This game was chalk full of excuses for the Miami Heat. They got into town at a time most senior citizens wake up. They’ve been going through a late March lull in which they seem to be waiting for the games to matter again. Finally, with a basement dwelling opponent like the Raptors, it’s hard to imagine them getting too fired up. So, with a combination of lack of sleep, motivation, and enthusiasm, Miami managed to rub their eye goop off before tip, and promptly go on a 10-0 run that sucked all of the energy out of the building. Not only were the Raptors overmatched at every position, but Casey managed to compound the talent discrepancy by putting Kleiza up against LeBron and throwing Gray on the court to deal with the offensive wizardry of Joel Anthony.
While it’s easy to point to those two players as key’s to Toronto’s slow start (and believe me, they were both horrible), it was Bargnani’s early 1st quarter hook that turned the flow of the game back in Toronto’s favour. A
steady stream of Jose assists, classic Amir hustle and timely shooting by flavour of the week Gary Forbes pushed the Raptors back into the game. In what was a truly bizarre first quarter, Toronto managed to only have a 4 point deficit going into the second.
What followed was two quarters of teasing, in which an obviously overmatched Raptor squad slipped on its collective glass slipper and tried to give the ACC something worth cheering for. Bargnani recovered from his early exit to steady the offense, but he was obviously slowed by an injury or lack of endurance, and it showed on the defensive side of the ball. DeRozan continued his strong play against the Heat by consistently attacking the basket, but, like Bargnani, he was unable to affect the game with anything other than his offensive production.
The only true bright spot for Toronto was the play of Amir Johnson who chipped in a 12/12 in a very blue collar performance. While Jose had an eye popping line of 9/6/16, it’s getting to the point where I can’t watch him on defense anymore. I don’t expect Jose to play shut down defense, or even contain any other point guard in the league. I do, however, expect basic defensive principles and a level of effort that rises above passable. Now that the preachy bit is over, back to the game.
Toronto entered the fourth tied at 83, and managed to keep pace with Miami up until they were tied at 89, after which the Raptors imploded. The offense became stagnant and relied on outside jumpers, while the defense allowed penetration to the lane and uncontested jump shots. The ACC was as quiet as a library until our old temptress free pizza came back into the fold. Down by double digits, and with the game far from in question, the crowd burst into cheers at the thought that they’d at least get something (albeit thigh expanding) out of this game. Then something happened that upset me.
With happy pizza rich fans celebrating, Chris Bosh got the ball with an open lane to the basket and dunked the ball. Instead of running (hell, jogging even) back on defense, he started to shout and gesticulate at the crowd like, well, an asshole. A long time ago, I had my feelings hurt by Chris Bosh, and at the time, I pretended like it didn’t affect me. Like a spurned lover, I have to admit that things haven’t been so great since he left, but I had just come around to thinking that things were good; he was happy in Miami, and Jonas was about to make everything better. This probably sounds like a little much, but that scab has been reopened, and I’m right back to where I was before: F**k you Chris Bosh.
- Raptors Roll Call March 30 vs Heat
- The Final Four – Raptors Perspective