This weekend the NBA Playoffs tip-off, and for the first time in forever the Raptors will be participating. The club has put together what has arguably been their best regular ever, notching a franchise-best 48 wins (and counting) and securing the third seed in the East for only the second time in team history. As good as their regular season has been, however, the club does not look ready for what awaits them in the postseason.

The Raps have been in a noticeable funk for weeks now. Despite maintaining an impressive winning percentage since the All-Star break – 20-9, .690 – the team has struggled to maintain the defensive bona fides that defined them during their mid-season turnaround (their defensive rating has fallen to 9th on the season and has ranked 16th since March 1st). The focus and intensity that was once a game-to-game staple has become a wavering distinction that has driven Dwane Casey to burn timeouts like they were incriminating photographs. The club is allowing teams to shoot 46% from the floor since the break, and a scorching 48.8% in the first quarter of games. They either spot opposing teams big leads to start games or get big leads themselves and squander them shortly thereafter. Consistency has been lacking, and it’s because of their fall-off at the defensive end.

So, how has the club kept winning during this downturn? Their offence has caught fire. Since the All-Star break they’ve ranked fifth in the NBA in offensive efficiency (108.8 points per 100 possessions), largely on the back of the team taking fewer shots per game but hitting those shots at a higher percentage. They’ve also been assisting more without adding turnovers and have been hitting threes at a higher-that-normal rate (DeMar DeRozan’s and Greivis Vasquez’s inflated April numbers have certainly helped with that last part).

In the Playoffs, though, you’d much rather be going in with killer defence than killer offence. Defence is habit and it’s repeatable. Offence comes and goes, and when opposing teams can really scout a club to take away their tendencies, those sky-high percentages can quickly fall back down to earth. Remember that Washington and Brooklyn are both top-15 teams in terms of defensive rating since the All-Star break, with Washington (Toronto’s likely opponent) sitting pretty at eight. The Raptors have veered away from what made them successful for the bulk of the season and that could work to undermine all of the good that it took to get them to this point heading into the weekend.

Most frustratingly, however, is the fact that all of this is totally understandable and perhaps should have even been expected in spite of the stellar December-through-February output that put the team just below the elite of the Eastern Conference.

The Raptors are not a typical third seed. They are a young, inexperienced team that earned their distinction as much by luck (in the form of a terrible Eastern Conference) as by merit. This is a team still trying to find its identity, still struggling to understand how to execute consistently over the course of an 82-game season and, considering how new expectations are for a team like this, those struggles are totally appropriate.

The problem is, in a way, us. We see a third seed that played so well for a good chunk of the season, that crawled into the top-ten in defensive and offensive efficiency, and we expect more. We expect the Raptors to perform more like a club that’s been here before, more like a club that understands the gruelling path that a winning team faces and how to manage it for an entire season. In an analytic-driven media landscape, the numbers suggest that the Raptors have perhaps leapt a step further than they actually have. This is an exceedingly young team. They are starting two second-year players and two veterans that have zero Playoff experience (heck, they have zero experience playing heavy minutes for a club over .500).

Even Kyle Lowry, Toronto’s spirit animal out on the court, has only played in thirteen postseason games and started exactly none of them. Considering all of this, why should the Raptors know how to prepare themselves for what is about to come? How are they supposed to be ready for a situation that is unlike anything they’ve experienced in their professional careers?

Look, no one should be happy about the fact that this team barely limped to victory against Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Detroit, nor should anyone be impressed by their desultory loss to New York. The last week has been a fitting conclusion to a weeks-long span that saw the Raptors, as we thought we knew them, crumble under the weight of expectations, precious little rest despite logging a loooooooot of on-court minutes.

Nonetheless, the club did come out the other end with the best record in team history. They also look ready to at least make some noise against their still-unknown first round opponent, even if a first round victory doesn’t seem as inevitable as it did a few weeks ago. This season has always been about laying the foundation for the future, and in that way this stretch of mediocrity might be the best thing to happen to the club since they jettisoned Rudy Gay back in December.

You don’t have to look too far back to remember the club’s first full season under Bryan Colangelo, another regular season that was capped with an unexpected Atlantic Division banner. Colangleo, believing that his team was far further ahead in their development than they were, doubled-down on his current roster in the summer and watched the whole thing implode within eighteen months.

Masai Ujiri, on the other hand, has had a weeks-long look at exactly how far this team really is from where they want to be. This recent slide represents ammunition for Toronto’s high-priced GM when he hits the open market this summer. This team still needs a lot of work to be able to consistently be the kind of club that they need to be. They need players who can reliably execute Casey’s defensive game plans. They need more players who can create offence for themselves and others. They need a squad that can hold onto leads and exert their will on opposing teams better than this current assemblage has been able to manage.

To get there Ujiri cannot be precious about the assets that he has in his arsenal. Whether we’re talking about draft picks, cap space or popular current players, everything has to be on the table to help this team take the next step next season. Remember, 48-plus wins is now the benchmark. Simply nipping and tucking around the edges isn’t enough for this Raptors club to improve upon that mark. They are good, but they aren’t great, and as Jack Armstrong repeated – ad nauseam – during Toronto’s loss to New York, good is the enemy of great. Ujiri and the Raptors cannot be satisfied with good. They cannot look at what has happened this season and think that they’ve achieved anything. They capitalized in a season when the East was particularly bad and while that demonstrated a certain level of capability, that demonstration should serve as nothing more than a springboard. It’s a starting point, a way of saying that there are the seeds of something potentially great, but there is a lot of work left to be done before the team gets to where it wants to me.

So, as frustrating as it can be to watch the defence fail to get back in transition or to watch DeMar DeRozan disappear for long stretches or to watch the team struggle against the NBA’s bottom-feeders, think of it as a crucial step for the team’s development. Even if the team looks less ready today to tackle the postseason than they looked back in January, it’s all a part of a bigger process. Think of it as a defence against anyone within the organization thinking that they are any further ahead as a team than they actually are. It’s a little pain now that, hopefully, prevents the team from self-inflicting more pain later. It’s a desperately needed reminder that a third-seed earning, Atlantic Division-winning season doesn’t mean anything on it’s own – it just represents the first steps on a long journey to take this team where Ujiri and Tim Leiweke want it to go.

And that’s a good thing, because if the Raptors want to get out of their cycle of mediocrity, they have to stop overvaluing the meaning of any single season and keep a keen eye on the many seasons it’s going to take to achieve their goals.

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  • Antoine Rose

    is this a joke?

  • Quest

    pretty darn pessimistic…

    • thead

      I’d say it’s pretty realistic.

      • D Smith

        Ignoring the 6-22 start with Rudy the Raptors are even with Miami (.667 WP)

        • D Smith

          Ooops s/b 6-12

        • DanH

          Ignoring the hardest part of the Raps’ schedule is a bad idea, no matter when trades happened.

      • CJT

        Pessimists always think their view is realistic. At least optimists understand that they are optimists.

        • FLUXLAND

          And that’s all they understand. Well, that and denial. Reality be damned, we got optimism. Raptor optimists are like Neville Chamberlain – blind.

          • CJT

            That goes both ways. Negativity is all that you and the pessimists understand. Like saying Demar has had more games in the teens etc. Which is not accurate btw.

          • Rapchat

            -which isn’t saying much, as the Raptor “optimists” have been right ALL YEAR.

            • Rapchat

              Optimists thought we could make the playoffs, despite the “reality checkers”- check. Optimists thought we could get 50 wins, despite “reality checkers”- Oh so close. Optimists thought we would hang on to the 3rd seed, despite “reality checkers- we are 3rd seed with one game left. Almost there. So who is blind?

