Foul Ball: The Toronto Raptors' Love Affair with the Whistle
Well the Toronto Raptors had themselves an interesting week. Why don't we give them a hand?
(Wait for it.)
(Wait for it.)
(C'mon Geoff keep it togeth-)
BECAUSE THEY SURE DID IT FOR THEIR OPPONENTS!
I'm not above hackiness.
It's been an up-and-down season thus far. The Raps' only win came against a tired Cavs squad in a game that Toronto almost squandered in the second half. Then Memphis and Orlando exploited the Raps' defense like a naive nudist in two consecutive losses.
The defense was certainly a concern coming into the season. And after watching the Grizzlies and Magic pour in buckets, that concern has been justified.
But we already knew that was going to happen.
What's really worrying is that a terrible defense has developed some bad habits; the Raps have been hacking more than a Geoff Zochodne introduction.
(Did I just reference myself? Yeah, I'm not exactly on fire today.)
In three games Toronto has averaged 29 fouls a game. Last season the Raps were only caught with their hands in the cookie jar 19.3 times a game. Toronto also held their opponents last season to only 21.5 free throw attempts, the third-least in the NBA.
In any case, the '09-'10 Raptors have checked their inhibitions at the door. Due to their high volume of whistles, Toronto is paying for it at the charity stripe.
On Sunday the Magic had 41 free throws, which would have been high but acceptable if Dwight Howard and co. didn't make 36 of them. The Magic, who last year shot 72 percent from the line (30th in the league), gouged the Raps by making 88 percent of their free throws.
Those 36 points gained off fouls eclipsed Toronto's 26 from the line and—surprise, surprise—the Raps lost by nine.
But like I said above, Orlando from the line is an ugly thing to behold. If anyone could have foretold Howard's 14-16 performance chances are their last name is McFly. So maybe this game is forgivable...maybe.
In Memphis, Toronto allowed the Grizz 35 FTA's and they converted on 28 of them; this would have been acceptable if the Raps won the game.
But they didn't, and instead the Frankenstein of the NBA beat the Raptors. Toronto ended up surrendering a very winnable game, and the abundance of free points contributed to this.
Against the Cavaliers in the season opener, the Raps gave Cleveland 37 FTA's. And if the Cavs weren't still high off of Rasheed Wallace's hairspray they might have made more than the 24 they did. Bless you 'Sheed, T on buddy.
A leaky defense was expected from Toronto, but letting teams carve you up from the line is like watching a sloth beat you in chess.
But perhaps there is a method to this excruciating madness. After all, the defense does suck, so why not just send teams to the line and put the eyes of thousands on their every move? It should have worked against Dwight Howard if he didn't sell his soul for the ability to make a free throw.
That makes a sick kind of sense, except the Raptors are inconsistent in the implementation of it (if it's even a sound plan).
Against Memphis, Zach Randolph was cutting up the Raps. Instead of fouling him (a 70 percent FT shooter last year), they let Z-Bo run rampant through their defense. Randolph had only four shots from the foul line and finished with 30 points.
If I had a concrete point, it would be that if the Raps are going to play shoddy defense they have to stop fouling teams so much.
Conceding a basket every now and then shouldn't deter a team that is as offensively gifted as the Raptors. Just let it go, reload, and get up the floor to answer. That's not to say don't play hard and tough, but it's just asking Toronto to play smarter on defense, to know when you're beat.
Maybe this is just another indicator that the Raps definitively lack defensive talent. Not only are they bad, but they're incompetent too? This just keeps getting better and better.
Of course, this is a small sample to draw conclusions from. But if the Raptors don't draw some conclusions of their own and decide how they want to play (and win) games, then it's going to be quite a season.
Jay Triano needs to sort out his team before they gift wrap more games for teams. Maybe if they present a better gameplan they can turn it around.
Okay, I'm finished.
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