LeBron James solidified himself as the King of Toronto as he utterly dominated the series and left y’all scurrying like a roach caught in the light. I’m not so much disappointed in the fact that you guys lost, but more so in how you guys lost.
Getting swept again against a team that has struggled to find their groove and lacks talent outside of LeBron James and Kevin Love. I expected some kind of fight in response, but got none.
There were stretches in each game that defined every loss. In Game 1 it was the fourth quarter where you couldn’t make a basket, Game 2 was the third quarter, Game 3 was the second quarter, and Game 4 was, well, Game 4 was over pretty quick.
I know there’s optimists out there who have argued that the series could have been tied at two-a-piece had a couple things gone your way, and they’re not wrong, but you guys had a very good opportunity to play with confidence and purpose in multiple games and it seemed like you lost focus and gave up.
That Game 1 loss looked like it eroded your mental fortitude. You guys came back with a piss poor effort and got blown out on your home court.
And that’s the thing that sticks out the most to me. The lack of mental fortitude:
So, “what’s next?”
To be honest, I have absolutely no clue. I’m glad I’m not in Masai Ujiri’s shoes right now because every move to improve this team is an absolute risk.
The one thing I can say for sure though is that there has to be a change. Whether that’s with DeRozan, Casey, or Lowry, at least one of those three guys can’t return next season.
There is blame to be put on everyone in the organization, but with some of the moves made last season, the team is more hand cuffed than they’ve been in recent memory.
DeRozan’s performance in this series was abysmal and it doesn’t help his case if you’re trying to move his huge contract. Lowry is a point guard in his thirties and is owed max type money in the next few years in a league that’s looking for young spry point guard talent. And Casey has one more year on his contract, but has been the foundation of this core for years.
Unfortunately, it seems that moving on from Casey is the easiest change to make. Sure it’s a risk, and while I had my issues with him in the past, Casey’s shown that he can improve and has brought stability to this team.
But when it comes to the position this team is in and how unprepared they seemed against LeBron, the lack of proper adjustments with lineups and in game management (how did CJ Miles defend Kevin Love for that long?), poor execution at the end of games with a bad ATO play call for VanVleet ,and no awareness to let players know the game plan or follow it (LeBron doesn’t get doubled at the end of Game 3), I think it’s a risk that must be made.
From what I’ve seen, the team looks like it doesn’t want to play for Casey anymore. They brought zero attention to detail and a lack of fight throughout the series. Yes, some of that falls on you guys, but if you’re trying to improve I think a change at the helm will help.
Sportsnet’s Donnovan Bennett made mention on the Free Association Podcast, that, when he spoke to former Raptor, Alvin Williams, he stated that the Raptors had an issue with paying attention to detail.
Which in my mind reads that Casey’s voice has gone stale, and a new one needs to be introduced. And there are options out there. Internally, Nick Nurse, Jerry Stackhouse, and Rex Kalamian are there. Out of those three I think Stackhouse would bring a level of toughness, perspective, and focus that this team desperately lacks.
And outside, Spurs assistant, Ettore Messina, would be a favourite considering he was not only a prodigy oversees, but he’s been under Pop’s wing for some time now.
This season has been one of the best in Raptors history, it just happened to come to a tragic end, and now it’s time to make the next step towards a better future.
To: Bench Mob
With the VanVleet injury it seemed you guys never really got your rhytthm in the playoffs, but I’m sure you’ll come back next season with improvements like you did this year. Nothing but love for you guys
Overall you had a great playoff run. There were times where I would have liked for you to be more aggressive, and your defence in Game 4 was sub par, but even in games where you didn’t have it going offensively, you made up for it in other ways. You brought your regular season to the playoffs.
I hope you come back improved for the next season. Go to Germany for knee surgery if you have to, or chill on the fufu because these playoffs were not what I expected from you.
For whatever reason LeBron has you shook and I’m not sure why. You have the talent to abuse the matchups that were going up against you but shied away from it when it mattered. I know how hard you work so I’m sure you’ll bounce back stronger than ever, but there’s two things you need to fix for next year.
Get better on defence, there’s no way George Hill and Ty Lawson should look like superstars against you. And your mental game. I’m not going to lecture you on how because I don’t know what you’re going through, but it’s apparent that you lack some confidence in your game when you have the ability to overcome so much. And when things don’t go your way it usually leads to more harm for the team than good. I hope you make the adjustment.
Until next season. Peace.