Last in the Atlantic Division? Another lead blown? Games on TSN 2 A Lot Of Folks Can't See? We need someone to save us. Bryan Colangelo you were the guy brought in to save us. Well the time is now. This is a far cry from what Raptor fans were promised and expecting at the start of the season. People were talking big saying 48,49 or 50+ wins. I even got caught up in the wave of optimism. But I did make one statement that remains true. I said this roster as it was constructed would need a tweak or two. Well it now may need a lot more than a tweak at this point. Jake Voskhul is not exactly the tweak I was talking about. I meant a back up point guard and a scoring small forward. But it really has gone so wrong for the Raptors and it just seems frustrating for a variety of reasons. Here are a few that I have come up with.
Defense- Remember at the start of the year. Jermaine O'Neal was going to help us become a better defensive team. The theory was that with the added shot blocking down low, it would allow the Raptors to play tighter to men on the perimeter. But the Raptors perimeter defense is as leaky as every in some respects. They do at times play better in stretches but the lack of rebounding and second chances for teams has been a killer. The ball pressure from the point has been slim to none. Jose Calderon has never been a good defender and if anything this season he has been worse not better. Despite better individual efforts from some like Andrea Bargnani and Chris Bosh. That has been matched by the decline of a guy like Anthony Parker or Jamario Moon. The O'Neal trade was made to improve this defense and that has not been the case to any significant degree. So time to find a new answer beyond just the new system and ideas being brought in by Jay Triano. Bring us a guy that can be a true lock down defender. Trouble is those guys are not exactly growing on trees and if teams have them they tend to hang on to them.
Rebounding- This team and it's lack of rebounding has been glaring at times. Another issue that J.O was brought in to help address. But the Raptors have not done a good job on defensive end most importantly in rebounding. Last night as the most recent example the Nets got 14 more attempts to score the basketball. That counter acts any improvements the Raptors have made in defensive shooting percentage. It is not just the fact that on most nights the Raptors lose the battle on the glass. It is getting those key rebounds at the key points in games. The Raptors rarely get those and often give up offensive boards at the worse possible times. Attention to detail and just simple basketball concepts like boxing out need to be performed by this basketball team. It also takes a team effort to get better. You can never just assume that Bosh or O'Neal is going to be able to get the rebound. Also you need to hustle and chase down rebounds. The Raptors need to get those long rebounds off shoots that come from the outside. You would think that a team that shoots so much from long range would understand how to rebound those shots. But the Raptors do not show any signs of that. It is rare you every see anyone these days follow their shot. This is not a beauty contest for you to stand and admire your work. Get after it. Raptors need more hustle energy and fight.
Drive More, Get Rewarded More- The Raptors are thought of as a jump shooting team. Listen to the comments of any visiting team if you do not believe me. They have a lot of shooters and that can make it tough. That is a typical quote you will here. But when you are not making those shots you become a easy team to defeat. If I can figure out that shots are not falling for this team while watching you have to think they can as well? So if they do they shoot be taking the ball to the hoop and driving. Chris Bosh is the one Raptor that does it more than most. He gets frustrated when he does it and doesn't get calls. But if the rest of you team is always shooting and no one else is driving it is harder to get those calls. So instead of getting mad at the refs turn your anger to the rest of the team and encourage them to drive. If you constantly are taking the ball to the basket the calls will come. The Raptors are a solid free throw shooting team, and they need to take advantage of that fact, and get their good shooters like Bosh,Calderon, O'Neal and others to the line.
The Bench- The Raptors have seem to be in a constant stat of flux. At the heart of that flux has been Andrea Bargnani. He started the season as the Raptors 6th man coming off the bench as a back up 4/5. He was then thrown into the starting line-up as an over sized 3 man. Now he is back on the bench again. The Raptors have to build a consistent rotation and a bench that is able to contribute to the team on offense and defense. The coaching change to Jay Triano did not help matters. Triano must quickly establish a rotation and stick with it. To his credit that is what he has tried to do. The one big success story in that has been Joey Graham. But it will take more than that to establish this bench. If Anthony Parker remains on that bench it might help add to that. Parker looked very good in his first time coming off the bench but was not a big factor last night and played less minutes. The rotation is going to be tight based on the Raptors lack of depth and it is key that those that are in it take advantage of it. Roko Ukic has by default become the back up point guard. He is starting to show signs of improvement. Unless a trade comes along to bring in an experienced back up he needs to remain in the role. It is key that the Raptors bench gets established and is able to contribute as a group effectively
Trade Now- If Bryan Colangelo is going to make a move I suggest he make the move sooner rather than later. This team has been through a constant state of change through out the year. So don't let them establish a level of comfort only to make a move and change it again. So make your move now and get all of this change out of the way and move forward. It also sends a clear message to this roster that it has under performed. That is why a coaching change was made in part. But this team even though it has shown some minor signs of improvement it is not enough and it is time to make some moves that see people accountable for that under performance. If you wait to long I fear you go through another period of transition that this team can not afford to go through. If the goal is still to make the playoffs and try to get beyond the first round you need to act quickly because that is rapidly becoming unrealistic.
CB4 Lead Us- Am I the only one that wants to see Chris Bosh just have a freak out presser after one of these games we loss. I mean this team looks far to accepting of taking these loses in stride. I want to see some total out and out rage. Chris has been around Sam Mitchell long enough to know how to do it. The difference is if Chris Bosh had that kind of Sam Mitchell meltdown type moment everyone would pay attention. When Sam did it many just had be come use to it. Chris Bosh has got to step up and be the leader and make it known that he is to everyone that is listening. I know he cares and I know deep down he has to be angry and upset and I think we all need to see that. So Chris Bosh let's seem some fire and let the world know you expect more from your team. There is no need to even say 2010 because if you let loose and demand more from everyone people will get it. Even Bosh and his own performance of late has suffered. Lead us to the other side Chris we need you too.
Those are just some points that I think are key in this mess that has become the Raptor Season. But it is not lost quite yet. But the clock is ticking and the Raptors need to understand that and act now to do all they can to dig in and make a stand to save this season. Bosh was in the M.V.P talk early but now he is just trying to make sure his team stays in the playoff conversation. Bosh has dropped in the latest blogger rankings for the M.V.P. He has just barely hung in to sit in 10th in the M.V.P voting. For who is number 1-9 and who are the top 5 rookies? Go check it out. My votes for M.V.P went to Lebron James and my ROY went to O.J Mayo. Here is the link to see what the results were:
Blogger M.V.P and R.O.Y Rankings
I will close today off with wishing my mother a very Happy Birthday. She has been a great inspiration for me to work hard everyday. I hope she has a wonderful day and is able to enjoy many more years on this earth. That is right the Dino Blogger loves his Mommy. There is nothing wrong with that.