Another game, another heartbreaking loss for the Toronto Raptors. This is a team in a quest for the playoffs that just can’t seem to figure itself out. Toronto had the game in hand going into the fourth, but played safe, simple basketball and let Dwayne Wade do whatever he wanted to do. Don’t get me wrong, Dwayne Wade is going to get his. He can never be completely shut down; he’s too talented. But he just owned the Raptors in the fourth. To make matters worse, players like Joel Anthony, Carlos Arroyo and Udonis Haslem played key roles for the Heat as well. You can handle Wade beating you, but Arroyo? Haslem? Joel Anthony? Come On!
This was a must win game for Toronto, if they were hoping to jump a place or two in the Eastern Conference standings. Tomorrow will be a tough one in Charlotte and the Raptors could have used the positive energy. This team is now sliding down a slippery slope and is in danger of not making the playoffs. An unacceptable fate for this franchise and its fans. There’s not much time left.
The Zan for Three
Stars win championships. Stars are the players you look to, no matter what the situation, because you know they will always come through in the clutch. Tonight, Dwayne Wade was a star. Chris Bosh was not. This is the second game in a row where Bosh has been outplayed, especially late in the game, by another teams star. Yes, Dwayne Wade is a special player, but Bosh is supposed to be that as well. Isn’t that why he is looking for a max contract in the off-season? He is a double-double machine. he gets his points, but, at times, at the expense of his teammates. Too many jump shots and not enough finish. Not enough intensity for a player about to lead his team into the playoffs. Not what a player, who is about to make the maximum salary, does.
No offense to the Miami Heat, who are having a successful season and will, more than likely, make the playoffs, but we are a much better team. Yes, they won the game, but they shouldn’t have. Yes, I’m a “homer” and am a long time supporter of this team, but they are better. Just look at the starting lineup. Joel Anthony? Carlos Arroyo? These players are solid contributors off of a bench but they do not compare to the Raptors’ starting line-up. Dwayne Wade is a completely different story as he can beat you with one arm tied behind his back, but the rest are not at the same talent level as the Raptors. The Raptors need to acknowledge this. In the third quarter it seemed like Chris Bosh suddenly realized he was being guarded by Joel Anthony and the game changed. Then in the fourth he went back to playing safe. This team is better than they think they are. It is time to start believing in themselves and not playing down to the level of our opponents.
The Canadian Destroyer
One of the big factors in the game for the Heat was the play of Joel Anthony . He was dominant inside in the first half with 13 points and came through with some big rebounds in the second half. No Jermaine O’neal, no problem. Anthony abused the inside defense of the Raptors. Bargnani and Bosh could not stop him. In a game like this, you can’t let the Joel Anthony’s of the world beat you. The interior defense needs to be stronger going forward. Good for Joel, though. He works hard and did his job tonight. The Heat are in a playoff battle and need guys to step up. This is a great opportunity to show that he can be much more than a garbage time player. I am relieved though, that Leo Rautins wasn’t calling the game because he would still be singing the praises of Anthony.
Plus the Foul
No “Ball” Tonight
In a surprising move, and one that will be dissected ad nauseum over the next 24 hours, Hedo Turkoglu was dressed but did not play. He looked cheerful enough though. Was he benched? Is he sick? Does he care? No one really knows. One could make the case that he would have been a valuable presence in the fourth quarter. This is a playoff drive and we need our best to step up. Hedo is the player on our team with the most playoff experience. He has been frustrating, but we need him. This is no time to have off-court distractions affecting the team.
Zan of the Night
What can you say? He was in totally control in the fourth and brought his team back from a large deficit. He is one of the best players in world and one of the worst to play against. Tonight he showed why. Miami is always a wild card in any playoff series, simply because he is in the game. Tonight there was no denying him.
Not Zan of the Night
Any Raptor that played in the fourth quarter. This loss is not on one player. This was a total team collapse. Everything that was going right was ruined by one bad quarter. Bad shot selection, awful defense, selfish offensive play, foolish fouls, poor bench management, you name it the Raptors did it. This was a catastrophe of epic proportions. The team is now in tough to make the playoffs and have a tough game Monday night.
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***Kristoffer Pedlar The Zan Tabak Herald