              • FLUXLAND

                You are looking at stats and rankings.. you are not watching the games or understanding what is going on. If by right you mean delusional, you have been spot on.

                Easiest schedule in the L since January – check.
                Completely falling apart defensively despite winning games – check.
                No legit takeovergame player – check.
                No advantage in any matchup – check.
                Playing sloppy and giving up leads – check.
                Getting destroyed in the paint on both ends – check.
                Mediocre rebounding team – check.

                etc etc etc…

                But you can’t see that because you are blinded by almost 50 wins and 3rd seed.

                • Rapchat

                  So those aren’t stats and rankings you just posted? HAHAHA Fool, fool, fool. You said all the SAME things would amount to the Raps not being where they currently are, and yet they have over come your stupid predictions EVERY TIME. You have eaten your own crap time and time again. Further more, I never said they didn’t have issues, as you and this idiotic article point out, only that we’ve been able to WIN thus far WITH those issues.

                • Abused Raptors Fan

                  Where are you getting your stats from?! The Raptors are 16 – 25 vs +.500 teams this year, not 6-25. You are correct about the other two unfortunately lol

      • Rapchat

        Its also realistic that your wife will be fat after a couple kids, but you don’t need to tell her that on the wedding night.

  • De Colo

    Well at least you’re looking on the bright side, thanks for writing the Raptors off before the playoffs even start, good writing.

    • ED32

      I don’t think he’s writing the Raptors off. I think he’s just not looking through the same rose-coloured glasses everyone else is. Sure Tim seems to consistently be pessimistic of the Raptors, but I have no problem with what he’s getting at here. Nowhere did he write the Raptors off, to me he’s simply saying they have an awfully long way to go before they can be considered a contender.

      • De Colo

        That’s fine but the Pacers and Heat have been struggling too, atleast the Raptors have been winning games, and Tim’s antics are getting a bit old

        • morgan c

          First of all, you are surely talking about Tim W, and not this Tim. Secondly, comparing the Raps to the Heat (and Pacers) is laughable. A young and inexperienced team slipping is not the same as a 2 time defending champion resting all their guys slipping.

          • CJT

            Sorry how many of the Pacers have been resting exactly?

            • Ian Reynolds

              you realize that their entire starting 5 was rested a couple nights ago, right? or that 3 of them are sitting again tonight?

              • CJT

                They weren’t being rested during their losing streak. Now that they have clinched is irrelevant

                • Ian Reynolds

                  you didn’t say “how many of the pacers have been resting during their losing slide exactly.”

    • asifyouknow

      The article deserves the DD award: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctM3U1SOVQg

  • Haim not Feldman

    A very thorough analysis with great insight. We’re all happy as Raps fans at the unexpected success this season, but a big picture analysis like this is needed to temper over-enthusiasm and possible delusion leading to mistakes. See Colangelo.

    • ED32

      I would agree. It would appear to me that Ujiri is one to take his time and really put a lot of thought into his decisions. Seeing him in interviews, he seems to be a very realistic person who is appreciative for his opportunities. I feel (read: hope) that Ujiri will be much more realistic in assessing what he can do to help this club take the next step than Colangelo was.

      • Haim not Feldman

        Word up. I think we’re fortunate as Raps fans to enjoy success now and look forward to possible sustained success in the future. Well back to work, peace out Rap perps and fans.

    • GetLicks

      Ugh. This is nothing like the Colangelo years, or the Bosh teams. Raptor fans be bitter and insecure!

      • Haim not Feldman

        Cue Linkin Park “in the End” or Green Day “Waiting”

        It ain’t like that. Just bracing myself for the eventual big letdown/heartbreaking elimination, jk. But seriously, whether the Raps keep sucking (doubt it) or win championships, it’s just entertainment, life goes on

    • Huachinango

      When did The Raptors clinch the third seed? Is this the type of insight you apply to the rest of your analysis?

      • Haim not Feldman

        They didn’t as of today 4/15/14 8:40 pm PST. You’ll have to ask Tim C. why he wrote it, but despite that, great read. Off topic, but yes, I pay attention to slightest details and have to do thorough analysis.

        • Haim not Feldman

          D’oh! Forgot we sprung forward. Make that PDT.

        • Jerry Garcia

          That threw me off a little too….Great read….we ALL know that solid defense is required going forward….enjoy the show……and does the shirt only come in red?
          .

          • Haim not Feldman

            Thanks Jerry. Love your work and other SF Bay Area bands, but….I think you have me confused with the writer Tim Chisholm, he actually wrote it and works for RR.

        • Ghotte

          The Nets dropped another game to the Knicks and appear to be doing nothing more than resting/limiting minutes for the playoff push. In my opinion, they want to avoid the Bulls as much as possible.

          Wondering what our coaching staff think heading into this last game: Do you go out and try to win against a Melo-less Knicks or go for a win and solidify your 3rd seed (regardless of upcoming opponent?)

          • Haim not Feldman

            Whatever they decide, the Raps will distinguish themselves honorably and turn this mutha out throughout the playoffs. Go Raps Go!

    • Tinman

      Agree – but there is more hope than I can ever remember. Things didn’t go as planned. We have actually had the luxury of allowing two sophomores develop their games while winning.
      Making the playoffs is great. Hope we make some noise. But it’s next year where I’m hoping we make some big noise.

      • Haim not Feldman

        *raise the roof* Yes indeed! Let’s all enjoy every moment of this fantastic season and hope for even better seasons to follow, provided the suits know what they’re doing.

    • Pedro-

      Please explain to me how your alleged ‘over enthusiasm’ and ‘delusion’ coming from fans would lead to mistakes by the team? Where is the link?

      • Haim not Feldman

        No link, this is coming from the article. It’s not Rap fans I was referring to regarding over-enthusiasm and delusion but to the front office. Props to Colangelo for some of the good he accomplished (his fingerprints are on this team) but again referring to the article, I think he overplayed his hand after 2007. Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying this fantastic season but have an eye towards the future and hope that the guys who get paid within the organization will make the right decisions for the future. Let’s build upon what was started this season, whether this is a season of destiny or a season engineered by a shrewd, calculating front office.

  • Emaad Qureshi

    as David Aldridge says (and I’m paraphrasing): A dip in offensive /defensive efficiency for a playoff team in end-of-March/April should be taken with “a grain of salt”

    The team is resting, comfortable – but we know the Raptors always play to the competition’s level (for better or for worse). They’ll be fine and back at it in the playoffs, just like they were from December-March.

    • Minks77

      playing down to your opponent this consistently is a bad omen.

      • Ghotte

        … And means absolutely squat.

        When the playoffs arrive their opponent will try to shut down either DD or Lowry or both and force the team to make necessary adjustments to secure a win. That is playoff ball.

        Teams with good habits are less affected by those tactics. The Raps have shown themselves able to win in different ways and situations – which will benefit them come playoff time.

        • Minks77

          You’re right about teams with good habits. Playing down to your opponent is a BAD habit. Raps have shown to be resilient all year but their bad habit of letting teams off the ropes isn’t gonna cut it come Saturday.

          • Rapchat

            Playing down IS a bad habit, but its a moot point. There is no one to play down to in the playoffs. More so, the Raps have played UP to the best teams all year, why not focus on why THAT is? It would seem to make more sense given the fact that those are the teams we’ll be facing.

            • Minks77

              It’s not a moot point at all. To borrow a quote from Manu: “You can’t just sit for a week and then go into Sunday and expect to be ready”.

              The Raps have been sitting back on defence for 6 weeks. You really think they are gonna come out and be their lock down February selves? I mean it’s possible but I’d feel a whole lot better about their chances if they hadn’t peaked defensively more than a month ago.

