Despite what their biased play-by-play announcer had predicted, the Raptors did not defeat the Orlando Magic in six games but instead lost their playoff series in five.
For the most part, they were outrebounded, outhustled, outplayed and, yes, outsmarted by the Magic, and last night’s 102-92 loss was no exception.
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All of which taught us two lessons:
First, we should never, ever, ever pay attention to announcer/shill Chuck Swirsky, who consistently and irresponsibly overrates the Raptors. (He actually insisted before the season that, despite acquiring stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the Boston Celtics would finish behind the Raps. As it turned out, the Celts finished first with 66 victories, 25 more than Toronto.)
The second lesson is that, clearly, the Raps are in desperate need of a coaching change. Sam Mitchell may have lucked out last season with a coach-of-the-year award and a multimillion-dollar contract, but the reality is that he has failed — twice — to lead his team past the opening round of the playoffs. The Raps didn’t respond to Mitchell when it mattered most.
Last season, they were favoured to beat Vince Carter and the New Jersey Nets, but couldn’t. And then this post-season, Mitchell couldn’t emerge with anything to stifle superstar Dwight Howard or his lesser-light teammates.
And so Toronto remains a city of losers, with Mitchell, Blue Jays’ manager John Gibbons and Maple Leafs’ coach Paul Maurice all in a firing line.
In the Raptors’ case, at least, bossman Bryan Colangelo may have the acumen, contacts and knowledge to rectify the situation. It isn’t only Mitchell he must dump. He knows he has to unload several players, too.
Other than all-star Chris Bosh, surprising rookie Jamario Moon and perhaps point guard Jose Calderon, there may not be a Raptor worth keeping. Andrea Bargnani was the top draft choice last season but a flop this season, a seven-footer with poor form and no real concept of how a big man should play in the NBA. Point guard T.J. Ford seemed discombobulated, and needs to move on for his own good. He was, rightly or wrongly, benched by Mitchell for the entire fourth quarter last night.
Reconstructive surgery will be difficult but vital for Colangelo.
A tip for him: Don’t ask Swirsky for advice.