I’m happy that Jorge Garbajosa came with the team to The Garden. It was nice to see him confront the scene of the crime that continues to cause him so much agony. Of course, the Raptors faced a team largely changed from the time of the incident who managed to completely dismantle a star-less Raptors team.
For the second game in a row, the Raptors have shown just how badly they need one of Bosh or Bargnani back right now. Last year, when the Raptors lost Bosh, they at least had Bargnani to stem the tide. When Ford went down, we relied heavily on Calderon and Bosh to take the load, and when Bargnani and Garbajosa finally went down, the Raptors already had established their rotation and had the confidence to close out their storybook season. It’s important to note, however, that the Raptors were never without at least two of Bosh, Bargnani, or Ford during their entire run last year, and already, all three have logged in significant games on the IR.
The sad thing is, I don’t think Bryan Colangelo can make a trade right now. With 3 major players out with various injuries and his team only having a few games to really play together and gel, I’m sure he doesn’t have a good evaluation of what the team needs currently. Honestly, how do you solve these Raptors? On some nights, it’s turnovers, on most nights, it’s a lack of free throw attempts. Sometimes, they have good offensive nights, but a total lack of defense, and yet, on other nights, they manage to put the hammer down defensively, but come up way short offensively because they stay on the perimeter way too much.
Butch Carter once said that he got Vince and Tracy to consistently at tempt to draw fouls on a team. The effect was two-fold. Your players could heat up by taking some easy shots at the line, and consequently, the other team would be under pressure to do something in order to make sure that their players could be available at the end of the game. Driving the ball aggressively to the hoop, or using pump fakes to draw your man into the air, it didn’t matter to him how you did it, but as long as you managed to get the other team’s starters into foul trouble, he’d be satisfied.
So the question remains, how do the Raptors stop this free fall? TJ Ford has talked a little about not being able to run their natural pick and roll offense without one of the big two, so it comes down to the coaching staff to figure out what to do until their two big men return. Fans have always called for Sam’s head, but for some reason, it’s been relatively quiet this year. However, it’s in these kinds of situations that determine how skilled a coach really is. Brendan Malone, in the first year of the Raptors, managed to take a rag-tag group of players and defeat the Michael Jordan Bulls. Yes, there are excuses and unfortunately, the Raptors have had to play a big mix of West Coast top tier teams during their injuries, but at the end of the day, being a pro means figuring out how to weather the storm and win.
Next Game: Houston @ Toronto