If this were the beginning of the Tampa season, where the Raptors obstacles were more abstract to fans and analysts alike as they found inventive and depressing ways to lose, then I think the silver linings approach would be tough to sell. Last night's match vs. the Hawks though, was a war of attrition that the Raptors lost with a great deal of their rotation never touching the floor. It was a winnable game to be sure. Scottie Barnes' layup rolled lazily off the rim in the dying seconds of regulation, sending us into an overtime that would see a layup from Adrian Griffin Jr. find the bottom of the cup as time expired.
Those layups fell the wrong way for the Raptors, but the loss was far more emblematic of a team that had a behemoth of a creator in Trae Young vs. Toronto's fledgling stars who are taking every wave of new defensive assignments as a learning opportunity. Sometimes you learn when you win, sometimes you learn when you lose.
"Well, you know, I thought we played really well, really hard, gave ourselves a chance, you know had pretty good control of the game." Coach Nurse said after the loss. "And you know, there was some kind of wild plays at the end - both ways. And we just came out on the unfortunate end of a lot of breaks, to be honest with you."
The worst break? Barnes, who was meant to contain at half-court, floating 15-feet too deep towards the inbound, inexplicably screening himself on Clint Capela and leaving O.G. Anunoby in a 2-on-1 that would eventually lose the Raptors the game. Anunoby forced the ball out of Young's hands before he got deep, but the pass was on target, Griffin Jr. was controlled on the receiving end, and the layup was made. If Young wasn't so damn good to release the pass that early, and perfectly on target, maybe he wouldn't have been able to run up to the Raptors bench and wave goodbye -- a bench that had far less players on it than usual do to injuries and illnesses.
"When you put yourself in position to win, and we had the last play in regulation - two point-blankers that just don't go in. Right? One of those rolls in and we're feeling exactly the opposite of what we do now, it's just kind of the ball bounces that way sometimes."
It's extremely unfortunate that Barnes, who in the last 5 seconds of the first, second, and third quarters outscored the Hawks 7-0, was as far as I can tell, the main culprit of the Raptors failures at the end of the 4th quarter and overtime. He did however, have his best game as a primary initiator so far this season.