It isn’t often that the fans at the ACC don’t cheer louder for Pizza when the Raptors reach 100 points than they do for the next play, but Wednesday night was one of those rare occasions.
And although Chris Bosh seemed only mildly interested in reaching the 10,000 point plateau, maybe the media should have been more impressed by Bosh’s focus on winning a very important game than some personal milestone.
It is not like no one knew this was coming. Bosh had already been acknowledged for becoming the Raptors all-time leading scorer earlier this season.
At 9,428 points, the next closest active Raptors player is Andrea Bargnani with 3,315. And with 47 games left in the 2009-10 regular season, Bosh is on track to be the first Raptor player to 10,000 points by sometime in early March. Chris Bosh, Is the Toronto Raptors all-Star Under Appreciated?
Any active player or coach would take a win over accolades from the crowd or media.
Bosh should have been praised for maintaining his focus, not chastised for failing to acknowledge his picture on the high-definition video boards.
The Raptors beat the Hawks to improve on their 70 percent home field advantage. And they won by out-working the hard-working Hawks.
The Raptors fought for boards, deflections, and loose balls in a manner unlike their recent 1-9 record.
Toronto got eight steals against a very athletic Hawks team that usually gets 7.5 steals per game and only gave up two steals to the Hawks on the night. The Raptors also out rebounded the Hawks 46-42 as they were active on the boards for a change and fought for possessions.
Any references to the Raptors getting lucky in this game are pure bull.
Toronto made their own luck on this night.
So did the Raptors merely just wake up to their situation and decide to get back to work? Or was something else going on?
It seems the Raptors Head Coach Jay Triano may have also played his part in the Raptors revival.
NBA practices are closed to the media. For some reason teams think they might be better off if their opposition doesn’t know what they are working on. (The NHL should take notes.)
Jay Triano has been running half-court practices lately to save his players legs, but those practices have been geared to make his players more aggressive going to the boards and boxing out.
The offensive schemes are designed to send all five players to the boards for rebounds and require all five defenders to box out in order to maintain or gain possession of the ball.
And in the game against Atlanta, the focus of the Raptors practice was obvious.
The Raptors rookie head coach has either finally figured out how to use/motivate certain Raptors players who haven’t been consistently aggressive enough or perhaps he just stumbled upon it.
Who really cares how it happened?
But Andrea Bargnani is known for doing exactly what his coaches tell him to do. If they tell him to stand at the three-point line, Andrea will be rooted to it. Apparently if they tell him to crash the boards, he’ll do that too! Good move Jay, the second option looks to be a lot more effective.
DeMar DeRozan started the season driving to the basket at every opportunity. But like many rookies, the grind of the NBA season appeared to be wearing him down and getting knocked to the ground without a call is something every rookie has to endure.
It looks like the change in practice focus brought the rookie player back to life. DeRozan got 19 points and seven trips to the free throw line against Atlanta. That’s the aggressive mind-set DeRozan needs to bring to his game.
It is easy to forget just how young this Raptors team is with ten players 26 years-old and younger and just how inexperienced some of their key rotation players are.
Not to mention just how inexperienced the Raptors head coach is.
Bryan Colangelo was not trying to build a team that could win it all in 2010. This is a team with young players and a young coach that is building for the future. As painful as watching them learn from their mistakes is, the Raptors will benefit from this year’s experience.
The only demand should be is that this year’s experience includes a trip to the playoffs.