Forget their win against Cleveland, where the hot-shooting Raptors caught a sleeping Cavaliers team and still managed to nearly lose a twenty-one point lead. On Friday night, Toronto headed into Memphis to face a depleted Memphis ball club which was missing Allen Iverson due to an injury. They lost.
The problem in Toronto is still largely the same as it has been for about three years in a row now. It starts at the top, where if we are to count Jose Calderon and Chris Bosh as the team's two best players, the Raptors are in some serious trouble. General Manager Bryan Colangelo's love affair with the vision of having those two remain a part of his core will keep this team in a cycle of mediocrity.
With Jay Triano at the helm, the Raptors were expected to improve on last year's performance. However, even with a much improved coaching staff around him, Triano still looks clueless. The offense lacks discipline, and despite boasting one of the most talented front-courts in the league, it also lacks any sort of creativity.
It remains an offense which runs through Bosh, and this remains the problem. On Wednesday night, Bosh played a lesser role in the offense, and this allowed the ball to move from side to side, and also allowed for Andrea Bargnani to score twenty-eight points in under thirty minutes. The result was a twenty point lead in the first half against a team most expect to contend for a championship.
On Friday night, Andrea started out 0/5 and pretty much never got involved in the offense again. When he did get a chance to get involved with the ball in his hand, the Raptors took an eight point lead in the second half leading 88-80.
Even in the win against Cleveland, we can see a less involved Andrea Bargnani in the third quarter melt-down as the team tried to force-feed Chris Bosh who had had a forgettable first half.
This team's tendency to force-feed Bosh and clear out has always led to a very stagnant offense with little movement, no opportunities for second chance baskets, and little hope for consistent victories. The more this team relies on Bosh and Calderon, the more predictable the offense becomes.
Both are very limited play-makers, and tend to stop the flow of the basketball game and put their hand-print on the game in the worst way.
With Calderon, this comes in the form of slowing down the pace of the game, which hurts the team considering he plays for one which has no chance of winning basketball games playing this way. With Bosh, it just comes from bad shot-selection and ball-stopping while doing nothing for the players around him.
No one will complain with Bosh's performance for the first two games statistically, as he's been quite impressive statistically. However, how does the team do whenever he becomes more involved with the offense? The debate will never end. Some will say, Bosh only becomes involved when the rest of the team really struggles. Others will argue that the team struggles when Bosh calls his own number a few too many times.
Whether you use the third quarter melt-down against Cleveland, the embarrassing loss in Memphis, or the last six Raptor seasons as an example by which to make your judgements, Bosh's offense comes at the expense of ball movement.
It disrupts the offensive flow of the game because for some reason, he's incapable of scoring within the flow of the game, and equally incapable of creating offensive opportunities for his team mates.
Despite his added weight, there is little to no improvement from Bosh defensively, and he remains to be the same player from last season, just a little more eager to shoot and call for the ball. Raptor fans may in fact feel they're paying to see the Toronto Raptors play. However, they may in fact just be paying for an 82-game audition on Bosh's part.
Zach Randolph had some choice words regarding the Texan last season, claiming he's "better than Chris Bosh". Statistically, Bosh may have an MVP-calibre season. Realistically, on Friday night, Zach Randolph was better than him in every way. Six years and $130 million is what Bosh is seeking. Good luck to who ever gives it to him.
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