Psychology and basketball go hand in hand like Freud and his theories about our mothers.

Dr. Jennifer Melfi taught me everything I know about psychology via her cross-legged conversations with Tony Soprano. Freud is king and his theories are gospel. Here are the cliff-notes: everything you do is to please your mother. Everything. It’s #Science.

Okay, I’m being a bit facetious. I did take some psychology courses in university and although I skipped/slept-through more than half the lectures, I studied enough psych to know that outside of post-Millgram social-psych and neuroscience (read: psychology studied as a science), everything else is mostly crap. That means that the forefathers of the field – Freud, Yung, Piaget and co – were mostly full of hot air and intricate hypothesis that simply served to justify their own personal insecurities.

But you know what’s not pure crap? The Kubler-Ross’ five stages of grief. Oh sure, the model has been debunk by numerous scholars, but think about the last time you’ve experienced a tragedy – did you experience denial? Anger? Bargaining? Depression? Acceptance? Probably, right? See? the crux of every good model is predicated on confirmation bias.

Anywho, the Raptors played last night and in the spirit of recapping last night’s loss, let’s diagnose last night’s tragedy through the frame of the five stages.

1. Denial

Flash back to the last play of the game. There’s 1.0 seconds left in overtime. Demar just tied the game at 102 apiece by splitting a pair of free-throws. McBob is in-bounding from the sideline and the only big on the floor happens to be the ground-bound Al Jefferson, meaning there’s only one option for the ‘Cats: fadeaway jumpshot from one of the wings.

The whistle didn’t blow. Patterson didn’t jump up and down, flailing his arms like a madman in an effort to cut off passing lanes. There’s wasn’t any weakside action from Henderson and he didn’t try to cut backdoor for an alley-oop. The play wasn’t totally obvious – a pin-down for Kemba. Jefferson didn’t sets a slightly illegal screen on Lowry and Kemba didn’t cut to the left side of the floor. With a mere second left on the clock, the Raptors didn’t switch and Jonas wasn’t tasked with guarding the speedy Walker and Jonas wasn’t a step too slow to react. Kemba didn’t catch the ball, turn, fade, and he certainly didn’t shoot a high-arcing jumper from 18 feet over the leaping wingspan of Valanciunas. The ball did not painfully arch over the height of the backboard, stopping for a second in mid-air before splashing into the basket, catching nothing but net.

The game was not over on that shot. Nope.

2. Anger

Okay, maybe all that did happen, but why did it happen? Why did it even get to that point? The Raptors were up 10 going into the half. How did they squander the lead?

AHA! It was that misguided coach! It was Dwane Casey! Lame ducks aren’t supposed to quack! Why doesn’t he have a playbook? Why did he let the Raptors descend into pure isolation plays for the entirety of the second half?! Why did he bench Jonas?!?! Why did he play so much of the two-PG lineups!?!?! FYI, Lowry/Vasquez is not Dragic/Bledsoe! Why did he give so many minutes to John effing Salmons!?!?!

I mean, look at this shot chart for the OT period. FYI: red means no!


And why did Derozan shoot so many damn times? 30 points on 26 shots? What was that about? Did the ghost of Rudy possess Demar (no, ghost Rudy was clearly haunting Baskets)? He was 3 for 9 in the fourth quarter and OT. ATTN: we have other options on offense!!!

And come on, only 24 and 22 minutes apiece for Ross and Valanciunas? What was that? I thought we’re tanking? Why not give these kids some time on the floor to try to work through their mistakes?????? Seriously, what the hell was going on in that second half?


3. Bargaining

Okay, Will, just breathe. Calm down. Calm down.

It was a pretty fun game. The view from the RR season seats were great. The game went into overtime on a clutch three by Lowry and the Raptors made a big comeback in OT to tie it. It wasn’t that bad, and hey, you have Kemba on your fantasy team. His 29/5/1/3 line is WHOA BOY! worthy.

And come on, the Bobcats are a top-10 defensive squad this season. I mean, you try to score on the likes of McRoberts and Jeff Adrien. That’s like going up against Hibbert and George! The Raptors were always going to struggle to score.

And hey, this gets the Raptors closer to Wiggins/Smart/Randle/Parker! If that’s not the silver lining in a gut-wrenching loss, what is? Cheer up, Amir! I know you’re working your butt off and you’re enjoying the best season of your career, but let’s just waste all that so we can catch a sniff at some more ping-pong balls! It’ll totally work out! Look at who we’ve drafted – Araujo, Bargnani, Graham, Ross – I mean how could you say no to THAT track record?

