The Raptors need to be the most athletic team

The Raptors went up against the longest team in the league and proved who the most athletic team is. They need to do it more.

Alex Garland changed much in his movie adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation, but no change was more pronounced than when a silver humanoid fractal mimics the motions of biologist Natalie Portman. Half symbolism, half Metal Mario, the scene made literal the reciprocity inherent to VanderMeer’s Area X. It was a mirror match, but one in which Alice fell through the looking glass, the mirror, and returned not Alice at all.

On Saturday, the Raptors faced their own mirror match against the Orlando Magic. But on Toronto’s side, the Raptors had been feeling a crisis of identity leading into the game. With Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes returning to the lineup, they responded to the expectations of health -- for the first time, really, since before Tampa Bay -- by suffering a loss of personality. Who are they when not the unlucky and plucky underdog with one or more stars on the sidelines? They haven’t faced that question, not for an extended period, for ages. The Raptors have been fighting uphill for more than two seasons. Now on equal ground, with the athleticism and talent to conquer the world, the Raptors have been foundering. 

And fortunately for the Raptors, they faced a Magic team with much the same identity, when at their best, as the Raptors. Orlando’s President, Jeff Weltman, was part of the team-building project in Toronto before running his own team, and both rosters are innovating in the same giant-wingspan-for-wings direction. The Raptors are used to being the bully. Facing bigger bullies in their previous two games, both losses, the Raptors failed to fight.

The tables turned yet again against Orlando. The Magic are absolutely monstrous -- larger even than the Raptors -- starting four players standing at or over 6-foot-9. But the Raptors proved to be the aggressors regardless, winning in a laugher 121-108 that was never as close as the final score looks. 

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