Tony Parker let loose on the Raptors as they failed to materialize a win in their back-to-back home games. The Raptors kept it close for the most part, but to Kinnon Yee, the most disturbing part is the fading identity that seemed to be established earlier in the year.
And down goes Linas Kleiza.
As my second favourite reason to watch the Raptors this year goes down with a "sore left knee", the Raptors could have used him to at least have been a steady hand at both ends of the floor.
As a result, it's become just that much harder for me to watch these games.
The thing I've kept telling myself to keep myself in check is that this year is a rebuilding year. "Keep thinking about that draft pick." "Keep thinking about Jonas's development abroad." "Keep thinking about building an identity this year."
Yup, the Raptors were down in the first quarter thanks to some poor work on both ends of the floor.
Yes, they managed to make a game of it eventually as they clawed their way back.
Ultimately, the game ended in a loss as the Raptors failed to execute down the stretch.
This one had the Raptors' claw prints all over it. I mean sure, we can talk about the nice plays the Raptors had such as the reverse alley oops that were going around in the second half of the game. And heck, there's a pretty good Jose Calderon highlight package in there for the third straight night. And while DeMar DeRozan may have had another (inconsistently) strong game, the Spurs had too many additional weapons for the Raptors to win. Toss in a huge Tony Parker night, and well... That's all she wrote.
But here's a disturbing fact. This marks the seventh time in the last month that the Raptors have allowed an opponent to score over 100 points. Contrast this to the first month of play where they allowed only the Orlando Magic to score over 100 points and I have questions.
Where's that commitment to defense gone?
Because if "the future" was going to be a focus this year, then establishing an "identity" going into next year was supposed to be a priority.
To me, having an idea of the system and style we're going to play for the duration of Dwane Casey's tenure is extremely important moving forward. It's going to dictate the type of players we're going to draft, the players we go after in free agency and the ones we are going to deem as trading commodities as we get closer and closer to the end of the year. It also ensures that next year's crop of players know that we have an established system that they're going to have to adapt to instead of adapting a system to certain players needs.
However, as the season progresses and if we continue to see this system and ideology deteriorate, where does that leave us next year?
Another half season wasted trying to put the foot down on who the Toronto Raptors are? No thanks.
Simply put, the players have to demand more from themselves. Getting into a shootout against the rest of the NBA just isn't going to cut it, especially when you don't have an efficient scoring lineup. It doesn't matter that DeRozan scored 29 points if he can't guard his man. That might have been a good moral victory for previous Raptor teams but it certainly isn't one this year.
At least for me it isn't.
I'm demanding that this team hold itself accountable towards the longer term goals that they've established. It matters more to me that the Raptors play a certain style and lose than play a game without direction and win. In the short term, it might feel better to get that win, but in the long run, it does nothing to help with the process of establishing an identity.
Frankly, it wastes this season that we're asking the Raptors' fanbase to suffer through.
The goal has to be towards a stronger future for this franchise. Otherwise the Raptors will simply continue to be a middle-of-the-road team with no clear vision and only a handful of wins.
And that's just simply unacceptable.