You have to admit this about the Raptors if nothing else they make it entertaining. It sure didn’t seem like that would apply on Friday night in Dallas. The Raptors had a terrible first quarter allowing the Mavericks to score 33 points while shooting close to 70%. It would get worse before it got better as the Mavericks extended their lead to 19 points. It seemed time to check if your favourite holiday movie was on as alternate entertainment. The Raptors would suddenly find a way to play on defensive end of the floor. They would go on a crazy run and actually hold the lead briefly late in the half. The Mavs would re-take the lead and make it to the locker room with a 3 point advantage. The second half was a dog fight back and forth affair that ultimately could not be decided in regulation. The Raptors seemed to be hanging on with their finger nails as their former point guard Jose Calderon was answering everything the Raptors threw at the Mavs.
The Raptors were coming off an overtime loss to the Bobcats and having two other losses in OT including one to a very good Rockets team. The outcome seemed to be obvious to everyone except perhaps the Raptors. The Mavericks would be down one and have a chance to win it but they could not score on their final possession and the Raptors surprise everyone with a 109-108 overtime win.
It also makes the Raptors 5-5 on the road which defies all logic as bad teams just don’t play well on the road. Even good teams the Raptors have had have struggled on the road. The Raptors great home court advantage with passionate and dedicated fans has produce just 4 wins in 12 tries. It just goes to a long laundry list of things that don’t make much sense. Like losing to the Bobcats and beating the Mavericks. A move that most felt was the start to the team accepting its fate and looking toward the draft sees the Raptors in a playoff spot.
The one thing that does make sense is DeMar DeRozan and his attitude and play this season. He doesn’t want to hear about Andrew Wiggins but more to the point he doesn’t want to hear about losing. He has said he is sick of the losing and saying it is one thing but trying to do something about is another. For any basketball website to be suggesting the Raptors are going to trade this kid of their own accord is simply not paying attention. DeRozan has shown improvement year after year and a work ethic that is hard to match.
Many including myself were not sold when DeRozan proclaimed he had a three point shot in his bag of tricks. Well he does and at the very least he is confident in it which makes his release smooth and in rhythm. This makes it a lot easier to make those threes. But it was not is new found range that was on display in Dallas. It was a skill that he has been improving on slowly but surly. Rudy Gay wasn’t passing but DeMar DeRozan has been and it was on full display with a team leading 9 assists.
All of the starting 5 was in double digits which included the Raptors sophomore class of Terrence Ross with 15 and Jonas Valanciunas had a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Ross made some big buckets at times in this game but never saw much action down the stretch or in overtime. The biggest challenge facing Terrence Ross is proofing he can defend his position. While Jonas has had his struggles this season and while Rudy Gay has been shown the door opened one up for Jonas he is still not walking through it on a nightly basis.
Kyle Lowry must have been drooling at the prospect of going against Jose Calderon. Lowry had a nice night but Jose was better. Still the Raptors will happily take the 20 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds on the night. Calderon was a little better with 23 points to lead all scorers and 9 assists. But the overall point guard battle goes in favour of the Raptors as Vasquez who is kind of like a poor man’s Jose Calderon had 14 points to lead the Raptors bench.
This is probably the Raptors most impressive win of the 10 they have. As great as the Raptors played tonight it is hard to imagine them having much chance of beating the Thunder or Spurs on their home floors. If the playoffs started today the Raptors would be in them and facing the Pacers. Let’s face facts the teams that finish in both seven and eighth in the East are pretty much the biggest losers. They miss out on the lottery of perhaps one of the best and deepest lottery picks in sometime. As much as DeMar DeRozan and Amir Johnson are truly desperate to see the playoffs come back to Toronto getting swept by the Pacers or Miami is not going to help the future of this franchise.
Kyle Lowry is the real fly in the ointment as far as if this team decides to go all in to make the post-season. You would have to assume he would play well in order for the Raptors to accomplish that goal. This would up his value as a free agent and likely means he would look to go elsewhere at the end of the day. The Raptors have made this mistake before with Chris Bosh and I can imagine Masai Ujiri making that same mistake. To let Lowry walk for nothing would be a mistake. Vasquez and how he performs is also something to consider. In reality the Raptors are in the position that coming into the season they just couldn’t or shouldn’t be in.
The Raptors remind me of the Bobcats team that made the playoffs a few seasons back. That was a one year thing and the team was quickly dismantled. The Raptors have stated that they want to be consistent visitors to the playoffs and that will be hard to do with what they currently have. Every game the Raptors win that they are not suppose to win makes Masai Ujiri’s job more difficult. Not to mention the pathetic Eastern Conference that has all of 3 teams with a winning record.
So if you’re asking Santa for something for the Raptors a clear direction might be nice at this point. The issue is the one that people that want to start up the tanks have never understood. A coach in the last year of his contract and a young player that has never seen the playoffs in his career collectively has little interest in losing. This goes for the rest of the Raptors as well. They showed that in this gutsy comeback win. There are so many individuals and this team as whole that are wildly inconsistent it is enough to drive you crazy. It is not a case of lack of effort with this group on most nights though.
So that is about it. I am back in the saddle and riding this crazy roller coaster once more. A reminder if you’re doing any shopping on Amazon this holiday season please use the link on our site up at the top. DNB will get a little cash from your purchases and it has zero impact on your price of purchase. It just takes you taking the time to come to the site and click on the banner. Once you have bookmark it and you can help the DNB out every time you make a purchase with Amazon. DNB has never been making those Rudy Gay dollars so your help and support in this endeavour is greatly appreciated. So if you’re boxing day shopping on Amazon do it here.
Happy Holidays to everyone and I can honestly say it is nice to be back.