By Vincent Thomas
Not like I’m Nastrodamus or anything and not to be all “I told you, so” about things; but, I did call a few things that transpired in Game 1.
First, as I suspected, the Toronto reaction to Vince’s return was nothing extraordinary. They booed every time he got the ball – great. Now that it’s over, I think discussion can turn to the actual product on the floor.
Secondly, as great as Richard Jefferson was, Kidd controlled that game and was definitely the most important and impactful player on the court. That ridiculous assist in the second half, where he slapped the ball to Jefferson before it sailed out of bounds was only something that he can do, because 1.) He’s one of the handful of players that would even have the presence of mind to do so, and 2.) He’s one of the few players skilled enough and physically capable of making that play. In the whole League, I’m saying that Dwyane Wade is probably the only other dude to pull that off. And other than Kobe’s 26-foot trey at the end of the first half – the one with him fading to his left, over Diaw and Marion – that Kidd play was the most impressive of the weekend. Granted, Ason “No J” Kidd shot terribly (3-11), but 15 dimes and 10 boards along with tempo-control, more than made up for his poor shooting.
I also think we’re going to see some pretty gaudy rebounding numbers by perimeter players in this series; particularly if both squads keep abstaining from do anything in the paint. The Nets and Rapts combined to attempt less than 15 shots in the paint, which means a bunch of jumpers are getting jacked up, which means long rebounds, which means two of the top three rebounders (Ason and Anthony Parker) were guards. Meanwhile, Bosh managed to carom just five. A rebound, is a rebound, is a rebound; but if these number tell a story about each squad’s offensive mindset; we can conclude that we won’t see many putbacks, so there won’t be too many easy points; the games’ paces will be quicker and there won’t be much foul trouble (even though Bosh was a two-foul no-show in the first half).
And speaking of Kidd and the Nets, TJ Ford is going to give Kidd some fits. What’s not clear is if Ford will use this quickness advantage to create some easy scoring for his teammates. The Rapts didn’t shoot especially well, but Ford can actually wreak some havoc if he wants. As great as Kidd used to be as an on-the-ball defender, I wonder if he would’ve been able to contain Ford even at his defensive best. But Ford’s ability to get by Kidd (almost at will) has to translate into more opportunities for the people relying on him to get them the ball.
Bosh is already putting the onus on himself for what will be the Rapts Game 2 performance. He was quoted in the Toronto Sun as saying: “What I’ve learned is you have to dominate the game. You have to be a part of the game, even if you’re off that night. And if you’re getting double- and triple-teamed, you still have to be effective. And that’s not an easy job.”
That’s what Kidd did this past weekend. He shot horribly, but still dominated. If the Rapts are to even this thing up and eventually advance, Young Bosh has to learn to do the same…quickly.