I’d call this rock bottom, but the saddest part is that I still think it can get worse.
Here are some thoughts on the game and the general state of this team right now:
Forget thoughts on the game tonight. This game was too much of a shitshow to break down individual performances or to pinpoint what specifically went wrong.
The Raptors got off to a strong start and looked like the team capable of running away with it early. They were up 10 against a Jazz team that was missing Al Jefferson and Derrick Favors and had to sit Paul Millsap early with foul trouble. Instead of being the aggressors and taking it to Utah, the Raptors seemed content and lackadaisical, which allowed the Jazz to not only stay in the game, but take control of it on pure hustle on the glass and movement on offence.
As three-pointer after three-pointer splashed down, the Raptors, to a man, threw in the towel. Even the couple of times they cut it down to 12 or 14 in the third quarter, you could just see that they didn’t have the fight in them tonight, and that’s seriously concerning for a team that’s already dug themselves quite a hole and should have been playing desperate basketball.
A bunch of disgusting memories will stay with me from this game. Calderon refusing to dive to the floor on the play that Davis hurt his finger on, Bargnani proving that he actually could give less of a shit than in previously embarrassing games (I realize his numbers were fine, but they don’t tell the story) Lowry jacking up ill-advised three-pointers with the Raptors trying to chip away, Valanciunas not looking as defensively focused as usual, Amir committing thoughtless fouls, DeRozan being stripped of a rebound under his own basket. It just went on and on and on.
In the end, the Raptors turned out what was by far the most pathetic display of basketball and overall effort in the Dwane Casey Era, and you have to wonder how much job security Casey has left after this one. As I mentioned on twitter at one point in the fourth quarter, this was the type of game that costs people their jobs. Blowouts happen from time to time in every sport at every level, but given how desperate this team should be playing right now and how shorthanded the Jazz were, this was unacceptable on so many levels and frankly embarrassing to watch for me as fan sitting in Toronto, let alone for the players on the floor in Utah and the coaching staff.
For the record, as disappointing and disheartening as this season has been so far, I don’t think Casey should be fired. Now, if the Raptors turn in another performance like this on Sunday or continue to dig themselves an embarrassing hole, then all bets are off. Similarly, if a new general manager waltzed in and wanted his own coach, I could understand that. But as far as I’m concerned, Bryan Colangelo should not have the green light to make a coaching change given the uncertainty surrounding his own job right now. If the organization feels a major change has to be made in terms of coaching/management, then I would hope Casey at least has a little more leash than B.C. does.
On the players’ side, there are certain individuals who most of us like and who we feel this team can build with going forward, and they should be pretty obvious. Then there are certain individuals who need to be shipped out of town, if for nothing else, to end not just a culture of losing, but a culture of being content with losing. We’ve gone into great detail about all of those players in the past, and we will continue to do so in the future, but tonight I’m concerned with this team as a whole, top to bottom on December 7, 2012.
And what we know right now is that this team either isn’t talented enough, isn’t focused enough or doesn’t want it enough. Either way, that makes them not good enough to win many games in the NBA, and given what we’ve seen thus far, no game on the schedule should be looked at as “winnable” until the Raptors prove they are capable of playing good basketball for more than a quarter or a game at a time
How this team comes out on Sunday in L.A. will be telling. It won’t necessarily matter in the win/loss column since no one expects Toronto to beat the Clippers at Staples Center or to even get back in any sort of playoff race at this point, but it certainly will matter from an overall compete-level standpoint. If they come out looking like they’ve waved the white flag on the season and get blown out again, it won’t matter that the Clippers were expected to win the game anyway.
Perhaps the only question for tonight is which Raptor goes all Shea Hillenbrand on us?