The Raptors, even when winning, are almost unwatchable

The Raptors are playing boring, uninspired basketball.

When Oedipus was very young, his father Laius heard the prophecy that his son would kill him. Fearing that future, he abandoned his son to die. Oedipus survived, but he grew up not knowing his parents. That had tragic consequences when he returned to Thebes, including the fulfilment of the prophecy. If Laius had never heard the prophecy, and Oedipus was raised by his true parents, perhaps he still would have killed his father in some other way, but perhaps not. Thus the prediction played a crucial role in its own coming true.

Many prophecies end up doing the same. It happens in Greek myth perhaps more than in real life, but it happens plenty in real life too. Don't believe me? Just watch the Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors are playing tired, tentative basketball. Their performance right now can only be defined by a word in the French language -- the vocabulary of existentialism. Malaise? Ennui? As a result, they are almost sure to make some trades at the deadline. An uninspiring win over the Houston Rockets does not undo the fact that they are a poor basketball team playing poor basketball. They are playing like a team that knows there are deals sure to be made. At this point, even if Toronto had turned it around -- even if it had won convincingly over Houston, or swept its West Coast road trip -- the fate could not be avoided.

It's hard to know why the Raptors are playing tentative, tired basketball. The only fact is that they are. Certainly, the poor play is causing the trade rumours. But it's also possible that the trade rumours are causing the poor play.

Take Gary Trent jr., for example. He has been enmeshed in trade rumours all season. He's unlikely to remain a Raptor unless there's a clear path to championship contention, and there simply isn't one at the moment. And he virtually didn't pass against the Rockets -- the fastbreak 3-on-1 in which Trent keeps it for himself is becoming something of a trademark. He was the platonic ideal of himself in the first half, putting up 15 points with zero assists, zero rebounds, zero steals, zero blocks, zero turnovers, and zero free throws. All vibes. He finished with a stellar 29 points -- as well as two assists and a rebound! -- on only 15 shots. (The Rockets are in a worse way than the Raptors right now, and they declined to play defense of any sort.) But it looks like Trent, in a contract year, is out to get his at the moment, and it's very difficult to blame him.

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