Finding the delights of Barnes & Achiuwa in the Raptors game of the season

Worth the price of admission. Every time.

If you thought this was about a fantastical game, the likes of which you've never seen before, then I'm sorry to say it isn't. This is about the Raptors losing yet another game in a similar fashion to how they've been losing them all season, and paying attention to the good stuff.

At 23-29, the Raptors continue to underwhelm all pre-season expectations. Roster continuity (basically, minutes continuity) is supposed to be one of the best predictors of success, wins, in the following season, and the Raptors returned all of their guys. Sure, Otto Porter Jr. lost his toe and we'll see if he ever finds it, but there was supposed to be a winning roster sitting in front of us. Do you fall back on their inflated net-rating as evidence of a push forward? You shouldn't. Why is it inflated? Well, the Raptors have been whittling down opposing teams margins of victory and jacking up their own by playing their best players longer and harder. This is how the team with the 14th best net-rating has the 6th worst record in the NBA. I've been searching, and many other people have as well, but there just isn't a lot of indicators that this team is good. Most say they're bad.

"Obviously, I'm always gonna give credit to the opponent. They're a tough team and they've got guys that play hard. They were pretty keyed in, and I just thought we started a little sloppy, a little loose." VanVleet said after the loss. "Just didn't have that same punch right from the get-go."

Recurring themes this season: Effort, attention to detail, anything remotely related to intangibles. So much so, that Nick Nurse has gotten angry at being asked about it. However, he and the rest of the team continue to return to that as an answer to questions about their failures. Specific answers about this team's failures might be too revealing about how oddly built the roster is. Wouldn't want that.

Yet another game where Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam's games don't dovetail, but diverge. Yet another game where the defense finds its foothold for 3 minutes at a time, but loses it over longer stretches. Yet another game where you have to walk away trying to make sense of a talented roster that continues to fail. At the very least, we can walk away from this one thinking about Precious Achiuwa and Scottie Barnes. Both of whom, continue to show their massive potential.

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