The most agonizing and maddening season in Raptors' history only 27 games in? After yet another lackluster performance by the Dinos last night, Franchise ponders this question and compares the club to the hapless 2005-06 edition of the team...
Yesterday in his preview of Toronto's match with Miami, Howland compared watching this Raptor team to a bad relationship; games like the one against Houston on Sunday are enough of a tease to keep you hanging around even though the majority of the time, there aren't enough other reasons to justify your continued involvement.
Well, last night's 115 to 95 loss to the Miami Heat sure provided yet another "Exhibit A" to this argument.
Toronto was completely outworked again as Miami snapped a four-game home-slide and sent the Raps off to Orlando with their scaly tails between their legs.
Frankly, I'm running out of words to discuss this team's apathy.
Last night there wasn't a single Toronto player who looked locked-in aside from maybe Sonny Weems as even Chris Bosh, who again carried the team's scoring load with 28 points, had but two rebounds.
And it wasn't as if the team didn't need any more rebounds on the evening; the Raps were clocked on the glass and in the paint, and again, a Raptor opponent was essentially allowed to do whatever they wanted offensively.
Michael Beasley was particularly impressive, torching Andrea Bargnani for most of his 28 points using an array of jump shots, up-and-unders, drives and post-moves. And while Dwyane Wade, usually a Raptor-killer, was somewhat quiet with a measly 19 points on 8 of 19 shooting, he was nursing a sore right wrist and yet you'd never have known it.
And that's really all that needs to be said about last night's game folks as it's the same old story. I mean, I could write the script for tonight's game right now;
"Talented offensive team relies on hot shooting to keep things close for a while, even though defense allows opponent to do whatever they want. Opponent tightens things up defensively, said talented offensive team goes cold, then gets blown out."
Michael Bay, step right up, we've got one for you!
And I'm not even exaggerating here unfortunately. After last Friday's loss to the Hawks, I noted that Toronto had lost by 13 or more points this year on nine occasions already.
Last night made it number 10.
This got me curious as to the team's ineptitude in this capacity so I reached out to the great site, basketball-reference.com to compare this season to date, with Toronto's last great flop; the 2005-2006 season.
You remember that season right?
The one ironically where the Raps' lone win in the first 17 games came over last night's opponent, the Miami Heat?
Well here's a scary fact for you:
In the entire 2005-06 season, the Raps got blown out by 13 or more points 13 times. After 27 games, this current version of the Dinos is already at 10.
At this rate, the 2009-10 edition of the Raptors is going to smash that mark.
And considering how poor the 2005-06 team was, and the "talent" it contained, that previous statement should make you want to either puke, or start burning effigies of Hedo Turkoglu.
And it gets worse.
That 2005-06 team lost games by an average of 3 points on the season. The 2009-10 Raptors are losing games by an average of 5 points already this year.
Nope, this is not what you'd call a good trend.
Am I saying for a fact that this current version of the Raptors is worse than the 2005-06 version?
Not exactly - but I think those numbers speak volumes as to the effort, grit, and fight that's lacking from a group that I would argue is massively more talented.
And this is the single-most infuriating thing for me about the team this season.
I expected them to struggle and have chemistry issues etc, etc. But to keep getting blown out in this fashion is ridiculous, and it's extremely hard as a fan to be passionate about a team that rarely displays any themselves!
I mean forget 13 point losses, the Raps have already been beaten by 20 points or more six times!! I love Sonny Weems, Amir Johnson and perhaps even have a bit of a soft spot for Marcus Banks strangely enough, but if we're seeing these guys this much it's not a good thing. I'm not naive. While most readers know I love second round picks and the "undiscovered upside types," these guys for the most part aren't the ones winning you games. These guys should be getting specific role duties or garbage time minutes.
And unfortunately the latter has been far too common so far this season.
So I'm not going to get into "3 keys" for tonight's game against Orlando.
Frankly, there's only one key on the night and for the rest of the season, and that's to show some pride, fight, grit...and other manifestations of testicular fortitude.
Some of this is indeed on the coaching staff, but in my books, the majority still falls on the players. They're the ones out there heaving ill-placed jump shots (ahem Hedo), missing box-outs (ahem Andrea), "protecting" the paint (ahem Bosh)...etc, etc.
It's got to be a team effort and if it doesn't start tonight, this season may end up much like the 2005-06 edition of the Toronto Raptors.
With a trip back to the NBA draft lottery.