Pretty doesn't count, winning does
Well, that certainly wasn’t pretty (the urge to stick a pin in the eyes was omnipresent as the game unfolded, actually) but I don’t imagine anyone connected with the team really cares.
It was a game they pretty much had to have and they got it by hook or by crook.
And since you’ve all already read the game story here (right?) here’s the usual fare, a tad late but still here.
Worried about throwing a rookie out there in what was a pretty important game and knowing there was no matchup that would have even given Aaron Gray half a chance at making a contribution, Dwane had to roll the dice with his only two healthy big men.
And he did a masterful job, I think, especially in the third quarter when the Raptors actually took control of the game.
In that quarter, he used both Ed Davis and Amir Johnson for the full 12 minutes, the only quarter he did that in, and they avoided foul trouble, anchored a defence that held the Sixers to 44 per cent shooting and helped an offence that shot 63 per cent from the floor.
Most importantly, Davis didn’t pick up a foul in those 12 minutes and Johnson only had one, assuring they’d be able to go in the fourth as well.
It’s not something they can plan on getting away with too often – nor should they try – but Casey managed it well for one night when it really mattered.
Those little moments
You know how Dwane – and every NBA coach – seems to harp on those little moments when clarity is needed on the court?
Smart basketball plays.
Well, at the end of the first quarter, the Raptors had one, blew it and, yes, the coach was ticked.
Sixers got the ball with about 12 seconds left down five; Toronto had committed only two team fouls to that point. Everyone in gym should have known they’d take a foul to disrupt the Philadelphia possession, probably with about four or five seconds left in the quarter.
Dwane’s screaming “zebra, zebra, zebra” (that’s the code word for “take a foul you ninnies” and I’m not sure why so don’t ask) and what do the Raptors do?
Watch Evan Turner dribble the length of the floor, get into the paint and make about a 10-footer the buzzer.
Didn’t mean much in the long run but it was a bit of a brain fart good teams don’t usually have.
No, it’s not all that big a deal and please don’t make too much out of it but, yes, Jose tossing a lob to Fields with 15 seconds to go in a game that was over was not the right thing to do.
Like I said, it’s no big deal but getting the ball back with about 27 seconds left they should have dribbled just over halfcourt, pounded the ball while the fans left and tossed up a 40-footer with three or four seconds left.
I imagine next time, they will.
And, in other news …
I never had to deal with Brian Burke on a daily basis, in fact I don’t think I ever interviewed him, but I did know him a little bit through introductions and conversations with Bryan and I recall one day having a rather lengthy chat about NBA reporters’ travel while standing on Bay Street outside the arena with Burke and Maurizio.
To me, he was bombastic, a bit loud, opinionated, friendly, a bit brash and I’m sure a huge pain in the ass to deal with if you covered his team.
He was not at all corporate, it seems he held grudges and, no, he didn’t seem to fit the MLSE “brand.”
Did he deserve to get fired on the eve of a bastardized season? Probably not. But one of the best reads about the whole thing comes my friend Rosie and it hits the nail pretty much on the head, as far as I can gather from being around that building an awful lot.
Oh yeah, the headline.
The Philadelphia Daily News can be a bit cheeky when it comes to the city’s sports teams – it works for the fans and we know how they can be.
Might have told this one before but for some reason I cannot remember, I ended up in Philly on an early basketball off-day and was somehow assigned to cover an Ottawa Senators-Flyers playoff pucks tilt.
Senators win, take the series, the Philly goalie plays like me and we awake May 5 to see this headline:
Speaking of Philly, and I can’t believe I remembered again, here’s how that game played down there in the papers this morning, courtesy of my man Bob Cooney.
So I wander into the press room at the arena about 3:30 yesterday afternoon B. Arthur (not to be confused with Bea Arthur) is doing a live standup TV hit, there are camera people everywhere and the place is thick with stressed puck scribblers. And I get to thinking: Man, it’s fun to cover the most stable of the three main franchises the MLSE collection.
Think about it. How classic is that.
But since Bryan Colangelo go here, the HOTH have been in the playoffs twice and the pucks zero time and the TFCs? Well, they should be buried again this season by the time the guy they hired to maybe coach the team sometime in May if he can get out of his professional contract and doesn’t have to fly monthly to New Zealand to play national team games.
Since Bryan Colangelo got here, the Raptors have had, um, one general manager; the pucks have gone through John Ferguson Jr., Cliff Fletcher, Brian Burke and now Dave Nonis. The TFCs? I have no clue but the number of men in charge is large.
Since Bryan Colangelo got here, the Raptors have had three coaches – Sam, Jay and now Dwane – and the Leaves have gone through Pat Quinn, Paul Maurice, Ron Wilson and now Not Rick Carlisle. The TFCs? Don’t get me started.
So the next time someone holds up the Leaves as the model of the organization, pardon me if I do a spit take and laugh uproariously.
The pucks can only wish they had the recent history and stability that the basketball does.