4. Depression

You know what? I just read through that list of names and I can’t do it anymore. This team is just awful. All of our hopes rests on the shoulders of a 21 year old big man with wonky defensive instincts and one post move. The only time we’re happy is when we get out from underneath a terrible contract that we put on ourselves (Bargnani, Gay, Turk). We have to force ourselves to love a player like Ross. I mean honestly, who had more skills in their second season: Sonny Weems or Terrence Ross?

And come on, it’s not like this is the calm before the storm or anything. There is no calm, there’s only ever storm with this team. If it’s not years of watching the aging husk of Jermaine O’Neal lumbering around, it’s cheering for Alan Anderson or Ben Uzoh. It’s seasons where Bargnani and Derozan are the only viable options on offense. It’s getting excited because some assistant coach brought a rock into the locker room. It’s getting excited that Hedo Turkoglu chose our crack-capital over beautiful Portlandia because his wife is “international”. It’s hoping so hard for Nash that we signed Fields to a ludicrous 3-year-18 million deal.

The boxscore said there were 15K+ in attendance last night, including myself, but I have to ask: why are we still here? Seriously, why? And why would you want a generational Canadian talent like Wiggins here? When was the last time we actually developed a draft pick? Bosh?


5. Acceptance

The Raptors suck. Teams that suck lose games. They’ve lost to the Bobcats twice this season. But hey, at least this guy doesn’t play here anymore:

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  • Bill

    Brilliant concept for this piece! Loved it!

    • DDayLewis

      Thanks. I wish I had cleaned up the sloppy grammar and stuff but deadlines are deadlines.

      • robertparrish00

        Red fine to me. ha ha

    • DC

      Agreed! I’m impressed.

  • Rick

    Man stop hating on derozan. Was anyone shooting any better? Was Ross stepping up. You guys just look at anything to blame guys. Bunch of fools. Screw tanking and all the dd haters!

    • leftovercrack

      There is a good chance we will tank whether we want to or not because we are a bad team that will lose a lot of games. Not hating on DD, he can score and seems like a good kid, but losing teams always have a high scorer because someone has to take the shots.

      • Rick

        If he tank because we are losing that’s different from intentionally trading away pieces too tank is my problem. #2 people keep saying dd is scoring because the team he’s on. Well news flash he’s scoring against other teams just like if other players were playing other teams. I just hate all the smack talk about players who care about the city and try to win and get better. All this tank talk. People think it’s easy too lose and end up with the too pick. As well I highly doubt wiggins will be number 1. Last of he wants to be a raptor then raptors should wait until he’s a free agent in his 4th year to sign him when he’s fully developed into a nba player. Because news flash for all these fans. He may not be consistent kinda like Ross. Have all the talent but gotta put in the work and get experience.

    • One relaxed player

      Heres what I think. It’s just fear evaluation. He’s good and he has improved but he’s not that good as many fans think he is. Same story is with Jonas whom PhD Steve called a franchise player in his todays’ podcast. Again, Jonas is good but not that good and DeMar is nowhere near being a star in this league. Face it.
      Having said that, I like the way he (DD) played post Rudy trade with good passing and creating for others. To me creating for others and involving other players means a lot. But the last game against Bobcats wasn’t good for him. 26 shots + 10 free throws for 30 points doesn’t fall in the terms of high efficiency. Everyone has bad nights, right?
      But here’s what I really wanna say: why is it that in the last few years every Raptors’ go to guy is being bashed? Bargnani, Gay, now DeRozan. It took less than a year for fans to start hating Gay. I think the answer is simple: none of these players suppose to be No. 1 option on the offense. Neither is Jonas, although I do believe that he is the most talented player in this roster. DeRozan doesn’t have leaders’ mentality, talent or the skill set to be No. 1 and that makes him a complimentary peace, not the main, center or core peace. Since he is a complimentary peace, you have to ask yourself is he really worth the current contract and the role that he is in as a Raptor? That’s why there are reports that Ujiri is trying to trade both Lowry and DeRozan. First it was Rudy because of his ridiculous contract and his performance as a Raptor. Now Ujiri created some additional space to showcase Lowry, DeRozan and the former Sacramento players. I would be happy with Lowry and DeMar staying in this team but at the same time I see what Ujiri is trying to do and I like it.

      • One relaxed player

        Darn it, I meant complementary… A player that is second or third in the team…

        • wha??

          You also meant piece.
          Peace out.

