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Old 02-15-2013, 09:30 AM   #25
bokes15's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: New York City
Posts: 8,314
Default Re: What if we make the playoffs?

The Raptors may be 53 games into the 82-game schedule, but it feels like they are just getting started.

For the next four days, the team will disengage as the league shifts focus to celebrate the best of the best at the all-star game. Only Terrence Ross will be there and his participation will be limited to the dunk contest.

The rest of the team will have the time, if they so choose, to look back on a year that has already been three seasons in one.

The first portion was the imminently forgettable 4-19 mark to start the year. Burdened by the schedule maker with 15 of their first 23 games on the road, the Raptors struggled to even find a semblance of the team they were a year ago, not to mention an iota of consistency.

But the Raptors changed again, this time reverting back to its 2011-12 roots, at least in terms of manpower.

With Kyle Lowry and Andrea Bargnani injured, Casey put the team back in the hands of the likes of Jose Calderon, Amir Johnson, Ed Davis and Alan Anderson, four mainstays of the previous season, and was rewarded with a 12-10 mark.

The third season, though, is already underway for the Raptors, the one with Rudy Gay at the forefront, Calderon in Detroit and Davis in Memphis.

The deal that Bryan Colangelo and his staff pulled off to bring Gay to Toronto gives Toronto its first real all-star since Chris Bosh jumped ship to become the third wheel in the Big Three of Miami. Once again, the outlook has changed

So far, with Gay in the fold, the Raptors are a robust 5-2, but have shown an alarming disinterest in defence. Only during Wednesday’s win over New York did it feel like the message Casey has been preaching finally was hammered home — that no team can win consistently or go deep into the playoffs without committing to defence first.

Granted, it’s a long shot, but four consecutive wins over Indianapolis, New Orleans, Denver and the Knicks have even long shots looking possible these days.

He goes on to talk about what each player must do. And this was the end of it:

HEAD COACH DWANE CASEY: Casey has pushed most of the right buttons. But now with his team taking on a definite offensive leaning, it’s going to be on Casey to make sure the defence doesn’t get neglected. Offence only gets you so far in this league. Defence can get you all the way home and back. Casey preaches that day in and day out, but if it’s not being heard when the lights are on, this team will never roll back the six-game deficit they face for the eighth playoff spot.

GM BRYAN COLANGELO: Having pulled off the big one (the Gay trade), Colangelo is once again on the hot seat trying to turn Bargnani into something that will make his roster better. Obviously, whatever return he can generate for Bargnani is going to decide whether the Big Roman is moved or not. Unfortunately, Bargnani’s stock isn’t high right now. Even if he can’t move Bargnani, Colangelo must address the need for another point guard. One with a defensive leaning would be nice.
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