Franchise has seen enough. After a second straight lopsided loss to the Hawks, it's clear that this team needs some major changes if they hope to return to the post-season...
Last year after the season had concluded, I wrote a piece asking if the Raptors were really as good as the Hawks, who last year had sewn up a fourth place position in the playoffs.
After all, when Bryan Colangelo spoke to the media at season's end, he stated that he felt last year's Raptors' club should have been on par with teams like Atlanta, fighting for one of the 4 to 8 seeds in the East.
While a 111 to 89 loss wasn't a throttling on the same level as the last time these clubs met, last night's loss to Atlanta was further proof of just how far this Dino team has to go to be on par with the Hawks. I said it last night and I'll say it again; the Raptors could take on the Hawks 10 times this season and I'm completely convinced they'd get throttled each and every time; this is just a nightmare match-up for Toronto between Atlanta's advanced talent and superior athleticism.
However that alone doesn't explain yet another lackluster effort by the Raps in a short season already full of them. While Toronto kept things close in the first quarter, they were unable to get much help from their bench (outscored 55 to 31 by the Hawks last night) and once again, the game was essentially over by halftime.
Last night's loss ran Toronto's record to 3 and 15 when they allow opponents to score 100 or more points. (Their record is 7-0 when holding teams below that 100 point plateau.)
The defence isn't there, and hasn't been all season really, and now even the offence is floundering. Toronto for the second straight game barely extended their "3-pointers made" streak, and in fact took only 10 long-range bombs last night. Simply put, this team is not nearly athletic or aggressive enough to score without a heavy dose of 3-point shooting so 10 on a night is not going to cut it.
And that three-game winning streak from last week sure looks hollow now doesn't it?
The club beat up on a terrible Bulls' team, lucked-out of an OT loss to Washington after Gilbert Arenas blew a game-winning lay-up, and barely beat a 3 and 20 Minnesota club.
And now, with a slew of tough games on the horizon, it's possible that win number 11 doesn't come until next Friday against the Nets.
The frustrating thing from my perspective, is the effort first and foremost.
It just ain't there.
I've been a Triano backer all season but it's getting pretty hard to defend him and his staff. I mean, last night marked the ninth time already this season that the Raps have been beaten by 13 or more points! I was never a big Sam Mitchell fan but it was pretty hard to argue with the effort he got out of his club on a nightly basis. Even in the Mike James era on a club devoid of talent, at least you knew you were getting a max effort each and every time the team stepped on the floor. The team scrapped and clawed on every possession and ended up upending some teams despite relying on a journeyman chucker at the 1, Chris Bosh...and Rafael Araujo. There's no arguing that this team is a lot more talented, however they don't have the fight previous incarnations of the Raps had.
That's a pretty strong statement in itself considering that it's been years since one could refer to Toronto as being a "tough" team.
At some point, and soon, something needs to be done here as it's pretty obvious that even after the vaunted "closed door meeting" the team had recently, some things haven't been fixed.
Unfortunately, aside from moving some starters around (which now seems a sure thing at least at the 1; Jose Calderon re-injured himself last night and while I have no idea why he played at all last night, he's likely to miss a big chunk of time), I'm not sure what else can be done. The problems start with this team's composition and the players themselves, and a coaching change or line-up swap is again only a band-aid solution.
The reality in my books is that once again Bryan Colangelo has put together a team in his own image; flashy on the outside but hollow beyond that. Sure, the offence looks nice most of the time, but that's all for naught if the defence is beyond paper-thin, the effort isn't there every night, and the team wilts at the slightest challenge. The Raptors shot over 55 per cent from the field in the first quarter last night, but again were still behind on the scoreboard. That's simply absurd, but a defining statement about this club, who again fell to pieces as soon as Atlanta made their second quarter push.
That's why it still blows my mind that Toronto thought maxing out on Hedo Turkoglu was a good idea. The team is already chalk-full of players in his ilk; ones who can do a bit of everything, but who can't take over games when need be or defend and get stops.
In many ways he's the perfect Bryan Colangelo player, a fool's gold specimen if you will. 12 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists with a block looks beautiful on paper (or on your fantasy team), but again this came in a very lopsided loss, one in which he barely had an impact.
He's not alone in this boat though as we're 25 games into the season and this team still has no identity. The team has been outplayed badly in over a third of the games they've played, and risk running their lone bright spot right out of town.
Something's gotta give here.
Unfortunately, I'm just not sure what BC can do to get out of the corner he's boxed himself into.