      • Rick

        I sorta agree with your post however, dd is a type of player that doesn’t come so often as well! He’s a hard worker that turns hardwork into skills! He’s young and who knows what the future holds for him as far as a leader. Yes I agree he’s not a leader now. Or may ever be. But I wouldn’t trade him for nothing. And I say nothing because the only way I trade a young talent like him is for an current Allstar and no team is gonna give that up! He loves this city and that’s hard to come by with a lot if players! Raptors fans got a big news flash when they draft a player this year if he’s a top pick. Why I say that is unless it’s wiggins that player is gonna leave after he’s eligible. So why not rile the dice with dd and jonas and whatever draft pick you get and see whom you could pry over in free agency while these guys develop! I hate tanking and will never be part of losing in purpose!

      • People didn’t bash Bargnani and Gay because they were unfairly put in bigger roles than they should have. They bashed them because they were flawed played who wasted the talent they had while making more money than they should have. And they often made the team worse by being on it.

        I don’t see the hate for DeRozan that you’re suggesting. People aren’t hating on DeRozan when they say he should be traded while his value is high. They aren’t hating on him for suggesting he’s not nearly as good as some fans seems to think. That’s not hating on a player. That’s voicing their opinion.

        No one is saying that DeRozan sucks or that he should be traded at all costs, as they were doing with Gay and Bargnani.

        Not thinking as highly of a player as another person is not hating on him. It’s also not bashing him.

        • One relaxed player

          Tim, you think that you oppose to my words but you basically said the same. The team expected them to be what they just simply couldn’t be. That’s why they are payed more than they deserve. If DeMar would be forced to carry the team long term this would happen again. The history would repeat itself. He’d also be a guy who was put in a bigger role and who would most likely fail as well. That’s the connection I’ve wanted to make.

          I’m not saying that he is bashed now (although it seems like that from what I’ve written). I meant that it may be DeMars’ turn to take that kind of attitude from fans since he’s the No. 1 guy in the team at this point. The more responsibility he gets the deeper problems will come out to the surface. My entire post was based on the thought that he’s not playing in the right role – lower expectations, smaller role would allow to get more efficient performance from DeMar. But it’s a bad situation to put yourself in again – he doesn’t have enough talent to live up to his contract, nor it’s logical to keep him under the smaller role.

          Finally, I’ve never said that you or anyone else are hating or bashing DeRozan. I’ve always been on “lets trade DeMar while his value is high” side. But all I see is fans either over hyping a player or being extremely negative about him. I just want to see a balanced, more rational approach for a change. Either we’re talking about that player as an important piece or we discuss possibilities to trade him away.

          • My point was there was very good reason to bash both Bargnani and Gay and demand they be traded for the good of the franchise. It had nothing to do with what role they were being pushed into and everything to do with who they were as players.

            And to your point that you’re saying he isn’t being bashed, this is exactly what you said:
            “why is it that in the last few years every Raptors’ go to guy is being bashed? Bargnani, Gay, now DeRozan.”

            I’m not sure how that can be misconstrued.

            • One relaxed player

              Dude, I admit that I wrote it wrong. “(although it seems like that from what I’ve written)” – I was admitting that DeMar is not bashed at this point, there’s no need to take the words so firm or take every word into account. I’m not trying to argue or to prove my point about the mentioned sentence, it looks like you don’t really care what I actually wrote, except for this bashing part. I’m just another guy expressing and sharing some thoughts with fellow fans. Seriously, I feel like I’m working and I’m resolving some sort of legal dispute here.

  • Adriiian

    Well written man. #4. Depression.
    So true. I’m sad not only because of this team, but just life in general. But this team really doesn’t help.

  • pran

    the only way that bargnani play could have been sweeter was if they lost the game with the bucks making a game winning 3 right after. Haha what excuse is it now pasta boy?

    • robertparrish00

      That shot of the bench immediately afterwards is incredible. What did he do to his eyebrows? Do the Knicks employ a waxer?

  • Andrey

    At least those last games were pretty sweet loool. But you know maybe it IS time for me to leave all of this behind. BLAZERS HERE I COME.(nah)

  • tonious35

    5 Stages to Cure Grief:
    1. Make another trade to rid more useless players with deficiencies (Fields)
    2. Fire Casey
    3. Use the 2014 1st Rd Pick to get a great player a la Paul George (succeeded because of good coaching and development, wants to learn and WIN)
    4. Use the 2014 2nd Round picks on sleepers that can contribute off the bat as well.
    5. Get a Coach that can call a damn time-out if momentum is getting swung when a lead is chipping from 16 to 9…

    • Rick

      Hey man I agree with anything that doesn’t involve dd being traded! I don’t care what they do as long as he ain’t traded! Bring back butch carter!

