For a while today, while watching the Raptors, all I could think was, “Okay, who are these guys and what have they done with the Toronto Raptors?” I was waiting for the team to simultaneously tug at the bottom of their necks and then pull off the masks they were wearing, showing that they were a bunch of basketball playing androids. While that didn’t happen, the Raptors did reveal their true selves near the end of the game.
There were some conflicting things about the Raptors down the stretch today. First, we saw them completely fall apart, letting the Bulls back into a game in which they were down by 14 with about 8 minutes to play. The Raptors had some poor shot selection, were slow getting back on D and just looked like a team that thought they were good enough to sit back and put things on cruise control. Memo to the Raptors, there are probably two or three teams in the league good enough to do this…you’re not one of them.
The Raptors also showed how fundamentals can win you games and how not having mastered them can also bring you some easy losses too. Just as Leo started talking about how the Raptors have a lot of guys who are able to sink free throws, Anthony Parker stepped up and rimmed out, giving the Bulls a chance to tie things up without having to go for a three…and God forbid, the way things have gone for the Raptors this season, I was just waiting for somebody to fall into an “and 1″ situation to end the game. That would have been a perfect way to sum up the season for the Raptors. We might have seen Bosh’s head explode.
The conflicting part of tonight’s display by the Raptors is that while they started slowly in OT, they didn’t do what they usually do, which is just crumple up into a ball and roll away. The Raptors actually showed some determination…it almost looked like they believed they were going to win the game. Like they KNEW they had enough talent and drive to pull it out. We saw the Raptors play some nice D and turn that into offense at the other end of the floor. We also saw the Raptors coach get into things, drawing up a nice inbounds play to secure the win. Let’s not gloss over the fact that in the past, we wouldn’t have seen that kind of inbounds pass drawn up, let alone drawn up to seal the game.
So four in a row. In Toronto, this is about as good as dreams come. It’s going to be tough to get number 5 against the Magic, but let’s sit back and see if the Raptors can fool’em to ring in April.