After going 4-19 something’s gotta give. For most of the season, the raps’ woes on the court have fell squarely on Bargnani, and now we can fairly say that the finger pointing was justified.
We hope that Bargnani heals quickly. We have no ill feelings towards him as a person. But the last three games have shown that he’s an anathema to the team. When he’s the centre of the team, he’s taking up minutes, he’s getting too many touches without scoring, and he’s taking away from the fluidity of the offence and defense – equaling 4 wins.
So don’t be surprised that the raptors have won two in a row. Since Bargs has been out the raps have allowed 88 points a game on 41.8% shooting, and have forced 15 turnovers a game. That’s defence!
Without Bargs hoisting up 15-20 poor shots a game, the raptors are sharing the ball – 29 assists vs Houston – and rely on everyone to contribute. When Bargnani missed his shots, the team was handicapped. Now, when a guy is missing shots, he’s not being relied on to take them liberally, or Casey’s taking him out of the game.
Linus Kleiza is a great example of this. In the win against Dallas, he led the team with 20 points and hit 5 three-pointers. Two days later against Houston, he shot 1-6 and was subsequently taken out of the game, thereby preventing the raps from keeping a struggling player on the floor. His slack was filled by Anderson who led the team with 24 points.
What do fans care about most? Effort. That’s really the bottom line in Toronto right now. We know that we probably can’t make the playoffs, we know we probably have to hit the lottery a few more times, and we know our key players still have to grow. We just want to see effort; some passion; goddammit! just some love for the game.
And that’s been the difference in the last two games. Bargnani has never been held accountable for his lackluster play, or lackadaisical demeanor on the court. His play and attitude has defined Toronto this season: Soft. Now, with him being unable to play, the raptors can return to their fighting ways.