C’mon man, try to stay positive, it’s only pre-season. That’s what I was telling myself after the game, to not lose faith so early and give Triano a chance, a chance at a full training camp and pre-season. Since pre-season isn’t over yet I won’t pass judgment on whether we’re an out-of-sync unit or just a unit on its way to finding the light. As disappointing this home performance was, let’s show some faith in Triano and let him get the pre-season the management felt he needed to instill his philosophies and principles. This game made you cringe because you saw the worst of some of our supposed rotational players and another very sub-par performance from our star. But hey, it’s the C**tics, we’re supposed to lose to them, right?
Fist up, as much as I loathe that team you have to be impressed by their defensive energy, communication, teamwork, effort and most of all, ball movement. They move the ball till the seams wear off and always get a shot that they want. I counted maybe 5-7 possessions where they were “forced” into a shot, the Raptors on the other hand were forced into a shot they’d rather not take every third possession. I hope that this has all to do with our offense being very raw and not a more severe problem such as lack of creativity on the part of players and coaches. Hey hey, it’s pre-season. I got to stop getting ahead of myself.
I think I covered the individual performances well enough in the ratings post so there’s not much more to say, I suppose I could talk about the game flow, how we started poorly, picked it up in the early second only to drop the ball in the second half. The pattern was similar to the previous Boston game as in the C**tics’ quality and depth slowly and surely pulled away and fatigue hit us like a ton of bricks. There’s more to it though, the major story lines are our vaunted defense allowing them to shoot 76% in the first quarter, Bosh’s performance against the Boston bigs, Amir Johnson failing his first real test in a likely role off the bench, Bargnani showing some mettle, Calderon and DeRozan picking up their games without having the stats to show for it, Turkoglu getting into the groove, Belinelli and Rasho megafails and finally, how our offense needs to be sorted out BIG TIME.
I’ve said it a thousand times and I’ll say it again: I don’t like the way Bosh allows himself to be neutralized. A weak front by Kendrick Perkins should be easily negotiable, even if there’s a weak-side defender waiting in case the lob is made. Just look at the C**tics, in those cases they use a pass back to the top followed by a hi-low to get an easy layup, a foul, or force the whole defense to collapse in the paint thus spawning their ball movement. If Perkins is on you, you don’t fade. Period. No excuses, nothing. You use your God-given advantage over hm which is your quickness, you don’t fade because that’s what he wants you to do. It doesn’t matter if you happen to draw a couple fouls that way, it’s still what Doc Rivers prefers. Garnett was given the Bargnani assignment leaving Bosh with the easier matchup of Perkins but we couldn’t gain an advantage. And that muscle you added, put it to use because you sure don’t need it to fade.
Bosh’s third quarter performance was terrible, it was a key stretch in the game where he went scoreless, conceded offense rebounds and became offensively anonymous. After Turkoglu sliced the lead to 5 after two quick scores, Boston went on to outscore the Raps by 10 the rest of the quarter. Bosh in this quarter had zero points and zero impact. Game over. Sometimes crunch time comes early, today was one of those days. Not to rip on the guy too much, but am I being unfair if I expect a certain level of excellence from him? Triano commented on how the team ran out of gas again:
“(In the) third quarter we were on borrowed time, really,” Triano said after the Celtics out-scored Toronto 47-33 in the final two quarters. “Right now, due to the injuries and guys getting late starts in training camp, we’re just over half a game ready. “And then you can see it, physically we can’t do it and when the physical part goes, the mental part of it goes and we’re not thinking as far as coverages are concerned.” “Thirty-one (minutes) for Chris right now is probably a little bit high and we’ve got to find a way to get that up another eight minutes (before the Oct. 28 opener),” Triano said. “Hedo struggled a little bit as far as his wind was concerned, but we tried to play them enough and push them.
Let’s get the PF position out of the way – Amir Johnson. Oh man, you let me down today. I was hoping this could be your real coming out party against Kevin Garnett and Baby Davis but you let me down. What is up with posting up like a hunchback? What is up with trailing Garnett back on the break? What is up with the defensive rebounding positioning? What is up with the footwork? He looked terrible out there, he was given a real chance as the first big off the bench and just wasn’t into the game which is scary because with his chief rival out, he’s supposed to come out firing and make Triano’s decision simple. At the end of the day, Reggie gained points on him by not even playing.
Kudos to Bargnani for showing some pride out there today, his attitude was right and that’s a big part of what needs to be right if you want to beat a team like Boston. 3 rebounds in 21 minutes is bad and but half of his 6 fouls were utter shite. Calderon and him showed some great chemistry in that second quarter and it’s very obvious that Turkoglu and DeRozan are on the same page as him, at least on offense. I liked how Bargnani took on Kendrick Perkins in the post and shut him down, he peeled off screens looking for his shot and made a couple sweet, sweet passes from the high-post, something I think should be a part of our offense. Put him in a position where he gets to use his vision and passing ability, sure beats giving it to Bosh in the post and waiting…and waiting…and waiting…
Battier’s battering woke up Turkoglu and he looked very good – fluid movements, confident jumpers, excellent screen usage and clever with the ball. He even hit the boards on his way to 16/5/3 in 28. The offense runs much smoothly when he’s controlling the play because he’s a dual threat – can sneak by you any time for a shot and is always looking to pass to a cutter, if there is one. He’s got a PGs radar on that old head of his and I’m liking him as the point forward. Part of the reason for that is because I’m hating the Calderon/Jack backcourt combo. Neither of those two plays like a SG on offense, they just stand there on the perimeter as a three-point threat, that’s all. There’s very little off-the-ball movement by either of them and they become easy to guard, but hey, it’s early and we haven’t worked on the offense yet.
Jack had a very subpar defensive game, it’s like he hadn’t read the scouting report on Eddie House and Ray Allen. There were a lot of turnovers on his watch and the ball kept getting stuck in his hands for far too long. 4-8 FG is a nice shooting display but in a game like this we’re counting on him to do more driving ‘n kicking and break down the defense than just use a screen and pull-up for a jumper. Rondo and House over the last two games have shown us what quick, penetrating PGs can bring, it’s an element that remains lacking on this Raptors team and that’s something our offensive sets will have to compensate for.
I’ll end with Belinelli who came in as a first half sub and looked very passive. Again, Triano hasn’t put in his offense yet so I’m not sure how much to blame his confusion and incoherence on that, but it would be an understatement to say that he looked lost with the ball in his hands. Just like Johnson, he’s used to playing an open style no-defense game this pre-season, but Sunday was different. It required him to shorten his game, make it more compact and get him thinking about how to get his offense in a structured manner. He had no clue. In contrast, DeRozan knows that when somebody’s up in your face you drive on him and he did that to the tune of 7 legit FTs – excellent work man, very, very pleasing to see. His pull-up shot’s not there yet but once he gets that going he can be deadly.
A word about Calderon – he looked stronger, more confident in his approach, looked to turn on the screen and got up in Rondo’s face. The box score isn’t impressive and if you didn’t see the game, take my word that he looked more season-ready than he’s ever looked. I’d say this was the most intense he’s played and it’s not surprising, he doesn’t like the C**tics and wants to beat them badly. Too bad for him and us that we’ll have to wait…and wait…and wait…Follow @raptorsrepublic