Last night was nothing short of a disgrace. We let a team playing an 8-man rotation with 4 D-Leaguers run us off the court. The causes of the symptoms that keep manifesting themselves range from lack of effort, incorrect use of personnel, lack of leadership and…the list goes on. But at some point the bleeding needs to stop and expecting it to happen tonight is very unrealistic. So unrealistic that the Blazers are favored by 9 points and I’m surprised it’s not higher.
Jay Triano after the game sounded like a man without any answers and not knowing what to do next. He made a short telling comment:
Our best guys have to play better.
It really is quite simple as that. You look at the production from Turkoglu, Bargnani and Bosh on this roadtrip and it’s been far from consistent. When Turkoglu’s having a decent passing game, Bargnani’s struggling with his shot. When Bosh is getting point inside, Turkoglu’s f***ing the dog. When Bargnani’s hot from outside, Bosh struggles finding his rhythm. We’ve been able to get individual guys off here and there, but as a team, there’s been absolutely no meshing whatsoever. The easy schedule of February planted a nice cozy feeling in our hearts, but even then you knew that as the schedule got tougher, we weren’t going to get away with letting teams build leads on us and then pick our spots as to when to make comebacks.
Triano’s comment last night about defense:
We put our best defensive guys out there and we couldn’t keep them in front of us.
That’s incorrect. The last thing I want to do is portray Marcus Banks as some sort of savior, but as I mentioned in the pre-game yesterday, he has to get some burn just so we can see if he can at least be mildly successful in preventing dribble-penetration and perhaps getting under the skin of those quick, flashy PGs. If he managed to annoy Chris Paul, it’s worth a shot. Again, when you’ve conceded 114, 109, 113 and 124 points in the last four games, it can’t possibly hurt. It also speaks to the effort and quality of the players when the coach has played his best defensive lineup and it gives up 124.
Portland has won three straight and 6 of 7, their last two wins have come against two teams that have already beaten us on this roadtrip. Brandon Roy’s dropped 41 and 28 in his last two while shooting 24-35 (69%). You don’t think he’s looking ahead to facing DeMar DeRozan? I’m of the belief that in the long run it hardly matters who starts on this team at the SG, but if Triano is actually planning on doing some coaching, he’d might want to start Wright on Roy as a starter for this game and have Jack check Miller high up the court. All the while having Amir Johnson ready to help. Do you best and then trust your rotations because if you can’t even do that, you’ve completely failed as a defensive unit. It makes no sense to trot out the same old lineup out there, especially after halftime, and expect different results.
Also, it’s clear that we need to be playing a lot more zone to prevent the penetration, again, on a back-to-back this has increased relevance. Offensively, big on small switches is the way to go for us and we’ve been very successful in getting the matchups we want, but exploiting them hasn’t been as easy. If you saw some of Bargnani and Bosh’s fades against shorter defenders last night, you know what I mean. The Portland frontcourt of Batum, Camby and Aldridge stand at 6’8″, 6’11″ and 6’11″ respectively and have the length and quickness to deal with whatever our frontcourt throws at them. It’s going to be a tough affair and it’ll require something special from the Raptors to win this.
Oh yeah, and effort. Nothing works without effort and Bosh’s last night spoke of a man punching his ticket out of town. I’ve always maintained that leadership is a massive problem on this team and it’s stretches like these that one sees the lack of it hurt us on the court. When we needed someone to step up, take command and inspire the troops to make a stand in the third quarters of the last two games, our leader was busy looking the other way when questions needed to be ask of his teammates. Bosh and Jack are the two guys that you expect some sort of leadership from and both were absent last night.
You can talk about Bargnani’s 4 rebounds and how god-awful that looks on the scoresheet or how needed to take more shots, but the bottom line is that he had four rebounds and six shots. It’s happened too often for it to be a surprise let alone a shock. They say you need to look beyond the boxscore, but I say the Raptors coaching staff should at least start by looking at the boxscore because it’s telling them a lot. How a man like Bargnani might fare against Marcus Camby is interesting but history says it’s not been good for the Italian.
I’m also still waiting for Triano to show some impetus when it comes to disciplining this team or at least reprimanding them for dumb behaviour. One instance of said dumb behaviour occurred last night when Antoine Wright launched a contested three instead of passing it around with plenty of time on the shot-clock. Triano should’ve nailed his ass to the bench for taking that, made an example out of him and yelled out loud in the huddle: “Anybody else want to f**k with me?!?”
I’m at the point where I’m looking to get through this season, sneak into the playoffs and hope for a miracle.
The tournament’s about to start so make sure to join the RR Pool.