    • 1. What exactly would be the point of trading Fields? People keep talking about this, but I really don’t see the point. He’s not taking time away from anyone. He’s overpaid, but it’s not like it’s preventing the Raptors from doing anything. They will have plenty of cap room with or without his contract. He’s a smart player, a good defender and if he ever gets his shot back, he’s exactly the type of guy you always find on Championship teams. I’d rather have him on my bench that Patrick Patterson or John Salmons.

      3. Paul George didn’t succeed because of good coaching and development. He succeeded because he had possibly the highest ceiling of any player in his draft class. What made him drop was his high bust potential. Andre Drummond was the same.

      Unfortunately, you’re lucky to find even one of those types of guys late in the lottery, players who have all the tools, but haven’t been able to put them all together, yet. Once in a while you get a Paul George (but VERY rarely), other times you get a Charlie Villanueva.

      Coaching does help, but most of it is on the player.

      • tonious35

        By following 1), it might yield a player as good or better than Fields, and hope he can at least hit a 38% 3pt clip, then you will be finding out the reason of trading Fields. It is not a guarantee event that can happen, but I am sure you will be running around your neighbourhood naked in joy if MU pulls off a transaction that relieve us of an unfortunate “albatross contract” for a reserve player that can accomplish more things. 3) Though drafting is mostly based on luck and circumstances, a great NBA organization takes control of as many variables as they can to make the draft pick players unleash as much of their potential they have. Scouting and character assessment by a very good player evaluation committee with coaches is a good start. Management of the player environment to make sure your draft pick works his ass off and benefits a team system is good maintenance. Good coaching in games can make sure the draft player can experience and react well to success and failures in-game and be placed in the best situations to succeed. Circumstances that an NBA organization cannot control can be FREAK INJURIES/Illnesses, Family and personal situations that will motivate or demotivate a player.

        5) Coaching can help…. if you call a M$%^%$$ing time-out when you are losing a sizeable lead. I think chimps from the Toronto Zoo can notice something is up when a lead from 16 to 9 is being chipped away in less than 2 minutes and adjustments need to be made. Casey might need to put on some flippers and a bill to declare his job status.

        • 1. You’re not going to net a better player than Fields in a trade in a trade that features Fields. Because of his contract and broken shot, he’s got a negative value, which means the Raptors will either have to take back a worse contract, or a worse player, or both.

          The only reason to trade Fields is if his presence was detrimental to the team, somehow (it’s not) or if the Raptors were desperate for cap room (which they already have).

          3. Drafting good players has to do with good player evaluation. Finding a player like Paul George is lightening in a bottle. You have a better chance of tanking and ending up with the #1 pick than finding an elite player outside of the top 5.

          You can’t plan on finding an elite player outside of the top 5, and especially outside of the top 10, because no matter how good your scouting is, it’s incredibly unlikely to happen. Once high schoolers couldn’t jump to the NBA and international scouting improved to where it is, now, there aren’t Kobes, Dirks or Tony Parkers people haven’t fully scouted and overhyped.

          5. My reference to coaching was in the development of a player. No coach is going to turn Charlie Villaneuva into Paul George.

  • Dr. Scooby

    Ha, hahahaha, hahahaha hahah ahahhahahaha They Lost!!! hahahaha hahah

    6. Hysterical fatalism

  • Reed

    FUCK CASEY!! Seriously is there a worse NBA coach out there? Giving John Salmons more playing time than T ross or JVal. Why isn’t Masai giving him an earful and telling him to play JV and TRoss for 35+mins a game??

    • Rick

      I dunno what game you’re watching but Ross didn’t do anything! Inconsistent. But I agree with everything else. Salmons deserved too play! Flat out. Ross has to learn to play with consistency. That’s his problem! Casey should’ve burned more timeouts in that 3rd quarter to get fire under his guys for losing a 16pt lead!

      • OldSkoolCool

        Lol the point is that if we are going to lose anyways we might as well play the shit out of our young guys so they do develop. What the Raps are doing is losing and having their young guys on the bench….do you see what is wrong with that??

        How is Ross supposed to play with consistency if he isn’t even on the floor with consistency!!

  • steve fisher

    Anyone who really understands basketball must be evaluating TR on some very different criteria. Yes he is very athletic and shows periodic flashes of brilliance on offense. On defense he is often LOST regularly losing one of their best scorers scorers for easy open baskets. His plus minus is not good! He has a lot of work to do and a lot to LEARN . More importantly HE MUST put DEFENSE first and let the offense come to him.I can`t believe how many fans focus almost totally on offense. Unfortunately that DOES NOT win games.

  • Father Christmas

    In a week time Bargnani is coming to whip your a@@ William Lou…

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  • Delabar’s Weighted Balls

    Umm, who’s Yung? If you’re talking about Jung, he was a pretty smart guy

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