This is probably the worst place to say it, but whatever: people need to calm down about last night’s loss to the Bobcats.
Yes, it was bad. Very bad. I produce a web show where two of the hosts recently called the Bobs the worst NBA team ever. Getting D.J. Augustin back makes them a bit better than they’ve been for most of their 16-game losing streak, but the Raptors still lost to an inferior team. They lost while playing fairly uninspired basketball — Dwane Casey said he was disappointed and said they “came out flat.” But let’s not freak out. Let’s not use words like “disgusted” or “embarrassed” or say that the players don’t care.
They do care. They just played down to their competition, as much as a team like this one can “play down” to anyone. It happens. A month ago, the Thunder lost to the Wizards. I’d say there’s a bigger talent disparity there. The Heat have lost to the Bucks twice and the Bulls have looked terrible against second-tier Eastern Conference playoff teams on a couple of nights. Some games, you just don’t have it. This is true every season. It’s doubly true with this compressed schedule.
I get that rebuilding is tough. For fans, players, GM’s. You want instant gratification, you want exciting games every night, you want the games to matter. But for fans, it should be easier to take a step back. Your job isn’t on the line. You probably predicted they’d finish near the bottom of the conference. You should be able to see the big picture. This season is important in terms of development and establishing good habits, but no single game should get you too riled up. I’d say this even if Andrea Bargnani wasn’t hurt.
With him hurt, fan expectations should be low. They should be losing-to-the-Bobcats-isn’t-shocking low. In the locker room, they’re understandably higher. Casey wants wins not because he hates lottery balls but because he wants to keep his players fighting, motivated. He needs them to feel they can win every single game. They need to be working, improving, growing. The most challenging part of coaching a rebuilding team is to stop them from getting discouraged during a losing streak. He’s said he’s not happy and they need to play with more urgency. The Raptors didn’t get their day off today and that should be enough. Stop getting all dramatic. Go watch Jonas Valanciunas highlights or something.