It's tough being a fan of the Toronto Raptors. The HQ breaks down a gut-wrenching, yet completely unnecessary loss to the Golden State Warriors...
That's a question that may be on the mind of many a Raptor-fan this morning after a heart-breaking 113-112 loss to the Golden State Warriors last night.
For those of you who didn't get to see it, Sonny Weems stole an inbound pass with 3 seconds left, somehow found Bosh under the hoop, and yet CB4, a monster all night for TO, couldn't get it to drop. As a result, Toronto now finds itself only a game up on the Chicago Bulls for eighth in the East, with games looming against the Cavs, Celtics and Hawks...pretty much the cream of the Eastern Conference crop.
The Bulls on the other hand take on the now Bogut-less Bucks, the Cavs, and the Nets. Therefore it's quite possible that by this time next week, the Dinos are looking up at the Bulls in the standings.
Post-game, many people were asking how a supposed "Max Contract Player" misses that shot.
No one expected Weems to get the steal, including Bosh, and the pass wasn't quite on the money to CB4. With so little time left, it's more of a reactionary situation ie; "just get the ball to the rim before time expires" than anything. Yes, Bosh actually had time to collect himself and perhaps throw one down, but hindsight is always 20/20, and there have been countless classic examples of players blowing easy looks to win games.
Just ask Patrick Ewing (see at 4 minute mark):
(As well, for those who say LeBron would have made this play, perhaps you missed his suspect shot selection with the game on the line yesterday in Boston.)
Lost in the dramatic finish and heart-breaking loss last night, was a tale Raptors' fans should be quite familiar with this season; a yeoman effort from their franchise player, and not much from anyone else.
Bosh finshed with 42 points, 12 rebounds, 5 steals, a block...oh, and hit 20 of his 23 foul shots.
The rest of the team?
Outside of a brilliant fourth quarter by Jarrett Jack, who had 16 of his 19 points in that final frame, the rest of the team struggled shooting the ball to say the least.
Hedo Turkoglu, Sonny Weems, Antoine Wright, Jose Calderon and DeMar DeRozan were a combined 8 of 31 from the field and against a Golden State team that has a bevy of sharp-shooters, that's just not going to cut it. Even Andrea Bargnani, who finished with a solid 18 points, 9 rebounds, a block and two assists shot poorly going 7 for 23 on the evening.
Really, this game would have been over in the third had it not been for Bosh. He was completely unstoppable and probably could have put up over 50 points...
...if his team had kept feeding him the ball.
While the loss was heartbreaking in terms of the game's final outcome, it was also unbelievably frustrating for me to watch because of the Raptors' lack of preparation. This is a team that had drilled Toronto from long-range last time they met, and had coaxed the Dinos into playing their style of game - that is, shooting quick jump shots.
It was no different yesterday as instead of playing through Bosh on every possession, especially after it became quite evident that Golden State had no answer for him, the Raptors far too often settled for quick J's early in the clock, sometimes when there wasn't a rebounder in sight.
As well, the Warriors bombed away from downtown, hitting 13 of their 26 attempts.
Folks that's 39 points right there! How did Triano not have a better scheme for this considering that's all Golden State does?? We're talking about a Warriors team that came into last night's match having won only five road games all year for heaven's sakes!
And this brings me back to Bosh.
When Triano gave him a break early in the fourth quarter, things quickly fell apart for Toronto. No one could score, and soon the Warriors had turned a small margin of possible victory into a 13 point lead.
The execution was abysmal, and yet again I found myself watching what could easily be next year's version of the Toronto Raptors...
That's why in my books, things need to unfold as follows over the final six games.
1) Toronto wins four of six and grabs the seventh playoff seed
2) Toronto loses the majority of their remaining games and misses the playoffs completely.
I'm sorry but I'm now looking at the long-term health of this franchise and 8th place, aka a four-game waxing at the hands of the Cavs, doesn't cut it.
Should Bosh walk, a distinct possibility at this point, the Raptors are stuck with precious little cap space to sign anyone of value, and this team still needs a lot more talent. The NBA Draft is no sure thing no, especially where the Raps will likely be picking, but I'd argue there's statistically a far greater chance of getting something of value in the draft then there is of getting past Cleveland in the first round.
A pick could at least be packaged as enticement to get rid of a bad contract, something Toronto is going to have to do in the very near future. You just can't have $30M a season for the next three years, tied up in Jose Calderon, Hedo Turkoglu and Andrea Bargnani...
...especially as we saw again last night, if there's no Chris Bosh to help out these three.
(As an aside, I'm wondering if that's why BC grabbed Dorsey. He's essentially a much cheaper, albeit much less experienced, version of Reggie Evans, whose $5M expiring contract might look quite nice to teams next year.)
Look at it this way. The team's only won 38 games so far this year despite all the off-season changes by Colangelo! Are you telling me this team is not mired in the lottery for the next three years if Bosh leaves? They're possibly still a lottery team in the East WITH him!
That's why I gave this recap the title "so close, yet so far away."
On one hand, that's an apt description of last night's loss. On another, it describes my sentiments towards this basketball club in its current state.
With a little more help, Bosh and the Raptors have the pieces to be a very solid basketball team.
However right now, that help is absent and as a result, fans are left with a club that loses games like this, and who appears to be light years away from contending as a top team in the NBA.