It was refreshing to watch as the Raps slowly ground the Hornets into dust, and then as they definitively blew them away in the second half.
And how did they do it?
Because these Raptors are deep.
Not write-you-a-poem-because-they're-so-sensitive-deep, but the kind of deep where Chris Bosh spending 45 minutes hucking J's no longer constitutes their offense.
(Although I do love poetry.)
Bosh played only 30 minutes last night, but was more effective than he's been all season. Is there some kind of correlation between rest and better play? If your answer was anything but, "Duh" I've failed communicating my point.
Let's look at CB4's season:
@New Orleans: 30 minutes, 9-9 FG, 27 points, 7 rebounds
vs. Detroit: 35 minutes, 5-10 FG, 25 points, 8 rebounds
vs. Orlando: 40 minutes, 10-20 FG, 35 points, 16 rebounds
@ Memphis: 38 minutes, 13-25 FG, 37 points, 12 rebounds
vs. Cleveland: 40 minutes, 6-17 FG, 21 points, 16 rebounds
Now this is nitpicking, because Bosh is having a whale of a season. He's progressed in every conceivable statistical category (except his free throw percentage), but when he has to take 20 shots or more the Raps are 0-2, when he's gone under that Toronto is 3-0.
That's because when Bosh is given help he's more effective than when he's a one-man wolfpack scouring the court for points, hookers, and cocaine.
Thankfully, the Rock of the ACC has been getting support.
The Raptors aren't excessively deep, but they've been getting production from the guys they are paying to do so. Their starting five (Calderon-DeRozan-Turkoglu-Bosh-Bargnani) is an offensive juggernaut.
The five are averaging 1.15 points per possession. By comparison, the starting five of the Boston Celtics are averaging 1.11 points per possession. And even defensively the Raps can compare, their five holds opponents to 0.98 points a possession, contrasted to the Celts 0.92.
By re-upping with Bargnani and springing for Hedo Turkoglu, the Raps have increased Bosh's lethality tenfold.
The other two most effective lineups for the Raps are Jack-Calderon-Big Turk-Bosh-Bargnani (1.4 points per poss.) and Jack-Wright-Turk-Bosh-Bargnani (1.33 points per poss.)
The common denominator in these successes is Bosh, Bargnani, and Turkoglu. The three offer matchup problems equivalent to how the Orlando Magic rolled last season (except the presence of Dwight Howard is difficult to replicate).
But they can stretch teams wide with Bargnani, Turk, and Bosh all being able to shoot from range. The three can also drive and Bosh and Bargnani have begun to expand on their post games. Slowly, the Raps are evolving into a kick and shoot team that can give teams like New Orleans fits trying to defend them.
The most important thing is that when Bosh has his burden lessened, Toronto is a team to be respected. Thanks to the continuing development of Bargnani and the innovating play of Turkoglu, Toronto is able to attack from multiple angles.
And by adding playmakers Bosh can finally rest on occasion without the wheels coming off the offense (a five of Jack-Wright-Belinelli-Johnson-Bargnani is averaging 1.33 points per poss.). For a guy who traditionally gets banged up as the season goes along, relieving pressure on him to produce is a blow for keeping Bosh healthy.
But like everything that's been written thus far, it's been five games and all conclusions have to be taken with a grain of salt.
That doesn't mean fans can't get excited though.
For more sports talk (with swears!) go to The Chirp Show . It's where sports go to be belittled, respected, and misunderstood.