Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sam Mitchell's Soft Toronto Raptors Embarrassed Yet Again

However much longer Sam Mitchell's reign as head coach of the Toronto Raptors is only something that General Manager Bryan Colangelo knows the answer to. Not known to be someone who reacts impulsively, Colangelo must be starting to twitch after the Boston Celtics hopelessly embarrassed his Raptors this afternoon at home 118-103.

Typically, Toronto's main problem again was that they were far too soft defensively and they were deservedly punished for it. No matter how many times it gets spoken about, the Raptors continue to leave shooters wide open and they continue to get burned. Ray Allen is one of the best shooters in the league - EVER - yet he was still somehow left alone far too often today and his line included 5-for-7 three-pointers and 21 points.

The Celtics shot 62% from the field. You won't lose too many games shooting that percentage, but then again, if you get the looks that Boston did, it's almost hard not to shoot at such a high rate.

It's nothing new to Raptors fans. Toronto are still boys trying to compete with men and they are losing. If a man's home is his castle, then the Raptors are the most accommodating of hosts. The problem with that is in sport, it's supposed to be the other way around. Home court, ground or field is supposed to be an intimidating and unwelcoming place for visitors, the Raptors might as well have gotten out the scones with cream today. "Excuse me Mr. Pierce, can I fetch you another cup of tea?".

If the scoreline wasn't enough to humiliate the Raptors, late game footage of Pierce, Sam Cassell and Kevin Garnett among others practising their golf swings on the sideline certainly was. Even Brian Scalabrine contributed.

Yep, the Celtics were so bored by Toronto's pathetic offerring of a "contest" this afternoon that some of their players would have much rather spent the afternoon pursuing other, more challenging activities. The early afternoon stroll around the Air Canada Center just didn't cut it.

Certainly, a round of golf would have been more competitive than what the Raptors offered them. It might have also induced a sweat. At least the Celts have still got plenty of energy left for 18-holes somewhere if they fancy it.

While the Raptors were never seriously in it at any stage today, after a good start to the season, overall they are regressing and fast.

Sam Mitchell simply doesn't know how to close out a game. Look at Friday night against the New Jersey Nets for example. Up 18 points in the third, New Jersey did nothing special to get back into it, Toronto simply let them back in by jacking up wild jump shots and then slacking off defensively.

The Nets got a lucky break on Vince Carter's game-tying three-point bomb but still, New Jersey should never have been that close.

Mitchell's Raptors are undisciplined defensively and they don't stick to a plan. There is no consistency on offense and no matter how big a lead they build, they NEVER look comfortable.

This week has been typical of Sam Mitchell's tenure as coach. Cruising early against the Orlando Magic and up by double figures, Toronto were all over the Magic until, once again, Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu just did what they pleased offensively and weren't put under pressure. Sure, the Raptors were without Jose Calderon but that's no excuse for the rest of the team.

Then, one night later - with Calderon back in the lineup - they managed to see of Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat but not without some incredibly good and lucky three-point shooting from Anthony Parker. It was more that Parker had a night out rather than Mitchell guided his team home. They got lucky and if Wade had any significant help on his team, the Raptors would have been in trouble.

Colangelo now faces an obvious dilemma. He can't be happy with what he's seeing but the problem is, who does he replace Mitchell with ? This is going to be the biggest test of Colangelo's time since coming to Toronto.

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