the Miami defense to one side of the court and swing the pass to the other leaving Kapono, Parker and Moon open for jumpers. In the end Miami just doesn’t have the people to compete.
Andrea Bargnani had a damn good game, don’t get fooled by the diseased stat line of 2-11 FG, 8 points and 1-F 3FG. He was hustling all game and got three impressive blocks while grabbing 7 rebounds (only 2 fell in his lap). If only we could play the Heat more often he might live up to being a first round selection. Ouch!
Offensive note pointed out to me by AltRaps – Jamario Moon does not move at all when he’s on the weak side, he doesn’t even look to cut, make himself available near the elbows or anything of the sort which might help out the play on the strong side. This is indicative of our offense which often doesn’t bother using the entire width of the floor and remains congested in a tighter space than it needs to be. Jose Calderon might be the only player who has the ability and lateral vision to get everyone on the court involved, it really is quite impressive. We’re going to have an advantage at the PG spot against the Magic – let’s keep an eye on how well Sam uses this.
In conclusion, this game taught me that the Raptors have serious issues with motivation which is the only thing that I count on Sam Mitchell to provide. If this is how we’ll start playoff games, I’m betting on a 4-0 sweep. No, seriously, this kind of effort and intensity coming out of the gate is what makes for embarrassing playoff series. Only one game to go to fix our “energy problems”, after that its all upto matchups, Chris Bosh v Dwight Howard, guarding Turkoglu/Lewis and the X-Factor Bargnani.
- Primoz Brezec getting a technical for arguing a meaningless call was the highlight of the game. He was actually arguing after the game was over and Carlos Delfino had to hold him back.
- Super Fan is buddies with Carlos Delfino and Mark Blount.
- Pat Riley has the Heat playing hard, he didn’t even sit on the bench till late in the fourth. Also got a standing ovation from the crowd on his Hall of Fame induction.
- Chris Quinn has pwn3d Jason Williams for the starting PG spot.
- Rasho with 19 shots for 20 points, his confidence his very high. He missed a lot of shots he usually makes and could’ve easily ended up with a 30 point game.
- To see how inconsistent Carlos Delfino is look no further than the last three games.
- I wanted this to be a tight game down the stretch so the Raptors clutch offense and defense would’ve been tested. Hopefully the Bulls game can deliver that before we dive into the playoffs.
- Five players I don’t want on the Raptors next year: Carlos Delfino, Jason Kapono, one of Forderon, Maceo Baston and Joey Graham. Also, a significantly reduced role for Jamario Moon.
The ACC announcer asked the crowd to thank Darrick
MurrayMartin for something. I clapped because he kept that streak alive.
- Bring on the Magic.
Playoffs are almost here, excited? I’m on edge.Follow @raptorsrepublic