The Tragically Hip, Toronto Raptors, and a Glimmer Of Hope
In the immortal words of The Tragically Hip, "It can't be Nashville every night."
I mean, I'm writing about the Toronto Raptors, there's no team in Nashville, and The Tragically Hip once wrote a song about a polar bear named Gus. Not exactly the strongest of source material.
Well for the Raps last night, they finally caught a break. For once it wasn't Nashville.
Toronto has made a point of shutting down the key, protecting the lane, and forcing teams to shoot on them. And opponents have shot. Oh sweet lord, they have shot.
The Raps have allowed 45 percent three-point shooting from their opponents this season (last in the league), and 48 percent from elsewhere on the floor (24th).
They've been protecting the interior of the house, but an arsonist Santa Claus has been setting fire to their roof. And no amount of milk (or cookies for that matter) has been able to put it out.
Until they played Chicago. And the break finally came; da Bulls only shot 25 percent from behind the arc (39 percent overall) and the Raps' defensive philosophy finally began to shine through.
And it was about time.
The Bulls were averaging 89 points a game this season. In the first half they slapped up 60 points and it looked like the Raps were in for another shootout. Not so.
In the second half the shots stopped falling for Chicago, and a locked house restricted them to a paltry 29 points in the second half (only 11 in the fourth quarter). And how many points did they finish with? 89 points.
It finally wasn't Nashville.
Now it's time to keep the whole state of Tennessee away from Toronto the rest of the season (sorry Grizzlies).
My biggest beef with Toronto has been their passive approach on defense. Toronto doesn't turn the ball over a lot, but they don't force a whole lot of turnovers either.
On the season the Raps are averaging 11.7 turnovers a game (last night excluded, where they had 14), second best in the league, but opponents are only being forced to give up the ball 11.4 times (13 against Chicago), making them worst in the league at forcing turnovers.
For Toronto, the press means that Reggie Evans ironed his shirt before taking his spot on the bench. Opposing teams have gone undisturbed the length of the court and had their way with Toronto with the long ball.
Hopefully that's over with.
The house finally passed inspection last night. Now it's time to start spreading outwards, to get on teams, and start forcing them to take worse shots.
It's fantastic that the Raps guard the ball like a jealous boyfriend, but it's time to start making some swipes. Like an unfaithful, yet still jealous boyfriend. Now that's a simile applicable on and off the court.
Because good teams will make big shots, it's unavoidable. The Bulls were squabbling the entire fourth quarter to sink a basket. It was like someone was messing with the rims. And if someone was, well, God bless you sir.
But the Raps finally received some much needed rebounding assistance. Andrea Bargnani may never be a great rebounder (he only had six last night), but he's serviceable. Still, Chris Bosh had his usual double-double (28 points, 11 rebounds) and Hedo Turkoglu finally played up to his 6'10'' frame and snagged eight boards.
The most pleasant surprise was DeMar DeRozan's near double-double of nine points and nine boards. The rook got into the mix down low and made things difficult for the Bulls' bigs who didn't account for him.
These are things that need to continue for the Raps to win more games.
Because (and this is the last time, I swear) I'm tired of it being Nashville every night.
For more sports ramblings, gamblings, and lack of mentions about Gary Shandlings (what a rhyme!), go to The Chirp Show . I'm sorry for all you Shandling fans though.
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