And Reality Comes Crashing In

Posted on October 31, 2009 | 6 Comments

Zach Randolph DrivesYes, in a game they should win, after winning a game they shouldn’t, they play badly and lose. Welcome to Raptors basketball, at least for the first month or two. I’m sure expectations were high after winning against Cleveland, but I hope no one thought what we saw there was going to be the norm, at least for a while. This is still a new, young and relatively inexperienced team, and against Memphis, it showed.

After many Raptor fans pencilled him into the All-Star game, Andrea Bargnani showed once again why he’ll never be the player that some hope. He played horribly against Memphis. Horribly. And if he’s not hitting his shot, he’s almost useless. After playing good defense against Cleveland, he couldn’t seem to defend against Memphis and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was responsible for giving up half of those 18 offensive rebounds the Grizzlies grabbed. Time and time again, the man Bargnani should have been boxing out was able to secure the offensive rebound. If he hadn’t fouled out, if I was Triano, I would have sat him down for the final minutes, anyway.

Yes, I’m hard on him, but when you have the kind of talent he has, it’s a shame to waste it. And he did tonight. In my pregame post, I said that I didn’t think that Gasol would play more than 25 minutes. Well, he played 25, but still managed 19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists and 1 block. Compare that with Bargnani’s 12, 6, 0, 2 and 0. Guess who got outplayed badly? I did apparently underestimate his offense, however, since I said it was not good enough to keep him on the floor. The guy looks a lot trimmer than he did last season, and I think he’s gotten quicker. The Lakers trade for his brother Pau isn’t looking nearly as lopsided, now. In two games, he’s averaging 20 ppg and 11 rpg.

Bosh DrivesOn the plus side, for the Raptors, I also said that Bosh would have a big game and might go for 30. He went for 37, in large part because he got to the line 14 times. His 12 rebounds were also impressive as were his two blocks. The only bad thing I can say about Bosh’s game was that he was the only one who had a really good one.

Well, actually, Nesterovic played well in limited minutes, as did Belinelli, who is thankfully living up to my preseason hype. I do find it puzzling that Belinelli didn’t play more minutes, however. My one issue with Triano is that I feel he’s limited Belinelli’s minutes too much in both games, so far.

Jack played pretty well, out assisting Calderon, who finally seems to be shooting well again, but uncharacteristically had as many turnovers as assists. DeRozan had a pretty good second half, but that barely made up for the first half he played.

The defense that looked so good against Cleveland was no where to be seen. Guys drove to the hoop without anyone getting in their way, a lot of times. The `house’ that they famously practiced to defend was ransacked and burned to the ground.

I do have some good news, though: The sky is not falling. I’ve probably been one of the more optimistic bloggers out there, and while I was disappointed with the loss, I’m not entirely surprised. As I’ve said over and over, we’re going to see a lot of inconsistency with this club for a while. We have seen how good they can be, but we’ve also seen how they can play if they don’t play defense and protect the boards. They’re not as bad as the team we saw against Memphis, and they’re not yet as good as the team that beat Cleveland. Hopefully, by the All-Star break, they will be.

NOTES:

Jermaine Defends Hibbert- Does anyone else understand why Colangelo was trying to grab DeMarre Carroll in the last draft? The guy looks like he’s going to be around the league a while.

- Has anyone else noticed the stats Jermaine O’Neal has been putting up in two games so far this year with Miami? He’s averaging 22 ppg, on 17-25 shooting, and 12 rpg. Wouldn’t it be incredibly ironic if he makes the All-Star team at center and Bargnani doesn’t?

- Chicago beats San Antonio and then loses to Boston by 28 points? Is Boston really this good or is Chicago really that inconsistent?

- With Oklahoma City beating Detroit, the Thunder now have won more games than they did in their first 17 last season. I’d say they’ll probably be one of the more improved teams this year. They’d almost have to be, after finishing with only 23 wins last year.

- Golden State’s rookie, Stephen Curry, had his first real lesson on how to run a team tonight, when he watched Steve Nash rip his team for 20 assists with only 3 turnovers. Curry, himself, had 4 assists on 3 turnovers. The Suns won by 22.

- Cleveland FINALLY won tonight. Of course, it was against Minnesota, so I’m not even sure that will count in the standings. Oh, and Shaq played 19 minutes, scored 6 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. In 3 games this year, he’s averaging 9 ppg and 8 rpg. Anyone else starting to think that Ferry trading for Shaq was a mistake? Yes, it’s a long season, but he’s looking old and slow.

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Comments

  • Michel G

    “Yes, I’m hard on him, but when you have the kind of talent he has, it’s a shame to waste it.”

    Can’t a guy just have a bad game. Bargnani will never be a defensive monster but has a unique skill set that will allow him to impact most of the games he’ll play in.

    Rashard Lewis and Lemarcus Aldridge are also below average rebounders but I never see anybody complaining about their sub-standard defence to this extent.

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com Tim W.

    Yes, both Aldridge and Lewis are below average rebounders, but Lewis is really a 3, playing out of position, so I give him a bit more leeway, and Aldridge is still a better rebounder than Bargnani and a much better defender. And neither are built like Bargnani, who is longer and bigger than both of them.

  • http://khandorssportsblog.com/wordpress khandor

    Tim,

    1. The early warning signs were actually there against Cleveland.

    FYI …

    http://khandorssportsblog.com/wordpress/2009/10/30/substitution-charts-can-tell-you-a-great-deal-about-the-game/

    2. Rashard Lewis and LaMarcus Aldridge are #4/PF’s, not #3/SF’s. Each is a better all-around player than Andrea Bargnani [C], however, as they can effectively check more than one position on D, and have a skill-set which is more versatile when considering all three main phases of the game [i.e. Defense, Rebounding and Offense].

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  • http://nbaroundtable.wordpress.com/ Dave

    I was writing a comment in response to the Bargnani – Aldridge – Lewis comparison on their defensive/rebounding contributions … but it by the time I finished writing the comment it was too long so I published the response as a post on my site instead.

    In summary, I think (1) Lewis is a very good defensive player (2) Aldridge is slightly below average defender (3) Bargnani is poor-to-very poor defender (4) And, also that Aldridge is a significantly superior rebounder than Bargnani is.

    As a result, I think Bargnani’s flaws are a lot worse than either of the two other players.

  • http://www.wearingfilm.com Tim W.

    Dave,

    You’ll certainly get no argument from me.

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