clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Tip-In: Being a "Good" Team. Raptors Find Second-Half Moxy, Down Bucks

What makes a good basketball team? A good deal of resiliency for one, something the Toronto Raptors have put on full display of late.

There's not a ton more to say about last night's 102 to 98 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Sarah broke things down quarter by quarter late last night, and you've likely by no heard that Dwane Casey referred to his club's play in the first half as "crap."

But as has been the case the past couple weeks, the Dinos overcame a "crap" first half to get yet another win, their 45th on the season, putting them three wins shy of a new franchise high with five games to go.

What impressed me about last night's win, beyond the obvious "overcoming the key injuries to Kyle Lowry and Amir Johnson" narrative, was just how natural the victory looked.  The week before last I called matchups versus the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers part of a "Trap Week" schedule as the Dinos had habits of playing down to the level of their opponents prior to that.  And while the Raps did indeed play down to that level at various points, they also came back and won the bulk of those matches, just as they did last night.

That's what good teams do.

Yes, great teams likely never give a club like Milwaukee a shot at a victory, but no one's comparing the Toronto Raptors to the San Antonio Spurs just yet.

Baby steps upon baby steps and I'm thrilled to say that's what we've been seeing of late.  (Throw in the "injuries" narrative and the argument is even more compelling.)

We're witnessing a club that's solid enough now at both ends of the court that when one side struggles, the other can stem the tide for a while, especially against lesser opponents, and that's indeed what Toronto's done of late.

Last night the club's D was nowhere to be found early on.  The Bucks shot 56 per cent in the first half and roared out to a 56 to 47 halftime lead.

But it could have been much worse.

The Raptors executed sufficiently on offense to keep the game within striking distance and then in the second half, after a bit of "halftime motivation" by Casey, locked in on D and eventually grabbed the victory.

This is what good teams do.

Good teams do have let downs at various points in a game, but usually find ways to overcome said periods of time. That's what we saw last night from the Toronto Raptors with players like DeMar DeRozan and Greivis Vasquez leading the charge.

Speaking of Greivis, how hard is it going to be to let this guy go in the offseason?

Not that that's Toronto's intent.  Hell, I'm fairly positive Masai Ujiri will do everything he can to keep him.

But he's in that greyish Calderon area at times in terms of being almost too good to be a back-up, but not quite good enough (definitely not on D) to be a starter.  He could command a fair amount on the open market and perhaps a rebuilding club will want Vasquez to take the reigns for a year or two to facilitate development for their youngsters. He's almost a perfect guy in a situation like that as a terrific passer who will make the game easier for newly drafted teammates, and obviously, as one of the more passionate and optimistic players night in and night out, is nice to have if you're a club that's likely facing a sub 30 win campaign.

Vasquez isn't perfect obviously, but it's hard to think of many superior back-up options in the league and he's a nice fit with the more bullish Kyle Lowry.

Going back to the "good team" theorem, players of Vasquez's ilk are crucial for club success and I'm hoping Ujiri finds a way to keep him and Patrick Patterson around next season.  Both have played crucial roles in the club's success this year and will be called upon frequently come playoff time.

Which believe it or not, is only five games away.

The Raptors now get a short break before resuming play Wednesday versus the Philadelphia 76ers.  Then, it's the Knicks, Pistons, Bucks and Knicks to end things off, not exactly Murderer's Row.

In fact that's five very winnable games which would give Toronto their first 50 win campaign in franchise history.

Do good teams win 50 games?

Even in the East I'd have to say yes.