"What if Chris Bosh doesn't hit that jump shot?"
An hour or so after the game was done, the "Rapid Recap" was up, and I was settling into some Law and Order reruns, this question kept playing in my head.
"What if Chris Bosh doesn't hit that jump shot?"
Well, besides the obvious, which is that Toronto loses its sixth straight game, a miss on what was eventually the game-winner last night, could have made things very interesting for the Dinos in a number of ways.
For one, it would have been the perfect capper for what was arguably CB4's worst game of the season. Yes he's scored fewer points and probably shot a worse percentage at some point this season. But in a game where his team desperately needed a spark, until late in the fourth quarter, there really was none to be found.
Second, after coming all the way back from being down by double digits, this would have been another disheartening L, and one that came before facing an extremely tough opponent in the Thunder. It's not out of the question that indeed, losing last night may have meant the turning point to the season in a bad way, as the Raps blew a chance to get out of the rut they've found themselves mired in, thus sending them into an even bigger spin cycle.
But let's get back to Christopher Wesson Bosh for a second, as it's the first point I want to discuss this morning.
Forget the 14 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists, respectable at face value. Forget the terrible shooting percentage too in fact (Bosh shot 6 for 19.) Besides some generally disparaging body language, what really summed up the indifference of his performance was that he took two free-throws all night, and both of these came in the game's final minutes.
We're talking about a player who was averaging nearly nine a game and in many a match like this, would routinely parade to the line 10 to 12 times a night! Where was this Chris Bosh?
To be honest, I'm not sure, and I'm a bit worried.
Up until the final few minutes of the game, even from my position on the couch, I couldn't help but notice a change in CB4's demeanor. This wasn't the Bosh I'd been watching all season, the warrior who gutted it out each and every game despite little help from various high-paid teammates. This, gulp, looked to me a lot more like Vince Carter near the end of his tenure in Toronto.
Not to say this is exactly the case, but for those who watched last night, didn't it seem just a bit to you like Bosh was playing in "screw you" mode?
Because let's be honest. Yes, Bosh hit the eventual game-winner, but he didn't win Toronto this game. In fact he was essentially invisible until the very end of the match. To me it was as if he said "oh, we're actually close now and can win this one. I guess now I'll step it up." And I feel 100 per cent confident too in saying that had the Raps not closed the gap, we wouldn't have seen that final flurry from CB4.
So what gives?
Did I misread Bosh's body language and really, everything's fine in Raptorland?
Or was this last losing streak the final straw and indeed, he does have the one proverbial foot out the door?
From this one game, it's hard to say, although even in the last bunch of losses, it's pretty obvious that something's not right. Bosh is not rebounding with the same ferocity, he's not attacking the basket in nearly the same manner, and his on-court behaviour doesn't feel the same to me. For instance last night, he seemed to sort of be doing whatever he liked out there. At one point after a missed shot, Josh Smith rebounded the ball and took it up the court, only to have Bosh D him up all the way, until eventually he returned to his own man, Al Horford. It was subtle, but just one of the things Bosh did last night that seemed to represent a bit of a silent middle finger to all.
Maybe I'm reading too much into this. And maybe he's still injured to a certain extent, which in a strange way would be a relief. But I wonder if this isn't like being in a relationship with someone who you like, but who you know you don't have a future with. No matter how great that current girlfriend is, you just know there's something bigger and better out there for you, and you just can't get that out of your head.
And to various Toronto media types' points, do you blame him? Unlike Vince, you can hardly critique Bosh for not giving 110% nearly every night throughout his career with Toronto. He may not have Vince's natural talent, but he certainly makes up for that in terms of effort, and yet he's been thanked for that effort by being surrounded with at best a mediocre cast, and at worst, the likes of Rafael Araujo and Jelani McCoy. Bosh didn't draft or sign any of these types; unlike Vince who openly lobbied for certain players and GM's (remember the Dr. J fiasco?), Bosh has just put his head down and tried to focus on winning games.
That's what this entire team needs to do now in fact. Toronto of course faces a very tough test Friday night against the Thunder, but hopefully after this Hawks win, the club can start building on some positives to finish the rest of the season strong.
To do this though, I have to believe Toronto needs their old Chris Bosh back. Without his A game, this team just doesn't have the offensive consistency to win on most nights.
He's faulted too often for not being clutch but tell me this, had the team not gone to Chris with the game on the line, would we be talking about a win this morning? Hedo, despite one of his more well-rounded outings in weeks, had missed a free-throw which would have likely guaranteed overtime. And Andrea, despite his best games in weeks as well, is still...well...Andrea. He poured it on early and late, but had one point in the second quarter, and only four in the third. He's still not the consistent option this team is seeking, and I wouldn't have felt comfortable putting the ball in his hands for him to create a game-winner.
No, down the stretch, despite his struggles, Toronto still turned to number four when it mattered most. And although a jump shot wasn't exactly what I was hoping for, especially considering the Raptors were in the bonus, you want your best player to have the ball in his hands with the game on the line, executing however he sees fit. In this case, Bosh created the seperation he needed from his defender Horford, got a good look at the basket, and nailed it.
Perhaps next time such a shot won't drop.
I'll be fine with that...
...provided up to that point in the game, we've seen Bosh carry the load to the best of his abilities - not simply waiting to see if his teammates can do the heavy lifting so he can finish things off.
That's certainly the way it seemed yesterday evening and while that might work once in a while against a Joe Johnson-less Hawks, it's not the way to grab one of the final playoff spots.
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