After watching the Raptors' collapse last night against the Kings, I was trying to find a fitting film comparison for the performance. Actually, not just a parallel for the game itself, but for our reaction to watching it. Every week we sit here and our feelings about the Raptors vacillate between glee and despair, between feeling like we're making progress and not. (And by "not," I mean falling into a black hole of anguish and frustration.)
Memento is what I came up with.
Memento is about a guy, Leonard, who has no short term memory. (I won't get into the reasons why this is the case, you should just watch the movie.) He meets people, he does things, and then he forgets all about them. The only thing he does remember is his mission: revenge. (Again, just go with it and then go watch the film.) Doesn't this remind you a bit about how it feels to watch the Raptors?
The Raptors understand their mission: win basketball games. That's the starting point. As such, the Raptors sometimes move the ball, play solid defense, look for high percentage shots, and play productive lineup combinations. We see this and convince ourselves of something--the team's long-term viability, its ability to compete with the top teams in the league, the All-Star calibre of its players, what have you. And we forget the rest. Oh, we forget so much! We forget DeRozan's sometimes unconscionable chucking, we forget about Biyombo playing crunch time minutes over Jonas, we forget about the actual dearth of options on the wing after DeMarre Carroll. We sit down again and are convinced of things, the rightness of where we are going, the potential of this team and its players and its coaching staff.
It's what makes the reminder of the Raptors' fallibility so painful. We watch a game like last night's Kings debacle, and oh boy, we remember. We remember exactly until it is time again to forget.
Now, off to the rankings.
As per usual, Marc Stein of ESPN lays out the basics:
Some interesting history there, re: going 5-0 and then almost 0-4. But the Raptors remembered themselves just in time to sort that out.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Woo of SI.com is apparently still in the throes of optimism. He is our rock in a troubled time:
7) TORONTO RAPTORS
LAST WEEK: 9
RECORD: 7-4 (2-2)
Losses to the Kings and Knicks look bad, but the Raptors have largely defended well and the backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan still gives defenses serious problems. That statement will be put to the test against the Warriors on Tuesday as Toronto kicks off a four-game slate on the West Coast.
I'm willing to bet if you woke up now with no memory of the past week and asked ten Raptors fans what they thought of the play of Lowry and DeRozan, you'd get 15 different answers.
Inadvertently, John Schuhmann of NBA.com does his best to play into my Memento narrative:
9) Toronto Raptors
Last week: 8
Pace: 98.3 (20) OffRtg: 103.4 (9) DefRtg: 99.1 (11) NetRtg: +4.3 (7)
The Raptors got hosed by a non-call against the Knicks, fed on the Sixers and Pelicans, and got bowled over by DeMarcus Cousins last week. With his team coming up empty offensively, Dwane Casey went too long with Bismack Biyombo in the fourth quarter of Sunday's loss. The Raptors have been better on both ends of the floor thus far with Jonas Valanciunas in the game than with him on the bench.
Did Dwane Casey remember these new facts regarding Valanciunas? Do you think he did? Did he forget what's happened in the last three weeks and go back to what he last remembered? Will there ever be a resolution here or will we forever be waging this battle with the team (and with ourselves)?
And finally, Raptors fans have a tendency to go after Matt Moore of CBSsports.com and, well, gotdamn, I can see why:
13) Toronto Raptors - Last Week: 8
They lost to the Kings to kick off their road trip, and have the Warriors, Jazz and Clippers coming up. Their late-game offense has been like terrible modern art. They're taking it very seriously but it's just basically paint splatter.
This is too true and real and painful. He is our John G.
Let's stumble over to the poll.