Let's be honest tonight was not the greatest performance overall by the Raptors. They shot as a team a pitiful 31% from the field. Even the mighty 3 point record almost came crashing down. Which for me personally I would not have been sad about that. The fact the Raptors have made a 3 point shot in 800 and whatever number of games to me is not important. In fact I think it points out how this team has depended on the shot to much at times over the years. Just 2-21 from behind the 3 point line should not be applauded. At some point tonight the Raptors should have excepted it was not their night from behind the arc and just left the shot alone. But the important fact at the end of the day is the Raptors got a win. There are no style points for win and no moral victories in the NBA. Chris Bosh has been a beast on the glass this season another 16 rebound game and it is becoming routine. He has now 19 double doubles to lead the NBA. That is something that makes me far more excited than a 3 point streak that means little. I mean think about it for a second what is the Raptors record during this great historic streak? I don't have the exact numbers for you but am confident without having to look it up they are below.500
The Raptors had far from their "A" game on the offensive end. However they found a way to get a win and did play decent on that other end of the floor. The teams that are the true elite in this league are able to get wins on nights when they do not have their best stuff. The Raptors want to be one of these teams and tonight was a small step in that direction. Many will say, that come on that is crazy the T-Wolves after all are just a team with 3 wins on the season. The Raptors have also owned this team now winning 11 in a row vs the T-Wolves. However think about what went on tonight and ask yourself if a week ago this team would have won that game tonight? If you answered yes were you really paying attention? The Raptors really honestly seem to have turned a corner in the development of this team.
Demar DeRozan has been one of the most noticeable improvements on this team and he got started before the rest of the team. In that blowout vs Atlanta a light went off for Demar DeRozan and he suddenly stopped worrying about what he should be doing and just started playing. He has continued on in that way for the last 3 games. He is just doing the thing he does well and is not trying to fit in and be something he is not. Demar DeRozan was never meant to be a guy to help make that 3 point streak grow. He was brought here to slash and get to the rim. Over time Demar will improve as a shooter and he will be able to make shots. However for now he is young athletic and talented and he needs to use that while he can. He is not bursting on to the scene like Vince Carter did. He is growing and building as he goes. I still am going to call him Heir Canada because I believe in him. I am not here to say if he will ever be as good as Vince. He may not be better than Vince but he will work hard everyday to prove me wrong. I like that about him and the fact he is growing in confidence is something great to see. He had 15 points tonight and 6 rebounds. All 5 of the starters reached double figures scoring tonight. Bosh was the high man with 21.
There was also a lesson for any of you that had thought it might be a good idea to trade Jose Calderon. Jarrett Jack is more than capable of being the starting point guard for this team. That is not the issue and Jack may in fact end up the starting point guard. I have said as much in this blog on more than one occasion But to trade Calderon is a much different deal and is never something I would endorse unless another point guard was coming back in the deal. The reason is that Raptors would be in a similar spot as to last season if they would move Calderon. Jose had no legitimate back up point guard. It was a key to the Raptors downfall last season. Marcus Banks came out of the witness protection program tonight because Jose was unable to go with a hip flexer injury. Banks was a train wreck with just 3 points to match his 3 fouls and had 0 assists. I think the airball 3 ball was my favourite Banks moment of the night. This is who becomes the back up point guard if you traded Calderon? I think not. If Jack does out play Calderon and emerges as the starter I am confident that Jose as he has in the past would accept it. If the Raptors have learned anything from the mistakes they have made in the Colangelo era I hope it is that having T.J Ford and Jose Calderon was a good thing. Jack and Calderon could even be a better thing. At the end of the day whichever point guard you support it is important to understand the other is good as well. Jack just may offer more leadership and defensive effort than Calderon and that is why I feel he will end up the starting point guard.
What I find the most discouraging in this Raptor turnaround is Andrea Bargnani. He has not been good and I think after being in the league for the amount of time he has it is time to raise the bar. Andrea Bargnani needs to meet a certain level on both ends of the floor and I am sorry to say at least for me he is falling well short. He may be heading to a role as the 6th man of the Raptors if things do not change. It may actually not be a terrible thing. I like the idea of him playing more with Marco Belinelli for not just Andrea but Marco as well. Andrea was said to have injured his ankle and some may want to give him a pass for tonight. I am o.k with that but in the games prior he has not been much better having key moments here and there. There is also no rule that I am aware of that says he can't finish games if he does not start. On the night's he is playing well he can be in there in crunch time with the starters. However I think Amir Johnson has shown signs of being able to fit in that starting line-up. He offers all of the things that Andrea lacks. Reggie Evans would also do the same when he is healthy. On some night's you can even go with the vet Rasho Nesterovic. Andrea needs to play better and he needs to be consistent in his effort. I am still not happy with his defensive play as well. Unlike in the case of Calderon, Andrea should and can be a better defender.
The most positive thing when you add it all together for me is this team is find all kinds of different ways to win. They showed determination and heart to get a win over the Wizards in overtime. The next night, they just had one of those nights where you saw just how great this team is capable of being on a given night. Finally tonight they showed the pride it takes to win a game that you should win. Even when you do not have your best stuff. To put it simply the Raiders creed that they seldom follow these days...Just Win Baby.
The Raptors are slowing figuring that out how to win with all kinds of different elements in play. That is how you build win streaks and how you go from being a middle of the road team to being a good team . I mentioned tonight on twitter that good should not be good enough. The Raptors need to dare to be great. That is what it will take to be a playoff team, to be a team that can actually do something once they get there and to be a team that Chris Bosh wants to be a part of and lead. Chris Bosh needs to personally dare to be great, given what we are seeing early on, he just might be starting to do that. He also needs a team willing to do the same. The Raptors are starting to show signs of that as well. The road to greatness is never any easy one. Everyone wants to be great but it is only those that are willing to put it all on the line that will be great.
I think everyone from the fans to Bryan Colangelo need to all take that attitude. It has been mine in how I am looking at this team this year. Even in games this teams wins there are things that can be better and there should never be a satisfaction. This team is just 10-13 and that is a heck of a long way from being great and still not even to point of being good. Signs are pointing in the right direction finally but there is a lot of lost time to make up for. So tonight was a win 94-88 it was far from good and miles from great but it would a step forward on the path to getting there.