Of rebounding and numbers and dancing in the streets of Ljubljana
Bulletin to those about to burn jerseys, rip the tops off bobbleheads or storm the ACC:
They will lose more games like they lost last night as the season goes on, beaten by inferior teams because they can’t put them away for whatever reason. It’s going to happen more than a few times, I suspect.
But they’re also going to win a few games against good teams when you least expect it, come out of nowhere to, oh, I dunno, beat San Antonio on the second half of a back-to-back or go into Orlando and win.
It’s just the way the game goes, and it’s fun.
Seriously, it’s fun.
(Is this growing on you?)
Forcing the issue
How many times have so many of you lamented Toronto’s rather “reactionary” way of playing, doing things with rotations and play calls and defence to answer what opponents are doing?
Well, against Indy they didn’t and despite the angst you all feel about the loss – and it might have set a season high for “I’m done with these mopes forever” comments – it was a rather good to see.
I’m talking about staying big when the Pacers went small, sticking with Bosh and Bargnani even when Indiana had Danny Granger at the four and three-point shooting Troy Murphy at the five.
It worked, too, for the most part.
They took advantage of the size difference on offence – it’s why Chris Bosh went to the line 16 times in the second half alone – and they did, all things considered, a good job of keeping Granger away from the rim and the paint.
Too many times, we might have seen a Toronto team sit one of its bigs in that situation, try to match the Pacers small lineup with a strange one of their own.
I’ve always thought it’s best to play to your strengths and last night they did.
Now, if they’d just won, it’d be an even more significant point.
Andrea The Worm
Yes, 17 rebounds. It’s not a typo, it’s a career high and for one night, didn’t Andrea Bargnani look like a 7-foot glass-cleaning machine?
Well, sort of.
But when you watch it closely, part of the reason he gobbled up so many loose becomes pretty apparent.
On a handful of instances – not all, mind you – he was the lone big under the basket because Bosh was out taking care of Troy Murphy on the perimeter.
That made it relatively easy for him to grab up errant shots, and there certainly were a lot of them. One thing Andrea doesn’t do particularly well is rebounding traffic but when he’s one-on-one with a guy and there are fewer people crowding the paint, we’re starting to see him figure out how to go get the basketball.
I’m not suggesting it was a bad game on the boards because there have been times when he’s been isolated there and simply forgotten to box out or establish position. Seventeen rebounds, no matter how they are obtained, is a significant number.
The next step in his development is for him to consistently put up those numbers when there are a couple of more bigs around. Then, we’re talking The Italian Rodman.
A bit of cheating
I noticed this the other day against Boston and then saw it again last night against Indiana. It’s a bit of a tweak, not a hugely significant change to playing defence but it’s worth noting because it works pretty well.
Watch the next time someone tries to drive the middle from the wing against Toronto, an off-guard or a small forward taking his man off the dribble from the wing into the paint.
Then watch the “other” Toronto guard, usually the point guard and a guy usually “hugging” his man on the weak side.
Now, instead of staying in contact with the guy he’s covering, that othe Raptors guard goes quickly and seriously to the free throw line to cut off the penetration that’s been killing Toronto for, well, forever.
They did it coming off Rondo on Sunday, they did it coming off Earl Watson last night and I would think they’d do it coming off Chris Duhon or Nate Robinson on Friday and Jason Kidd on Sunday afternoon.
Yes, if the guy driving the ball dishes quickly to his backcourt mate it gives up a pretty good 18- or 20-foot jumper but, you know what, I bet they’re okay with that.
I’m sure it’s been a part of the defensive philosophy all season and maybe they’ve been doing more often than I’ve noticed in the last two games. But I don’t think they’ve been doing it as effectively and if they defend like that, they’re going to be okay.
And, the rest of the story, as they say
It’s been about 10 hours since the game ended and I haven’t seen that Hedo Eats Pizza ad in that whole time.
My retinas are getting back to normal.
Lots of incensed e-mails, well, a couple because you’ve been quite reserved so far, about third quarter and timeouts and why there weren’t any.
A lot of Fire Jay, What A Stupidhead He Is but, frankly, there wasn’t a run longer than two baskets by the Pacers in the entire quarter, no time when they rattled off a dozen points or anything ridiculous.
A 5-0 run made it 68-59 with about 8 1-2 minutes left; they settled down and another 5-0 run made it 72-68 with 6:30 to go and while maybe that’s the time for one, there’s a mandatory coming at the first stoppage below six minutes so why blow one.
I guess the only time would have been after a 5-0 run made it a two-point game with about 4:11 left but they actually survived that okay.
To suggest it was horrible clock management just isn’t right.
Here’s what’s up in Indy in the aftermath. Don’t imagine there was a parade, but I bet they were whooping it up.
Remember back in the day, when I used to trot out The Big Man Triple Double, a contrived stat contrived by an Old Grunt from around our place?
It’s for points, rebounds and made free throws and Chris Bosh now has two of them back-to-back.
It’s an impressive game and since power forwards and centres seldom have real triple-doubles (I don’t know that there’s been a 10-block game this year), it’s probably worth mentioning, so I will.
He had 20 and 10 and 15-20 at the line last night after 31 and 13 and a perfect 13-13 FTs the day before against Boston.
Those, despite coming in two losses, are pretty good numbers.
How much do you love Rasho? Four minutes, six points on 3-3 shooting, three rebounds and two blocks? They’ll be dancing in the streets of Llubljana.
This after being he’d been a DNP-CD in seven of his last eight games.
And the thing is: He got those minutes so Jay could grab some extra first-half rest for his regulars, knowing he’d go back to the usual bigs rotation in the second half.
Which is exactly what he did, and should have done.
I believe an entire day went by yesterday without one zany Chris Bosh trade rumour.
Thank God for small mercies.