Gandalf came on the sixth day

Not everything or everyone gets saved. Sometimes an effort falls short.

5 mins read
Source: Raptors.com

Not everything or everyone gets saved. Sometimes an effort falls short.

Watching the Raptors attempt to traverse to the basket, or anywhere around the Blazers zone defense gave me the same feeling as when I watch the battle of Helm’s Deep (or when I read about it so long ago):

Claustrophobia.

The two teams almost seemed to be operating in parallel universes. For the Blazers, two dribbles created a wide open three or a layup. For the Raptors, 6 dribbles, searching eyes, and a weary disposition created a reset. The Blazers no doubt took heed of how the Wizards nearly accomplished their comeback against the Raptors – with a zone defense – and subjected the Raptors to their own variation. Never chasing the Raptors around their end, but listlessly shifting in accordance of where the possession went. Given the Raptors recent struggles offensively (over the past week – 40% from the field, 32% from three) this was more than logical, and the immediate result was tremendous for the Blazers as they jumped out to a hilarious 43-15 lead, and led by as much as 34 at halftime.

Perhaps there wasn’t a true analog to Grima Wormtongue in all of this, but the Blazers knew exactly what to target, and really, the Raptors should have known, or been better prepared for their equivalent to a small drain in a wall.

“The Raptors have but one weakness. It’s offense is solid players except for a lack of space, which is little more than a drain.”

(Billups draws up a zone defense on a whiteboard)

“How? How can zone undo an offense?”

“If a zone is deployed… the Raptors will fall.”

That zone put significant pressure on Pascal Siakam to create, and in the first half he, along with everyone else, was completely incapable. The pressing nature of the Raptors circumstance led Siakam toward desperation, and in doing so he picked up 2 offensive fouls and promptly visited the bench. A Raptor who has been playing over 40 minutes night in and out, ended the first half with only 11 minutes played.

Fred: So little space. What can men do against such reckless zone?

Pascal: Drive with me. Drive to the bucket and meet them. 

Fred: For death and glory. 

Pascal: For the Raptors. For our people. 

Fred: The whistle of Nick’s Nursery will sound in the deep, one last time! Let this be the hour, when we drive to the basket together.

an actual Pascal Siakam quote from last night:

“I’m really proud of the guys … I’ve been in the league for a while and most teams down like that pack it in and our guys will just fight. Those are the guys you want to go to war with.” – Pascal Siakam

So, Siakam led the charge. The impossible charge through the masses of the Blazers defense, taking 15 shots in the paint in the second half en route to 26 points. Along with his teammates, he harassed the Blazers in the back court and triggered turnovers galore. He played 22 of a possible 24 minutes, and he did so playing every possession to it’s full 94 feet. The Raptors followed, some stops were made, timely shots certainly were. But, help never came. There was no Gandalf equivalent.

In this, Siakam and the Raptors did something that very few characters do in books – they marched toward certain death. They weren’t guaranteed the plot armor of a protagonist. They were only ever promised the work ahead, and they did it anyway.

Thought I might try to have some fun with a game that was terrible to watch. 

Have a blessed day.

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