Raptors’ Season Implodes On The Road
The Toronto Raptors faced a tough schedule to start the season and suffered through some heartbreaking losses in games they believe should have won. However, until last night in Utah, the Raptors were trying to execute head coach Dwane Casey’s game plan and the locker room seemed solid in the face of adversity.
For the first time the Raptors as a group were totally out-of-sync and confused about their assignments. They stopped trying at various points during the game and blamed each other for the disaster unfolding on the court. The team meeting after the brutal 131-99 loss to the Jazz speaks volumes about the challenges the Raptors are facing.
“We gave in,” Casey told the media after the game. “I thought we splintered apart, didn’t stay together. … Tonight is the first time I have seen us give in to whatever it was. That is what we talked about in the team meeting.”
For a team with playoff aspirations at the start of the season, a 4-16 record has to be disheartening, but with back-to-back games against the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland Trail Blazers remaining on this road trip and another 60 games after that, the players have to find away to pull themselves back together.
“Everybody said what they had to say and we just have to realize that it is time to step up,” DeMar DeRozan said. “From myself to the last guy on the team, everybody has to step up and play with pride.”
“Hopefully that is the start of togetherness,” Casey said. “Again, talk is cheap. We have to get back to the fundamentals of basketball. Whether it’s guarding the ball, rebounding or transition, everything was exposed tonight from a team level. We got everything hopefully out in the open and it is going to stay in the family, but again, everything was exposed, not only defensively, but offensively.”
The Raptors have new corporate ownership this season involving Canada’s biggest sports media outlets and during an NHL lockout that has sidelined the group’s storied Toronto Maple Leafs franchise, the Raptors had the stage to themselves. This is not the way the team envisioned impressing their new bosses.
“You get down by that many points and it was a pickup rec game more than anything else at the end, but that is not who we are, who we represent,” Casey said. “With our organization we have one of the best ownership groups in the NBA and we are going to represent them the right way and that is not how you represent them.”
That type of performance after an unacceptable start to the season almost certainly suggests changes are coming to the Toronto franchise. However, the only change Casey can offer is one he was suggesting before the season started. It’s time to stop playing virtually every player on the roster in every game and find a rotation that can win a few more games.
“We are going to get it fixed, whatever it takes,” Casey said. “Whatever seven or eight guys we have to find to get it done, will get it done.”
Get ready for the rumor mill in Toronto to begin to go into overdrive. Trade rumors involving Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon were already in full swing, but no player on the Raptors roster should feel secure under these circumstances. The lack of success of Bryan Colangelo’s many moves since he arrived in Toronto are sure to be scrutinized again with the full benefit of hindsight applied and fairly or unfairly, even Casey’s coaching ability will be questioned. The smoke in Toronto may be mostly media generated for now, but it is getting hard to imagine that at least one major move will not be consummated in the near future.