After yet another game where the Toronto Raptors failed to show any sort of pride when it counted, the HQ laments that should this style of play continue, it's going to be a very long season for Raptors' fans...
I started the recap off with this video.
As I mentioned in last night's "Rapid Recap," it's really all you needed to know/see about last night's 116- to 103 loss to the Boston Celtics.
In the video, as has been the case all season, Chris Bosh is left helpless under the rim, the victim of yet another onslaught from the perimeter, and being slightly late on the rotation, finds himself unable to stop an easy basket...
...only this time the easy basket comes in the form of one of the NBA season's most aggressive dunks, knocking the wind out of CB4 and throwing him to the ground.
As a fan, to watch it was revolting.
Not simply because of the play itself, but because again, one of Toronto's key pieces was essentially completely disrespected on the court, and the rest of the team failed to react in the slightest.
In fact it was Jay Triano and his staff that nearly bumrushed Pierce after the incident, furious about the treatment "afforded" the Raptors' franchise-piece.
"When will things change?"
That's the question I had to ask myself after the incident and post-game. This is now the fourthiteration of this team essentially under Colangelo (The Ford era, JO era, Marion era and now Hedo era) and only last season's combination of O'Neal and Marion showed much promise in terms of grit and feistiness. Unfortunately Marion was only here for a few weeks, and O'Neal's impact in this regard was greatly limited due to injury.
At some point this team needs to show some fight.
And this isn't just an avid fan's perspective. Twitter was abuzz after the dunk with similar thoughts from sportswriters. Take SI's Chris Mannix's tweet:
ChrisMannixSI Pierce T'd up, Toronto bench goes ballistic. Unfortunately no one there that will do anything about it.
And he's right.
Would Reggie Evans have helped? I'm not so sure.
Jalen Rose post dunk tweeted:
jalenrose OMG the Celts Paul Pierce just dunked on the Raps Chis Bosh....whewwww---NASTY!
ReggieEvans30 @jalenrose lol.
Not exactly the response I was expecting to see.
Of course that doesn't mean that had Evans been on the court when the incident occurred things wouldn't have been different. And I'm not advocating a close-line to Pierce's neck on his next drive.
But the point of this is that this team is still (and arguably more so) fundamentally flawed in terms of the grit and fight it brings to the court each night. It started with the drafting of DeMar DeRozan, one of the league's shyest and least charismatic rookies, and was completed by bringing in the Hedos and Rashos in free-agency.
I'm not saying these aren't or won't be good players.
However they're not exactly the most gritty and feisty bunch and frankly, this team needs a serious dose of it.
Outside of the Pierce dunk, this lack of aggression manifested itself in various other ways in last night's second-half. The Raptors couldn't get stops, key rebounds, loose balls...everything started to go Boston's way. And not because Boston was the better team, frankly the Celtics played quite terribly in the first half which is why despite shooting over 80 per cent from the field, they found themselves down by one on the scoreboard. No, the C's simply came out of the locker room wanting it more, and it quickly showed on the court.
The Pierce dunk may have been the final nail in the coffin, but the funeral procession was well underway prior to that point.
The fact is that aside from some line-up changes (Rasho was much more effective besides Bosh again last night but would Triano actually have the gumption to bench the "Big Rook?") the roster is exactly what you see. Even a Reggie Evans addition (should it ever occur) I doubt will do much to change this club's lack of fight. Therefore going forward, the fight has to start coming from within. The Raps need to start playing with more of an edge or else this current slide that they're on (they've lost six of their last eight) is only going to snowball into something much worse.
Post-game, Doc Rivers indicated described the first half as:
"We were just having a feel-good game; you score, pat them on the back, and then they score. We call it "Buddy Ball.""
Folks this has been Toronto's season so far.
If the Dinos can't figure out a way to inject some passion and pride into their play, especially at the defensive end, then this "Buddy Ball" style of play is going to result in another quick trip to the NBA Lottery.