|VINCE TALOTTA/TORONTO STAR|
|Home sked at least ended on a happy note.|
What’d that all mean? A big home finish with a nice win over a stumbling team sure left a good taste in everyone’s mouth (I get the feeling the quasi-standing ovation in the final seconds was a legit tribute) but as for a harbinger? Nothing, really.
In fact, it probably – and correctly – galled a lot of people that they’d play okay on the final night after playing so poorly on so many others throughout the course of the year. But it was a win and it beats the alternative and by the time the next regular season rolls around, it’ll be long forgotten by everyone.
Except when they read back here:
(Speaking of reading, just ‘cause they’re done at home doesn’t mean we are; we’ll be at the regular in-game blog tonight from Washington, just before 7. Be there or be square!)
Action: Bargnani’s line
Reaction: A true anomaly.
I honestly don’t know how this happens – and this is not an indictment of the guy because I think you know how I feel about his play – but Andrea Bargnani somehow was credited with six blocked shots last night and two rebounds.
Yes, six blocks, two boards.
Don't you think you'd get three boards just by grabbing half the shots you blocked? Does it mean he blocked them and then scurried away from the ball. I don't have time, or the inclination, to look back through too many boxscores but I guarantee you a 3-1 ratio of blocks to boards hasn't happened more than a time or two anywhere in the league this year. Or ever, maybe.
I cannot remember a weirder line than that.
Judging from all the reports yesterday, including Michael Lee’s thorough piece in today’s Washington Post, Flip Saunders is getting the Wizards gig and that leaves Minnesota as the most likely landing spot – if there is one – for our man Sam Mitchell.
And because I know Sam rushes to the computer every morning to read this space and takes every bit of advice I have for him to heart (okay, maybe that’s a stretch), here’s a little bit of unsolicited wisdom: Don’t take a job just to get a job.
While I do think he will coach in the NBA again, and I certainly think he should coach in the NBA again, the next job he takes has to be a relatively “good” one. No teams with horrible records and dysfunctional rosters. No teams with aging veterans and no young talent. If those are the cases, he’s better off sitting at home and spending some Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment’s money for another year because getting a second chance is one thing, getting a third chance is another.
That’s why his next gig is so important for his overall career. He’s got to go somewhere where he’ll have a quick impact and success.
Action: Alvin’s gone
Reaction: He should be back
Old favourite Alvin Williams stopped by practice on Saturday but had to get home to the family for Easter and didn’t get to yesterday’s game. But speaking with a lot of people in the organization, some of worked with him before, some who have just come to know him, it’s wildly apparent he should be on the staff somehow next year.
As an assistant coach, or a basketball development coach working guys out at practice and before games, there has to be a job for the guy. I think he’d like it, I think it’d be a great move to help the young players and I think Bryan has to make this happen.
Now that Philly’s lot in life seems set, the pinch-hitters for Phil are writing these kinds of yarns today.
Action: More stats weirdness
Reaction: Bargnani’s got nothing on the Sixers
Forget that six-blocks-two-rebound gem of Andrea’s and riddle me this, Bat-people.
How can the Sixers make 30 free throws in a game, get 22 offensive rebounds and still, really, have absolutely no shot to win in the final five minutes? That’s some accomplishment.
Or course, it helps that their best player, Andre Iguodala had more turnovers than the Toronto starting five combined.
I’ll say this, the Sixers, losers of five straight, are stumbling so badly into the playoffs that they could very well be swept in the first round regardless of who they play.
Award time and we’re into the big three, stuff that I actually have votes on, stuff that matters.
Let’s start with Rookie of the Year because I’m kind of rushing to catch a flight and this one takes the least amount of thought of those remaining to do.
Criteria’s pretty simple, good first-year players with a dramatic impact on their teams.
And this one could very well be the closest to unanimous that we’re going to get this year because I can’t see anyone taking it away from Chicago’s Derrick Rose.
Kid played the toughest position in the game for a young player, played it with aplomb and the Bulls, to the surprise of some, are not only off to the playoffs, they could very well finish above .500 and as high as sixth. Not bad for a team that many thought should fire its rookie coach about mid-season.
The big thing about Rose is the maturity level he showed. Can’t remember an instance where he got truly rattled for any length of time and my man KC in Chicago tells me Rose is always ready to take responsibility for his gaffes and downplays his big games. Good and humble? Pretty good combination.
But here comes the hard part, finishing out the ballot with a second- and third-place finisher.
For the longest time, I thought Russell Westbrook would be right in there for No. 1 but now I’m not even sure he makes a lot of people’s top three.
Rose is No. 1, I have to go with Brook Lopez as No. 2 and I can make a very strong case for Marc Gasol as No. 3. The two bigs are playing big minutes in tough roles and playing them extremely well. But I will say this, when it comes time to e-mail the ballot back by Wednesday, I’m going to find it awfully tough to pick between Gasol, Rudy Fernandez and Eric Gordon for that third spot.
Okay, so we all know that Chris Bosh doesn’t drive the ball often enough and never attacks the basket and he’s a soft jump-shooting big man, he said with dripping sarcasm.
So, if that’s the case, riddle me this, folks:
How did Bosh set a new Raptor record last night by getting nine trips to the line that gave him 599 for the season? That eclipses his own record of 590, set in 2006-07.
Oh, and how’s he been to the line more than all but four guys in the entire league this season? How’s been there more often than Kobe, more often than Tim Duncan, more often than Brandon Roy or Shaquille O’Neal?
Now, I’m not a big stats guy as the only way to measure a players’ impact on a game, a season or his team.
But those are impressive numbers even to me. And really ought to silence some of the critics, shouldn’t they? They won’t, of course. But they should.
Speaking of Bosh, and we will a lot in the next few days, he said nothing new, nothing particularly interesting and nothing particularly inflammatory after the last game.
“My employer right now is who it is right now. If rumours get started, I can't control that. Right now who I work for is who I play for.” Oh yeah, that meeting with Bryan this week won’t be the big one.
“I'm not indicating anything. IIt will be routine stuff. We will go over the season, assess the season. See how we can get better, see how I can get better.”
Read into that what you will, but there’s not a whole lot there to digest. Which should give the conspiracy theorists and those who like to read the minds of others all kind of fodder on a relatively slow week.
Okay, somehow got this finished before catching the early flight to Washington but that also means I'm out of touch probably until after 11 so if you make a comment and it's an hour or two before it gets posted, don't get all antsy, I'm just travelling.
For the last time this year.