              Also, every bad team gets up for big games. Good teams are consistent, they don’t just rely on snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Raps have had a nice easy schedule to end the season and have a great record over that time. It doesn’t mean they are playing their best basketball.

              • Rapchat

                It doesn’t, and I’d feel better too if the d was super tight. But the same could be said for most teams going into the playoffs. Which good team has been consistent of late? Not many. Another reason why I feel its a moot point. The playoffs will breed an entirely new game from every single team, based on the match ups. No matter how any team has played till now, adjustments are going to have to be made all around for their respective opponents. Success on those adjustments will mean success in the series. We will know then. For now, despite the lax d over the last month or so, given the team was in need of rest, as well as the plethora of positives that have come out of that bad d stretch, as the article points out, I’m not worried. One of this teams best traits it seems is to adapt in any given situation to WIN. That is a HUGE plus for this team going into the playoffs where that skill is going to be LARGELY needed. I guess it took a defensive slump to really make that point shine?

                • Minks77

                  You’re totally right about this squad being very adaptable and resilient

                • stretch bigman

                  He’s not talking about other teams. He was talking about the Raptors.

                • Rapchat

                  Yeah, and so was I.

  • golden

    “And that’s a good thing, because if the Raptors want to get out of their cycle of mediocrity, they have to stop overvaluing the meaning of any single season and keep a keen eye on the many seasons it’s going to take to achieve their goals.”
    ====================

    *groan*. Not this doom and gloom, this season-means-nothing crapola, yet again. I thought this died a slow death, months ago. I hope that people understand that the Raptors have not been in cycle of mediocrity… and haven’t been anywhere close to mediocre for years, sadly. We’ve actually been closer to league laughingstocks. Big difference, I think. Raps are on the way up. And again, the answer is the same. Enjoy the season, get ready for the playoffs, stop trying to play wannabe GM and let Masai do his job, FFS.

  • thead

    I know we don’t want to hear anything negative about our raps going into the playoffs…but like has been said before…Atlanta with Horford out, Chicago with Rose healthy, and with Mil, Det, Cle, Philly etc…all in various stages of disarray, we should not be content with our standing. This team as a matter of evaluation and not results have the ceiling of a second round playoff team (my opinion and would LOVE to be proven wrong). So yeah be happy we are on the upswing…just don’t be content with our product as it wont hold up

    • De Colo

      The problem is Tim has never ever given them any credit, he wanted them to tank from the beginning of the year and when they started winning and didnt go directly into tank mode, all he did was find things to complain about, obviously this team can get better but a lot of teams this time of year are a little worse because of resting players and being tired of the regular season. There are glaring holes to fill and I’m sure Masai will try to fill the gaps in the team but for Christ sake, this second isn’t the time to worry about it.

      • acfaubs

        I don’t think he’s saying it’s time to worry about it. Just time to stay realistic and not get carried away. Our success this year has been amazing, exhilarating, and surprising, but we have to consider the bigger picture (this year’s Eastern Conference and the future of this core) before getting too excited. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the hell out of these Playoffs and hope for a surprising run.

        • Mike D

          Enough, Tim Chisholm, Enough! Enough of your complications and disappointments! Enough of your saber-rattling and sabermetrics! Enough is just enough. I don’t want to see another one of your depressing, under-reported statistics! Not even when the season is over! Never again! Enough!

          I know I should apologize to you for overdramatizing things here, (and let me state for the record that I believe you’ve done a great service to the fanbase with your writing/analysis this season overall), but if you can’t celebrate with us now, on the cusp of such a transcendent moment, in the aftermath of an unbelievable season-closing 20 – 9 run, with a 20 year period of futility behind us, and all of our former stars accumulating like specks of dust in the rearview,- then….I mean – fuckin’ forget it. This was a team that was designed to lose. A team that was supposed to produce its worst finish in franchise history. A team stacked with players that nobody wanted, with a coach many described as the mortician of “Tank Nation.” A team with a GM that wanted to lose so desperately he tried to trade its best player (Kyle Lowry) to a division rival for next to nothing in mid-season. A team that regularly shopped its blossoming young all-star (Demar Derozan) for mid-first round draft picks to anyone who would listen. A team that was willing to send its most highly respected commodity (Rudy Gay) packing for the likes of John Salmons and Patrick Patterson, so that it could do the “right thing” and lose.

          But instead, something else happened. We won with what we had. I don’t know how “We” did it…I don’t understand how “We” did it. All I do know is that “We” weren’t supposed to do it. I do know that the stats couldn’t predict it. I do know that they couldn’t predict “We”would respond with the best regular season in franchise history, even though every move “We” were making was designed to help “us” lose. And now – after 81 games this season – after 20 years of watching this team suffer, I think its fair to say it suddenly feels as if “We” have gone through something together. Maybe the reason is to win the NBA title, and maybe its just to be the “Kings of the North.” All I’m sure of is that win or lose, from here on out, we need to give these boys the send off they deserve. Amir and Kyle and Jonas…every last one of them. And if you can’t join them in that Tim, if you can’t join “Us”, then I feel a great sadness for you. So come celebrate. Or may ye forever hold your peace.

          • Rapchat

            Yeahhhhhhh!!!!… What he said…

      • GetLicks

        Tim Chisholm wrote this, not Tim W.

  • Raptors Argentina

    I LIKE. THE FEETS ON THE GROUND, WE HAVE TIME TO DREAM. GAME TO GAME, THE DEFENCE IS THE 100% OF THE GAME. GO RAPS!

    • Guest

      I wish this were on a t-shirt.

  • momo97

    we need to step up defensively come playoff time.. WE HAVE TO in order for us to advance to the next round. this team has been playing poorly defensively and it has shown. Casey needs to get them back on track after clinching the playoff spot we have been terrible on defense.

  • Pedro-

    My read of the sentiment in Raptorland is the total opposite of what the writer presented. In fact,

    • morgan c

      A fair opinion, but one in which I disagree with vehemently. In the US media, sure, people are not giving the Raptors the credit they deserve. But on this site? They have been getting props all year. Sportsnet.ca? National Post? Grante, Koreen, Kelly, etc. have been pumping these guys’ tires (rightfully) since the Gay trade.
      I think you are missing the point by saying this article is giving a “negative outlook.” It is precisely warning of the fallacy in what you point to in your last sentence – sitting back and enjoying the great achievement – because that has got our franchise nowhere in the past. That line of thinking and viewpoint make it more likely we will rest on our laurels and go back to the middling franchise we have been for our existence AS OPPOSED TO making some tough decisions / forward thinking moves that may be unpopular, but will give us a chance to win 50plus every year…
      There has been plenty of celebration amongst those of us in the know for our team this year. But I’d advise you to take a page out of the very book Amir, DD, and the team in general is preaching: we have done nothing yet. 48 wins in the NBA is above average. It’s not great. Winning in the playoffs consistently is great. We can have fun and enjoy the ride, and be positive, but a winning organization doesn’t celebrate before playoff success is achieved. That is the next step for this franchise, and one the author of this point rightly points to as what is needed.

      • Junior Qamar

        What makes u think this core of players cant b a 50 or 60 win team in the years to come. Everybody needs to stop thinking they are gms of the nba. Enjoy the team we got here in front of us. Enjoy it this season enjoy it next season and enjoy it for the rest of your life, thats what sports teams are for. Not to fret over things in the future that we cant even see coming.

      • IC

        Dude. I understand this line of reasoning but the fact is we are not a team like Miami or OKC or Spurs. We are a team that very rarely makes the playoffs. MAYBE this will change after this season and we will continue to improve. When we get to a place where the team is good enough to win consistently then we can get into these overly critical diatribes. For now realize that this team is good but not great and enjoy the ride. Everyone knows work is necessary down the road and it will come but Wtf if you can’t celebrate a rare achievement for one of the NBAs worst teams historically.

