After a convincing win yesterday afternoon over the Dallas Mavericks, Franchise ponders if fans saw the tip of this team's iceberg, or if the best is yet to come...
The opening night win over the Cleveland Cavaliers may have been the most exciting win of the season.
The grind-it out win over the Houston Rockets may have been the best defensive performance of the year.
And the wins over San Antonio and Orlando were solid despite 4th quarter lapses...
However in my books, yesterday afternoon's win over the Dallas Mavericks represented the most complete game of the season by the Toronto Raptors.
For those who were witness to the action, you saw nearly a perfect game by Toronto, one where they did a solid job on defense, an outstanding job on offense, and got solid contributions from almost every single player.
Check some of the stats:
-The Raps outrebounded the Mavericks, one of the league's better rebounding clubs.
-Toronto dropped 110 points on the Mavs, the league's 8th most efficient defensive team that on average allows clubs only 97.8 points per game.
-The Mavericks, no offensive slouches themselves considering they average 106.6 points a game, had only 88 on the afternoon.
-The Dinos had 25 assists to only four turnovers.
Perhaps most impressive however?
The fact that Toronto shot only 68 per cent from the free-throw line, and missed 12 of their first 15 shots, yet still fought tooth and nail to keep within striking distance early. And then, after amassing a 25 point lead, retained that margin essentially to the very end.
So has this team really started to "grow up?"
Are we witnessing the version of the Toronto Raptors that we're going to see for most of the remaining 2009-10 season?
Of course I hope so, but I'll need to see a few more wins of this calibre before I feel my Vegas "over" bet is completely secure.
But there's no question you can see the potential with this group. Jack Armstrong mentioned during the game that it seems like players are really starting to "get a feel for their roles" and I completely agree. Triano routinely now trots out 9 to 10 players on a given night depending on match-ups, and players seem for the most part locked and loaded as to what they need to do when they enter the match.
-Need hustle and rebounding, paging Amir Johnson.
-Need an offensive spark, let's go Marco.
-Need some scrappiness and athleticism, in you go Sonny.
-Need some airballed 3 pointers and bad decisions on offense, where's Wright?
Actually, even Antoine Wright played well in yesterday's win and the point really is that if Toronto can get consistent contributions from these folks in their current roles going forward, this could very well be a team that gives Atlanta a run for that fourth spot considering the change in schedule.
In fact, there's a distinct possibility that what fans saw yesterday was only the tip of the iceberg.
Hedo Turkoglu still struggled offensively against Dalls going 2 for 9, and even though he did fill the stat sheet in other ways, if he and DeMar can really get going...
Ok, I won't get ahead of myself here.
There's still a lot of games left and losses like last Monday's to Indiana shows that we're a ways away from seeing the consistency needed to get to that proverbial "next level." But there's no question that while wins over the Bulls and Pistons are nice, wins like yesterday's really show the promise this group holds. (And that in turn is what makes losses like those this season to Indiana and Memphis that much more frustrating.)
It was indeed an awesome display and one that hopefully signifies that the best is yet to come for TO.
And with the Cavs up tomorrow night, Raptors' fans will get a chance to see if this prognostication is one step closer to becoming true.