Last night's 115 to 89 loss by Toronto marked yet another blowout L, and the HQ team is hardly surprised...
That was some first two days of NCAA Tournament action wasn't it?
Between the OT games, the buzzer beaters, the upsets...
...you came to talk Raptors...
While we PVR'd the match and took it in post-college ball last night, let's just say there weren't a lot of excited Raptors' fans looking forward to watching last night's game. Besides the play on the over, there just wasn't much incentive to watch this one as we all assumed the following would occur in some form:
The Dinos would come out ok, but slowly start losing the hustle situations and the Thunder would take the lead. Once this occured, the starters would fold, OK City would go on a big streak, Toronto would never recover, and it would be a blowout by the half. Yes, Bosh would get his 20 and 10, but would have spotty assistance at best, his club would play zero defence, and regardless of what combinations Triano threw out there, nothing would stop the bleeding.
We were pretty much bang on.
71 points at halftime for OKC?
39 after the first quarter?
Toronto giving up as many offensive rebounds as they could grab themselves on the defense end?
That's more like the Toronto Raptors we know!
Folks this was a crushing, simple and plain. Toronto had no answer for the Zombie Sonics' athleticism or offensive firepower, barely made a dent in OKC's defence, and as mentioned, folded when given the first opportunity.
But again, none of this should really be surprising, which is why I found it quite humerous to read some of the local media's takes this morning.
First from the Toronto Star:
From the opening tip the Raptors looked disjointed and at times disinterested. They were hammered on the boards where effort can be the determining factor between getting a missed shot and giving up a second-chance basket. They were a step slow all over the floor and the Thunder dropped a 39-point first quarter on them that rendered the final 36 minutes practically meaningless.
The unstated thinking was that Turkoglu and Bargnani at least gave the Raptors ground for recovery. But it is now patently clear that Bosh's departure would send this team into a rebuilding mode because he is the only person on the roster currently capable of starting on a good NBA team.
And the best of the bunch, a full length-tirade from the National Post's Bruce Arthur.
While I think that Arthur is bang on here, my question to him and others is why these types of pieces weren't written months ago? I mean is anyone really that shocked by what's going on here? Toronto is a middle of the road team with Bosh, and without him, it's ugly to say the least. A blowout at the hands of the uber-talented Thunder hasn't changed anything in my mind really. This team is as fragile as they come, ill-constructed, and really gets by on some occasionally dominant offensive firepower.
Some nights a hint of defence is enough to propel said offensive execution to a W, some nights, not so much. Toronto's current record is completely reflective of this club's constitution, and really, that's all there is to it. I fully expect the Raps to beat New Jersey tonight, and keep middling along until playoff time, and while indeed it's disconcerting to end the season in this fashion, it's just not really a huge shocker to me. Until Bryan Colangelo rids himself of Hedo, Bargs, and many of the other overpaid players on this team, or at least relegates them to more periferal roles with the club, these are your Toronto Raptors, for better or for worse. The team can talk all it wants about doing this or that but the fact remains that Toronto just doesn't have enough players who can do "this or that."
In many ways the Raptors are the complete opposite of the Sonics...er...Thunder. OKC has been built from the ground up through solid drafting, fiscal restraint, great personnel decisions, and of course in the case of Durant, a little bit of luck. Contrast that to the Raptors, who each season seem to try and hit a home-run via trade or overpayment, just to keep the ship afloat. Colangelo hasn't had a single draft pick under his watch who's lived up to his billing (although it's still very early for DeRozan), and as for fiscal restraint...um...Jason Kapono is still floating around the league right?
Most impressive though for me is how the Thunder really brought in pieces that fit. From Serge Ibaka (whose put-back jam on the Raptors' heads last night told you all you needed to know about the game in about 3 seconds) to Nenad Krstic, OKC has ensured that get players who not only work in their system, but also work together. Various players this season have repeatedly been quoted as saying that playing for the Thunder is the most fun they've had since High School or College. In fact it was hard not to look across the court last night and be envious of what the opponents have going on with their franchise.
What kills me is that at one point not too long ago, this could easily have been Toronto.
But Bryan Colangelo talked himself into reaching on Andrea, over-paying for Jason Kapono, and off we go.
It's not been all terrible, hell the job Colangelo has done has been miles ahead of his predecessor. However it's hardly been a monumental victory either and one fears that his most recent moves may again push this franchise back into the NBA's wine-cellar. Should Bosh leave and Toronto be left with precious little in return, it's going to be a long few years for fans thanks to the current contractual obligations on this club.
But again, I've been bracing myself for this for quite some time now, and I believe a good chunk of our readership has followed suit.
We're watching a Toronto Raptors' team that has to make some major decisions this offseason, but for now, is a .500ish club, probably good enough to back into the East's final playoff spot.
And tonight, I'm looking forward to seeing the Raps crush the Nets to solidify themselves in that regard.