First off, apologies. There seemed to be a scheduling issue so I've had to write a quick preview for tonight's game. I'm doing this having to go to work in just about an hour, so please excuse any spelling errors.
That being said, there's a lot to talk about.
I'd like to welcome the Toronto Star to the party as today they featured several articles calling into question if this season is lost and if Bryan Colangelo should be fired. It's been a couple years, but some writers not named Doug Smith have started putting the Raptors to task.
Which I say, good on them, since a lot of people get their fix from the Toronto Star.
That being said, I'd like to start by commending the Raptors last game for putting up some effort that we haven't seen in a while. I said it at the beginning of the year that it would take a "miracle" injury to Andrea Bargnani before the Raptors would be able to get their optimal lineup out on the court.
Now, it seems, we'll be stuck with it for a while.
In fact, it's kind of funny, but the Raptors almost have their entire second unit playing as their starters now.
Heck, Dwane Casey moves Jonas Valanciunas to the bench to put Amir Johnson in the starters, it may very will be a complete reversal.
I think all of us here and our readers are fine with that.
The question now, though, is what needs to be the long term strategy of this team?
For one thing, we need to figure out if Kyle Lowry can get back to being re-integrated into this team. His play style and attitude is valuable when he has control over it, and to be honest, I think a lot of people are misdirecting their concern of this team at Lowry.
But using him effectively and getting him to find his niche in this team are up to the coaches.
Which brings me to Dwane Casey. I've said that we needed to take a more critical look at the Raptors' coach this year, and it's going to be more important moving forward. With Andrea Bargnani now out indefinitely, there are no more excuses. He can play the people he wants to, in the configuration he wants to. This is where coaches really need to stand out.
Yes, he is still missing some players due to injury. So are a lot of teams in the NBA.
But how a coach adapts to that is extremely important.
In tonight's game against the Dallas Mavericks though, I'm looking for the Raptors to come out and be competitive. With Amir Johnson's return, and the Raptors expecting both Linas Kleiza and Alan Anderson back in the lineup, I just want the Raptors to accomplish a few things.
1) Sustained effort - This means no more DeMar DeRozan trying to take over a game he frankly had no business playing in. The Raptors need to utilize their big men and give them touches for the entire game. Their front court is a great advantage as they're tall and fast. It's not that difficult. It was working, the Raptors need to keep at it.
2) Set the rotations - Dwane Casey was playing Jose Calderon with John Lucas III again. With only two point guards, why would you not give other players more burn? It's time to stop this madness and let players play. That means giving Terrence Ross consistent minutes. It means getting guys like Aaron Gray some burn.
Yes, the Raptors were down to nine players the other night, but managing minutes is a big part of what a coach is in charge of.
3) Entertain - Yes, the Raptors got boo'd the other night. Was it well deserved? Maybe the fans could also feel the fact that the Raptors were just taking too many contested jump shots and weren't as aggressive as they were in the first half.
The fans of Toronto want to support something. Once again, the hockey season seems all but lost and the Raptors can't capitalize. Being competitive and entertaining at least sends a message that the Raptors really do have some good pieces and that basketball can be entertaining.