The Raptors have five games left in a regular season that is coming apart at the seams.
Depending on the extent of Bosh’s injury, perhaps Tuesday represented his final appearance as a Raptor.
Without Bosh, the Raptors are toast and they were toast in losing 113-101 to Cleveland.
“We still got to play,’’ Jarrett Jack said. “Chris is our horse, but we can’t panic. We have to stay together and keep pushing.”
Bosh is the only post threat of any significance on the Raptors, who become even more perimeter happy without him.
Bosh is a free agent this summer.
On the surface, the only reason why Bosh would want to stay in Toronto is strictly financial.
He stands to collect $30 million US more if he decides to re-sign rather than completely turn his back on the only pro team Bosh has known.
A sign and trade is also a possibility, which will ensure max money for Bosh and at least will fetch the Raptors some pieces.
Then again, if the Raptors aren’t interested in the players involved, they may just let Bosh walk away for nothing.
All this is speculative, of course, but that’s what we’re left with in the wake of so much uncertainty and unknown.
When Bosh missed six games after the all-star break with an ankle sprain, the Raptors looked lost and were able to beat stiffs such as Washington and New Jersey.
There was some fight against the Cavs, who have nothing to play for, but the Raptors aren’t as good without Bosh.
Even with him, the Raptors haven’t looked good of late.
If the Raptors are somehow able to eke past Chicago, Tuesday was a preview of the opening round.
Based on how LeBron James was able to carve the Raptors, Toronto has no chance.
“Our horse is down, and we’ve just got to keep the ship pointed in the right direction until he’s able to get healthy, if he’s able to get healthy, and keep moving,” said Jarrett Jack, the Toronto backup point guard who led all scorers with 23 points. "We’ve just got to come together even more. If we were cohesive before today, we’ve got to be that much more tomorrow and from now on."
The Raptors weren’t a disaster without Bosh. Facing the league’s best team in a game that saw Antoine Wright limited to 20 minutes with sore right ankle, the Raptors trailed just 55-53 at the half. But their soft defence allowed Cleveland to shoot a whopping 58 per cent for the second half. And the Cavs, led by LeBron James’s 19-point, 13-assist, six-rebound performance, won in a walk.
The Cavaliers, winners of a league-best 66 games a season ago, came into Tuesday’s game with 60 victories, good enough to have clinched the best record in the league and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Mike Brown, the Cleveland coach, spoke before the game of his intention to rest his best players in the lead-up to the postseason; he said he wanted to treat the remainder of the regular season as “a high-level practice.”
They looked well-practised, indeed. And considering James played 35 minutes, just four minutes fewer than his season average, rest did not appear to be a priority. There were those on the Toronto roster who took Cleveland’s full-strength starting lineup as a compliment. If the playoffs began Tuesday, after all, it would have been Cleveland and Toronto in a first-round best-of-seven.
“The ball went behind me and [my arm] went back and his face was there,” said Jamison, who wasn’t called for a foul. “I didn’t think it was that severe, but when he went down you kind of knew is was more severe, and then you saw blood. I didn’t think I hit him that hard at all, just a bad angle and an unfortunate play.”
Bosh was diagnosed with a maxilla and nose fracture. He returned to the arena before the end of the game but did not fly to Toronto with the team on the charter afterward, instead remaining in hospital in Cleveland for further evaluation and treatment, the team said in a release.
And just like that, the Raptors’ prospects for post-season play – already perilous – became more so.
This is nothing against DeMar DeRozan exactly. He’s been just as advertised: A very athletic player with limited elite basketball experience who has at time shone in his first NBA season but more often has been kind of meh. He’s no Sonny Weems, in other words. He’s put in a lot of time on his game and will surely become the player he’s destined to be, it’s just yet to be determined what kind of player that is.
But wouldn’t the tone of the discussion right now be a little different if the Raptors had a rookie in the fold who not only was significant, game-changing talent, but quite likely a potential star?
Can we agree on that?
There were rumblings that LeBron James and some other of Cleveland’s best players might not play, as the Cavaliers have already secured the best record in the league. No matter what happens in the season’s final eight days, the Cavaliers will have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
James, however, was in uniform. Reserve guard Delonte West was the only Cavalier not dressed, sitting out with back spasms.
James was sensational early on. On one play, he blocked a layup from Jose Calderon at one end, got the ball back from a teammate, took the ball up court and threw a perfect alley-oop pass to J.J. Hickson.
James finished the night with 19 points and 13 assists.
Still, the Raptors hung in, as they did when they lost in overtime to Cleveland in February with Bosh out of the lineup. On this night, Toronto trailed by just two at the half.
Jack and Amir Johnson were particularly good. Jack had 23 points on just 12 field-goal attempts, while Johnson’s energy, in the first half especially, was relentless.
With Bosh’s injury, however, those things were nothing more than footnotes.
Who’s hot? Ray Allen’s statistics, especially his three-point percentage, have dropped this year. He is still capable of a scoring explosion, though, as evidenced by his 33-point effort against Cleveland on Sunday.
Who’s not? Remember when Nate Robinson was going to be a difference maker off of Boston’s bench? He has scored six points over his last five games, prior to last night.
Seven Cavs scored in double figures for the game, led by Jamison with 20 points. LeBron James added 19 points and Anthony Parker, who played for the Raptors last season, had a season-high 18.
”You’re playing against your old team, so it might be a little extra adrenaline, but I’ve played against them a couple of times before, so it’s no big deal,” Parker said.
They also set a team high in assists with 38 on 84 possessions. Point guard Mo Williams had a season high of 12.
”It was awesome. To have 38 assists on 47 field goals is what we’re about,” said James, who had 13 assists. ”You can’t have those numbers every night, but to pass like we did tonight and everyone giving each other the opportunity to score, sharing the basketball and knocking down shots was great to see.”
