The Raps grinded out a victory yesterday without the help of Jose Calderon on Sunday afternoon. In his place Will Soloman chipped in a respectable 15 points and 11 dimes.
Most notably in this game was the insertion of Andrea Bargnani into the starting lineup in place of Jamario Moon. This is not the first time we have seen Bargs play the three spot over the years. Who could forget the disasterous results it had last year against the Magic in game one of the playoffs?
However, it somehow seemed to work yesterday vs the Heat. The Raps frontline absolutely dominated the Heat and with the increased roles of Bargnani and Humphries ended up outrebounding them by a final of 52-35.
Can we conclude this experiment a success? Should Moon be perma-benched?
a) The aforementioned rebounding advantage
b) A competent offensive player like Bargnani on the court masks a number of Moon's deficiencies in terms of shooting/driving/decisionmaking
c) Without Calderon to create opportunities for teammates, the Raps offense clicked anyhow - I'm hesitant to give too much of that praise to Soloman in spite of his 11 assists
a) The perimeter defence was horrific - giving up 8 triples (but isn't it always?)
b) The defense seemed incredibly porous at times and the Heat had little difficulty getting high quality shots at will
c) Bargs will never be able to cover small forwards - ever
I am still a huge skeptic. Bargnani may only appear to be the solution due to the generally horrific play of other Raps like Moon, Kapono, Graham, Adams, etc. In principle, he is simply not suited to play the 3. While it worked yesterday I do not foresee a lineup of O'Neal, Bosh and Bargs being effective over the long haul.
That being said, the improvement of Bargnani is very encouraging. His trade value has gone from nonexistant at the end of last season to incredibly valuable over the span of a few months. While I do not think Colangelo will trade him, it is nice to contemplate the type of players he could potentially bring back in a swap.
While he may never be Brandon Roy, things are definitely looking up.