Well, well, well....The Raptors went into the Magic Kingdom last night, and got their asses handed to them. However, this loss was worse than the playoff losses because it does look like the Raptors have addressed one glaring deficiency (getting owned by Dwight Howard in a prison bitch sort of way), only to discover a whole new and imporved way of getting crushed (not hitting any 3's, turning the ball over 20+ times). Let's break this game down because in the smoking ruins there were actually some good news, but its mostly bad.
1. Bosh's line: 40 pts-18 rbs, well it looks like Bosh still owns the Magic. CB4 was cooking last night in the face of Howard's strangely girlish/affectionate teasing?!? Anyway, Bosh is awesome, and its pretty clear that he has taken his game to the next level. Has the team followed his example? More on this later.
2. JO's line: 16 pts-10 rbs-5 PF/(Howard's line: 18pts-9 rbs), why did I include Howard's line as a part of JO's stats. Considering that Howard averaged 30-20 against the Raps last season, its pretty clear to anyone watching the game last night that JO was able to hold Howard in check whenever he was on the court. Yes, JO ended up in foul trouble, but the fact that he was able to guard D-12 one on one, and was able to mute the Superman's impact was, in my opinion, the most important development for this team. Of course, the team decided to waste this stellar defensive effort.
Well that was the good news. Are you ready for the bad news? Cause there's a lot of it.
1. Andrea Bragnani starting at SF: Why was Andrea out there trying to guard Hedu? Is Sam Mitchell actively trying to give the Magic a super obvious mismatch to exploit? Did Andrea morph into a 6-8 small forward over the summer? I have so many questions because this EXACT plan didn't work in the playoffs last year either. Are we really at the point where we are recycling strategies that have clearly FAILED? Because if we are, well I think we all know what road we are travelling down. Not only did Andrea get exposed defenisvely by Hedu, but his offense suffered as well since he wasn't able to play the mid range-semi post game is he trying to develop this season. Why is Mitchell messing with Andrea? The bigs had clearly defined roles that seemed to be working. Andrea at the small forward is a disaster, and has to stop.
2. 14 for 45, 15 turnovers. What an impressive measure of offensive shittiness. That was the shooting line for Raptors not named Bosh and O'Neal. Want to know why this lost by 13 even though 2 of their best players seemed have great and good games? Because when the rest of the team plays like it belongs in the D-League, guys like Jameer Nelson and JJ Reddick drop 32 on us, why do the Raptors even bother showing up. Pathetic.
Final thought. A lot of people are going to say, that the Raptors were undermanned because they were missing Jose. Fine, I accept that, with Jose, its possible that the Raptors cut down their turnovers dramatically, and this game is a lot closer. In fact, with the games that Bosh and O'Neal had, Jose might have been able to bring it home. However, that doesn't mask the fact that the Raptors collectively allowed Hedu and Rashard Lewis to light them up like Christmas trees. JO was brought in to stop Howard posting NBA Jam like numbers, which he did, but where is the sense of urgency from the rest of the team? Where is the improved perimeter defensive schemes from the coaching staff since they don't need to help on Howard on every possession.
Here's the truly scary thing. Bosh scored 40 pts, and missed like 2 shots in the 2nd half. Meanwhile, JO provided the interior defense that the Raptors desperately needed against Howard. So if I had said that those 2 things were locks to happen, most of us would say that Raptors would definitely have a fighting chance. Except they lost by 13! 13! This Raps squad is in trouble. 5-5 might look okay to some, but if you have watched every single minute of Raptors action this season (which I have), you know this team is desperately needs the dynamic to change.