0-2 is not where I thought the Sonics would be at this point of the Season; especially since Portland has already been to the Key Arena. A win tonight would go a long way towards bolstering what is probably a shaky level of confidence by the Sonic players.
I was scanning the box scores from last nightâ€™s games and thinking about some of the players we might have had, or have had in the past on the Sonics with that 0-2, 114 pts. allowed taste in my mouth and I noticed Antonio Daniels line from the Boston game. Antonio scored 15 points in his 25 minutes last night, but more importantly, he got half of those by going to the free throw line 9 times. In the 2 games Antonioâ€™s played this young season, he has been to the line 15 times. His teammates Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler have both been to the line about the same number of times as Antonio. Now hereâ€™s my point: After our first two games, our free throw leaders are Ray and Rashard, who have been to the line an underwhelming 9 times each. Those two combine for exactly half of our trips to the charity stripe. As a team we have shot 36 free throws. In the meantime, our opponents have shot 83!
I donâ€™t see how we can be competitive spotting the other team that many free throw opportunities. Obviously, the officiating in the Lakers game was less than desirable, but for the most part, you make your own destiny. We need our guys to go to the hole like Antonio used to do for us; to drive in there with reckless abandon, and force the officials to send us to the line. Earl did some of this Friday, but then he went away from it. Rashard, with his new, improved handle should be doing this; Damien and Luke should be doing this, and if anybody, Ray should be showing the jumper and then putting it on the floor and heading for the hole. Everyone in the league expects Ray to shoot; all the better to get his defender out of position for a drive.
Coach Hill is a smart guy; I expect to see some different things tonight in the way of adjustments. I just would love to see some of our guys get away from the â€œwe can out-shoot youâ€ mode, and instead drive and dish, or drive and get the foul. We get the other team in the penalty sooner, we get fouls called on the other teamsâ€™ star players, and we force them to respect the drive, which opens up cleaner looks.