The Raptors can't get no respect.
No, this is not the start of my Rodney Dangerfield tribute.
But if you've been watching the Raptors games in the past few weeks, you've seen a lot of suspicious calls that just haven't gone the Raptors way. You can chalk it up to reputation, or that the Raptors have caught some bad breaks, but the point is, in close games, those calls are going to add up.
On the bigger picture, it also shows how hard it is to change your reputation in the league.
DeMar DeRozan has every right to be frustrated about this as he simply gets mugged going to the basket. However, his previous reputation of being a soft player who loses his handle with a little contact is still very much following him around the league.
As a whole though, the team is getting their share of calls and attempts at the line. It seems it's going to fall on DeRozan to keep continue with his play to get to the line until he gains the reputation of a "Ramon Sessions" or heck, maybe even a "James Harden". It's not as though he's at the bottom of the league in attempts so far this year (13th) but as they say, you can't let the refs dictate the game.
Changing the subject, the Raptors haven't found their footing and it's beginning to scare me.
Bryan Colangelo has always been a GM who has pulled the trigger when needed, but at the same time, he gives a lot of leash to his players and staff. When the Raptors have previously started out slow, he's given his staff plenty of time to make adjustments, chalking it up to a difficult schedule and a team finding itself.
After all, it's Black Friday and Colangelo should be shopping around some pieces of this club.
But here we are, sitting and waiting, wanting something to be done. This team frankly hasn't been very good against those teams it hopes to battle against for playoff positions. Two loses to Philly, one against Charlotte and another against Indiana.
I certainly feel the need to move certain players, but I also think that Colangelo wants to give Dwane Casey time to figure out if he get more out of this team.
So for now, I'm shifting my thoughts to Dwane Casey. Frankly, I'm not enamored with his rotations and on a more macro level, working on the team's offense during pre-season now seems like a mistake when they should have been re-enforcing their defense.
And the scary thing is, the Raptors haven't faced too many of the high powered, high octane teams in the league yet.
The clock is ticking down on Casey to find answers, and he's going to be my focal point going forward.
Which brings us to tonight's keys against the Pistons. The Raptors have faced the Pistons in preseason and the overall reaction then was how badly the Raptors missed out on getting Andre Drummond in the draft. Tonight, the focus needs to be elsewhere:
1) Aggressive rebounding
I know this is kind of an oxymoron when you have Andrea Bargnani on your team, but the Raptors have to get out and fight for the boards. Tonight, you've got two teams who have field goal percentages towards the bottom half of the league, so rebounding and winning the battle of the boards needs to be something the Raptors focus in on. Getting Kyle Lowry back helps. Getting DeRozan and Dominic McGuire to help out would be better.
2) Dictate the rotations
This probably isn't going to happen, but I'd like Dwane Casey to dictate what happens on the floor and play to the clubs' strengths rather than trying to match up with what the other team is doing. Winners play their winning game and make the other team follow. The Raptors have fallen way too quickly into doing what the other team does and that kind of mentality is in no way going to build a positive team identity.
3) Be the better team
If the Raptors want to prove to everyone that they intend to be a playoff team, they have to prove it by winning all their games against the bottom half of the league. Detroit, who certainly fit the bill as a bottom tier Eastern Conference team, should not be a giant challenge for the Raptors. Yes, on any given day, any team in the NBA can be beaten by another. But as discussed, the Raptors have allowed that to happen far too often.