Earlier this year Red Panda, the noted half-time act of basketball games across the continent, announced her retirement. For fans of dish-based entertainment - also known as, all of humanity - this was a crushing blow. It left a hole in the field of NBA half-time showmanship. Fortunately, Quick Change are still going strong.
The Raptors this week find themselves in a precarious position. More unsure than their 8-2 record would suggest. Many of you are already nodding along. Now, allow me to take you on a brief history trip that ends on a vaguely forced analogy.
Let's be honest, outside of that seesaw opener against the Atlanta Hawks and the crushing of the Beal-less Washington Wizards, the Raptors opponents have been, ahem, lacking. Sure, they beat up on Orlando twice (and once, just barely), annihilated Utah in a fourth quarter assault, muscled their way past both Boston and Oklahoma City, and took a break playing that team from Philly (was that a regulation NBA game?) But they lost to Miami - a team they haven't beaten since pre-Lebron 2010 (a team that "featured" Jermaine O'Neal). And they lost to Chicago - a team that will definitely be standing in their way in the playoffs.
Soothsayer Marc Stein meanwhile, has dropped them four spots in the rankings. The change was that [David Caruso shades] quick.
We haven't even emotionally dealt with the fallout from the James Johnson injury. The team needs his "crazy and spicy" energy, and relentless (perhaps reckless) confidence. With Johnson out the Raptors are already weighing the merits of Landry Fields and Chuck Hayes. That's where we are at.
Guys, talk me out of this quick change bout of despair. The Raptors next opponent? The 9-1 Memphis Grizzlies.