        • Kuba

          Thanks captain obvious for analyzing we atent like miami, okc or san antonio.

      • Pedro-

        I think you are confusing several issues:-

        1- is there a mentality of contentment at the raptors organization? (Whether it is the players, coaching staff or management?). Is there any indication that they are settling for what they have now ? not to my knowledge. It is the organization’s attitude and decisions that determine whether this promising growth will continue or not. Not the fan’s or analysts perception of the team. Hence, the above argument has no relevance.

        2-has this team achieved beyond expectation and does it appear on the right track? Most people agree so. So, what exactly is wrong in fans and the media acknowledging this success and giving credit where credit is due.

        3- it is one thing to identify areas that need improvement both in the long and short run (example improving defence). It is however a different matter to make gross statements like ‘the team is not ready’ Not ready for what? The whole article seems written with the sole purpose of being negative

      • Guest

        I think the premise of this argument ignores the reality of how teams are built and the tools available to GMs.

        Most NBA teams have differences year-to-year. Except for the Spurs and Heat, most teams undergo some form of change year-to-year in personnel. Even in the Heat’s case, it took dramatic change for a team that is in place for 3 or 4 years. They too will cease to exist.

        Winning 48 or 49 games this year does not stop us from winning 50 games any other year, save and except for our draft positioning, which is only a contingent change in future years.

        The concept of a “winning organization” is not damaged because we’ve won the Atlantic.

        • truth be told

          No, but it might be compromised by the current core of players and their abilities.

    • golden

      Oh and the Raptors are currently on a 8-2 run, and are supposedly playing below their capability? WTF? Are they supposed to be closing the season 20-0, before somebody doesn’t run around screaming that the sky is falling?

      Seriously, these wannabe armchair GM articles are becoming tiresome. If there was some magic formula for long term, sustainable franchise success, then everybody would be following it. I mean, who doesn’t want to be winning year after year.

      I guess, there must be some rule that says you can’t get excited about the Raptors until they have posted a decade of 55+ winning seasons and at least 6 conference finals and at least 3 championships.

      • Ian Reynolds

        I think the issue here is not that we’re “8-2 and that sucks!!!!!” but that as the season is winding down, we’ve played a lot of garbage opponents, and we haven’t really played that well. Defensively we’ve been a mess, and we’ve had too many of these games come down to the wire, or allowed huge comebacks when we were up by a bunch.
        Yes we’ve won, but they’ve not been the kind of games that a contender should probably want to win.

        Some may think it’s good that a team can weather a storm or a poor half and still win, while the other half may think it’s bad that a team can be up 23 against the Pistons or Bucks and barely escape with a victory.

        • Tee

          They won by 10 dude

          • Ian Reynolds

            and they were up by 22 at one point. which plays into the point of having too many big leads evaporate. i’m not even saying that i’m on the side of them playing poorly or i’m panicking. i’m merely pointing out why some people may think that.

            • Tee

              If you watch the NBA regularly you would understand that this happens to every team consistantly.

              • Ian Reynolds

                I do watch the NBA regularly. Thanks for debating semantics with me rather than focusing on the point I was trying to make, which is that there are allowed to be articles written with opposing viewpoints about the Raps’ performance lately.

        • IC

          They sat demar. They’ve missed lowry for multiple games. Amir….Patterson. ..and still winning. STOP CRYING.

          • Ian Reynolds

            where was i crying? i was merely presenting BOTH sides of the argument, and nowhere did i pick a side. christ.

        • Minks77

          Well said. I’m a huge homer but making excuses like missing double P or Amir or even Lowry is just that: making excuses. If you cannot recognize that the D has wavered and that they are relying more and more on being able to flip the proverbial switch then you are in for a rude awakening. You want to be playing your best ball going into the playoffs, not just fucking around and being sloppy because there will be no Bucks or Sixers come Saturday.

          I have faith they can win the first round but beyond that? Every mistake will catch up to you at some point.

        • Jake

          Chicago lost to ny and almost to detroit.

    • Eunys

      You right; Seat back and enjoy the playoffs. Tired of hearing the same things about defense ! The Raps have been the best in the Eastern Conference at 42-21 since
      starting the trade, (Miami is 40-23 and Indiana is 39-24 over that
      same stretch; and not counting really really closed games). These results are much more indicative of the three
      team’s current performance and abilities than anything they did in the
      first 18 games of the season. So please stop whining and enjoy the lol expensive MLSE playoffs.

  • GetLicks

    Damn.. I could have sworn the Bulls lost to the Knicks (who were playing for nothing, with no Melo or Chandler) and barely beat the Pistons in the last week as well. But nobody is concerned about their play or their defence heading into the playoffs.

    • afrocarter

      That’s partly because 1) they’ve been the playoffs plenty of times before, and 2) their defense hasn’t suffered. Neither of those can be said about the Raps.

      • GetLicks

        So giving up 100 points and losing to a team with nothing to play for, playing Hardaway Jr & Aldrich down the stretch isn’t suffering? How about the fact that the raptors have won 8 of their last 10, which is the same as the bulls? Sometimes it doesn’t matter how you play, but who wins the game that matters. Finding a way to win even when you don’t have your best is a valuable NBA skill last time I checked.

        • afrocarter

          I’m not disagreeing with you, just explaining why nobody is questioning the Bulls going into the post-season. Why would anybody question a veteran team that plays a defensive style that everybody is afraid of? Conversely: why would anybody NOT question a team that hasn’t been able to hold on to a double-digit lead all season? Just saying.

          • GetLicks

            Questioning a playoff team because of their lack of experience is much different than questioning a playoff team because of their play in March and April..games which they’ve won and beaten top teams by the way. No point in being nervous about playoffs, it’s a necessary hurdle these guys need to overcome to become a good team. ‘This team isn’t ready for the playoffs’… Tell me something I don’t know.

            • stretch bigman

              Had he of questioned the lack of experience (which he did) the response would be the same.

              Some homers don’t want to hear anything but what they want to hear. What’s great about life is there are different perspectives and opinions and being able to voice them is a great freedom to have.

  • afrocarter

    Great read, this is. Sobering without being pessimistic; critical, but in a constructive way. The Raps have been saying all the right things in the media, that they’re going to focus on fixing their mistakes, etc etc. Let’s see if they can walk the walk and play hard in the post-season regardless of who they end up facing.

  • morgan c

    Great article. And to all who will cry that this site doesn’t only turn out fluff pieces, go read the team website for all your news. Everything said here is entirely true, especially toward the end. We can’t look at this as a great season and double-down as BC did. This should be the starting point, not the random blip of success.

  • matthew nelson

    I chalk it up to a long season. They know they’re in and their youth allowed them to dial back the defensive intensity. The system is sound, the players buy in and they have both the basketball IQ and athleticism to be stifling.

    • Jerry Garcia

      No better use of the term stifling…..

  • Funk Master Fresh

    OK honestly people are looking WAY TO INTO THIS… “How are they supposed to be ready for a situation that is unlike anything they’ve experienced in their professional careers.” ,… Are you serious ? “Unlike anything they’ve experienced in their professional careers.” At the end of the day Basketball is Basketball. The competition may get tougher, yet the game remains the same

    • RobertArchibald

      Basketball is not just basketball. The mental aspects of the playoffs creates a totally different game, both on the court (tighter whistle, slower pace, ramped up defence) and in a player’s head. It’s a difficult topic to discuss because there is no way to measure pressure, intensity, nerves etc. The fact of the matter is that, for a lot of our players, this IS unlike anything they’ve ever experienced simply because they’ve never been to the playoffs. That doesn’t mean they will wilt under the pressure or play poorly, it just means that one can’t make an accurate assumption due to the lack of similar past experiences.

