Love that look.
Bucks 106, Raptors 115

The Roll Call is all the post-game coverage you need but for habit’s sake, let’s complete the formality. An easy win over the Bucks which you just didn’t see coming. I was expecting to see some Bobcat-type hunger from Milwaukee but instead it looked like the Clippers had just switched jerseys. For a team that’s spitting distance away from the playoffs and playing a beatable opponent, the Bucks sure did disappoint. The Raptors jumped on them early and then jumped on them some more in the second, played even in the third which meant the fourth was garbage time. As with every remaining game the result hardly matters and we’re looking for individual progress and something to cling on to for next year.

You have to start with Bargnani. Is he teasing us so we can build hopes over the summer only for them to be crushed by the return of VL? I sure hope not because right now he’s playing…dare I say it…#1 pick worthy basketball. When was the last time you could say that without someone calling you demented? Now the 23/2/2/2 with 3 turnovers isn’t jaw-dropping by any means but that line doesn’t tell you just how aggressive he was with and without the ball. He showed us his entire arsenal last night: baseline drives, curling drives, two-handed dribble post-ups and of course, threes. He used the ball-fake as well as he’s done all season and faked out Charlie V and Elson enough for them to exchange accusing looks. The 2009 Bargnani is the only Raptor that has the ability to consistently draw a help defender and thus force defensive rotations, Bosh used to be that player but not this season. His three wasn’t falling tonight and he missed some good looks otherwise he would’ve gone off for 40.

Bargnani’s movement after setting the high-screen has also improved, he was either finding a seam to the rim or stepping out to an open area, how many times he was found is a different issue. Earlier in the year he used to set that screen and go right to the top of the three-point line which made the pass harder for Jose and the recovery easy for the defender. In the first half he was always open after setting the screen because he cut hard and Charlie/Elson/Sessions weren’t communicating. Calderon missed him a few times (even though he has his hand up, like, all the time) but did hit him twice for scores, once recognizing a good mismatch on a smaller player.

Calderon started the game by having Session blow by him but after that it was all him. He had 19 points and 11 assists and I’m happy to say that those 11 assists were sweet, not just Bosh jumpers. The distribution went like this: 5 to Bargnani, 2 each to Bosh and Marion and one each for Kapono and Parker. He also found Marion and Parker on the break a few times off the early outlet but they happened to get fouled – the NBA needs to start keeping track of that stat, it’s getting lost in the mix. He took it to the rim in 1-1 and 2-3 situations as Parker, Bosh and Marion were making a much better effort to run ‘n gun and it resulted in 13 fastbreak points and as I said, it should’ve been more but for the FTs. Marion must’ve taken Jose aside at practice and communicated secret signals because those two were in-sync! The no-look alley-oop they executed was as nice a play the Raptors have run all season.

Charlie V never got going for them, he had some clumsy early turnovers and his shot looked cold, with no Redd in there the next man in line was Richard Jefferson and he finally went off against the Raptors. Jefferson had 12 of the Bucks’ first quarter points and was making Marion look average. Good hesitation material, a smooth jumper and a threatening slashing game have always made Jefferson a favorite of mine and if it weren’t for him this blowout would’ve started early. As it was we had to wait till the second quarter which was the best offensive quarter the Raptors have had all season. 40 points on 11/15 shooting and 12/13 FTs.

The Raptors hit 6 threes in the second quarter and it was an example of some great quarterbacking by Jose and some very unmotivated Bucks defense. Jose usually just passes to Bosh after the initial screen action but today he made an honest effort to look for Marion and Bargnani instead of Bosh who instead went directly to the rim to contest for rebounds. The result was a Bucks defense that had to pay attention to two other players instead of just Bosh. It helped that Marion and Bargnani did a good job of getting open by flashing to the mid-point area, elbow and by sealing off their man making the pass more obvious for Jose. Whatever it takes man, whatever it takes to get Jose to pass you the ball I’m all for it. Scott Skiles described his players’ inability to keep up with what the Raptors had going:

We’ve covered the stuff ad nauseam, as much if not more so than any other team in the league. I’m absolutely positive of that. The game started and we were behind their actions, we weren’t in front of them, we weren’t anticipating what was going on.

He’s right, the Bucks seemed a step too slow all night long, or at least when it ended up mattering which is in the second quarter.

Bosh assumed the role of garbage-man for this game, his rebounding and boxing-out was excellent, the only lapse that I noticed was when he failed to put a body on Charlie V and gave up a put-back dunk in the first. Other than that he was trying to get offensive rebounds, putting a body on his man and always helping on Sessions and Jefferson’s penetration (albeit sometimes unsuccessfully). When all five starters score at least 17 points you can get away with taking only 8 shots.

Here’s my take on Bosh’s personal issues. Leave him alone and stop writing about it. I’ve seen about 10 blog posts that are either questioning his character, questioning Feschuk’s professionalism, dissecting its impact on his game blah blah blah, who cares? Just give it a rest and let the man deal with his problems as I’m sure he will. This site has criticized the crap out of the guy but the last thing the man appears to be is unreasonable. Having said that, I always new big-forehead-girl was trouble.

Let’s play a game, it’s called Jason Kapono: Points or turnover? It’s pretty simple, all you have to do is pick whether Kapono, after coming off the bench, will either score first or turn the ball over first. So, what’s your pick? He was 4-7 for 14 points and 3 threes but did have 2 turnovers. So, what’s your answer? Well, if you answered “Points” you’re wrong. Kapono graced us with his presence at the start of the second quarter and at 11:07 of that quarter he threw a terrible pass. Folks, that’s been Jason Kapono: Points or turnover?, thanks for playing! A word about +/-. How does Bargnani who was arguably our best player tonight end up with a -2 and Kapono ends up with a +18? Well, it’s because Bargnani played in a garbage-time stretch of the fourth quarter where the Bucks knocked down 6 threes and Kapono didn’t.

Finally, Roko needs some playing time. 10 minutes in a blowout while Calderon and Parker get 38? That makes no sense and Triano needs to see things for what they are. He needs to literally free Roko and give him at least 25 minutes, if not at the expense of Calderon, than at Parker or Kapono’s. Shove him there with Jose if you have to and switch Jose to off-guard for a few minutes, does it really matter anymore?

Easy win, enjoy it if you can.

Liners:

  • Charlie V promised to deliver before the game but never did.
  • Pops missed the game due to a knee problem.
  • The half-court shot for a million bucks literally rimmed out for the guy. That must suck.
  • Shawn Marion (17/9) was eying for the rebounds tonight, he even snatched one away from Jose. Probably knows this is a game that’ll get more than a boxscore on ESPN tonight because of its playoff implications.
  • So we put a dent in the Bucks’ playoff hopes. It doesn’t feel as good as I thought it would. Golden State has “overtaken” us for 7th worst and has a game and a half “edge”. League standings.
  • The girl who’s always doing the promotions at the ACC is pregnant.
  • I thought Charlie V’s foul on Marion could’ve been called a flagrant. No reaction from any of the Raptors, would’ve liked to seen one.
  • Nathan Jawai got in for 35 seconds and didn’t do anything. Literally.
  • Dwayne Wade missed a three that would’ve won the game. Check Moon’s smile at the end of the video here.
  • Here’s a picture taken before the game of Andrea Bargnani with Carolina Morace – the best Italian women’s soccer player. Ever.
  • 17,401 my ass. That was one of the worst crowds this season. I though we were down 20 at one point.

Thanks for swinging by the site even though the season’s over. We appreciate every “rap”. Tweet tweet.

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