The long, sad trip comes to an end
|Bosh three-pointers last night: 2. Combined Calderon, Kapono, Bargnani three-pointers last night: 2.|
Well, that one didn’t turn out so well, did it?
Some good, some bad and another loss. Some defensive problems crept back into the scene – slow rotations to shooters on the perimeter, too much middle given up to the wings – and that’s probably more troubling than anything. But the Warriors are a goofy team and tough to play. They have no conscience offensively and no real clue defensively. They must be exasperating to coach and a dream to watch all the time.
And the Raptors? Well, they don’t do improvisation very well, as we saw for long stretches of that game.
Action: Coming home.
Reaction: What’s the reaction?
It’ll be quite interesting to see how the good inhabitants of the Air Canada Centre react to these guys on Wednesday night.
Will there be support? Or boos? Indifference? Or noise.
I’d hope there’d be support and noise and when things start to go bad – as they inevitably will at some point in the game – I wonder how many boos there will be.
Paul Jones and I were talking about this very thing after the Golden State game. When the Warriors were in the process of coughing up that big fourth-quarter lead, there was absolutely no disgruntlement from the fans. There were cheers and applause and exhortation.
Same thing the other night in Portland when Toronto went up big in the second quarter. Fans were cheering rather than holding their breath or expressing disgust.
I don’t recall those kinds of things ever happening in Toronto. Which is actually a shame and speaks volumes about some faction of the ACC crowds.
You know that each of the five three-pointers Toronto had down two in the final minutes last night was a good one, right?
Parker ridiculously wide open, Kapono with three good looks in a row and Jose with an open shot from the side.
They would take those shots every single time down the floor and not be worried a lick.
But it sort of goes hand-in-hand with how things are going, doesn’t it? That’s how Jose feels.
“Sometimes in these situations, maybe the Lakers or Cleveland now they make every shot, it seems easier. It is coming because you are winning and you’re rolling. In these situations (that Toronto finds itself in) sometimes the ball is going to off your foot and go out of bounds or it’s going to be in and out and it happens. It’s even more frustrating.”
This from the mail a few days ago fits with the prevailing mood:
Q: Sadly, with the Raptors, what you see is pretty well what you get. They need a big move made now, tweaking can come later. To permit any future acquisition the best adaptation to his new team, how early should a deal be made? And, in your opinion, what is the latest an acquisition should be made during the season?
Richard S, Lethbridge
A: If Bryan’s got a deal that’s close, he has to make it now. Like today, or tomorrow. With three games at home and practices time Thursday and Saturday, it’s a good opportunity to get a new guy or two when there’s at least a little bit of time to get acclimated.
Now, I have no knowledge that anything’s that close but if these guys get nine or 10 games below .500, and that possibility exists, the season’s effectively over so waiting until then makes no sense.
I’m sure you were all wondering as Jake Voskuhl picked up four fouls in 4 1-2 minutes just what the franchise record is for the quickest DQ on personals.
Well, the crack Raptor media relations staff has that kind of information right at hand.
Roger Mason Jr. holds the team record; he fouled out in nine minutes of an April 11, 2004 game against Chicago.
Know what else happened in that game? Jamal Crawford scorched the Raptors for 50 points.
The stuff you learn here, eh?
Statistical anomaly of the night?
Chris Bosh had as many three-pointers against the Warriors as Jose Calderon, Anthony Parker and Andrea Bargnani combined.
Action: Jermaine’s absence
Reaction: Did it mean anything?
Well, considering how well he’d been playing, and how much of an advantage he and Bosh would have had inside, yeah, it meant a lot.
Here’s how Jay put it after the game:
“Obviously we want to attack inside and they could go with a smaller lineup as soon as he was not in the game. That spreads the floor a little bit, plays to their advantage. We tried to stay big for a bit but when we started matching up, that’s when we started getting back in the game with our smaller guys.”
One from the mail:
Q: Thanks for answering my question the other day, much appreciated Mr. Smith. Your insight into my favourite team and sport is awesome. Quick question now, any chance a player from the Filipino pro league ever gets a chance to play in the NBA? I've been over to southeast Asia and I believe those players might have something to offer.
Chris E, Red Deer, AB
A: Jim Kelly, the Raptors director of player personnel who is something of an expert on Filipino basketball (he played, coached, did media, and managed teams over there) once told me it’d be years before anyone was close to making it.
But I do know officials there are working on beefing up training – for both players and coaches – so I can see it eventually happening.
Action: Raptors rebound.
Reaction: How bad is Golden State?
Okay, this is not something I imagine I will write again for a long, long time but Toronto absolutely destroyed the Warriors on the glass, which tells me the Raptors actually can rebound in they put their minds to it. They had 20 offensive rebounds for goodness sake.
How’d it play in San Francisco?Like this.
And in honour of San Francisco and one of the all-time greats, we’ll finish the day with this one:
Q: Hope it's a motivator for you to think that there are many, like me, far from home, staying in touch with beloved hoops and Raps through your blog. Thanks. San Fran was where Bill Russell "got started". Perhaps you can stop by San Fran U and pay respects to whatever they have there to remember his playing days: statue? museum? display case in gym? Which brings me back to Russell..what was it - 9(!!!!) - championships in 11 years or something like that? Whoever heard of such a thing? Russell rebounded, made the greatest outlet pass ever to spark the break and blocked shots with his left hand in such a way that he very often retrieved the ball to initiate a fast break. He could hardly shoot. What does that add up to for you? The heart of a champion? Great supporting cast? Extraordinary coaching with Auerbach? Q: What have you concluded about what it takes to achieve enduring championship-level success in NBA?
Charles N, San Miguel, Mexico
A: Will. Pure and simple. Everyone has athletic ability, some have more than others but everyone can shoot and dribble and run. What separates the greats – the true greats like Russell and Jordan and Oscar Robertson and those of that ilk – is whatever special something burns inside them.
It’s impossible to explain easily but you know what I’m talking about right? You just sense it with all the greats in all the sports. Tiger Woods has it, Nicklaus had it, Gretzky had it, and so did Pele. Borg. McEnroe. Sorenstam. They had something in their hearts that others don’t.