I wasn't gonna post on the subject until February 1st, but seeing the replay from last night's game has inspired this rant.
Last night in Montreal, Earl Hebner and HBK screwed Brett Hart out of the WWE Championship at Survivor Series... If you don't get the wrestling analogy, last night in Toronto, Dick Bavetta and the ref crew tried their best to hand the Brooklyn Nets an easy win vs the Raptors. Specifically in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, the amount of questionable calls made against the Raptors had them playing like the pre-Gay trade team. Case in point, close to the end of the 2nd, DeRozan took a legit charge on Pierce or Johnson (can't remember who), but it was called a blocking foul (DeMar's 3rd) to which he took exception to and got in refs face which resulted in a tech. Then Lowry took an elbow from Pierce and crumpled to floor, and somehow that was called a blocking foul (Lowry's 3rd). The Raptors took a 47-42 lead into the 3rd quarter where the bad officiating continued which resulted in an 18-3 run; 60-50 at about the 4:45 mark.
Now earlier in the season or in recent years, the Raptors would have lost a game like this. The fix was most defiantly in for this game, and had the Raptors lost, it would have proven that they were not ready to make that playoff push. However, these aren't those same Raptors. They responded BIG with an 18-4 run of their own, led by none other than DeMar DeRozan, who scored 9 straight to end the 3rd; finishing with 26 7 and 5 (pts, rebs, ast). The Raptors were 68-64 at that point, the officiating evened out, and we never trailed again, beating the Nets 96-80.
To the now defunct #TankNation, I submit to the evidence supporting that this is indeed not fool's gold. I submit to you that these upstart Toronto Raptors are, in fact the real deal. I also submit to you that despite the circumstances surrounding the situation, we have not one, but two legit All Stars on this team in DeRozan and Lowry that we can build around. There is a reason that this team is playing top 5 defense this year. There is a reason why the Raptors are outplaying teams like the Nets and Knicks, who have better players, talent and skill than the Raptors, outside of injuries. It's called chemistry... Heart... Intensity... Passion... The will to win. These are things that this Raptors team did not have in years past. You cannot coach these attributes. A team either has it or it doesn't. The Toronto Raptors have it!
You can say what you will - the Raptors need to tank... Raptors need a top 5 pick... Raptors need Wiggins/Randle/Parker/Smart/Exum... - but the fact remains the same. These are not the same pushover Toronto Raptors from years past. And really and truly, some part of you know this to be true... But because no one likes to be proven wrong, you kick, you scream, and you still cry tank in vain. Because we are seeing the growth of a TEAM! Not just a phenomenal player who's a "franchise changing player", but an actual team from player 1 to 12. And with scouts now reporting that this draft class is not as impressive and "franchise changing" as previously predicted, a playoff run no longer seems like a horribly bad thing anymore.
Tell me I'm wrong, delusional, a homer, passionate, just another silly Raptor fanboy, that I live in a fantasy world, etc... There is absolutely nothing that anyone can say that disproves what I'm saying right now... Nothing.