The Morning After The Day Before, LXXIX
So, looks like sixth, right? Of course, that may mean having to beat Chicago in Chicago and that’s exactly the kind of game these fellas can spit up like a baby rejecting smooshed peas but maybe there’s some help. Maybe they get Miami tonight and Philly loses to Cleveland and we can all make plans for a trip to Disney on the weekend.
(And if there’s anyone out there with an extra couple to Springsteen in Orlando on Saturday, I know where you can get rid of them).
Okay, on with the show:
Three Things I Learned
Regression in progress
|Pistons are good, blah, blah, blah.|
If that wasn’t the worst game Andrea Bargnani’s played in a long, long time, I can’t remember which was. Of two of his shots, I swear the ball never once got over the rim, which even in my limited basketball knowledge means it’s got little chance of going in.
No, I’m not ready to trade him for Andrew Bogut or LaMarcus Aldridge or anyone but whatever funk the kid’s in took entire control of his body yesterday.
And it wasn’t just the shots. End of first quarter, Pistons with last shot and Bargnani simply forgets to switch out on Tayshaun Prince in the corner and Prince drills a wide-open three. Bargnani gets the requisite earful from Sam as he walks back to the bench, seemingly oblivious. That blown assignment has nothing to do with shooting mechanics, that’s got to do with mental mechanics.
I had a coach tell me a couple of weeks ago that if these guys were going to do anything in the playoffs, Bargnani was going to have to be good.
I’m thinking the season’s got a fortnight, at best, left.
Things you never see
A five-second violation? I can’t remember the last one called in a game I’ve been at. Not sure if they were trying to call a timeout to avoid it but just another mental gaffe.
Do you recall how done Lindsey Hunter was when he was in Toronto way back in 2002-03? Yes, that was the same guy out there giving the Pistons a few minutes of intense full court defence. Not sure how he fits into their playoff plans but it’s nice to have an energetic, veteran player on the roster who knows his role and plays it well. That’s the kind of guy a team like Toronto could use.
Loads of mail, which will give me something to do this afternoon since there’s no shootaround. Here’s one of them:
Q: I'm usually the glass-is-half-full kind of guy, but when my team loses to a group of inexperienced back-ups in the most important game/quarter of the year (sure, every game is important these days, blah blah blah) how can I expect a decent playoff showing by this Raptors team? Ignore that rhetorical question!
My question has to do with the much criticized CB4 video to the fans, I was wondering how much influence does Colangelo and his marketing dept. have over player's individual promotional efforts? Was this all Bosh's idea or did someone upstairs make sure it was released prior to the sale of playoff tickets to the public on Saturday? I'm not looking for a conspiracy because it sure seemed easier to buy tickets this year compared to last season (less demand?).
K N, Toronto
A: There’s very little influence, if any. As a matter of fact, I know for certain that the first of Bosh’s direct-to-the-fans-videos (way back in the pre-all star time) was a complete surprise to the powers that be and I presume this latest one was, too.
What players do away from the court, whether it be marketing themselves or somesuch, is their own doing. I’m sure if it got far out of hand someone might take a guy aside but, really, the Bosh thing was hardly an earth-shattering event.
A subtle change of late. Have you noticed that in the past few games the first big to come out of the game is Bosh, not Nesterovic. And usually it’s only for a minute or two. Back in the day, they’d often leave Bosh on the court for the entire first quarter and for a few minutes of the second.
Asked Sam about it and here’s his (logical) explanation:
"I think sometimes I play him for too long stretches but it’s hard to take him out, he’s my comfort zone. I know if I need a shot, we can throw the basketball to him.”
We got Classic Cranky Sam pre-game Sunday. He wasn’t in a playful mood at all. And it’s apparently entirely boring to him to talk about the Pistons, which is natural because at this time of season there’s not really a lot to discuss about them.
"Fifty wins, seven years in a row, blah, blah, blah. Blah, blah, blah. They’re a good team.”
Not quite the riveting quote that turns average stories into good ones, but not a bad assessment.
Once more into the mail:
Q: Doug, You probably won't answer this, but I was watching the Bulls game last night and couldn't help but to wonder who should have been fired Scott Skiles or John Paxson. They could have traded for either Kevin Garnett or Kobe Bryant two leading candidates for MVP. All they would have to give up is two players that probably won't re-sign with them anyway (Ben Gordon and Luol Deng).
Terry M, Mississauga
A: Now, why would you think I wouldn’t answer it? It’s kind of cool to get questions that aren’t about who I’d trade Bargnani for, which free agents they can sign in the summer and TJ-Jose.
Actually, I think Paxson’s largely responsible for the mess the Bulls became because of his paralysis over the possible Bryant trade early in the year. But even if he didn’t or there wasn’t a good offer or a legitimate offer out there, he should have handled the situation better because it became obvious early in the year that chemistry on that club was horrific. That had a huge impact on what’s transpired.