Chris Bosh returned to Toronto last night and the HQ's Sean Tepper and Franchise give two different takes on what went down...
If there is ever such a thing as a victory in a defeat then last night's 103-95 loss to the Miami Heat surely counts as one.
Many of the 20,156 fans that poured into the Air Canada Centre (ACC) to see Dwayne Wade, witness LeBron James and boo Chris Bosh had already written off the Dinos long before the game's 7 p.m. tip off
Well were those fans in for a pleasant surprise.
For 46 minutes the Raptors were in a legitimate position to actually pull an upset and beat the star studded Heat.
Returning to the once friendly confines of the ACC for the first time since joining James and Wade in Miami after seven long and emotional seasons with the Raptors, Bosh was booed from the moment that he stepped onto the court and all the way until the game's conclusion. While the fan's hostility was not even comparable to the hostile reception that James received when he returned to Cleveland earlier in the season, nor was it quite the same as the reception that Vince Carter got when he returned to the ACC as a member of the New Jersey Nets, the boos rang down nonetheless.
Despite their turnovers, poor shooting percentage and their lack of capitalizing off of Miami's turnovers, the Dinos were able to keep up with Heat as they only trailed by four points at the beginning of the second half.
Andrea Bargnani scored 17 of his 38 points in the fourth quarter and he along with DeMar DeRozan combined for 62 of the Raptors' 95 points. However as Franchise alluded to in last night's "Rapid Recap," no other Raptor finished the game with more than eight points. And therefore despite Andrea and DeMar, in the end, Miami took an 88-79 lead with just over six minutes left in the quarter and really, minus the short scare, never looked back.
Despite the loss, the Raptors have to be proud at the fact that they held their own against one of the top teams in the NBA for a majority of the game.
As well, there were a good many positives to take away from the team's 17th loss in their last 19 games.
Rookie forward Ed Davis and newly contracted Amir Johnson combined for 24 of the Raptors' 41 rebounds, while Jose Calderon had a little bit more than half of Toronto's total assists. And although they did allow James, Bosh and Wade to all score over 20 points, the Raps kept the Heat from shooting what many expected to be a 50% plus night from the field, and locked them down from beyond the arc as Miami shot a dismal 18 per cent from downtown.
The only pathetic part about the Raptors' performance comes courtesy of Andrea Bargnani. Despite the fact that he is the tallest player on the court, Bargnani still does not understand the concept of rebounding on defence and crashing the boards on offense. Instead of going inside and helping his team attack the basket, Bargnani decides to plant himself at the top of the key and wave his hands in the hopes that his teammates will notice him and pass him the ball. The two most frustrating parts about Bargnani's size is his lack of rebounding (at half he had no rebounds and only finished the game with four, one more than Jerryd Bayless had) and the fact that he is not mentally prepared when he does have the ball on offense.
A typical Bargnani possession goes something like this: scream for the ball at the top of the key, get the ball, pump-fake two or three times, drive to the basket but at the last minute he decides to pull up and attempt a fade-away. You get the point.
Now I know that Bargnani had 38 points, but his shot selection was absolutely atrocious.
As well, while I was thoroughly impressed and genuinely entertained by the Raptors' performance, there was one aspect to this game that really ticked me off.
Everyone in the Raptors organization from Bryan Colangelo to Jay Triano had this day marked on their calendar, and it was not because one of the NBA's elite teams was traveling up north.
Notice how I put the terms greedy and selfish in quotation marks. As Sasha noted in yesterday's "3 in the Key" there was a lot of controversy amongst Raptors fan about whether or not they should boo or cheer Chris Bosh.
Boo they did, and frankly, I think that booing Bosh was wrong.
First off, many fans believe that Bosh abandoned the Raptors when he decided to join his good friend Dwayne Wade and later LeBron James in South Beach. While I myself am still very much undecided about whether or not I should love or hate Bosh, I really can't blame him for skipping out on the Raptors. Have you not seen the talent, or lack thereof on the Dinos' current roster? Or maybe you haven't watched the past 19 games. To put it simply, the Dinos are a very bad team, and having Bosh on such a lacklustre team wouldn't make much of a difference, let alone have the Raps vying for a playoff spot.
