My goodness, how long has it been since the Toronto Raptors played a basketball game? It seems like ages! And there are still two full days to go as of this writing!
Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to have a little break from blogging. But there’s only so long you wanna go without basketball, especially in February in Toronto. Like what else is there to do if there’s no basketball to watch? Go for a walk?! (Shameless plug alert!)
Anywho, we’re almost back at it, with the Raptors sitting in second place in the East with 23 games to go... and one of the biggest, highest-drama-potential games of the season coming up on Friday night.
Your Toronto Raptors
It’s been so long since they’ve played that you may have forgotten, but the Raptors are currently riding a six-game win streak. Now, not all of those wins have come against top-shelf competition, but at the same time, they’re still impressive enough as the last three in particular saw the Raptors try to integrate new players and adjust to the absence of Fred VanVleet.
This is the fourth time this season the Raptors have won six or more in a row, with their best streak an eight-gamer back in November. Eclipsing that in the next week would be awesome, but games against the Spurs and Celtics will make it a challenge.
Oh, yeah, the Spurs. They’re in town Friday night, playing their first game after the All-Star Break as well, and of course, it is DeMar DeRozan’s first game back in Toronto since the trade. It will be loud — very loud — when DeRozan gets introduced, and louder still during whatever tribute they have planned for him. Probably louder than game seven against the Nets, which remains the loudest I’ve ever heard that building. If you’re going, prepare to have your insides shaken by the noise.
Unfortunately, I will not be going, as a family issue has taken precedence. That makes me sad, but of course, family must come first. I am certain that those in attendance will give DeRozan the reception he deserves after everything he gave to the franchise.
The Toronto Food Scene
Last month The Ringer’s Danny Chau came to Toronto and penned an excellent article on the Raptors and what’s at stake for them this season. While here, he took in some of Toronto’s culinary delights, which you can read about here.
For out-of-towners like Danny and his colleagues at The Ringer, it’s a great intro to the awesome food options we have in this city. For locals, it’s a great reminder! And naturally, we all may complain that “hey, he didn’t visit my favourite spot!” but that in itself is testament to how lucky we are to have such great choices. Now let’s go get some roti, shall we?
Your Toronto Raptors...?
How can a team be both Hot and Not? When they haven’t played in 10 days, they are literally cold. Who knows how they’ll respond coming back from such a long layoff? Hopefully it did them all some good, let some of those bumps and bruises heal up and they’ll all come back fresh and ready to go. But you never know.
What I do know, though, is that DeRozan will be ready to play. He’s going to give the Raptors everything he’s got, and if last time was any indication — he had a triple-double as the Spurs blew the Raptors out in San Antonio — the Raptors will need to shake off the rust quickly.
It was soooooooo.... blah. Maybe I’m just getting old, because I used to love All-Star Weekend, but I could barely muster any interest in any of it, even with four Raptors participating in three events across three days. The Rising Stars game tells you nothing about these young guys, because it barely resembles a basketball game. The three-point contest takes forever. Dunks with props, including people as props, grow lamer every year.
Even the game itself, which had a nice boost of energy last year as the first year in the new draft format, was boring. How does a game featuring the 24 best players in the world, and one team mounting a 20-point comeback, play out as a bore? I don’t know how they managed it, but they did.
This season we’ve seen some rather, ah, questionable leadership choices by some of the best players in the game. Jimmy Butler saw fit to try and blow up his team in the preseason to motivate his teammates. LeBron James tried to trade all of his teammates for Anthony Davis... who’s all but abandoned his teammates. Kevin Durant would rather snipe at the media than commit to his champsionship-contending team. Kyrie Irving is still out here harping about his young teammates.
Kyrie Irving sits down to talk about the Celtics' "trying" season: "we have a bunch of young men in our locker room who feel they're capable of doing a lot more than they're doing." We also talked free agency, the LeBron phone call, & how anger can fester if you don't address it pic.twitter.com/VGNqkifWnk— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) February 20, 2019
Of course, while leadership may be cold across the league, here in Toronto we’re fortunate enough to have a guy in Kyle Lowry who may not be the vision of a conventional leader, but who leads by example, who lays it out there every damn night, does his utmost to make those around him better and whose goal on every play seems to be to put his teammates in a position to succeed. I also think the way Lowry has walked the fine line between supporting the team’s new vision and supporting his best friend DeRozan has been masterful.
Perhaps LeBron, KD, Davis, Irving and Butler could learn a thing or two about leadership from Kyle Lowry.