Three things we saw in the final Raptors game of the season
Wasn’t that some display?
I know this Raptors team has flaws – we’ve been pointing them out since November – and they sure hadn’t been playing well of late but, holy crap, losing by 30 in a sweep?
That’s worse than anyone could have contemplated or expected, the scale of it really came out of nowhere.
But – and this is important – the four games were part of the evaluation process and not the entire thing so to come to kneejerk conclusions now is not the right thing to do; Masai knows that, too.
But it doesn’t mean the disappointment isn’t real, that was an awful way to go out and will weigh on the minds of many for many months.
Gonna be a long day here, it’s 6 a.m. as I start this, there’s a 9:30 a.m. flight and then it’s right to the arena to see what the players have to say for themselves after a night to sleep on it.
I’ll get into what I’m hearing might happen and what I think should happen after another day to process what all went down.
And I could use some rest.
Until then, there’s this and then I’ve got to go pack.
It’s hard to explain it in this limited space and time but whatever happens, it should be substantial.
There are a handful of expiring or non-fully guaranteed contracts – Fields, Stiemsma, Hayes, Hansbrough, Williams, Amir Johnson and I don’t believe James Johnson’s $ 2.5 million stipend is fully guaranteed – and that in itself creates some significant level of turnover.
I don’t know if any of them will be asked back – the only two I’d seriously consider would be Lou and Amir and, perhaps as a last resort Hansbrough but it’s obvious from that list that there will be quite a new look around these parts when things reconvene.
And despite the way the team played in the last six weeks, there were some groups of friends that will be broken up.
There was cabal – I don’t want to say clique – of DeRozan, Lowry, Hayes and Williams, for instance, the built over the season and it’s going to be broken up a bit for sure.
Guess that’s another reason things were so deathly quiet in the locker room after the game.
You knew it was over early, at least I did, and the goings on about 10 minutes into the game let us all get started our stories.
It also underscored much of what was wrong with this team in the latter half of the season.
The Raptors miss a shot, which was basically par for the course for the series, and it was time to hustle back on defence.
Except basically no one did.
DeRozan was left on island and you could see him frantically waving and pointing and hoping that one of his teammates would get back to help him try to cover both Wall and Pierce in transition.
This was not some quick turnover-created fast break, it was transition defence and no one was interested in doing it.
As DeRozan waved, Pierce and Wall basically smiled and Pierce hit a wide open three to make it 30-18.
Game was over right then.
As the seconds tick off and all we want is for the buzzer to sound so we can fill in the final score, James Johnson gets the ball without about 14 seconds to go.
I turned to Gumby and said, “there is no way he is not shooting” even though dribbling out the clock is something everyone in the NBA would have done.
I’m right, of course, he tries to attack the rim to make it a 29-point loss and gets fouled.
He misses both free throws and under some zany promotion the Wizards run, anytime an opponent misses both foul shots, everyone in the building gets a free Chik-Fil-A sandwich and the roar when he missed the second was almost as loud as the ones to celebrate the series win.
A classic end to the season, indeed.
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