Chisolm: Raptors' malaise to blame for tailspin
Old 03-17-2010, 10:46 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Arrow Chisolm: Raptors' malaise to blame for tailspin

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Ever since the start of December the Raptors were playing with the second-best winning percentage in the NBA. They were knocking out the lightweights and getting past the heavyweights and some even wondered if they might not just knock the suddenly vulnerable Boston Celtics out of the top-four in the Conference. That was only five weeks ago but given the way the team has played of late, one is hard-pressed to remember those halcyon days as anything but a (very) distant memory.

The thing is, those wins bred a false sense of confidence throughout the organization that set up the very losing the team cannot seem to escape from today. First, the team was doing most of its damage at home against weaker opponents, dulling the impact of their successes. Of the fifteen road games the Raptors played between December 4 and the All-Star break, they lost eight of them, which puts them below .500 on the road during their stellar stretch. Of their twenty-one wins in that stretch, sixteen were against sub-.500 teams and the only quality opponent they beat on the road in that stretch were the then-struggling Orlando Magic, who were in the midst of a season-long four-game losing streak. As great a job as the team did to revive their record during that span, they were really just doing what a team looking to the post-season is supposed to do, and they weren't do anything so well that they should have felt comfortable resting on their laurels.

Secondly, they had four very telling losses in that stretch, two each against the Bucks and Pacers. All four losses were on the road, and all four losses can be attributed to a refusal to play all-out for forty-eight minutes against teams that they should have beat handily. However, at the time the losses were written off as aberrations in a season that was being successfully salvaged. If the team couldn't get up for those contests, ‘who cares?', so long as they didn't let it turn into a trend. Those are the kinds of games that teams like the Raptors need to win, though, to gain traction in their Conference standings, and with Milwaukee having recently turned around their season one bets the Raptors wishes they had worked a little harder to get the tie-breaker in their series. In all but one of these games the Raptors were outscored in the third quarter (their current Achilles Heel), and in the one game where they managed to outscore the Bucks by three in the third they were already down by double-digits and they were later outscored by 13 in the fourth. In two of the games the Raptors allowed over 50% shooting by their opponents, and they were outshot in all four contests. Keep in mind that Indiana and Milwaukee rank 28th and 29th in the NBA in shooting percentage. It's that kind of lax defensive effort that has doomed the Raptors again and again of late against the NBA's bottom-feeding franchises. These four games have now become the models for how to beat the Raptors and teams like Washington, Philly, Sacramento and Golden State have apparently put that model to good use. People may have looked past those four losses at the time so long as it didn't become a trend, but, well, they have now become a trend.


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So what's the solution? Simple. Pare down the roster, make some hard cuts, and hope that the guys left standing on the court can recapture the momentum that they've clearly lost. Not enough, you say? Well, what choice is there? There can be no trades made and the coach isn't (and shouldn't be) getting fired, so all that the team has to work with is what it's got today. That being the case, why not try to emulate the things that worked for you early in the season while avoiding the things that didn't and see if that can't right the ship. There are 17 games left before the end of the season and traditional math states that the team would be wise to win nine of those contests if they are serious about making the post-season. Game One of that stretch starts against the Hawks; let's see how they respond.

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Old 03-17-2010, 11:03 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Game one tonight? Blowout loss... what else should be expected against an uber-athletic team that always hands us our own....
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Old 03-17-2010, 11:14 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Old 03-17-2010, 11:40 AM   #4 (permalink)
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well.. I'm canadian too, but don't you think 11:14 is a lil early to be drinkin jeff? ;D

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