Whether you hate him or not, you cannot be happy about the fact that Bosh left the ACC with a big smile on his face. What you can be happy about is the way that the Raptors played and having endured 41 losses this season, any positive at this point is reassuring.
Here I was, expecting something close to Vince Carter's return, part II.
Signs, plenty of booing, and lots of creative shots throw Bosh's way - maybe even a few "Akron-Hates-You" chants thrown in towards LeBron for good measure.
Instead, what I experienced was barely even a playoff atmosphere last night, and frankly, i left last night's loss to the Miami Heat, rather disappointed.
Disappointed in Toronto's performance?
Not at all.
As Sean mentioned above, the club gave Miami almost all it could handle and while the Heat looked fairly exhausted for the bulk of the contest, it was very rewarding not to witness a blow-out of LeBron's return to Cleveland proportions.
However as I sat amongst the ACC faithful, something was missing.
I couldn't put my finger on it, but there just wasn't the venom and passion in the atmosphere that I expected.
Sure, as you can see in the footage I took below, there were moments. (Including a brief Ruuuuu-Pauuuul chant.) But the response from fans at times wasn't almost lackadaisical.
At first I thought this was simply because Bosh was no Vince Carter when all was said and done, but unfortunately as the game went on, I realized it was more than that.
Bruce Arthur summed my thoughts up perfectly in his post-game column, but it just felt to me as I sat there, that the drain of this injury-ravaged and possible 60 loss season had taken its toll; Raptors' fans just didn't have the remaining gusto needed to truly welcome back the former CB4 in the manner they were usually accustomed to.
And to me as a fan, this goes right back to Bryan Colangelo.
Sitting there, seeing a city not only stripped of its star player, regardless of "how" much of a star he was, and of a chunk of its basketball pride and passion hurt.
And folks, make no mistake about it, that's what BC has done.
It's been echoed in poor attendance at games, and a decrease in interest for the team in the media, and that's just sad, especially since it's hard to envision a huge change next season, barring the acquisition of a franchise player via the draft.
DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis, Amir Johnson, even Andrea Bargnani.
There are bits and pieces there.
But last night showed just how many tiers of talent guys like Wade, LeBron and even Bosh are above the current group, who gave it their all in a hard-fought match, but could not compete with the Heat's "Super Friends" when it mattered most.
There's a lot of work to be done by management in terms of getting things back on track, and while I think most fans know this, last night to me was one of those "reality check" moments, hammered home by many fans looking more interested in simply partaking in the event, rather than participating so to speak.
I would though like to end things by saying that Andrea Bargnani should play Chris Bosh and the Heat every night.
Yes, I agree with Sean in terms of the rebounding. Bargs got his first with about 6 minutes left in the third quarter.
But I've come to expect that from Andrea, and haven't expected the offensive showcase he put on last night. While Bargnani started a bit "shakily," he really turned things up as the game progressed, scoring from inside and out, up and down, and actually looked like he was taking the match personally.
As well, i found it fascinating to watch the Andrea show, considering who his opposition was, and to me, this match really highlighted the differences between ex franchise figurehead Bosh, and the one Mr. Colangelo has ordained. While Bosh was the more complete player and the more consistent option, can you deny that Bargnani is the more talented of the two? He just makes it look so easy at times, and last night's performance made me think that Andrea would actually be the valuable piece on the Heat as opposed to Bosh, simply because of the other players around him.
And that's when reality snaps back in for me.
Until Colangelo gets those proverbial "right types," fans are going to have to suffer through many more seasons like the current one.
Andrea doesn't do much besides score, and sometimes he doesn't even do that very efficiently, and if BC can't see this and address these other needs, I fear last night's fan response was the start of "par for the course" so to speak.
And that saddens me more than losing a player of Chris Bosh's stature ever could.