Taking in the game from the former "Sprite Zone", Vicious D takes a look at the Raptor's third game, first Sunday match, and one of the hotter tickets of the year.
Before I start, I have one question:
What the heck is Magnetic Schedule Night?
As far as door prizes go, this has got to be one of the lamest things I've experienced in my life time. Thanks to the Toronto Star and your Toronto Raptors, we received a fridge magnet detailing this year's schedule. Yes, it's fine that they were giving them out and they could be quite useful. However, why is it categorized as a "giveaway day"? Heck, why is the event called a "night" when it's an afternoon game?
And that, my friends, is how I started my first game in the ACC for the 2009-2010 season.
Little did I know that the magnet would be the least of concerns for the afternoon.
Where do you begin when a game gets completely out of hand due to a lack of attention and focus?
Perhaps you look at the refs who seemed to blow about a dozen calls throughout the game, especially in the first half when the Raptors needed to build some kind of momentum. Toronto had every right to be angry for most of the match as very few of the calls seemed to be made consistently at both ends of the court. It didn't matter if it was a foul, a traveling call, or a non-call, there was plenty enough to be enraged about. In fact, it was enough to get most of the upper bowl chanting an explicative in unison like it was a wrestling show.
Perhaps all of that was just an indicator of just how wrong and messed up the Raptors' first Sunday game would turn out to be. With a final score of 125-116 for the visiting Orlando Magic, the outcome obviously indicated little attention to defense. In what was simply a sad display of poor rotations, the Raptors could not find the Magic 3-point shooters all afternoon and allowed players such as J.J. Redick to set up shop from beyond the arc and rain away. Ryan Anderson, Jameer Nelson, and Redick all managed to heave up at least eight 3-point attempts each with five each going through. That's right. 45 points were scored from beyond the arc by these three players alone. How the Raptors managed to allow a 3-point shooting team like the Magic run wild is beyond my powers of comprehension. It seemed that the Dinos always left at least one person open from deep as they attempted to protect the paint from Howard, and they simply refused to switch strategies throughout the entire game.
And actually, there are a lot of things I'm sure the team would rethink could they go back to noon yesterday:
Perhaps had the Raps chosen to play a little smarter, they would have had better offensive production. Instead, throughout the entire game, Toronto would seem to go away from the hot hand. The Raptors had both Turkoglu and Bargnani on fire at times, but in both cases, the Raptors went back to Chris Bosh. Instead of feeding the fire, the Raps chose to try and get their star player going. Unfortunately, Bosh insisted on taking many jumpers in the lane which killed the Raptors' chance of taking the game from the Magic.
Perhaps Jay Triano could have tried to put an athletic unit on to the floor when the team seemed stagnant in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Some aggressive defense from the likes of Sonny Weems and Antoine Wright could have changed up the tempo of the game.
Perhaps it was the simply crazy afternoon at the line as Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard seemed to magically switch their free throw percentages (Chris Bosh hitting 68% while Dwight Howard hit 88% from the line).
Perhaps it's all a bad dream and the Raptors can wake up from their lackadaisical effort.
After all, those of us in the ACC were waiting to absolutely explode after the blown calls. It's up to this team to give us something to cheer about to maintain home-court advantage. Toronto cannot continue down this path and expect to be a top 4 team in the league. Let's keep in mind that this Magic team was without the services of Vince Carter, Mickael Pietrus and Rashard Lewis, and the Raptors still didn't lead for the majority of the game.
Unless this team starts to get its act together, especially on D, the opening night win against Cleveland is going to look like a once in a blue-moon occurrence.
And that, my friends, would be a very scary proposition.