      • Mexiballer

        For sure. And add to all of that the spotlight of of National and International media and television coverage. Thats a lot of added pressure, especially for young guys. These are all things where guys like Chuck Hayes and Jon Salmons ( I hope ) can add some calm reason and stability when things start become intense. I think its good to have a coach like Casey too ( even though I know a lot of others would disagree) who has been there before and who will stay on message.

  • DryDry

    “securing the third seed in the East ”

    Uhhhhh, no.

    Not yet.

  • Anthony

    This is a frustrating piece. It correctly identifies the current and long-term issues of the basketball club. It also gives advice of what the GM should be looking at and addressing during the off-season.

    This piece fails because it doesn’t give any immediate fixes for the present situation. The title of the piece states that the Raptors don’t appear ready for the playoff. The writer refuses to address how they might fix these problems for the 2013-14 playoffs, rather simply stating that the long term plan is more important and advising fans not to fall in love with this team in the playoffs. The title of the piece begs for in-depth analysis of the current 13-14 team and how they can fix their flaws for their first round opponent. This is missing. It badly hinders a very good piece of writing.

    The piece is probably mis-titled. It should have been stated, “Why the Raptors should take the last two month to determine their long-term future”. It’s a more accurate way to describe this article.

    • morgan c

      Good point. But if it’s just a title change needed, I think we can all appreciate the greater view that we should be wary of celebrating this year too much at the expense of locking up future long-term success…

      • Rapchat

        We can and should celebrate. And THEN be wary of whats to come in the off season, like every other pro sports team. Is it possible to do both. This article doesn’t suggest that though unfortunately.

  • Terrence Ross

    I made it as far as the second sentence, when I read that we had somehow already “secured the third seed” despite the fact that some simple math proves that we haven’t, and decided that reading any more would be a bad idea.

  • Tinman

    Not quite sure where you were trying to head with this.
    The bottom line is we are 9-2 in our last 11 games. Better than any other team in the East. Yeah, we’ve been giving up more points than usual but we’re covering the spread.
    All the praise that the Bulls and Nets have received, with one game left to go, we have outplayed them both down the stretch.
    Playoffs is a whole new game……. for all teams. I don’t expect us to move away from what got us this far. If this team plays on all cylinders, we will be a tough opponent for anyone. As much as we hear how you don’t want to play the Bulls or Nets, I counter that they should not want to face us.

  • Mexiballer

    Excellent article Tim. It sounds like you are channeling your inner Dwayne Casey. I dont think that there is much here that Masai would disagree with either. Except maybe that it’s important for all of us to celebrate and enjoy what has been accomplished so far, regardless of the process that lies ahead. This has been a good first step in what has been a very successful season. And this year has been a fairly big and significant first step. Next step…compete in the Playoffs. I have little doubt that Masai will do what is necessary to move this team toward taking the next set of steps in the off season. Good job Tim of reminding us of where we are and where we want to go. But right now lets hope the Raptors return to defensive form and have a good run in the Playoffs. We will learn a lot beginning next weekend. Right now I have to say…I believe in this team!

  • Marz

    I think the problem for me is we were in this position not long ago. New GM, in his first year, “accidentally” constructs an Atlantic Division winning team who head to the playoffs with fantastic chemistry. Unfortunately their lack of playoff experience and grit result in a first round exit.

    It’s the same story all over again, but I’m just hoping for a different ending.

    Even if we do lose, though, this team is much younger than the one Colangelo created in his first year, so there’s lots more room to grow :)

  • asifyouknow

    “In the Playoffs, though, you’d much rather be going in with killer defence than killer offence.”
    That is a long historical discussion.
    Do teams need to be a great defensive team to win championships?
    Ask The Heat, Lakers and Mavericks. Most of the teams they beat in the Championship were better ranked defensively..

  • 3betlite

    It’s been a good season and we have some good players, but as Tim and Jack Armstrong pointed out, we can’t be content with good. We’re at the point now where MU can sell high on a number of players and get back good value in return. And for the players we do keep in our core group going forward, having 1-2 rounds of playoff ball will be incredibly valuable. Looking forward to the first post-season in a long time, and for an even better team next season. Go Raps.

  • Will

    I feel bad for this Tim seeing how many guys mistake him for Tim W. I personally liked this article. I didn’t feel it was pessimistic at all. He’s just saying that our defense has been bad lately, which it has, and that it’ll hurt us in the playoffs. He’s also saying that we shouldn’t be satisfied with what we’ve done this year, and that we need to consider tough decisions that might help us sustain the winning. That’s completely different from Tim W’s dreams of losing on purpose to gamble on a future star.

  • FLUXLAND

    Finally a dose of reality. A dose of reality for people that can’t see the game past rankings, streaks, w/l columns.

    The ball is in Masai “I trade stars for pieces” Ujiri’s court now.

    I see Tim’s LA connections and Laker tenure didn’t lure Jax up here. Shame.

  • Junior Qamar

    Raptors will finish the season with the top road record in the East regardless of a win or loss tommorow. That in itself should say enough about the raptors. They wont win a title but no one in the east will until miami dismantles their team. So saying they are in trouble heading into the playoffs is nit picking. If this team wasnt in the same bracket as miami theyd reach the east finals in my opinion. Indiana is going into the playoffs with a lot of problems and miami with the wade injury but in the end the best team advances regardless of whoses problems r bigger. So lets not worry about how much better they are on offense and how much worse they are on defense since march 1st. Just be glad to know we have a top 5 offense in the nba with a slower pace than the 4 teams above us thats just a sign of what players can do on the offensive end. I do believe come playoff time they will be a very solid defensive team again.

  • arsenalist

    People need to understand that agreeing with this article and full-heartedly supporting the Raptors playoff run and expecting Ujiri to make the right moves this summer, are not mutually exclusive.

    • Mexiballer

      I agree completely. If my comment below made it sound like I think that they are mutually exclusive, that is not the case at all.

      • Haim not Feldman

        Dudebro, it’s all good. That’s one of the flaws with written communication like this or e-mail, without hearing tone, emotion or inflection, misunderstandings happen, and I so wish there was a sarcasm font.

    • golden

      Zarar, it’s just the timing of the article in context of what’s happening with the team is way, way off. This is similar to the plethora of pro-tanking / franchise building articles that we all got sick of. And the linkage between how the team is playing now to franchise building is a major stretch, at best. It’s like looking for an excuse to bring up the old pro-tanking arguments. Terrible. The time for this is after the post-season. It’s a poor read on the pulse of the city and fanbase right now. We are entering one-game-at-a-time mode.

  • Stef 511

    The mindset that some have that makes them nearly jump out of their skin when someone writes or says something that dares to differ from what they *want to hear* is .. sort of off-putting.

    Tim (C, not W) is a writer who is respected in basketball circles, who has worked professionally — as in paid $$ for his thoughts on hoops — and frankly, RR is lucky to have a guy like this weigh in with what he thinks he sees.

    Wise up, kids. This team has a shot — and .. as a long-time fan, nobody is wanting to see them make good on it more than *I* do — but it might be smart to prepare yourself for whatever it is that could be upcoming. With the playoffs almost here, we’re entering into a different realm of reality, basketball-wise. Teams — especially young teams — have to learn this .. and (as I’ve witnessed with my own eyes) quite often, their fans have to learn it as well. Fingers crossed on what’s to come but .. for those who are loading up to shoot the messenger, hold your fire. Sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling “I CAN’T HEAR YOU” or getting angry about it all doesn’t mean that what’s being said is not worth considering and being well aware of.

