If Game 3 proved difficult to watch, with the Wizards cutting lose after the first quarter, and the Raptors looking overwhelmed the rest of the way, well Game 4 was a nightmare. This was all of the worst Raptors tropes in one: questionable shot taking in a stagnant offense, lineup combination struggles with various disappearances therein, some clearly shaken confidence, and, just for good measure, an injury scare.
Still, the Raptors had to address the bright lights after the game. Here’s where we are now.
Up first is coach Dwane Casey, who is taking some comfort in the idea of a return to home, but who is also grasping at straws to explain how his team went from the driver’s seat, to the trunk.
Casey worked over a few of the same beats after this one — inexplicable turnovers, turning down open shots, losing composure, the Wizards are not a typical eighth seed. But he was also quick to say this game was more frustrating, more difficult to lose. Casey felt the Raptors had the game under control, and for much of it, he was right in his assessment.
Until, suddenly, he was not.
DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, meanwhile, were cool in their post-game assessment. Both seem to understand how things went wrong — and you have to chuckle at DeRozan saying “it’s nothing new for us.” He meant to suggest that the Raps are an experienced team, and have been in this crucible before. But you can read it a different way: the Raptors are always sort of locked in this death struggle with themselves.
In any case, DeRozan summed up the Raptors’ Game 4 performance succinctly right off the top.
“They got on a roll, they got a rhythm. They all became aggressive. John [Wall] got aggressive, hit some big shots for them. We couldn’t execute. Myself, I took some bad shots that let them get out into transition, getting some easy buckets. We put them on the free throw line. They executed, we couldn’t get a stop, and we couldn’t get a bucket.”
But to quote the Dude from The Big Lebowski: this aggression will not stand, man. Or at least that’s the hope.
Speaking of hope, we have to figure C.J. Miles will make some kind of grand return in Game 5 at home. Here he is reflecting on Sunday night.
There’s a lot of clear-eyed analysis here from Miles. The Raptors were sped up and pressured in ways they didn’t like, or couldn’t respond to. And even though Miles hasn’t had a chance to watch game film yet — which you know is coming soon — he already knows what it will show them. Not enough movement, not enough precision, not enough of good results. “It’s a real street fight now,” said Miles.
And here’s a dejected Jakob Poeltl saying the words we don’t want to hear: “We don’t really know what happened, but we definitely didn’t get the shots we wanted.”
Also this pearl of wisdom: “Every game we lose is a missed opportunity.”
Oof. See you in Toronto on Wednesday for Game 5.