When this season's schedule was released, this was one of the few games I labelled as a must win.
The Raptors have a very tough schedule in the first half of this season, and if they're planning on taking part in the Eastern Conference playoff race, they need to beat the less talented teams, i.e the Bobcats.
After a fairly quiet off season in Charlotte, I assumed that they'd be back to their losing ways this season... I may have been wrong.
Kemba Walker has developed into a very good player, and Ramon Sessions is playing like the guy the Lakers expected him to be when they traded for him last season. MKG is proving he deserved to be the #2 overall pick, and Brendan Haywood is fitting in very well with Mullens and Biyombo down low. As well, Mike Dunlap has done a great job coaching his team, something we're not too used to seeing from coaches in Raptorland.
The Raptors on the other hand, have struggled on both sides of the floor, and have constantly blown big leads late in games. In 6 of their 8 losses this season they were up by 10 points or more during the game, and weren't able to hold on for the win.
Last night's game vs the 76ers was one of those games. After being up for three quarters, their defense let them down in the fourth, as the 76ers started scoring on will. Jrue Holliday tore up the Raptors, becoming yet another PG to take advantage of the Raptors poor defense. Whether the Raptors can stop Kemba Walker tonight will be very important.
It'll be interesting to see how Casey manages the rotation tonight, as just yesterday he got completely out-coached by Doug Collins, leading to the loss.
The Raps are now 3-8, and need to start grinding out winnable games like this one, or their hopes for the playoffs will quickly slip away.