    Also … getting home and turning on the dvr recording of Pardon The Interruption today, the first story was about how the Nets are sitting up to six players to tank in order to have a better chance at meeting up with the Raptors. Hmm. Seems the notion I had in Saturday’s Morning Coffee about this — it occurred to me that this was in play but I (admittedly) didn’t think it through enough to be able to properly flesh out the thought in words — wasn’t all that off-base. Just. Saying.

    https://twitter.com/WindhorstESPN

    Go Raps.

    • IC

      Honestly. Great that RR has guys that get paid for their bball thoughts. But just because he’s respected in basketball circles and writes professionally people aren’t allowed disagree with him? It shouldn’t make any difference whether he’s paid or whether he’s a random poster like myself. People can and will disagree and that is a good thing.

      • Stef 511

        Who said anything about not disagreeing? What it’s about is the level of angst expressed — combined with a familiar disrespect usually reserved for the other Tim — by a few of the posters here because the writer pointed out realities about where this team might actually be instead of where they hope it is. Any ya, ‘honestly’.

        • Rapchat

          I have no angst, and yet I think its a dumb article saying nothing but the obvious in terms of “realities”. Those realities could not have been more clear before this article was posted as this site alone has made them very clear over the last few months. Just don’t see the point of this particular redundant post, at this particular time.

          • stretch bigman

            Sounds like angst to me

            • Rapchat

              Again, no angst. Would just like some fresh perspectives.

        • IC

          I just don’t understand why you would even point out that he’s respected in basketball circles lol. Congratulations to that, I say! It’s just completely pointless.

    • SickNTired

      re: BKN tanking.
      Doesn’t Washington get a say in this? They have a game playing tomorrow too, that starts 1 hour after the Chicago vs Bobcats.
      I would assume they would want to play the Raps as well, since everyone else $hits on our team (even our own RR writers after this article above) why wouldn’t the Wiz organization jump on the “I’d rather play Raps” bandwagon too?

      As for the article above – its typical a Toronto fan behaviour. Cynical at heart, and rarely optimistic. You don’t get that from US fans. They will bleed for their team with hope just because…. its their team.

      GO RAPS. Like you have shown all season (post Dec 8th) that you will fight and dig for every play when it counts.

      • Mexiballer

        Youre right, Washington does get a say. But the difference between Washington and Brooklyn is that Charlotte is chasing Washington for the sixth spot. If Washington loses and Charlotte wins then the Wizards will fall to seventh and have to play Miami in the first round instead of the Raptors. So Washington does not want to lose tomorrow. Brooklyn on the other hand can only benefit from losing tomorrow if Washington does win. If that happens the Nets will fall to sixth and play the third seed (who would presumably be the Raptors) avoiding the Bulls in the first round.

        • SickNTired

          Good point
          Its crazy to think 3-7 is a toss up down to 1 game.
          As Thib’s said recently.
          “You’re not going to sneak around people in the playoffs. “If you’re going to be successful, you have to go through people.

          • Mexiballer

            I agree with Thibadeau. At the same time Im sure that Chicago would love to win tonight and play a lesser team than Brooklyn in the first round. It seems like Brooklyn is trying to sneak around people. Mainly the Bulls. Yeah…3 through 7 up for grabs tonight, Im not sure if I have ever seen that before. Charlotte and Chicago play an hour earlier than everyone else, so that may cue what teams decide to do in the later games. Will Demar play a full game tonight or play at all?

      • Stef 511

        “GO RAPS. Like you have shown all season (post Dec 8th) that you will fight and dig for every play when it counts.” Hahahahahahahahahaha. You arzehole, you. I recognize your tone and particular level of shit-headedness .. so, I’ll go easy. You are, after all, fighting and digging for every play out there in your fantasy-lan…. I mean .. out there on the floor … even before Rudy was traded, brave boy that you are. (You’re the fifteen yr old shit-for-brains, right? And don’t get me wrong; I say ‘arzehole’ and ‘shit-for-brains’ with Raptor-love. You are doing all that fighting and digging, after all … ) (GR!)

        • SickNTired (Age)

          Sorry pale. You got the wrong guy. So put away your sarcasm and get back to speaking of Raps as oppose to being a detective

          • Stef 511

            Lol. Ok, SNT.

    • jjdynomite

      You’re right Stef. When you posted Saturday that your impressions were Brooklyn was trying to tank to play the Raps because they don’t respect the Raptors and/or fear the Bulls more, you made a lot of sense, but in retrospect. It just didn’t make sense then because the Bulls seemed destined for the 3rd seed, not the Raps.

      The problem with Kidd’s attitude is, that I don’t think that: a. his coaching acumen, and b. his roster, will suddenly be able to turn it on after tanking (er, losing) 4 of their last 5 games (if they lose tonight).

      The reality is that every single one of the Nets’ currently active players are long past their prime, so I’m not sure they just can turn it on like, say, LeBron/the Heat can. The only player who isn’t past his prime (BLopez) is out for the playoffs. As Zarar posted last week, I far more fear the refs skewing the games in the Nets’ favour for ratings/round 2 marquee match-up purposes than the Raps being overwhelmed by Brooklyn.

      • Stef 511

        Interesting. I’m not sure one way or the other about Kidd as a coach. Early in the season — when the Nets stunk — it was easy to think Kidd was gonna be a one-and-done coach .. but as the season’s gone by, it kinda looks (to me) like maybe he *does* have an idea about what he’s doing. Maybe it’s the vets and overall talent they have all figuring it out, along with Kidd himself learning how to coach them .. but I dunno yet. The playoffs might tell us a lot about that.

        If we get them in the first round — and I’ll be excited about it if we actually do — I *like* to think that our (more) playoff-experienced coaching can sort of outsmart Jason Kidd’s coaching, helping us take full advantage of our younger players to surprise their old vet-guys, over a full series. If we do get Brooklyn, I’ve got little doubt the Nets will be an impressive force for certain moments or a game or two but .. I think we *can* take four games out of seven from them. In my perfect world, the refs stay out of it and it’s a dogfight to the end with game seven going our way.

        If it’s the Wizards .. I don’t even know. Another dogfight tho. And I’d say Raps in six.

  • Ds

    Sorry, but how many times have we written this team off already since last December? First, they were lucky they won a couple, then lucky that their schedule turned, then lucky because they beat some tough teams at home, etc. At one point, you have to give them credit for what they really are: a good TEAM. They don’t have ONE option, like the Bosh and Carter teams, but a bunch of them.

  • IC

    I honestly think we have very little reason to complain right now. Yes the teams defense has declined but during this latest stretch of games we’ve missed some key players and rested others so it’s to be expected that we wouldn’t be playing at our absolute best. In spite of that we’ve managed to win games against some solid opponents and only lost once to a team that was battling hard to make a playoff push. There is no reason to think the raps won’t up the intensity level for the playoffs. Obviously I’d prefer if the raps defense was consistently sound but in these games against teams like the bucks for example the team was coasting but it knew it could get by while doing so. At the end of the day the raps have done enough to close these games out and that’s what matters most. If we were losing games because of subpar defense that would be another story. But we haven’t. We’ve been winning. Stop complaining and enjoy this record breaking season.

  • Suspicious Mind

    SERIOUSLY!!!! WTF IS WRONG WITH EVERYBODY??? I don’t think anybody has EVER claimed this team is ready to compete for a championship. But the franchise is in great shape. Draft picks galore, two sophomores starting on a 48/49 win team with unknown growth potential, a top point guard that has one of the biggest hearts and compete level in the league, an allstar 2 guard, a solid bench, a team that plays hard, a coach that demands improvement and dedication and the best GM in the league making decisions!!

