Lacing Them Up
There are dark clouds in the distance now. The Raps are down 3-1.
Looking to build on the momentum of Thursday’s home win the Raps were hoping to tie the series at two games a piece to put the pressure squarely back on the broad shoulders of Dwight Howard and his Orlando Magic teammates. Unfortunately in a series with such a heavy focus on shooters, it was the guys in blue who were the ones to heat up at the most opportune time.
The game on a whole was a solid back and forth affair with CB4 leading the charge for the Raps while it was two players for the Magic that had disappeared in Game 3 that took their games to another level, Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson.
The Raps had a chance in this one and in fact at the midway point of the game it looked like a W distinct possibility. Unfortunately (and this seems like a common trend with this team in the playoffs) they just couldn’t execute like the needed to.
It’s a tough pill to swallow, and it’s hard not to see this up and down season slipping away.
A Numbers Game
11 vs. 2
That’s right, the Magic hit 9 more threes than our beloved Raps in this game. That my friends is a huge difference. Basic math tells me that’s a 27 point difference. Of course hand in hand with this gaping divide in production from beyond the three point arc is the difference in shooting percentage. The Raps were ice cold going 2 for 15 while the Magic were 11 of 29. What’s become apparent through-out this series is that the Raps are willing to live by the three and die by the three and yesterday they fell on the sword.
42 vs. 21
One of the biggest difference between this game and the last one was bench production. In Thursday’s match-up the Raps bench went off against Orlando’s for 42 points. In this match-up the bench provided little support. Although Kapono continues to play well the rest of the guys off the pine struggled. Calderon was off, Delfino was a non-factor and Rasho was used sparingly. It is interesting that the Raps bench, touted all season long as their strength, may be one of the main reasons they were not able to get out of round 1.
The Turning Point
It may not have been the turning point per se, for the person sitting at home the first thing you notices was a whole lot less red t-shirt’s in the stands this time around. The reason? Apparently the "Are you Red-y" campaign ended with Game 3 because rather than handing out t-shirts the folks at MLSE decided they should hand out pom-poms. Pom-poms?! I can see them handing out towels but cheerleader gear? Nevertheless I digress...
The turning point, as it almost always is with a tight game is the last two minutes where the Orlando Magic simply executed better and hit the big shot. Jameer Nelson, who is still suffering from some back issues was lights out in the fourth and when accompanied by Lewis’ big three the Raps needed to be perfect in the last few minutes of the game, and they weren’t.
The bigger question I have,as coaches like Sam Vincent in Charlotte is let go, is whether Sam Mitchell will be blamed for the lack of execution as much as the players are, if not more. This loss could, and I emphasize could, be the turning point in Sam Mitchell’s time in Toronto.
Hot - Rashard Lewis - On a whole this guy has been pretty silent in this series. Other than Game 1 where he did a noteworthy job on the defensive end against CB4 he hasn’t been as large of a factor as one would expect from a $100 million dollar man. This game was a different shtory though as Lewis was efficient and deadly from the field, did a solid job on the glass and just had more of a presence on the floor. In a game where his partner in crime Hedo was off he elevated his game and made the big shots in the big moments.
Cold - Jose Calderon - Just not his game. Jose looked like a shell of the player from Thursday night. His shooting was off and to put it frankly, he had a bad game. The problem is the Raps need to get consistent production from their position of strength and that simply has not happened. The PG play has been there at one moment and not the next. Inconsistency will kill you in the play-offs.
Hot - CB4 - Bosh has really elevated his game. It was expected by the fans that he would elevate his game and he has responded. The thing is the one game where he was held in check the team won. How do you break this down? He puts up big numbers and the team loses. He is quieted and the team wins. That’s a big issue and one I don’t have answers for at this point in time.
"Do or die."
"One game at a time."
"Backs to the wall."
All of the cliches apply now. The Raps are in a big whole and have a whole lot of scratching and clawing to do in order to give themselves a chance. In many ways I am sure we are all excited to see what the off-season brings, to talk about the draft, potential trades and signing’s. I will be an exciting time, yet there past two games at the ACC have been so exciting it would be wrong not to wish for at least one more.
It has been an interesting series. Two games were extremely close while the other two left little to be decided in the final moments. Unfortunately the Raps have come out on the short end of the stick both times. It’s not inconceivable that a bounce or two go the Raps way and the steal one in Orlando. Don’t forget, it’s the NBA Playoffs, where amazing happens.