Pre-game in Toronto, Dwane Casey was asked a question about the "process." In the press corp, nobody groaned. Instead, as the question unfurled, it was obvious the questioner was trying to get at something deeper and more mysterious about coaching and the entire, yes, process of taking a basketball team from one tier to another. It's all rather ineffable, and the word "process" will come up a lot. Hold your groans.
The Philadelphia 76ers are in town tonight, and with them comes an entire strain of philosophical thought. They're no longer obviously tanking, having jettisoned former GM Sam Hinkie and unleashed the supernova talent of Joel Embiid (finally). But they still stink, are still a team on the lowest rung of the competitive ladder. (And Embiid isn't in Toronto tonight. Sad face.) They have taken maybe only the smallest of baby steps in the right direction, with talent in a couple of players (Dario Saric and Jahlil Okafor, for example, both active tonight).
The Raptors have run through their own processes, various attempts to go from the bottom to, if not the top, at least the competitive middle. Most of these have failed in the past twenty years. That they now find themselves here, just outside the top tier, is a nice story; that Bryan Colangelo, the architect of the last few failed years in Toronto before the Masai Ujiri takeover, is on hand tonight is a satisfying narrative.
Five years after the fact, the seeds BC planted have grown to fruition as he stands astride a new field in a different city. The core of this Raptors team is attributable to him -- DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas, and Terrence Ross. It was, in a sense, step one of a process, the timing of which ultimately cost Colangelo his job. Now he'll try again with the Sixers. I say we settle in and watch, even as the Raptors are heavily favoured tonight. Even as the process in Philly has really only just begun.
Now get to the preview from John Gaudes and get ready for the first of four showdowns between Atlantic division foes.