The Fake Raptors blowing out the Lakers reminded me of the Real Raptors. You know, how we were mired in mini losing streaks and when we finally won it was by 39 points. And you thought, “There, that’s the real Raptors” and just as soon as you finished the sentence we lose to the Clippers at home. It was almost like we needed to be up by 25 for us to have a chance to win because asking this team to fight and claw their way to a win in the fourth quarter was too much to ask.
We didn’t win nearly enough “grit games” in the regular season to prepare us for the intensity of the playoffs. That’s whw we couldn’t win Games 2 and 4 – they came down to the wire and we folded like a cheap deck of cards. The team wasn’t mentally or emotionally experienced or prepared to handle situations like those – close, tense encounters that value possessions and force you to be disciplined in everything you do on both ends of the floor.
In baseball they talk about one-run games and how great an indication that is of how good your bullpen, fielding and pitching is. In much the same way your record in close NBA games tells you what a team is capapble of when push comes to shove and you have to go that extra yard and execute that one crucial play down the stretch. I’m hoping that the addition of Jermaine O’Neal will, more than anything, add an extra offensive option that will allow us to get good looks when it really matters – with 3 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. The PNR and Bosh Post-Ups become awfully predictable when you’re running them all game long and that’s why they hardly fool anyone in the fourth. A bit of offensive creativity is what could put this team over the hump of mediocrity which is so rampant in the East.
The lack of fast break points was another annoying factor last year. You would’ve though that with two very good PGs and the likes of Parker, Moon and Bosh we’d be pushing a slight bit more and putting Kapono in the corner for the kick-out three on the break. It’s unforunate that if anything, next year we’ll be even more of a half-court team and won’t look to get easy baskets. The addition of O’Neal and the subtraction of Ford means our half-court needs to be damn efficient because we won’t be getting much on the break.