The morning after the night before, II
Fire this guy.
Trade that guy
Bench this other guy.
In the cool dawn of a Mississauga morning, I can feel the angst, feel the frustration swelling, feel the anger and resentment and the suggestions that perhaps they should tank the entire season and get in the O.J. Mayo sweepstakes.
(And wouldn’t that be a whole new layer of stuff to deal with, play Mayo, Ford or Calderon?).
Yes, they stunk last night; yes, Chris Bosh was far below even average; yes, the wings defended like you and I. Yes, they have 79 games left.
Three Things I Learned
Mix and match time
If you’re sitting on the couch watching (the colleague had the pleasure of being in attendance) and you get back from a breath of fresh air to see Jamario Moon and Kris Humphries on the court in the first quarter, things are bad. Really bad.
No offence to either of them – The Hump actually played with energy he’d been lacking for a week or so – but if Sam Mitchell has to go that deep in his bench that early, it’s trouble.
But we know now Mitchell isn’t afraid to experiment if the starters are horrible. And that’s a good thing because it sends the right message: Play or sit.
Kid’s gonna be good, maybe very good. Maybe quickly. Didn’t see too many obvious flaws in his game, although the token resistance given by the Raptors all night made it difficult to get a true read on him. Funny thing is, Toronto might have had him. There was a deal offered draft night for the No. 6 pick (it probably would have cost Toronto Jose Calderon) but the Raptors had no interest in taking back Dan Gadzuric, who had to be included in the deal.
Imagine Bosh, Bargnani and Yi? Pretty multi-faceted.
Don’t share, don’t win
Even when the game was marginally close, like for the first eight minutes, the one bad sign was the lack of ball movement. And don’t put it all on the point guards, although they were a bit too shot-happy. When these guys are their best offensively, it’s two, three, maybe even four passes before a shot goes up. Not one, a couple of dribbles and a force.
It’s a trust thing, and it has to be constant.
Three Things You Wondered
Q: What, in the holy name of Rafael Araujo, is happening to Bosh during first halves of basketball games?
Vladimir Oljaca, Belgrade, Serbia
A: I dunno. Well, I have a theory, but that’s all it is. I think maybe he’s a bit worried about his knee and he’s tentative to start games because he’s wondering how it’ll react. That may explain why he seemed to get stronger as the Boston game wore on. Last night, the two fouls in the first four or five minutes had him out of the game early and he never really got in rhythm.
Q: Doug, can you explain any conceivable reason that Juan Dixon continues to get consistent minutes? He brings nothing extra to the table over Kapono, Delfino and Parker? The other three can also refuse to pass while hoisting up terrible contested jumpers (even though they don't, which is novel), but they can also rebound and play some D
Please explain, without saying something about what he does in practice.
Ian Toye, Seoul
A: The one reason I can offer is this: Watching the various wings on this team, the one thing Dixon has over the others is the quickness and desire to drive, draw contact and get to the line. I don’t see it often enough from Parker, Kapono or Delfino and maybe the coaches see the same thing.
He is a concern on defence because opponents just post him up and that means the Raptors have to give him help they wouldn’t generally have to give the other three.
But on a team dominated by spot-up shooters, a slasher can’t hurt.
Q: I know it's early to jump on Sam but here goes! Raps are only down by seven after about seven minutes (last night) and are playing poorly, then Sam puts in five subs? In the second quarter while still down, instead of bringing Bargnani and some starters back on, he opts for Jamario Moon & co. and the Raps find themselves down 20-plus? Please, please explain why he gave this one away? Was he trying to teach the starters a lesson (this isn't college ball)? Did he legitimately think the subs give them a better chance to win?
Ben T, Richmond Hill
A: He gave it away? Yeah, right.
Think of this: After seven minutes of any game, he’s got at least three, maybe four, subs on the floor: Calderon, Nesterovic, Dixon almost for sure, and often Humphries.
Moon was in early last night because Desmond Mason was abusing whoever guarded him and they needed to try and get an athlete in there to defend. Would have been Joey had he been dressed.
And the way the starters were being abused, and how little they seemed to care, in the first quarter, why wouldn’t you give some other guys a shot?
It was a bit of a gamble, it failed.
Worst? Not even close
Now, having been subjected to this team for as long as it's been alive -- becoming, in my opinion one of the world's foremost experts on bad basketball -- I'm going to give you some context through which to veiw last night's horror.
Think of this as List Time from back in the day of Nothing But (Inter) Net
Here are three I witnessed that were far, far worse than what transpired last night.
March 13, 1998
Clippers 151, Raptors 120
A 48-minute L.A. layup line (Clips were awful and shot 68 per cent from the field) made worse by the fact the game was in L.A. Sports Arena, an emporium with such a unique odor it was affectionately known as The Pee-Pee Palace.
Nov. 1, 2003
Minnesota 73, Raptors 51
That's when we knew Kevin O'Neill may be a defensive genius but having to watch that team's offence made one look for a sharp stick or some scissors to run with.
March 29, 1995
Orlando 126, Raptors 86
Brendan Malone played five two-guards for a large chunk of the second half, perhaps trying to point out roster flaws to general manager Isiah Thomas, who was not amused. Neither were the people who paid to watch it.
Now, those were bad games.