    When the Raps would lose close games in the past to the likes of San Antonio, Miami, OKC etc everyone would talk about how thats what good teams do…they seperate themselves when it matters most. In the 4th quarter. Their defense hasn’t been great of late but their still winning, while fighting injuries and resting players. This is a joke of an article!! It’s not realistic in any fashion. It’s cherry picking tid bits of information to paint a negative picture, which can be done to any single team in the NBA. Do the Raps have room for improvement? Obviously, Jesus!! Who doesn’t? It’s these same writers that will be back on this site, saying I told you so, if the Raps lose in a second round match up against Miami, while completely ignoring the experienced gained and the obvious momentum of growth and of a winning culture. You sound like a pathetic old boyfriend that can’t let go of his past with an ex girlfriend. This team is nothing like the BC 47 win team and if you can’t see that, you shouldn’t be writing for this great website. And even if they were similar in any way, besides maybe Jack and Leo, none of the personnel is the same. How does it make sense to make these comparisons?

    Absolutely one of the worst articles I’ve read on this site, coupled with horrible timing. We should be celebrating a great season, and looking forward to gaining much needed playoff experience. But maybe that’s just the “fluffy” optimist in me. ABSOLUTE JOKE ARTICLE!!

    • Tim

      Whoa, slow down.
      I read it as if RR asked Tim C to provide an alternative perspective to the general positivity that comes across here, just to balance out perspectives. I am as excited about this team as you are. And I agree that when we lost to good teams late in the fourth, we received the standard. “that’s what good teams do, close out games against inferior teams,” which is what we have done.
      But I don’t think it’s crazy to suggest the team’s easier sked this half has not helped us prepare for the playoffs, even though it may solidify a better spot for us.
      I think the writer’s major comment is we should not overvalue the players and the team going into the offseason, we need to have perspective on what and who can get us to a championship.
      If there was no cap, I would say no problem. But I don’t think it’s unfair to say that GG may have overvalued keeping coach and core together following the 2001 squad? Think the writer just wants to ensure we identify the true core and not retain/resign/overpay others (even important contributors) if we really don’t think they are what is necessary to get us to the championship?
      Who that is, I do not know. That’s why Masai’s job is so difficult but interesting. Anyways, don’t take offense, just my two cents.

      • Suspicious Mind

        I agree, we can’t overvalue our team and their accomplishments, but can you please identify where or what part of the organization from top to bottom, that has given you any reason to speculate they are happy with where they are? It’s just the same doom and gloom bullshit all over again, that some people feel they have to put out there ANY time there is any slipage at all. It’s so frustrating!! Few would have guessed this team would reach above 45 wins (although I did) and the fact that someone chooses to nit pick about slippage of defense over an 9-2 stretch just illustrates that their only interest is to be a wet blanket. Especially on the eve of the best season this franchise has ever seen. I thought this BS died with the tankers a long time ago, but as I said, any opportunity to shit on a parade. I just find this pessimism baffling!

        • stretch bigman

          What has happened that give you the indication they aren’t happy where they currently are?

          • Rapchat

            MU, DC, every player on the team has already conceded that there is MUCH work to do. We hear it all the time. I think that’s where the indication came from.

          • Suspicious Mind

            You either haven’t heard interviews with the coaching staff, players or management, or choose not to acknowledge what has been said almost at nauseum. Did you take the time to listen to Masai’s latest interview on Jim Rome a few days ago, when he essentially said the Atlantic division banner is meaningless to him? Again, either you didn’t hear it, or you choose to somehow turn his words into a pessimistic outlook. I’m not even sure what you gloom sayers are saying anymore. Any way you slice it, this team is in good shape moving forward, but you choose to keep beating that dark drum. Anyways, while you’re finding things to bitch about, I’ll be sipping a few freshies in Amsterdam watching my boys compete and gain some playoff experience for the future. Enjoy stretch!

    • kuzzybear

      Finally, proper insight into the haters. Everyone has to guess the future of these players and they have guessed no improvement. There is nobody on this planet who can predict the future. For anyone to say this group can’t win it al at sometime in the future is blowing the same smoke out of their a** as those who guarantee a championship. They play well together. Just enjoy it and leave the decisions to the experts.

      • stretch bigman

        Yes, you absolutely must be a HATER if you say something contrary to the consensus.

        Looking forward to next season already in a way. Will hope most of the offended will defend their assertions if some of the things touched on become more reality than ‘hate’.

  • Swimmerslooniestoonies

    Mr Tim W: you are cynical of this team, and possess champion like high standards. bit of a doue edge sword.

    • Swimmerslooniestoonies

      *double edge

    • arsenalist

      This is Tim P, not Tim W.

      • Swimmerslooniestoonies

        my apologies. it was a well written essay. I just strongly disagree that “nothing has been accomplished.” Go raps!!

  • Guest

    Not sure that we can take recent performance as limping into the post-season or anything else.

    Players’ minutes/games have been managed, as they should have been. Our arguable defensive anchor has been out.

    In this case, a small sample size of past performance is not the best, or in some ways, any indicator of future performance.

    If the team can’t focus on defence, they will fall. But if they’re unable to do so, it won’t be because they couldn’t do it during a stretch in early April.

    So this is an opinion piece. That’s fine, it’s not like I’m doing statistical analysis. But I wish the headline were less troll-ish.

  • Feck

    A sobering buzz kill.

  • Mortgagejake

    How about we acknowledge that washington or charlotte also are not laden with experience and if we face either of those two they will be dog fights, but our talent overall is higher?

  • Mexiballer

    We may yet play the Nets in the first round. They clearly had no interest in beating the Knicks tonight and if they lose tomorrow at Cleveland and Washington wins, the Nets will be the sixth seed and play the current three seed who are the Raptors. I think we can expect Brooklyn to throw that game tomorrow as they apparently did tonight. They do not want to face the Bulls in the first round. Who does.

  • Rapchat

    Oh wow. Where to begin… Lets start with WEAK piece, resulting in an EPIC FAIL to make any sense of your title. Okay… Lots of good (captain obvious) points drowned out by a TON of garbage, is my general opinion. SO MANY CONTRADICTIONS. Again, LOTS OF GOOD STAT BASED ANALYSIS, but your perspectives criss cross so much that I can’t tell what YOU”RE actual points are.

    The biggest problem with this article for me, are these 2 HUGLEY contradictory statements regarding the Raps current play…

    A)”Most frustratingly, however, is THE FACT THAT ALL OF THIS IS TOTALLY UNDERSTANDABLE, and perhaps SHOULD HAVE BEEN EXPECTED, in spite of the stellar December-through-February output that put the team just below the elite of the Eastern Conference.”

    VS

    B)”The problem is, in a way, us. We see a third seed that played so well for a good chunk of the season, that crawled into the top-ten in defensive and offensive efficiency, and WE EXPECT MORE. WE EXPECT THE RAPTORS TO PERFORM MORE LIKE A CLUB THATS BEEN HERE BEFORE, more like a club that understands the gruelling path that a winning team faces and how to manage it for an entire season.”

    SOOOOO WHICH IS IT??? A) “Understandable” that we are where we are>> “The numbers suggest that the Raptors have perhaps leapt a step further than they actually have”, OR should we B)>> “expect more”, “like a club thats been here before”???? What. The. Fruck. I am very confused. Please tell me what WE”RE supposed to think?

