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Toronto Temperature: A middling week leaves the Raps looking for resolutions

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After going 2-2, what will 2020 hold for the Raptors?

Toronto Raptors vs Cleveland Cavaliers
Patrick McCaw and OG Anunoby are trending in different directions.
Rick Madonik/Toronto Star via Getty Images

All right, I’m hungover, you’re hungover and you probably have memories of the fresh hell that is watching the Cleveland Cavaliers play basketball, so let’s start 2020 off on gentle footing for the sake of our blaring brains and heavy eyelids. To facilitate the decade transition, let’s posit what some of the Raptors new year’s resolutions might be, shall we?

Who’s Hot

Patrick McCaw, More This/Less That

Raptors fans were treated to the full Patrick McCaw experience this week and then some. The plethora of injuries to this Raptors squad has given Nick Nurse the excuse he’s been looking for to insert McCaw into the starting lineup and it has lead, predictably, to an incredibly unpredictable ride. After ghosting his way to a team worst -22 on Christmas Day against the Celtics, McCaw responded with a career high 43 minutes, 18 point, 8 assist and 7 rebound effort that can easily be marked as the best game of his short championship laden time in the NBA. Naturally, McCaw was a team worst in the plus/minus category against the Thunder in the following game and posted a solid-ish game against the Cavs (but who doesn’t).

So what might Pat McCaw’s new year’s resolution look like? With Nick Nurse playing McCaw as the lead point guard in the offense (a performance that Kyle Lowry has lauded McCaw for), a perfect resolution would be to dedicate himself to the film room and soak up as much pick and roll knowledge as he possibly can. McCaw has acquitted himself admirably thus far, but he’s young and still extremely green when it comes to running an offense. Film will help lead to positive reps which will be the key in keeping McCaw on the floor.

Oshae Brissett, Rookie Mentality

Seriously, before we get into anything about how Oshae, can we all give it up one time for Masai Ujiri, Bobby Webster and the Toronto Raptors scouting and development departments? How this organization continually finds these diamonds in the rough and develops them into serviceable and sometimes more than serviceable NBA players is astounding.

With the Raptors beginning to leak oil (shoutout to Jack Armstrong) in a game against the Celtics that they never trailed in, local genius Nicholas Nurse decided, “hey, you know what, let’s play Oshae Brisset big minutes tonight”.

Did Brissett respond? You bet your ass he did. Oshae checked into the game and picked up a classic “I have too much energy right now” foul before settling into the role of outworking every single player on the floor regardless of uniform. Most notably, Brissett provided the solitary thing that the Raptors desperately needed: rebounding and hustle plays. If Brissett wasn’t working himself into position for an offensive rebound, then he was flailing his body wildly in order to secure a tap on the ball and see where the hell we all go from there.

Once again, core rotation players will begin to filter back into Nurse’s lineup, but there are minutes to be had for hardworking, NBA ready players on this roster. Oshae’s resolution should be continue to exist as if he is owed nothing but deserves the world.

Who’s Not

OG Anunoby, Turn Back the Clock

The year is 2019 and Raptors fans are mourning the loss of Kawhi Leonard in whatever shape or form that they decided to do that. The month is November and Raptors fans are all, “Kawhi who?”

Sadly, the month turned to December and OG has looked as far away from his November self as possible. His defensive slippage can be directly attributed to Marc Gasol’s injury forcing him to play a safer, more conventional role that doesn’t highlight his best defensive tendencies. Anunoby’s offensive slippage can be attributed to the Raptors trotting out less viable threats, which means more focus on him but it does not excuse OG’s regression to apparently not knowing what to do with the ball when he drives. Anunoby has looked lost when he drives the paint and hesitant when he catches it outside of it — a terrible combination that he must shake if he has hopes of regaining a starting spot on the roster.

OG’s resolution? Do whatever it takes to rediscover his November form. Watch film. Superstitiously eat at the same restaurant he ate at when he had good nights. Bring Marc Gasol hot water bottles for his hammys. Do what you must!

Tony Brothers, Retire

If you’re new to watching the Toronto Raptors on the heels of the absolutely incredible championship run, congratulations, you’ve now been initiated into true Raptors fandom after watching Raptors vs. Celtics in the post-Christmas game!

Raptors fans have been known to suffer from some pretty deep paranoia when it comes to officiating. Cries of collusion and tampering and “they don’t want us to succeed” for x reason can often be chalked up to any number of legitimate reasons for calls going against your team. Can the same be said about Raptors games refereed by Tony Brothers? Hell no! Walk away, Tony! Stop single-handedly trying to bury our Toronto Raptors and retire already!

Farewell

David Stern, Legend

With news breaking that David Stern has passed away, let’s all take a minute to appreciate his comedic genius while remembering that the NBA would not be a modicum of the amount of incredible it is today if it weren’t for Stern.