Raptors 83, Bucks 100 – Box
Two nights ago the Raptors won a close one in Minnesota. Last night they got blown out of the water in MIlwaukee. My reaction to both games was the same, and if yours is any different you should check yourself. These games mean nothing and most of the players suiting up are treating it as such. All we’ve learned from this season is that the Raptors can hang with the bad teams and lose to the better ones. And that was true before and after the trade. It’s the very definition of mediocrity, and the only exceptions are a win here and there against the Knicks or Clippers.

Milwaukee was in complete control from the first to the end of the third, which is when the lead was 25 points. The Raptor made the token garbage-time “run” to make it less humiliating. You can check the box score for the low-lights such as Rudy Gay’s 1-10 FG shooting performance, or you could take your pick from DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry etc. Even the lone bright spot of late, Jonas Valanciunas, suffered a poor game as the Bucks tested the Raptors to a man in transition and came out on top. Ironically enough, the team the Raptors were chasing for that final playoff spot clinched it right in front of their eyes in resounding fashion.

[Also read: Quick Reaction: Raptors 83 vs Bucks 100]

DeRozan found Ellis tougher than he had Ridnour the night before, and Gay stayed on the perimeter against Daniels, and never did assert himself. The third quarter surge that he’s come up with a couple times this year never materialized. Maybe his back is bothering him, and if so, shut him down because there’s zero reason he should be playing. The defense was non-existent, both in transition and in half-court. Effort was a major factor as is expected in a game as pointless as this. Maybe preventing Milwaukee from clinching a playoff spot might’ve been motivation, but that wasn’t clearly the case. The Bucks beat the Raptors in every single major statistical category here: rebounding, FG%, assists, turnovers, blocks, FTM…

Looking ahead to the off-season, and given the lack of flexibility on the roster (BTW, where’s the DeRozan’s worth $10M crowd?), I’m even pondering whether this is the year we do want that first round pick. It might be the only way we have a chance to add a quality player. Then again Bryan Colangelo was apparently in Italy scouting some people. Or looking for a job. Both are equally believable.

The Raptors strategy of building a team from other team’s rejected parts is backfiring fast, making the earlier strategy of playing out the season with Davis/Valanciunas/Ross/DeRozan and adding a piece or two in the off-season look rather attractive. The odds now are that the Raptors do a variant of one of the following:

  1. Stay the course and bring this team back to training camp. The same results will be repeated, as teams around the Raptors aren’t exactly going to take a major step back (maybe Boston or Philly, but Detroit will get better).
  2. Bargnani has zero trade value and we would have to trade an actual asset just to get rid of him (or amnesty him). The guy that Colangelo is likely to move in another gamble is DeRozan, and nobody would quite shed a tear, except that Terrence Ross’ terrible play has resulted with the Raptors having no insurance there. That won’t stop Colangelo to try to move DeRozan for someone that used to be something.
  3. Adding Carl Landry and selling him as the missing piece, while bring back Jose Calderon as an official backup. Or something.

Either way, the core of Gay and Lowry will return which means it’s those two guys that the Raptors are going to lean on to improve the current pathetic state of the club. I think Lowry can turn it around and become a productive member of this team. I’m not sold on Gay, this theory of him adding weight in the summer and returning next season as an All-Star type player is ridiculous (sorry, Leo).

I’m kind of sad there’s no draft to look forward to, because that’s sort of kept us going between April all the way to June.

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