Fear. In the 90’s I had a T-shirt that told everyone behind me that it was just another four letter word. For this Raptors team, we’ve had three games in a row where they’ve stared into the intense eyes of Kevin Garnett and wilted together. The Raptors offense, anemic for the entire afternoon, left no doubt to the fact that the Raptors still have a long way to go before being able to really become the elite of the league.
The Celtics trounced our Raptors this snowy afternoon because they pounded the Raptors from all over the court. As the Raptors struggled to find their defensive intensity on one end by allowing Rajon Rondo to penetrate past Calderon, Bosh and Bargnani had their hands full as Garnett consistently demanded a double team. Of couse, Paul Pierce also caused lots of havoc by driving into the paint and drawing fouls on all the Raptors guards and forwards. It’s not hard to see why the Raptors began to get out-muscled in the 2nd quarter before the whole team came unglued with the second unit coming in. It’s just truly disappointing to see the Raptors struggle so mightily.
On the offensive side of things, the Raptors managed to get Bosh the ball and have him draw fouls, but when your team scores less than 30% of your buckets for the majority of the game, you have to wonder how can the Raptors overcome this obvious lack of ability. The answer is of course to get to the free throw line, but with only Bosh consistently drawing fouls, it seemed like a losing cause. All the Raptors continued to try to jack up shots from the outside and the rhythm and smooth pacing of “Raptors’ Ball” completely disappeared. How many times did we see the ball come out of Calderon’s hand, go to Moon, who tried to shimmy and shake before noticing there were no good opportunities, then he passes to Parker who is now trapped in the corner without a shot. Then the ball gets dumped into the post for Bosh who is promptly double teamed after he takes two dribbles. He passes out again before Jose has to try to make an off balance shot before the shot clock expires. Some would say this was just good Celtics defense, but to me, it shows a distinct lack of decision making on the part of many players. When it comes down to it, are you passing the ball because you’re getting the ball to the best man, or are you passing the ball because you got yourself into trouble and need to get rid of the ball? For too long, the Raptors found themselves looking at the latter situations for the most of this Sunday afternoon.
So at the end of the day, what can we draw from all of this? The first is that I was pretty wrong about the Celtics at the beginning of the year. I believed that Ray Allen going down with an injury would begin the slide of the Celtics team. To much my chagrin, he goes down and the Raptors got to play them today, only to get decimated by the Celtics as a whole. Another thing is that this continued play by Andrea Bargnani is just completely unacceptable. Yes, he’s got a lot going through his mind, but this kind of regression at this stage of his career is just simply ridiculous. Get back to what you can do well, big guy, and then build from there. Bargnani’s continued insistence that he try to make that pull up jumper makes me cringe. There’s only two guys on the team that can do that consistently, and their names are Kapono and Calderon. And yet, we’ve seen Bargnani be somehow afraid to try to take it hard to the cup when there are some defenders around the basket. Why?
Next Game: Toronto @ LA (Clippers)
Note: Due to the time difference, recaps from the game may come in late