Halfway home on an expected journey
At least the message is consistent.
The enduring theme as we hung around the HOTH on Tuesday discussing the impending arrival of the halfway point of the season – yeah, tonight is Game 33 of 66 if you can believe that – was that the biggest need in the second half of the season is a level of consistency from individuals and as a whole.
Not playing down to the level of the opposition would be nice; playing as hard at the start of the game as at the end would be nicer; playing the same every night out would be nicest.
As we mentioned last weekend in the report card thingy (go here to relive it in all its glory) there are only a handful of players who are living up to, or exceeding, expectations, let alone over-achieving.
But that’s the thing with this group, especially without its best player in Bargnani.
Last year, guys like DeRozan, Davis and the Johnson twins – and to some extent Jose and Andrea – were very much learning how to play in the NBA.
This year, those same guys have a bit of an idea how to play, they’re now learning what it takes to win.
We’ve seen some good signs over the first half and some bad ones but nothing entirely unexpected.
We knew – or should have known – that this was a season of discovery and no one said all the discoveries were going to be good. We can see how much work remains to be done with several players, we can see faults and promise in almost equal parts.
But you know what?
These guys are believers because they are pro athletes and they truly and honestly believe that they can, and will, win every game they play.
It’s a wonderful attitude to have, actually; you want that sense of optimism and confidence in the team you cheer for, don’t you?
“We’re not that many games off the playoffs, all we need is a little winning streak, start beating teams we should be and we can play with any top team in this league. Once we start doing that, we’ll be fine. There’s nothing to panic about because we know we can come out and we still got a chance.”
Is it possible? Nah, likely not. But wouldn’t you rather he think that rather than wallow in some kind of despair?
A pretend football game between a team from another city and some other team won’t be played in Toronto this summer, I hear.
Whatever are we to do?
Seriously, though, the fact the Buffalo Bills have decided to blow off the year’s exhibition game here is probably welcome news because it won’t separate people here from their hard-earned money. If there’s anything worse than pre-season football in the whole scheme of exhibition sports, I don’t know what it is.
Basketball can provide you with a wow moment, regardless of who’s on the floor; spring baseball games provide the unique opportunity to see pitchers get their running in across the outfield while the game’s going on and who cares anyway, you’re sitting outside watching. Pucks? Well, aside from the fact they play about a million of ‘em, it seems, must be some endearing quality although I will fully admit I have never watched an NHL exhibition game start to finish and feel quite proud of that fact.
Football? Treble yawn.
Best thing about the news on the Bills thing? There’s something super-secret perhaps coming to the Dome about that time of the summer. No one’s saying what it is and it’s apparently not finalized but a guy can dream, right?
Isn’t that about when Bruce Springsteen’s back from Europe? How cool would that be?
(That is total and utter hope and guesswork on my part, by the way)
I swear it wasn’t two weeks ago that I heard or read how the Leaves were getting good enough goaltending to make the playoffs for sure.
Not so much.
Poor Monster and the other guy; it’s going to be feeding frenzy time.
Good thing we can operate in relative obscurity over in the other part of the building.
Is this tanking?
The San Antonio Spurs, already without injured Manu Ginobili and Tiago Splitter, gave Tony Parker and Tm Duncan last night off and the results were rather predictable.
No, not Spurs by 12.
Blazers by 40.
Gregg Popovich made all the salient points when he was explaining: It’s been three games in four night, whatever number it was in whatever number of nights and it just time to give the two older guys a full night of rest.
No sense in trying to give them short minutes – in the flow of a game that never really works because coaches and players tend to get caught up in the desire to win – so a complete night off it was.
Of course, it wasn’t “tanking” in the Toronto-centric meaning of the word because there was nothing to be gained by losing.
But it still rankles me an awful lot.
It is, without question, disrespecting the game, the opponent, the fans, your team, to simply sit the two best players you have available because they “might” get hurt or might be tired.
The Spur are off tonight, they play Thursday and then the all-star break hits with a weekend off for Duncan and, I’m sure, plenty of rest and no stress for Parker, who can coast through the game and the Saturday night shenanigans quite easily.
At some level, I can understand what Popovich did; at some other level I find it a bit off-putting.
Speaking of pucks (and, yeah, two pucks things in one day) …
It was this date in 1980 when this happened:
I vaguely do.