Lest anyone still doubt it, the last 17 games should have convinced them: the Toronto Raptors go as Chris Bosh goes. And since Bosh’s injury in the game against Memphis, the Raptors season has headed south in a hurry.
Chris Bosh came into the 2009-10 season in the best physical condition of his career. Bosh was focused and saying all the right things. And it showed on the court.
“Maybe its the contract year , but Chris Bosh has been a monster to start the season. Going inside for baskets and foul shots more than at any point in his career. Even with more scoring options on the Raptors than ever before, Bosh is proving that he still carries the Raptors offensive load.”
“Over the first 10 games, Bosh has averaged an impressive: 27.7 points; 11.6 rebounds; 0.6 steals; 1.0 blocks. Shooting 50% from the field.”
Source: Early Season Player Updates .
The Raptors managed an unexpected 5-5 start to the season despite nine new players and some significant preseason injury and conditioning issues.
But the next ten Raptors games showed what happens to the team when Chris Bosh is even slightly off his game. A 2-8 record with an embarrassing five game losing skid was all the Raptors could accomplish when Bosh’s offensive production fell off.
“In the last 10 games the “beast” has started to disappear as Bosh has averaged 20.4 points and been to the line just 79 times.”
“And in the last five games, Bosh’s averages have dropped to 18.4 points and 6.6 free throw attempts per game. In the recent game against Atlanta, Bosh failed to record a field goal.”
Source: Player Updates After 20 Games .
After the disaster in Atlanta when the Raptors were blown out 146-115 and Chris Bosh had two points on 0-2 from the field, Bosh and the Raptors put together an impressive 22-10 run to the All-Star break.
During this period, Bosh played the best basketball of his career and looked every bit the $130 million franchise player that Raptors fans have hoped he would be. The Raptors tied their franchise All-Star break high with 29 wins.
On the season, CB4 is still having a career year. He has career highs in points with 24.1, rebounds with 11, and field goal percentage at 51.7. He is also averaging 8.4 trips to the free throw line, 1.0 blocks, 0.6 steals, and 2.4 turnovers.
But late in the fourth quarter of the first game back against Memphis after All-Star weekend, Bosh came down awkwardly on his ankle after a blocked shot and hasn’t been the same since.
The Raptors went on to lose to Memphis in overtime as Bosh failed to score another point. Bosh, who still finished with 32 points and ten rebounds on the night, had put the Raptors up by five points with just 37.9 seconds to go.
But since CB4’s return, the Raptors fortunes have not improved. The team has gone 3-6 as Bosh has put up some of his worst numbers since that terrible ten game stretch earlier in the season.
In Bosh’s last nine games, he has averaged 21.5 points on 47.4 percent shooting, 8.9 rebounds, 6.0 free throw attempts, 0.4 blocks, 0.1 steals, and 3.2 turnovers.
Even to the casual observer, Bosh has looked a lot less decisive with the ball on offensive and less effective on defensive. A decrease in points, rebounds, free throws, blocks, and steals is only made worse by increased turnovers.
Some might even question if Bosh has fully recovered from his injury?
Unfortunately, just as with that ten game stretch earlier in the season, Bosh’s decline in productivity has been matched by the rest of the team. The Raptors just do not play well if their All-Star isn’t performing.
And Bosh’s recent numbers are skewed by games against New Jersey and Minnesota where Bosh took advantage of young, inexperienced teams. Against the inept Nets, Bosh was 16-27 for 36 points. Against the T-wolves, Bosh had 21 and ten.
Excluding the games against the league's two worst teams, Bosh has averaged just 19.4 points on 43.8 percent shooting since his return. The 4.7 points per game drop in scoring is directly reflected in the Raptors scoring decline as a team since the break.
Including the game Bosh was injured in after the All-Star break, the Raptors have gone 6-11. And the Raptors have only managed to defeat one team whose season can’t be described as over.
But in the second half of the game against New Jersey, after five turnovers in the first half, a decisive Chris Bosh did score 23 additional points against their inferior front line. Against Minnesota, Bosh made nine trips to the free throw line and collected four offensive rebounds against a very good rebounding team.
Against these weaker clubs, Bosh has looked more like the decisive player that led the Raptors to a 22-10 record in the middle of the season.
And if Bosh has re-established his game, the Raptors have shown they can win the majority of these games and guarantee themselves a playoff spot. But if Bosh continues to struggle, the Raptors are in trouble.