The Raptors hung tough in the first half, trailing by just two at halftime.
But the Cavs went on a 23-13 run to start the third quarter to gain some breathing room. What was more impressive was the way they did it. Seven players scored to help the cause. Although Brown liked the overall effort, he said defensive problems remain.
Leading by as many as 15 points in the third quarter, the Cavs allowed the Raptors to sneak back into the game in the fourth and cut the lead down to just seven.
The Raptors connected on 47 percent of their shots, many of them uncontested jumpers.
”We did some good things defensively, but we still have to continue to work on the weak side,” he said. ”Our awareness wasn’t great.”
-The Raptor bench easily outscored their starters on Tuesday. Easily.
-Who did Hedo hurt more with his huge series against the Cavs: Cleveland, because he beat their team, or Toronto, because he parlayed that series into a disastrous contract?
-”Fractured face” does not sound good. Hopefully Bosh has a speedy recovery.
-Seriously, there is no excuse for an NBA team to be this bad at defense.
-The “LBJ for unanimous MVP campaign” is the only thing keeping me interested in the regular season. If the Thunder had pulled it off tonight, I think Durant would’ve gotten a vote. Now I’m just hoping the fan vote doesn’t muck things up. I’m very Hobbesian when it comes to these things.
-Three offensive rebounds. 62 points in the paint. Seriously, the Raptors don’t play defense.
The fourth quarter basically consisted of holding Toronto at bay. The Raptors flashed some hope at the beginning of the stanza, scoring the first four points, but the Cavs answered that with four of their own and Toronto never got closer than seven the rest of the way. When all was said and done the Cavs finished at 56% from the floor in an outstanding, well-rounded performance which also included 40% on threes and a tidy 79% from the foul line on 11 of 14 shooting.
It was a horrible night for the Raptors, who are one game ahead of Chicago in the battle for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Not only did Toronto lose the game, it lost All-Star power forward Chris Bosh less than three minutes into the contest. Bosh went down when he was inadvertently struck by Antawn Jamison’s elbow and underwent a CAT scan at the Cleveland Clinic.
Bosh, who came back to the arena but spent the night in a Cleveland hospital, has nasal and facial fractures. Whether he’ll play again in the regular season is uncertain.
“He’s a good friend of mine,” James said. “You hate to see that happen to anybody, especially this late in the season.”
Compounding matters even more for Toronto, starting small forward Antoine Wright left the game with an ankle injury in the third period, leaving the Raptors a far cry from the team that shooting guard Sonny Weems claimed the Cavaliers did not want to play in the first round of the playoffs.
“I’m not getting into that,” James said with a laugh when told of Weems’ ridiculous pregame comment.
Even more ridiculous was Toronto’s lack of defense, as Cleveland, up two at halftime, made its first nine shots and 12 of its first 13 in the third period.
Nine of those field goals were point-blank layups, with Jamison (20 points) scoring 10 points in the first 3:45 and 12 in the first 5:16. Parker added 10 points in the quarter, when he and Jamison combined to go 10-of-11 from the field and the Cavaliers were 15-of-21 (.714).
Anyone wondering what an NBA “high-level practice” looks like, might have seen one Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
In what could be a first-round playoff preview, the Cleveland Cavaliers passed the ball like never before this season in a 113-101 win over the Raptors.
The Cavs had a season-high 38 assists — 35 in the first three quarters — to shoot 56 percent from the floor.
“It was awesome,” LeBron James said. “To have 38 assists on 47 (made) field goals is what we’re about.”
Despite a spirited effort led by Jarrett Jack who put up 23, the Raptors fell to the easy-going Cavaliers 113-101. As expected, King James led the way for the league’s best Cavaliers but not in the statistical catagory that we have all come to expect. James put up an impressive 13 assists, each becoming progressively both more visually appealing and easier to accomplish for the league’s MVP. The Cavaliers as a whole managed to put on a passing clinic, accumulating 38 assists on 47 made field goals.
It may take some time to fully assess just how serious the damage to Bosh’s nose and jaw is. Just as it may time to formulate an appropriate method of treatment.
But there should be no doubt, Bosh will not be playing in the next two games.
And it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he were to miss the rest of the regular season.
The Raptors and their fans will be waiting anxiously for news about the severity of Bosh’s injury and the amount of time it will take before their star player can return to action.
Best case scenario would resemble what happened with Hedo Turkoglu and Bosh returns in a mask by the weekend.
Now, what exactly does the injury to Bosh mean to the Raptors. If we look back at what at the Raptors record without Bosh this year, it’s 3-4, but those three wins came against New Jersey, Washington and New York. Not exactly difficult games if you’re supposed to be a playoff team. They didn’t win against any team above .500. In fact they didn’t win against any team above .350.
What’s worse that their record is how the team actually played. As I said in an earlier post, no one stepped up. I didn’t get in statistics, but in games where Bosh played 2 minutes or less, Bargnani is averaging 13.1 ppg on .419 shooting and 4.9 rpg. All well below is seasonal averages. For the Raptors second leading scorer and the man many are depending on to step into the lead role if Bosh leaves, that’s not a good sign. Simply put, he can’t lay without Bosh because he gets most of his points off of Bosh’s play. With the defense focusing on Bosh, Bargnani is a 7 foot, ten million dollar pylon.
It all happened so quickly. An errant elbow from Antwan Jamison left the Raptors franchise player with a maxilla and nasal fracture to the right side of his face. Translation — ouch!
The rest of the game was a blur as the team hung in tough but an entire fanbase held their collective breaths. My twitter feed was blowing up with each person describing how they felt. The tears that I held back when Bosh missed the shot v/s Golden State welled up in my eyes at the thought that this may have been the last time Chris donned a Raptor jersey.