My friend says to me over MSN last night, “Hey, at least there’s a ball game today. You can relax and enjoy your evening.” My response? “It’s going to be against the Pistons, so it’s going to be a horrible game.”
What is it about the Pistons that brings out the worst in the Raptors? Chris Bosh is taking outside shots, turnovers increase exponentially, and players miss easy layups. Where was that guy that was named “Eastern Conference Player of the Week“? As Leo and others are used to saying, “Wherever Bosh goes, so do the Raptors.” There’s nothing more accurate about this game than that statement. To put it precisely, since last year, I’ve always loathed watching these games against the Pistons. The Raptors just don’t look fast at all and often end up displaying all their deficiencies.
There were some positives though. Jamario Moon continued where he left off on Sunday by putting in a strong performance offensively. This was offset by his blown defensive assignments on Tayshaun Prince, but as the only Raptors starter to shoot over 50%, he provided efficiency. Jason Kapono also finally emerged from his exile, as he finally received some burn and more importantly, some touches. Delfino continued his fairly excellent play, and Nesterovic gave some consistent play off the bench. Why Mitchell didn’t use him more against McDyess is a mystery to me.
The best part of the night however, was the Jorge Garbajosa interview. It was good to see him smiling in front of the camera, and not like some embittered old man locked away in his tower, recovering from season ending surgery. It was going to be on nights like last night where some steadying influence from the forward spot might have made a difference. In fact, it’s always here where the Raptors have trouble against Detroit. With so many good players available in their starting five, there’s just no excuse not to try and draw fouls to get to Detroit’s somewhat weaker bench. Instead, Detroit consistently required help defense from the Raptors which caused at least one of of Rasheed, Tayshaun, Rip, Chauncey, or Antonio to be open. Compounding the issue was the Raptors allowing a team like Detroit to shoot around 50% or better the entire night. It wasn’t as if it was due to contested shots, or just some crazy hot streak either. The Raptors just managed to get beaten in every which way by leaving players open consistently due to blown defensive assignments. Heck, that’s not even talking about the massive turnovers and the lack of defensive aggressiveness such as taking charges.
Oh, by the way, how lucky is it that the storm that’s over Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment is only on the hockey side of things? Larry Tannenbaum managed to somehow bring Bryan Colangelo in, get him autonomy, take Richard Peddie out of the equation and get the Raptors on track within the span of a few months. Unfortunately, on the Leaf’s side, it’s just not possible. There is no genius GM out there that the Leafs can bring in and woo with the same kind of enthusiasm. For one thing, the board and Richard Peddie are loathing the fact that they would be completely taken out of yet another of the big sports of MLSE. The other thing is that there is no genius GM with a bad buyout on his contract that can’t stand his owner. It was really a perfect situation that landed Bryan Colangelo in Toronto and I doubt the same thing will happen in the hockey side. But one thing is for sure. Things looked brighter immediately after Richard Peddie was taken out of the equation.
Next Game: Sacramento @ Toronto