Thursday, November 15, 2007

Live by the jump shot, die by the jump shot

Of course it is not as simple as this, but I feel that the major reason why the Raps lost last night was because of the play of one man….

Andrea Bargnani

I said before that the success the Raptors have this year depends on the development of Bargnani. Sometimes it is easy to forget that he in only in his second year, and rookies typically take 3-4 years to really reach that next level. But the growth that we saw last season does lead one to believe (and expect) that we are going to get big things from Bargnani this year. Well last night was a major step in the wrong direction. Let me break this down for you…

In the battle of Ford/Parker/Moon/Bosh/Rasho vs Williams/Brewer/AK47/Booze/Okur, the Raptors clearly won. Not by much mind you which is why they couldn’t get that lead back at the end of the game, but the Raps outplayed the Jazz for the first 8 minutes of the game, and for the first 8 minutes after half time. In fact, the Raps had a nice 8 point lead nearing the end of the 1st quarter, until the subs started piling in. And that’s when everything went down hill. I can’t blame just Bargnani here, as Delfino shot something like 1-6, and Kapono did nothing and Jose went 1-4 or something like that, it was a ugly ugly second quarter that saw the Jazz take the lead. And Utah is not some average squad, give these guys an advantage and they will make it a tough experience trying to take the lead back.

Now here is where I blame Bargnani. He shot about 1 for 11 for the game. This guy was suppose to be one of the big weapons in the starting lineup. That was not working at this stage, fine. But now he is DEFINETLY suppose to be a weapon on the second unit. On top of that, he is suppose to be a shooter. But shot after shot clanked off the rim. And he did nothing to impose himself in the game in other ways. As a second year player, I guess we have to remember that he is going to be inconsistent, and I fully believe that sometime in the near future I will be typing in bold letters, all in caps, BARGNANI. It is just too bad that last night was one of those nights, because Bosh was also off for the most part but the Raps were still in control for large stretches of the game. Just not mid way threw the 4th quarter after the Raps bench was on the court.

Now let me also talk about Mitchell. I went to the game last night with a buddy who is not a Mitchell fan. “He should be subbing in Jose” “what is with the hockey shifts” “take ____ out of the game”. It’s like people forget that Mitchell was coach of the year for a reason. Sam Mitchell is not the best coach in the league, but he is the best coach for this team. The strength of the Raptors is it’s unity in a common goal, and it is Mitchell who leads the way in supplying that attitude. Plus, here is a guy who will make the changes. Rasho instead of the GM’s prize Bargnani. Jamerio Moon is a starter for the love of god! Mitchell will make the big decisions, and while there is definitely room for improvement, it’s not like he is Jerry Sloan with 20 years of experience. Mitchell, like Bosh and Ford and Bargnani and this whole team, is short of experience. But make no mistake about it, and I will say it again, he is not the best coach in the league, but he is the best coach for the Raptors.

That being said…

Some things I do disagree with from last night.

The Raps have depth, but the starters do need to see that court closer to 40 minutes then 30 minutes. And it was not like last night the starters were not being productive. Parker was having an excellent game, third in a row, and it was when he was off the court that affected the success of the team. Parker should have logged in close to 40 instead of the 30 he got. The Jose and TJ thing is tough and I am sick of people saying “What are they doing, put Jose in” or “Put TJ in”. Both players are great PGs and as a coach, not only do you have to be concerned with what is going on the court, they need to be good people managers as well. Jose/TJ are not basket cases, but at the same point, they have egos. Taking a player off the court or keeping a player off the court can be damaging to that players self-esteem. Hindsight is 20/20. But Jose should have staying in longer with the starters in the 4th quarter. Jose had a bad statistical night, but that was more due to who he was on the court with then his play. And TJ has been playing great so far this year, and did hit a few big threes in past games, It was Ford that hit a big three in the final 2 minutes to put the Raps down by one I believe. The Jazz then hit one of two from the line or something to that nature, and on the next play, Ford missed a wide open three, that came from some sweet around the horn ball movement, that would have put the Raps up by one with a minute to go. Ford also missed the game tying three with about 15 seconds left. Not sure who’s decision it was to have Ford jack that shot, but perhaps Parker should get more looks in key situations then he does.

Any how, hindsight is 20/20. Ford hits the shot, and it would be “Ford is the man” and so on.

Tough game though last night. And here we are 8 games in and the Raps have had flashes of Eastern conference beasts but mixed in with the so so play that was December 2006. It hurts a little more since they are now 1-3 at home which is very unusual for such a typically strong home squad. Let’s see how the next two games play out and we can make our first good assessment of this team.

By the way, I have a few to drink last night during the game, so if some of my points today make even less sense then usual, now you know why.

No comments: