By: Papa Minnow

Dear Raptors,

After last night’s maddening loss, I was consumed by my emotions, but I’m clear minded now and I want to address what I saw from you guys in Sunday’s game.

When the series against the Wizards was set in stone, I predicted that it would go six games. Even though Washington was team that was faltering down the stretch, I figured once the playoffs started they’d get up and play you guys tough.

They tried to do just that in Game 1, but they had no adjustments to help their cause in Game 2. It wasn’t until the series shifted onto their court that they regained life.

And the only reason they’ve been able to do so is because you guys are beating yourselves. You guys had the chance to go up either 3-0 or 3-1 in this series, but the lack of taking care of the ball has been your downfall and it’s all in your control.

Yes, Washington has upped their defensive intensity, but there’s nothing in their schemes that you guys haven’t seen before. There’s just been a lot of careless turnovers that are uncalled for.

JV getting stripped by Wall because he’s not paying attention, DeMar rifling an underhanded scoop pass to Serge on the fastbreak that ends up out of bounds, or Serge carelessly passing the ball in front of his own net while Ty Lawson lurks in the wings, are all things that a team with championship aspirations shouldn’t be doing regularly.

Turnovers not only take away your opportunities to score, but it gives free points right back to Washington. That was one of the biggest frustrations of this game, every time you guys did something good, the following play would result in something bad.

It’s something you should be beyond at this point, veteran stars should know what’s at stake on the road and show up. You guys did an excellent job in the first quarter at limiting your turnovers. The defence shut down Washington’s offence and you built an 11 point lead going into the half.

Even the start of the third was good, until it wasn’t. Only a few minutes in, and the turnovers began to rear their ugly head again. Wall and Beal took advantage, and dysfunctional play became the trend down to the end.

There’s a mental toughness that seems to be lacking. I saw no killer instinct in a bounce back game that should have put you guys in position to close the series out on Wednesday. I like that DeMar drove to the basket the entire night and never shied away from the contact, but there comes a time when you have to realize that not every drive has to result in a shot attempt.

I know DeMar kept you guys afloat at big points in the game, but once he came back in the fourth quarter the offence boggled down after it was humming along pretty well.

DeMar could have passed it out on many occasions when he wasn’t getting calls,  his penetration amassed numerous defenders which meant somebody was open. Instead we got six plays in a row where he tried to force something at the rim, and while he did get fouled on some of them, it was apparent the refs weren’t going to call it.

The offence stagnated, there was no more movement, and you guys looked like the Raptors of old.

Serge failed to even look to his right a number of times down the stretch, and had he done so, he would have  recognized where his teammates were, and seen that Delon was open for a three numerous times.

Delon also had his faults as he shrunk in the later parts of the game. Understandable considering he’s a rookie, but when you’re that open in the corner and the clock is winding down, take the shot, don’t shy away and try and create a new play with 8 seconds left.

Lastly, I know JV is a liability on defence because Wall and Gortat attack him in the pick-and-roll every time down, but if he’s in the game there’s no one who can stop him offensively. What worked so well in the first two games was getting him involved, but for some reason the offence withdraws from him as the game progresses. It’s maddening.

However, not everything from last night’s game was negative. Siakam and Poeltl did an excellent job on containing Wall, there were some stretches where Siakam locked him down for entire possessions, which is a huge benefit going forward.

Also, as much as fans think a 1-seed should dominate an 8-seed, there have been numerous 1-seeds that have gone the distance with 8-seeds. Just ask the 2014 championship Spurs about their first round with the Dallas Mavericks.

The series shifts back to the ACC on Wedneday, a place where you’ve been dominant all season long. I’m not worried about the series, the thing that disappointed me last night was the lack of dominance that you guys showed previously in the first two games.

You had a real shot at proving to everyone how much you’ve changed, but it seems like everything is still the same.

 

 

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