    Actually don’t. Maybe speak for yourself. Your whole article is based on the fact that YOU expect the Raps to perform more like a club that’s been here before, and have made the WRONG assumption that WE feel that way, sharing YOUR insecurities about this team. Wrong. The article does touch on a lot of real issues but is unbelievably biased, as a lot of playoff teams are struggling of late, each with there own issues and NOT winning to boot. EVERYONE will fix there issues and win, except the Raps, who are actually currently winning? How exactly? The very stretch of bad play you mention coincides with us being extremely fatigued and injured down the stretch, as you ALSO mention, so whats your point? We are not ready for the playoffs (or so it appears), and yet you concede that you have no idea how they’ll play in the playoffs due to a lack of experience. Again, what’s the point? You concede that despite their abysmal d of late we’ve been able to WIN saying..

    “So, how has the club kept winning during this downturn? Their offence has caught fire. Since the All-Star break they’ve ranked fifth in the NBA in offensive efficiency (108.8 points per 100 possessions), largely on the back of the team taking fewer shots per game but hitting those shots at a higher percentage. They’ve also been assisting more without adding turnovers and have been hitting threes at a higher-that-normal rate (DeMar DeRozan’s and Greivis Vasquez’s inflated April numbers have certainly helped with that last part)”

    Sooo, despite their fatigue and injuries this team has found ways to WIN, adjusting on the fly, IMPROVING in many CRITICAL ways, to WIN games against good and bad teams to close out the season, when their original game plan went out the window? Not to mention being the only NBA team to not get blown out ALL YEAR even in the midst of a bad d stretch?? Yeah, this team is ripe for the taking. This team has competed extremely freaking well in EVERY BIG GAME ALL YEAR up until today, and even through all kinds of adversity (terrible start, tankers, trades, injuries, dui’s, bad coaching at times, STATISTICALLY WORST REFS, no US props, AS snubs, this site sometimes..ha) the guys on the court continuously find ways to win. I don’t see how this will drastically change now. Why do they win? WHO CARES… or run through the stats, there are many fine example why this team DOES win (48), along with all the others to justify saying almost anything. However, there is NO STAT to suggest that this team will not be DANGEROUS when the playoffs start this weekend with a shot to win games. Period. Anybody concerned with lack of playoff exp is wasting time. I could argue that most players with playoff exp are not CHAMPS, and therefor playoff LOSERS. The more times you’ve been to the playoffs and NOT won the championship, the bigger LOSER you are. If we can agree that the playoffs are a different season, than not winning in the playoffs year after year I imagine would breed an unquantifiable amount of insecurities that will play with your head starting with expectations (much like yourself with this article), equaling playoff mediocrity. Ask Indiana. Almost 40 years in NBA, 1 Conf title, 6 div titles. Took them 19 years to win their first division title, crumbling now, again. They ACTUALLY have the #1 seed, you think they are confident over there, as a team, city, fan base, organization???? Not on your life. Nobody has more playoff exp than SAS and yet they are not the defending champs by YEARS, SO WHO CARES. The Raps can win a game, a round or two based on that same principal. One things for sure, you will watch to find out, because like everyone else, YOU DON’T KNOW.

    If you’ve watched any Raps game in the last month EVERYTHING you’ve said here has been BEAT TO DEATH already by our annoying commentators, not to mention every other article on this very site’s “latest web article”. We have issues. We know what they are. We are not expecting miracles. But we also have undeniable strengths, so RESPECT THEM. BTW you telling us what MU needs to do, is like MU telling you what to say in your article. Just ridiculous. This article should’ve compared the struggles and challenges of all playoff teams as a fair gauge to how the Raptors struggles match up. Not a paranoid account of how 1 teams struggles (amongst strengths) will drive them to doom.

    I do have a question. If the Raps catch fire like you said they are capable of doing, shall we then disregard this article as trash, if we don’t already?

    • stretch bigman

      Have you watched any Raptor game beyond this season?

      The personal angst stirred up is amazing to me. Maybe the anger it’s just a reflection of insecurities about the actual state of the team?

      • Rapchat

        Before this season? Yes Ive watched the Raps since day 1. I have no personal issue here what so ever. The writing in this article is terrible. That’s my point. Not the proposed issues.

  • Gman

    Is what you said true? Sure. Do most fans already know what you’re saying? Yes, there’s not a lot of new information here frankly. Is this a necessary article considering the timing? Not at all.

    Do you tell your kids there’s no Santa Claus? Yes. Do you do it on Christmas morning? Only if your a bit of an *sshole.

    • Rapchat

      Thank you. Couldn’t agree more.

      • Rapchat

        Has anyone here ever had sex? Has anyone here ever sat down and talked about the OBVIOUS implications of such sexual adventures, pregnancy, std’s, etc, right before having sex?

    • stretch bigman

      Are you a kid? Do you believe in Santa Claus?

      is this not just an opinion on the state of a professional sports team?

      Do you remember 2007? If you did most wouldn’t respond to this like TChisholm has personally taken your family hostage.

  • ckh26

    Wow ! Just Wow. How uttlerly unbalanced and negative. Under the cowards cloak of being objective when facing a fight you show your true colour of YELLLOW there Timmy. Do you earnestly think that this season was just luck and a mirage ?

    Of course the playoffs are going to be tough. Of course this our first time on that stage in years. Of course as a young team we don’t have bushels of playoff experience. But that doesn’t mean we should quit and run home in fear as you spin the late season doldrums and getting ready for the post season time lag as the disintegration of the season and clearly dampen fans enthusiasm with this piece of drek.
    Tim there are generally speaking two camps in the world and the sports world. Those who’s views fall into the camp of rising to a challenge no matter how daunting and with equal parts guts and strategy give all you have. I think the republic calls them fan boys and optimists.Then there is the other camp of objective/sober second thought/ did you consider types that align with the gutless appeasement camp personified by the late Neville Chamerlain of avoiding any type of stand against an opponent. These types use the term fools gold and one step back to take two steps forwards.

    While I respect your right to put into print your point of view regardless of what it is I also have the right to say that this is effort is petty and small.

    Ever consider we are playing our opponents instead of being played by them ?

    • stretch bigman

      Coward for voicing an unpopular opinion? Funny.

      • ckh26

        It is what it is …stretch

  • Bears

    I’m proud of what the raps accomplished this season. Franchise record road wins and franchise record total wins. I hope we can win at least one series in the playoffs. We’ve only seen one playoff series win in franchise history and that was back in the VC days. My HOPES will be set high for the playoffs but my EXPECTATIONS will be low. There are a few concerning issues for the raptors heading in to the playoffs:
    1) Regressing defense
    2) 16-25 record against .500 teams
    3) 3-7 record in games decided by 3 points or less
    4) 1-6 record in OT

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the Raptors will lose the first round but I will temper my expectations; after all this team has already exceeded all expectations heading into this season. Go Raps!

  • jjdynomite

    The best part of this article was Tim Jizzholm spelling our former GM: “Colangleo”. Shows how quickly and thoughtlessly he put this Debbie Downer of an article together. One could easily spin it how amazing this team did — IN THE REGULAR SEASON — considering they started two sophomores, two players who never played in the post-season, and Kyle who never started in the post-season. But no, we get yet another the double-double of Timmy crap (actually, the swill coffee Mr. Horton serves is better than the double dose of garbage from the two Tims who write here).

    Anyway, Zarar and crew, I want to purchase a shirt, but, although this sounds pedantic, “Kings in the North” really should read “Kings OF the North”. Once Elizabeth II croaks, Prince William will likely be a King IN the North.

    • Rapchat

      Yeah. Boyyy.

  • Phat AlberG

    The person who wrote this article needs to find another job, honestly this was the dumbest article that has ever been posted on this site. I have following this site for a long time, but when I see guys writing articles like this makes question their basketball intelligence.

  • Hamdi

    we gonna get crushed in the playoffs because we rely on jumpshots whether is midrange or three. we need more than that to win a playoff series. i predict 4-1 against us for both possible opponents .

  • Adam Soltys