Let's all take a moment, shall we?
To be present. In the moment. For Pascal's sorrow. For our own sanity.
No Houston tonight. No losing tight ones to Golden State or Phoenix or Utah. No failures against undermanned Milwaukee, Minnesota, or Boston before. No 12-point quarters. No thinking about who we could/should have traded or drafted. No talk about what we should or shouldn't do in the coming days, weeks, months.
Let it all go. And focus on, in this very, singular moment, nothing but our beloved Toronto Raptors.
An All-Defensive Team player. An All-NBA player. An All-Star. A young, elite, high-volume shooter. A blossoming young modern Big. And a Rising Star.
Few teams can gloat of such riches.
So let's savour it for at least a moment, shall we?
1. THE SCREAM
I'm not a big hand-in-the-face-shot-challenging guy. I find it a bit distasteful. In fact, as a shooter, I abhor it. It's so very maddening to experience a dude ignoring your release point and going right after your eyes and field of vision. One of the few shows of decorum I expect.
I'm not a call out the "SHOT" dude on a closeout either. I know that's under the guise of letting your teammates know to box out. But who are we kidding, it's to frig with a shooter's focus. Again, a bit beneath me.
I get getting the edge. Especially, at the professional level. If it's not legal, if it's grey, exploit it.
That's, apparently, what Gary Trent Jr. decided to do the other night.
It was somewhat subtle - as far as plays in a game go. My brother and I saw it and immediately "rewound" (VHS terminology) to watch it again. To confirm that we did actually see something I've never seen done in an NBA game let alone any basketball game now that I think about it.
Worth a chuckle or two too.
And before I go on to describe what happened. As silly as it looked, I'm almost certain it worked.
Indulge me. I am going to describe it before I show it, to build the hilarity.
So, against Portland, towards the end of the second quarter, shot clock is at 11. Drew Eubanks swings the ball to Jerami Grant on the far wing, Grant drives. Pascal, more or less, has Grant covered, yet Precious Achiuwa, Eubanks' defender, slides over to help. Which, I will say, also highlights one of Precious Achiuwa's weaker abilities at the moment: recognizing when to stay home or not on helpside.
Grant boots it back to Eubanks and Precious sidles back over. No harm, no foul.
Gary, however, fulfilling his duty as help defender - with Anfernee Simons far above the three-point line - drops down, not to challenge Eubanks at the high post, not to swipe at the ball, not to put physical pressure on him, not to trap him, no, no, no.
Will Lou caught the moment.
The ultimate hilarity is that it worked. Eubanks looked, as Lou says, "Shook". He pump fakes the open jumper and drives - which is never a good thing - into a turnover.
I've never seen the like. I'm also not sure he yelled any language. Replaying it a hundred times, it looks like a plain ol' "YAAAAA!", like Gary is trying to convince a Black Bear he's the bigger threat.
2. The Trade Debate: Up, Down, Around, and Back Again
Okay, did you take your moment?
I tried, I really tried.
But with the deadline less than a week away HOW CAN I THINK OF ANYTHING ELSE?
One friend texted me the most relatable summation:
"I need to be released from this purgatory."
And purgatory it is. For us helpless fans and for us feverish speculators who see no clear path forward.
The season feels outta reach, but not entirely. Mostly, but not totally.
Do we full tank and demand a King's ransom for the bulk of our lovelies?
A rebuild isn't exactly ideal, or obvious, with guys like Pascal and Freddy in their prime and young'uns like Precious and Scottie surging.
A retool makes sense on the surface - trading one of O.G., Gary, Freddy or more - but then, again, what we're sending out is, ultimately, what we still need. Teams acquiring one of the trio is less likely to send someone similar or equivalent. Making the ask all the more particular and challenging.
The myriad of directions each has their merits. And each tantalizing too. Some logical, some thrilling, some safe. Real personality test kind of stuff here.
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