April 28, 2008

Uh, It's Over, Umm, Bitches...

So much for wanting to play the Orlando Magic. Just like that, the Toronto Raptors are done, eliminated in five games by Superman and his three-point shooting cronies. It was an ugly game to cap off an ugly series and one ugly season.

I don't mean to be rude, but where the fuck was Chris Bosh last night? He finished with only 16 points on 7-of-19 shooting, nine rebounds, and three assists. Most discouraging of all, he only went to the free throw line four times all game. Four times! That's it. His first trip to the charity stripe came with about seven minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Bosh's strength is getting to the line and hitting his free throws, and he was the opposite of aggressive last night. He put up some serious bricks. It was a disappointing effort by the franchise player in the biggest game of the season. Bosh had to set the tone and lead the charge and, well, he didn't.

I'm not throwing Bosh under the bus but he didn't play his best game last night. He knows it, I know it and you know it. His young playoff career has gotten off to a rocky start. In the five games against Orlando CB4 had two strong games - games two and four - and the Raptors lost them both.

It's clear Bosh needs help and it's clear he's not getting it from Andrea Bargnani, who is the definition of regression. Bargnani represents the Raptors 07/08 season in so many ways: so inconsistent, some flashes of brilliance, a ton of potential, and so God damn frustrating.

Andrea was such a tool last night. He picked up two fouls only 20 seconds into the game and, as usual, was a non-factor. He finished with four points on two-of-four shooting from the floor (his first three-point attempt didn't even hit rim!). In a touch under 16 minutes he grabbed one rebound, and I remember it clearly. It came in the second half, no one was around him and, had he not caught the basketball, it would have hit him straight in the face.

Bargnani shot 35% (11-for-37) from the floor in the series and didn't register double-digits in points in any of the five games. He pulled down a whopping seven rebounds in the five games, proving that he is in fact physically allergic to rebounding. How is it possible that the seven-foot tall Italian cannot rebound? I don't get it. It blows the mind.

This summer is a huge, HUGE, one for Andrea and the Raptors. It's clear he's lost all confidence in his shot and, well, that's pretty much all he's about. Without his shot, he's completely useless because God knows he can't defend. Bargnani's got to get in the weight room all summer and come to training camp in September with a sense of purpose. He's got to be hungry. He's got to rebound. He's got to defend. It just looks like he doesn't give a shit out there. He needs to be fighting for a job next season because I'm beginning to think he is the second coming of Shawn Bradley (Lord help us).

I think Jason Kapono was the most consistent Raptor in the series. That's pretty sad, considering he found himself on the bench for much of the second half of the regular season.

All that being said, the Raptors did play hard last night. They played hard all series. They just couldn't get the job done. At one point in last night's fourth quarter they were down 84-82. In the end, however, the Raptors were done in by their weak defense and inability to rebound. The Magic crushed Toronto on the glass yesterday 55-to-37. Dwight Howard pulled down 10 offensive rebounds, one more than all the Raptors combined.

As bad as the Raptors played in the series, the Magic definitely deserve some credit. They are a good team and they beat up on Toronto. Howard is a monster and he dominated Toronto like no one has before. He finished with three - three! - 20 points/20 rebounds games. That is completely and utterly ridiculous. In five games, Superman totalled 91 rebounds. And as much heat as the Magic took for giving Rashard Lewis that huge contract, I think it's looking like a good deal so far. Lewis had a great series and is one of many Orlando threats. Everybody on that God damn team can shoot the ball.

The Raptors are heading into another long off-season. It wasn't supposed to be this way. Not after Toronto finished with 47 wins last year and captured their first Atlantic Division title. They were supposed to continue their evolution but instead took several steps backward, finishing .500 on the season and getting spanked by the Magic. Toronto was consistently inconsistent all year and never really posed a threat to a superior Orlando squad.

Questions abound as the season officially ends: has T.J. Ford played his last game in Raptors red? I think most people will agree that this team is better with Jose Calderon driving the bus, but can Bryan Colangelo find a taker for Ford's contract? And who becomes the back-up point guard if Ford leaves? Will Carlos Delfino, a free agent, return? I sure hope so. What to do with Andrea Bargnani? This guy is just killing the Raptors right now. And what about Sam Mitchell - is his job safe? The Raptors had two God-awful first quarters in the series and were never able to come up with an answer to the hot-shooting Magic.

It will be a most-interesting off-season indeed but, damn, I'm just really not looking forward to reading Dave Feschuk's column today in The Toronto Star.


Brian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
guzman's blue glove said...

As extremely frustrating as it was to watch the Raptors this past season (the Jays have taken a page from the Book of Fail lately), perhaps, they overachieved last year. It lessens the blow somewhat knowing that the Raptors lulled themselves into thinking they were better than they were actually constructed. If that made any sense at all.