Lacing Them Up
Many people have their favorite announcers in sports. In the NFL I really like Troy Aikman, but on the flip side hate J.C. Pearson. In the NBA there are a lot of different personalities. Bill Walton is probably the guy that you either love or hate. Mark Jackson, Jeff Van Gundy and Reggie Miller are all ok, and Marv Albert is a staple. For me however, when it comes to NBA broadcasters I am all about Hubie Brown.
Is there anyone currently on TV that knows the game of basketball better than Hubie? Anyone more credible? Even with the technology out there today you just get the sense that he inherently knows every little thing about every player. Sure he has stats guys to help him along the way but I can’t help but think he only needs them as a safety net. Further, this is the guy who managed to take one of the leagues most dysfunctional franchises (the Grizz) and lead them to the playoffs. Pre-Hubie Brown they sucked. Post-Hubie Brown they sucked. He’s a two-time COY and is in the Hall of Fame. 'Nuff said.
Hubie knows the game, and tells is like it is.
Telling it like it is. This is something that many Raps fans have been looking for. No Kool-Aid. Just the facts. Well, Hubie gave it to us straight today. The moral of the story? The Raps have really big dents in their armor.
What was really interesting about this game to me from a broadcast standpoint was that Brown and Jones were very up to speed on this Raps team. They clearly had watched this team play and could give an educated and objective breakdown on what was going on with the team today and all season long.
It’s not that we didn’t know that the Raps were bad rebounders, brutal at getting to the line, and weak on the defensive end on most nights. It’s just that we’ve never been told so bluntly. Having watched this game and listen to Hubie Brown talk about the Raps things just seem a little more clear.
What I learned is that this team simply just has too many flaws to expect anything more than a first round exit. Prior to this game I, like many of you were hoping for a first round match-up with Orlando. It’s been made pretty clear by Chuck that this is what the folks at MLSE would like as well. Well frankly, I just don’t think it matters any more.
The reality is in a game where the Pistons rode their bench while the Raps played their best guys (more on this in a bit) this team still lost. All of the Pistons starters played 25 minutes or less, yet the Raps led by another solid performance by CB4 couldn’t even make it more than marginally interesting.
Think about that for a second. The Raps in an important game couldn’t pull it together against the Pistons bench? What more needs to be said.
Would things be that different against Orlando? The Raps are terrible on the glass, could find Waldo before they find the charity stripe and have way to many breakdowns to rely on their defense at all. The team is also soft and lacks a sense of urgency. I don’t care who the Raps play in the first round because with these characteristics they are going no-where.
I know this sounds all doom and gloom but it is hard to figure out just how the Raps can get over these hurdles. Sure, sure they are some solid complimentary pieces on this team but as Jon Barry said during the half-time broadcast there is Bosh and then everyone else. One man simply can’t do it all as much as he may try.
A Numbers Game
Many people wonder why AP gets a free pass. Well not today. When your starting 2 and 3 shoot 3-14 from the floor and combine for 8 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists you simply can’t expect to win. Moon was terrible and did nothing to make me feel that he shouldn’t be coming off the bench. AP was simply non-existent. As the teams second leading scorer he simply can’t have these sorts of nights as we head into the playoffs. This couldn’t be more true should the Raps face the Pistons in round one. Parker is often responsible for guarding the other teams best players. A tough task but a task made easier when you force those same players to play on both ends of the court. We all know AP can get his shot off, get to the hoop and be an effective offensive weapon. We just need to see it more often.
The number of three’s made by Andrea Bargnani. In fact, that’s the number of three’s made by Bargs in the last three games. You can’t blame a shooter for falling into a slump but it seems like he doesn’t recognize that he is in a slump. If the Raps have any chance this post-season Bargs has to get back on track and simply laying brick after brick is not going to fix the issue. Go to the hoop or at least get closer. Make the game easier. Bargs needs to figure out how to make like Stella and get his groove back and Mitchell has to help.
The Turning Point
Not sure there was won. Every time the Raps got close the Pistons would shut the door.
Hot - The Pistons bench - A solid job by the Pistons second stringers. Stuckey is a player and alongside guys like Maxiell, Hayes and my personal fave Amir Johnson the Pistons have enough depth to survive the long and grueling process that is the NBA Playoffs. For a team that is known for having a roster filled with veterans they sure have some nice pieces for the future as well.
Cold - Sam Mitchell - You have to feel a little bad for Mitchell. The guy doesn’t give the media that much these days but I don’t think the sideline reporters for ABC got the memo. When he replied to questions with the same brief simplified answers we have grown accustomed to you got the feeling that the ABC folks were thinking "that’s it? That’s all you’ve got?" Mitchell was portrayed as a bit of an idiot on national TV, and an idiot he isn’t.
Luke Warm - TJ Ford - One of the more interesting things to watch for me was the play of TJ Ford. Although he didn’t shoot the rock that well he did a great job getting his teammates involved early. I was actually stunned how willing he was to pass the ball. From the opening tip Ford had four assists in the blink of an eye an finished with eight. Where has this side of TJ Ford been hiding?
Hot - CB4 - Another great performance. He is trying to will his team to new heights but is having a tough time eliciting the desired response. Bosh was lethal on the offensive end (but again most of it was against the Pistons bench) and you couldn’t ask for much more from this guy. This stretch of games however has me wondering if there are not some strong parallels as between Bosh and Garnett. Don’t you just get the feeling that without some series All-Star help Bosh is going to have a tough time getting over the hump. Think of Garnett’s last few years in Minnesota and Bosh’s current situation in Toronto. They are both great players but even the best need support.
So there are two game left and although I have my playoff tickets I won’t lie, I am worried about what lies ahead. As Franchise and I were discussing even if this team does make it by the first round there are still some serious changes required. The weaknesses on this team are not just flaws, they are faults. Of course, you could always be the Miami Heat...the Raps next match-up.
I am not even sure there are three keys to this game. The Raps just need to try and make some small adjustments over the next two games because to expect big changes would just be wishful thinking. Guys like Bargnani and Parker need to get back on track and against players like Blake Ahearn, Stephane Lasme and Kasib Powell the odds of that are pretty good.