Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Raptor Roller Coaster Ride

With nine games remaining in the regular season and the Raptors hanging onto the final playoff spot in the East by a thread, no one has any idea which direction this team will go in the immediate future.

Judging by the most recent post game interviews, the coach appears to be lost, the prized offseason addition is openly mocking the local media and the franchise forward is locked into 'don't go and get yourself hurt this close to free agency' mode (11 attempted free throws total for Mr.Bosh in his last three games). Not exactly a recipe for success.

A first round playoff sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Lebrons seems to be the most likely conclusion to this season, but the sixth and seventh seeds aren't totally out of the picture and neither is a ninth place finish that would leave the Raptors on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. All options are on the table.

As I noted in yesterday's Thought of the Day, this club had 'Dead Team Walking' stamped on them after they blew a 17 point second-half lead in Miami on Sunday night, allowing Chicago to close to within a half game of eighth place. Yet somehow the Raptors pulled together against a decent Bobcats team one night later and proved again that they are equally capable of rising or sinking to the level of their competition.

The best comparison is that this team plays like Marco Belinelli. Sometimes they're great, sometimes they're awful and sometimes they don't show up at all. You honestly never know what you're going to get.

We have seen, at times, what this roster is capable of when they truly compete. The Raps beat the Lakers at home and then narrowly lost to them in Los Angeles and have also gone 1-2 against Cleveland including an overtime loss. They've given the two best teams in the league all they could handle and held their own. But Toronto followed the last-second loss to Kobe in L.A. with two horrific performances in Sacramento and Golden State (a combined record of 45-103) and have collectively looked disinterested for the better part of six weeks.

And that's what has been most frustrating. It's not the losses, we as fans have been through that many, many times before with this team and continued to come back. It's the streakiness and lack of consistent effort that has fans tuning this particular edition of the Raptors out.

How can they go from looking so good to so bad so quickly? And vice versa?

Yup, Raptor fans have seen it all this year. From the .500 start that was encouraging based on all the new pieces, to the death spiral that left them at 11-17 in mid-December, to the inspiring surge in the new year that pushed Toronto to 5th place in the East, and finally the recent 4-13 stretch that included five 20-point blowout losses and another four defeats by 11+ points.

It's been a very bumpy ride that hasn't had ups and downs as much as mountains and valleys... and it's not quite over yet.


  1. Good point about Bosh and not wanting to get hurt, I had not made that connection. The decision of whether or not to offer Bosh the max is really a tough one with good arguments on both sides.

  2. If the Raps want to remain competitive in the short-term they need Bosh to stay. However, after watching him for seven seasons I think we can safely say he will never be the #1 man on a championship team. If he stays here he will get the max and that means Toronto will never truly compete for a championship in his time. The flip side is that the short-term future won't be pretty, but I personally would like a higher ceiling than a first round playoff exit.

  3. So you wouldn't re-sign him? I kind of think that it is the right (and ballsy) move, but I'm not sure MLSE/BC want to go down that long term road. I'm not sure I want to go down that equally uncertain road either.