Wow. A lot can happen when you don’t play defense.
It was my first game of the year this year, and I headed into the game with extreme trepidation. The Raptors have shown some incredible ability to weather storms, and they’ve also managed to show that they can still play a good game without star players. However, a lot of people have made a big deal about the Raptor’s strong defense (including myself a couple times). It’s one thing, though, to allow Charlotte open looks from the corner, but it’s an entirely different scenario if you let Dallas or Phoenix have those same open looks. Foresight into those situations would have led me to believe that Phoenix might just hammer the Raptors.
However, let’s give our boys some credit. For one thing, it’s pretty impressive that we managed to score 123 points in a game without our two best threats. In addition, if the Raptors managed to run a few more sets and looked to establish more of an inside presence, I’m not sure that this game might have changed in that pivotal 3rd quarter. It’s too bad that the Raptors chose to go away from establishing Joey Graham in the post. While I understand the decision as the Suns continued to scorch him on one end, it was more important to continue exerting some pressure on Stoudemire and other players via foul trouble. The Suns, like the Raptors, are not a terribly well disciplined defensive team, so the propensity to pick up bad fouls should have been exploited.
On the other hand, the Raptors gave up a lot of critical 2nd chance opportunities to the Suns. When you played a team that shot almost 60% from the field and still managed to make a game of it for about two and a half quarters, you can’t let it slip away by giving them multiple 2nd chance opportunities. Of particular note was how the Raptors guards continued to try to leak out in some situations, rather than attempt to try and gather the ball. Against a team like Phoenix, the chances of making any fast break points are fairly slim. Nevertheless, our guys kept fighting for whatever they could get, in spite of being burned from just about everywhere on the floor. Was it our inferior defense, or Phoenix’s incredible offense? Probably just a combination of the two.
On a separate note, I’d like to say that Steve Nash doesn’t need to play for Team Canada. I know a lot of people have been getting up on him to do it, but the fact of the matter is, even with Nash, would we be able to qualify for Beijing? Most likely not. Instead, we’d be tiring out Canada’s best athlete, not allowing any of the other point guards time to improve their game, and possibly making a situation where Steve would just completely refuse to play ever again for Team Canada. I’m sure Leo Rautins has a mandate, but honestly, the next time we’ll see Nash play for Team Canada will probably be in the twilight of his career. I can honestly see Nash possibly coming back for the 2012 Olympics if only to be a mentor just like Jay Triano was to him. So let’s leave Steve alone.
Next Game: Toronto @ Boston