Tell me you were surprised by a bad game following a good one
Join Doug Smith for a live Q&A at noon today, as the Raptors prepare to take on the Orlando Magic.
Bit of a schedule change for today, I’m afraid.
The regular game-day chat goes back to noon from 1 p.m. but, alas, there cannot be an in-game blog this evening.
I had forgotten about the department’s Post-Work, Pre-Christmas Buss-toss And Social Soiree taking place this evening at an establishment across the street from where we ply our trade.
I don’t get to hang with those folks too often and with some of them departing soon, I should. So I will.
Some of you know how to reach me if you want; other than that, we’ll do the in-game thingy Friday.
Until then …
THREE THINGS I LEARNED
Wanna ease the angst?
Come to this realization:
This is what they are right now. A middling team that’s good one night and bad the next, inconsistent of effort and, more importantly, execution.
The infuriating thing has to be that they can do it. They can play their defensive system to good success, as we’ve seen on a handful of occasions, the most recent being Sunday.
And despite the fact they haven’t hit a three-pointer in eons, it seems, they are still one of the more potent offensive forces in the league.
I was talking to a rival assistant coach one night recently and asked him for an honest assessment of the Raptors.
What I got was this, and I paraphrase because my tape recorder wasn’t on and the hand-written notes I jotted down are almost indecipherable.
But the gist of it’s right:
“It’s a good team, a playoff team. Probably fifth best in the East. But I have no idea why they can’t play hard every night. If you get them down, they go away.”
Pretty good assessment, don’t you think?
And maybe that’s where you’re going to be for the next 10 or 15 games, like you’ve been for the first 27. Highs and lows. Some good games, more bad. Effort lacking one night, effort there the next.
And all you can do, I fear, is hope they find some magical consistency, that they get on some kind of role and it sticks with them. There are no magical solutions, no huge trade, no shocking moves to be made. Maybe something big happens a month from now but for the time being this is what they are.
Of course, t feeds into the oft-bipolar attributes of some fans and will undoubtedly cause more angst than some would like to suffer through but, a third of way through the regular season, it is what it is.
It’s easy, but it’s wrong.
Every day after losses like Tuesday nights – and that’s quite a few days now that I think of it – the e-mails flood in.
“Jarrett cost them that game.”
“Jay cost them that game.”
“If Bargnani was better, they would have won; it’s his fault.”
“Did you see the bench? That’s why they lost.”
Oh, were it so simple.
You cannot ascribe blame to one player or coach, it’s foolish and dead wrong.
Like last night, for instance.
On one possession, Andrea would do a good job defending his guy, force a miss and watch a weakside offensive rebounder grab the ball.
On one possession, I think Sonny Weems forced Mario Chalmers to dribble out about 16 seconds of the shot clock but Jack couldn’t fight through a screen and the Heat got an open look.
Bosh holds off O’Neal on the boards, Turk lets his guy slide in to grab a miss, forgetting the basic box-out tenet of defensive play, which is to find your guy and put a body on him.
It’s never one guy, never one play. It’s a collective team game and, believe me, there’s always more than enough blame to go around.
We’re seeing regression.
Remember, about 10 days ago, everyone was gaga about DeMar DeRozan and how maybe he finally “got it” and was about to turn some mythical corner.
Not so much.
Check out the last five shooting games: 2-9, 1-4, 0-5, 2-4, 4-10.
That’s a whopping 9-32 by my math and that’s simply not good enough. Oh, and in his last four games, he’s shot a whopping four free throws – and they all came in one game against Atlanta.
That’s 21 minutes of free throw-free play against the Rockets and another 28 minutes without a trip to the line Tuesday night in Miami.
I know he’s a rookie and he needs to be cut some slack but isn’t his play rather indicative of the entire team? Shows up one night, doesn’t the next.
And there’s also this:
The lose and they lose big
What have they lost? Sixteen games?
By my count, they’ve lost six of those games by 20 points or more. A quick glance of last season’s scores shows the lost six games by 20 or more points in the entire season.
I’m going to bring this up even though it’s a rant and ends with some rhetorical questions.
So yesterday a guy calls me a “fool” for the misuse of one word in a 1,200-word blog post.
Then during the live chat in the afternoon, an idiot writes “u suck” (which tells me he or she is about 12), another wants to know about my sexual orientation, another demands that I answer his or her question and if I don’t I’m a racist and that’s the just the stuff I remember off the top of my head.
Does doing crap like that make people feel, what? Significant? Smart? Comical? The least bit relevant? Or does it just feed some basic mental defect that says, “hey, look at me even if I don’t give you my real name.”
And people wonder why I’m cranky every now and then.
Of course, there are so many of you who are smart and insightful and I appreciate the comments because it adds an awful lot to this tiny community.
But, really, reading that kind of tripe can get a guy every now and then.
And that should make entire season, er, I mean entire sense to you.
Oh, in Miami, this is what Ira wrote off that one.
It was interesting to talk to the Canada Basketball people yesterday about the world championships draw and what might transpire between now and then.
The one thing that go to me:
The continued expectation that Matt Bonner will get his citizenship act together to ride to the rescue and that they continue to hold out Jamaal Magloire as a possibility.
Now, I’ve been pretty clear on this in the past, but it bears repeating: These worlds need to be as much about developing the program and the young players and looking ahead to 2011’s Olympic quaiifying even than anything.
Matt needs to give them a commitment for three summers – I imagine he will but they need to make that clear – and as much as they talk about Jamaal, I don’t think they need him on the court.
Where they need him is in his community, telling the kids in Toronto that the national team program matters. Maybe there’s room for him on the bench in some advisory role, at least as a teacher during practices.
But on the floor?
On the floor this summer has to be about kids in their early 20s gaining invaluable international experience. Look, with or without Matt Bonner and Jamaal Magloire, this is a team that will be life and death to win two games in the preliminary round and advance to the knockout stage.
That’s a legitimate goal, difficult to achieve, and something realistic to shoot for. And if they reach it with a young team learning, it’s only going to help in 2011, maybe 2012 and after.
From Orlando, Brian Schmitz tells us in this piece that the Magic is quite happy the league took exception to some over-exuberant physical defence the Pacers played on Dwight Howard the other night and upgraded a foul on Troy Murphy to a flagrant.
Bet they won’t be worried about the same thing after they play Toronto tonight.