Big name free-agents are always wooed the most by their own teams. This year the Miami Heat started a website dedicated to keeping Dwayne Wade in town; in Cleveland students have launched a campaign to keep LeBron James; in contrast, there’s little going on in Toronto to keep Chris Bosh. Other than handing out cardboard signs at the final home game, MLSE is wooing Bosh about as much as one is wooing the swine flu to come back to town.
The talk out of Bryan Colangelo and MLSE has been garden variety lip service. Yes, we’d like to keep Bosh, but are open to the sign-and-trade possibility if he choose that. If that isn’t a defeatist attitude, I don’t know what is. Even if you go back a year when we signed Turkoglu and acquired Jack, Colangelo was growing confident by the day of impressing Bosh and always spoke of the “impression” his moves were having on Chris Bosh. It’s still very early in the summer, but the enthusiasm to make moves to impress Bosh doesn’t seem to be there, instead it looks like the semi-rebuild is going to happen with Chris Bosh being used as a chip on the market instead of a centerpiece on the team. It sounds like him leaving is a foregone conclusion rather than an outside possibility, and that impression has more to do with MLSE rather than Bosh and his tweets.
The failures of the past two summers have left our “chase” for Bosh with very little in the way of luster. It’s a lot like a compulsive gambler begging his girlfriend to stay by promising her change even though he’s a total addict. She’s about to leave him when he begs her to stay and promises that he’ll change his gambling ways, clean up, and get a regular job. Next night he loses his car in a poker game and when he tries to explain it, she’s heading out the door. He endlessly pleads with her again and she finally gives him another chance. The very next day he loses entire savings at craps and as he’s explaining his misfortune, she’s packing her bags. Once again he get on his knees, crosses his heart and she finally succumbs to gives him yet another chance. Sure enough, a day goes by and he’s lost the house. At this point he doesn’t even explain what happened nor does he beg and plead. He just goes, “Yeah, I lost everything but you know, I can change…I have done so in the past, you know? Huh..yeah, I have…yup…I have…”
Chris Bosh has heard the sales pitch a few times and whatever Bryan Colangelo says this summer carries a lot less merit and credibility than it did in the past. It’s almost understandable that Colangelo’s not bothering with open campaigns to keep Bosh around, he knows he blew his chance and is taking the more dignified approach by not begging. And ss a fan of the team, I’m glad that he’s not begging, but that doesn’t preclude me from feeling somewhat saddened by the dispassionate attitude shown by the team. As Kevin Arnovitz pointed out to Steve a couple days ago, maybe it’s not so bad if Bosh leaves because after all, what have we as a franchise accomplished in these seven years?
So Cleveland is out and it’s thanks to atrocious defense on the part of Shaq and Jamison on the screen ‘n roll against Garnett, a 9-turnover game by LeBron who didn’t look 100%, inability of Cleveland’s backcourt (Parker included) to slow down Rondo, and Mike Brown’s refusal to make in-game adjustments. As much as I hate the C**tics, they play very hard on defense and can win games despite having below-average shooting nights because they hold teams to even lower percentages while forcing turnovers (22 last night).
Could this have been Shaq’s last game in the NBA? If not, it probably should be. If you have an agile PF/C, you can force a dominant big man to defend a two-man game via screen ‘n rolls, hi-los etc. to the point where they’re struggling to cover ground. That’s what Garnett did to Shaq. Of course, the Raptors have something of the sorts in Andrea Bargnani, but his game is either driving on his own or, more abundantly, launching jumpers on the perimeter. We really haven’t seen much in the way of two-man play between Bargnani and other Raptor; for example, the chemistry between Calderon and Johnson was very apparent during the season, same for Jack and Bosh, could you say that about Bargnani and someone else? Nope.
The formula for playoff success seems quite clear to me and the Raptors, sad to say, are ways away from coming close. We allowed opponents to shoot 47% against us last year, that’s 19th worst in the league and it’s not a surprise that none of the 11 teams below us made the playoffs either. The flip side of the coin is our own FG% which was 48%, good for fifth in the league. What happened with the bottom 11 teams in this category? 3 of them made the playoffs (Milwaukee, Chicago and Charlotte) and one of them was the Houston Rockets. The fact that we missed the post-season despite being ranked so high in such an important offensive category should tell us just how important the defensive side of the ball really.
Some trivia time, you have to guess which Raptor said the following (no Googling allowed!):
“I like to be with people because people get you here. It doesn’t bother me at all to give them, like, high-fives or shake hands or take a picture. I know how happy they’re going to be and it won’t take a whole lot of time off me for that. They follow you, they support you and in the end they see that you’re just normal. It’ll make them feel much better than me not doing it.”
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