A tough loss to the Magic, another winnable game that slipped away before our eyes. Why? A few reasons. Many point to the obvious cold streak from the field (99-256 over the three losses for a grand percentage of 39%) illustrated by the cringe-inducing airballs, front-rim bangers, and silly turnovers. But that is bound to settle itself out over time. What is far more troubling for me and a longer-term concern is the total lack of hustle and grit on this squad (Oh Anderson Varejo, how I would love you…)
Loose balls that no one chases down. Easy offensive rebounds by smaller guards over bigger Raptors. And not a single hard foul on the seemingly endless barrage of easy baskets. Other than the Delfino-Dooling wrestling match yesterday, the energy and passion to OWN THE ROCK hasn’t been evident. Even in Philly and Jersey, when everything was going right (remember that?), there wasn’t that spark, that desire, that proclaimation that ‘you’re playing with OUR ball’.
Our perimeter defence has more holes than a Jane and Finch co-op. Because we don’t trust our interior defenders to do the job, wing players collapse on penetrating guards leaving PROVEN jump shooters out there for wide open 3’s. And I’m not talking about Keith Bogans. I’m talking about guys like Ray Allen and Hedo Turkoglu. These guys have been knocking down ice-cold treys since the pre-Donaghy era (the new term, use it).
And when the shots aren’t dropping, take it to the hole! I don’t mean to beat a dead gift horse in the mouth, but Dixon’s the only Raptor willing to drive to the rim and absorb the contact. TJ will attempt this as well but is a peanut in there among trees and can’t be (nor should be) our ‘slasher’. Parker and Delfino HAVE to assume this role. It can’t be all on Dixon – we’re sunk if he’s our only option.
And Kapono – I agree with one RealGm’er who said that he should come off the bench, that with TJ Bargs and Bosh there’s not enough shots for him on the starting lineup to get going. I think starting Delfino, who fills a defensive deficiency at the position, would be my suggestion.
I know these are somber times in Raptorland, but please try not to be too discouraged. Take a walk through Edwards Gardens and watch the leaves change. Go get a massage. It’s not April, after all. We’ve got Philly on Friday and while I’ll stop short of making guarantees, it’s a very good opportunity to get back to .500. The game after in Chicago against another struggling-but-sure-to-recover Eastern power is another potential W.
Here’s something to make you smile – my friend Cash as Garbo for Halloween. He really nailed the costume, right down to the game shape (though he didn’t incorporate my suggested toothpick and jug of sangria).
One day, his daughter will shed tears of pride.
p.s. Another Bobcat hits the deck. I gotta stop betting on teams I like – there’s some sort of dinojinx at work. Maybe Garbajody can reverse the hex.