Usually here at the HQ we recap games in two manners. First, the Rapid Recap touches on the key points of the game and of course the final outcome, then our "Tip-In" series goes into more detail about the previous night's match-up.
However as I sit here preparing to give my in-depth analysis on last night's 96 to 80 thrashing at the hands of the Chicago Bulls, I'm admittedly a bit at a loss simply because I'm not quite sure what to make of last night's affair.
For starters, the Raptors turned in one awful effort for the most part, and it's slightly disconcerting to see that so early in the season. The club had a chance to beat one of the tougher foes in the NBA as the Bulls were playing without superstar Derrick Rose, and yet to say the team came out and laid an egg would be an understatement. I went through the numbers in last night's Rapid Recap but save for DeMar DeRozan, this game might have represented one of the more ugly losses in franchise history. It's easy to write off the loss as "one of those games," as head coach Dwane Casey did, but if the club beats a solid Portland squad on Sunday, one has to wonder about the team's mental focus, and why again this year Casey can't coax a consistent performance out of his crew.
Which brings me to my next point. I'm also not sure what to make of last night's affair because while Casey didn't do a bad job coaching by casual observer standards, it's hard to do much of a critique on his performance period based on the players he's using. Casey has a club led by inefficient, high-volume scorers and therefore his team's performance really depends on where they lie on the bell curve of typical performance on a nightly basis.
For instance against Memphis, his troops were much more efficient than they had been in previous matches, making me wonder if in fact the win over the Grizzlies was more of an outlier than what we should expect on a regular schedule. And therefore last night's game seemed to be an outlier as well, but on the other end of the spectrum where players like Lowry were horrific shooting-wise, and DeMar DeRozan was uber efficient, especially late.
Maybe the takeaway then is that we're only a tenth of the way through the season just about, so it's too early to know exactly what to expect.
Or maybe we aren't looking at this properly at all. The other issue post-game that I had (and I'm guessing many other Raptors' followers had as well) was that I wasn't sure if I was happy about this loss. While I'm completely on board with getting a top spot in the 2014 NBA Draft, I also eventually want to see this team succeed which likely necessitates successful individual and team results at times this season, even for trade value sake. As my colleague Zach Salzmann noted post-game, this match did just that for DeMar DeRozan...but that was about it. Somewhere along the way this season, many fans are going to have to find that balance between stock-boosting play, and draft lottery enhancing performance.
And right now, I'm not sure where last night's game lays in that spectrum.