The Morning After The Night Before, VIII
So off they toddle for a three-game road trip -- a really tough one in Dallas, just as tough a one in Memphis on the back-to-back before Thanksgiving off to prepare for Cleveland on Saturday afternoon.
And, yes, 5-5 isn't as bad a start as 2-8 and they are still in the middle of the Eastern Conference pack but the sense I have right now is that an opportunity has been lost. If they're 5-8 in a week, or 6-8 after they get done with Chicago at home next Sunday, it won't be time to panic but it will be time to be concerned. That doesn't mean fire this guy, trade that guy or bench that guy; it means there has to be a sense of urgency and maybe some tweaking of a rotation that's too up and down.
No one's really shooting it well, Bosh isn't playing up to his capabilities and they've got to start stringing together four or five good games that end up with wins. Losing close games and playing well isn't good enough. Never was, particularly not good enough for a team with designs on 50 wins. Or even 47.
Anyway, on with the show:
Three Things I Learned
Decisions, decisions, (bad) decisions
Okay, they are only two plays in a game but when coaches and players talk about “decision-making” this is not what they had in mind. And two plays in the middle quarters of a close game could be the difference at the end.
First one: T.J.’s leading a four-on-one break with Bosh, AP and Maceo Baston. Who gets the ball? Baston and a missed jump hook, end of possession.
Second one: Carlos Delfino’s leading the same kind of break with Moon, Dixon and Calderon. Where’s the ball go? To Moon, offensive foul, end of possession.
It’s not as if the Warriors have a lineup chalk full of great one-on-four defenders, either. Those were just two mistakes.
When to cheer, when not to
Okay, I like pizza as much as the next guy, although I do admit having been at camp in Italy, the slop some chains pass off as pizza over here barely counts. But, really, down eight with less than five seconds to go and the remnants of a sell-out audience goes nuts – and the over-exuberant PA announcer makes it sound like the greatest thing ever – when Delfino dunks to get the Raptors to 100?
Really. Come on.
I know it’s a bit of solace after a loss but doesn’t that strike anyone but me as a tad over the top? I bet the sponsors were so happy they wanted to invade the locker room after the game while we were doing our jobs and the players were changing so they could shake hands and tell ‘em how great they are.
Just piling on
Andris Biedrins was selected 11th in the 2004 NBA draft by a team needing a young big man to groom. Rafael Araujo was selected eighth in the 2004 NBA draft by a team needing a young big man to groom.
Love Biedrins game, but it's painful to watch him shoot free throws; he makes Shaq look like Rick Barry.
Love the Warriors game, too, lots of fun to watch a team that really doesn't care a lick about defence. An 0-6 start was brutal and, in the West, it'll probably be late January before they can dig themselves out of that hole.
Whether they can do it and make the playoffs remains to be seen.
Three Things You Wondered
Q: I'm not buying your line (in thestar.com game-over story) that T.J. “needed” to score (Sunday) against the Warriors because no one else was doing in the first. The problem I have with him, and I know you like to protect him (and the whole squad for that matter) and never critically analyze their games because, hey - there are 82 in a season, so what's the point right? Anyway, my problem with the little engine is that he's a self-fulfilling prophesy. he starts the game, doesn't get his teammates involved, looks for his own shot, and then things go downhill from there quickly. He takes over and has to win the game himself.
Now it's not all his fault because Sam Mitchell is the guy letting him do it.
I'm telling you, it would be nice to see some decent constructive criticism and a real discussion about the Raps and their woes from the media, instead of always offering up the standard 'there's 82 games' or 'there just wasn't enough ball movement'.
Louis Papa, Toronto
A: Your snark aside, and it is quite good, you should be proud, I’ll say what I have to say and then wait for the inevitable reply.
Let’s deconstruct those first few minutes, when things started on such a freefall into mediocrity that Toronto only led by eight going into the fourth quarter.
On Toronto’s first 17 possessions, covering the first eight minutes, we had: Ford miss, Parker miss, Baston miss, Ford make, Parker miss, Parker miss, Baston free throws (2), Bosh make (Ford assist), Bosh miss, Bosh turnover, Ford miss, Bosh miss, Ford make, Parker make (Ford assist) Ford make (three-point play), Parker turnover, Baston miss.
Let’s see, by my count, that’s nine missed shots (two by Ford), three Ford makes (including a three-point play) and two Ford assists on two other Toronto baskets. That’s not dominating the beginning of the game, that’s giving teammates a chance they didn’t capitalize on and watching Ford go around Baron Davis in the first half like he was you made everyone on the staff – which are really the only people who matter – quite happy.
The constructive criticism is that they have to get Chris Bosh going more consistently, a fact that Bosh freely admits, as you’ll read in today’s paper. And, believe it or not, there are 72 games left, which is plenty of time for a 5-5 team to win 50 and, believe it or not, there isn’t enough ball movement and they have to find some.
They can’t score 12 points in a fourth quarter and expect to win. Oh, in that fourth quarter, Ford attempted two shots, one fewer than Jamario Moon.
Q: Do you think we'll see Moon in the dunk contest this year?
Daniel Ho, Richmond Hill.
A: Let’s see, the dunk contest is in February, right? First, let’s see if Moon is in the rotation in February before you start worrying about dunk contest.
But there have been lots of questions like this. The NBA does the inviting, the dunk contest is for young player deemed to be ‘rising stars’ and if Moon’s still playing, he could very well get an invite.
That’d be cool.
But if he’s going to hoist three-pointers like he did Sunday, he’s going to have a hard time staying in the staff’s good graces.
Q: What will happen to Moon and Baston once Graham and Rasho are good to go? I don’t see them on the active list again, that’s just a pure waste of talent. Are the Raps doing any moves in the near future? Come on, you can tell us.
Tobi Bihis, Toronto
A: I wish I knew for ‘cause then I’d be a GM, make a lot more money than I do now and dress better, too.
What I think is going to happen is that when Rasho’s back, Baston spends more time on the inactive list and when Graham’s healthy, either he remains on the inactive list until Moon his the inevitable rookie wall and his play drops off substantially. Or maybe, for the odd game where they need bigger, more athletic threes, they activate Graham and give Juan Dixon a night in street clothes.
As for a trade, as Bryan Colangelo is watching his team play – just like you are and I am – he’s got to be wondering why it really isn’t firing on all cylinders at the moment.
I don’t think there’s a need for a major move, or even a little tweak right now but if they keep going along winning three, losing two, winning one, losing two, he’s going to be more aggressive making a move or two.
Don't forget, we've got the weekly mailbag that appears here Friday, just click here to send along a query. And there's always the post-game questions that make the morning so interesting.