The club’s ninth loss in its last ten games versus the Spurs on Tuesday night in San Antonio, is starting to make many think that it might take more than one game to turn this team around. Demar Rozen told media that they needed jus one game to kick off a turn-around: “It’s only going to take one game. We just need that one game where we put together everything that we need. Seeing all of the shots going in, playing great defence, getting to the free-throw line, taking charges [and] playing the lanes—everything. Once we just get that out of one game, I think that will carry over to the rest of the games.”
The 10-point defeat is just another to pile up in a stretch of inconsistent play which will take some time to recover from. With only 15 games left in the regular season, that doesn’t leave the Raps a lot of time to re-align and get their defense in order. It’s not only their defense that has had holes, but the lack of ball movement and creativity on the offensive end has also been disconcerting.
Toronto coach, Dwane Casey told local reporters that his team must “play with that sense of urgency, that desperate mode that we have to play with to be successful.” He added, “A lot of the game now is talking, communication [and] anticipation. The nuances of the game are going to be important the closer you get to the end of the season and into the playoffs.” It seems though that the Raptor players are not bringing this sense of urgency to the game, apathy seems more prevalent than urgency. As cliche as it sounds, to be champions, Toronto has to put together a full 48-minute effort. Casey reassured the media that they would not let this season slip out of their grasp, “We put a lot of sweat equity into this and let’s not let it go down the drain right now … We have worked too hard to let it go.”
“We don’t need no kick in the ass” – Lowry
After being beaten by the Spurs, Toronto’s all-star Kyle Lowry went on a profanity-laced rant blaming the team for getting off to a slow start against the defending champion. Frustrated by the Raptors’ slow starts, he reiterated: “We don’t need no kick in the ass. We literally been getting our ass kicked … We should be able to go and do it.” Hopefully this direct challenge should fire up Toronto who shouldn’t need extra motivation against Miami (29-35) who’s had their number the past five years. They will try to avoid a 17th straight defeat to the Heat Friday night. Nov. 2 was the only other game this season, when the Heat overcame DeMar DeRozan’s 30 points for a 107-102 home win.
Despite the slump, the Raptors (38-26) are still in good enough shape to make the postseason with a 10 1/2-game lead over Boston in the Atlantic Division. They are starting to wake up offensively, averaging 106.2 points in the last five games after scoring only 90.4 in the five before that. If they tighten up their defense and not get down by large margins, like they did down 20 at halftime in their last 117-107 loss, then they have a chance to pull of wins in close games.
Friday’s game should be a close one even if it’s a shell of the club it was, with no LeBron James and Bosh out for the season with blood clots. Dwayne Wade is has his game back as the Heat try hard to get one of the Eastern Conference’s last playoff spots. Expect a tough match but this is a must-win for the Raps at home.
Our Pick: Toronto over Miami, 109-98