Going It Alone

At what point does the blame game shift from Chris Bosh to some of the other players who aren't producing to expected levels?

What else do you want me to do? Do you want me to score 30, 40 points a game? Twenty blocks a game? That’s not my game. That’s not what I do. I try to get these guys going, and that’s pretty much it. I’m not weak-minded by any means. I know that we’re going to be good this year. I think we have time to turn it around. That’s the plain fact. You can’t put the emphasis on one person … it’s a team sport.

While it was a bit self-righteous and dramatic, Chris Bosh drives home the point that he can’t do it himself. Not many in the NBA can; maybe 5 or 6. Even then, he’s not a Wade or LeBron who has the ball in his hands all the time and can take control of the game at any moment. He’s a power forward, meaning that someone has to get him the rock, in good position, and the rest of the team needs to make themselves useful so he has space to operate.

For the most part this season, Bosh has taken good shots. The 15 lbs of muscle he added over the summer has made it harder for defenses to push him off the block and keep him off the boards. He still likes to shoot that jumper, but he does have a great shot for a forward in a jump shooting league; the only guys who don’t shoot are the ones who can’t. So why is he getting so much flack for the Raptors recent woes? The team is 3-10 since the All-Star break (3-4 without him in the lineup).

You take a look at his stats since the break, and he’s averaging 22pts 8.7rebs 3.2ast and 2to. His assists are up, but the rest of his game is down. Coming back from an ankle injury is not an easy task, you will always favour it and wont’ be able to go 100%. What kills me is that the last two games he has gotten back up to where he was pre-injury, and is getting ripped for not doing enough by the media. During this losing stretch, he’s putting up similar numbers and shooting a similar percentage as when the team was winning, but all of a sudden, he’s to blame. I call shenanigans.

So I take a look at what’s been going on with the other two big guns for the Raptors: Turkoglu and Bargnani:

Turkoglu is playing so bad, it pains me to even mention his name. The guy is rebounding a bit better, but is worse at everything else: 10.5pts 4.8rebs 3.5ast since the All-Star break, and 7.5pts 5.8rebs 4.2ast in the last 4. You know how much money he made in those 4 games? $439,024.39. So reason #1 why Bosh snapped and the Raptors sucks is Turkoglu not performing at even his decreased levels as a Raptor. Even he realizes it and has been ducking out of the locker room before the media can rip into him. Way to run off and leave the rest of your team holding their balls while the media grills them Hedo, that’s real stand-up.

Bargnani is another major reason why the Raptors are in a funk. 15pts, 5.2rebs since the All-Star break is not far off from his season numbers, but no one else is picking up the slack. More troubling is that 7 of those games were without Bosh, which meant that he should have been the #1 option on offense leading to increased production; quite the opposite was the case though. To his credit, he did have a few good games, but each one of those came in a losing effort (Memphis, Cleveland, LA and Sacramento).

I’m not worried about his offense, though, never was (at least not this season); for me, this team lives and dies with his play on the defensive end. His rebounding has been absolutely brutal. On Saturday, against guys who were serving him fries a couple months ago (Anthony Tolliver and Chris Hunter), he gave up 11 offensive rebounds. Now, Bosh did have a hand in that, but Bosh grabbed 10 defensive rebounds; Bargnani grabbed 3. Gets worse for him against Portland where Aldridge grabbed 8 offensive rebounds to his single defensive board. Even Colangelo called it “disappointing.”

Both Golden State and Portland had significantly more shot attempts than the Raptors, 19 and 12 respectively. In Golden States’ case, that’s almost a whole quarter’s (for a normal team) worth of shots, totally negating the Raptors solid shooting from the floor. The more shots a team gets, the more chance they have to score – simple math.

Things have regressed to before that team-meeting that sent the Raptors on their winning ways, and this time it’s on Triano to make it right. Even though Bosh doesn’t think yelling is the way to go, demanding respect is; and Triano seemingly doesn’t have the players respect from where I sit. He’s clearly telling these guys to box out, keep their man in front of them, rotate and such, but they aren’t. So what does he do? Nothing, he slaps lipstick on a pig by taking Jack out of the starting lineup and replacing him with Calderon.

Over the last 13 games, Jack’s production has been spectacular; he is averaging 14.6pts 2.8rebs 5.2ast. Granted, the last two games he’s been off (which has coincided with Calderon’s mini two-game resurgence), but he is a better fit in a starting five led by his Georgia Tech teammate. If Triano had any balls he would move Turkoglu to the bench and start Wright for his defense. If he really wanted to impress me, he would start Johnson and bring Bargnani off the bench as well.

These types of moves address the teams inability to play perimeter defense and protect the defensive boards, but it would take a real coach to make that stand and not leave Bosh standing alone when taking the heat.