Toronto Raptors have finally hit a point of some adversity in this post Rudy Gay run they have been on. They had an effort that was to say the least lethargic in Boston. The Celtics were in the midst of a 9 game losing streak and showed more desire to win. It seems amusing to me that this effort came after I wrote a blog on the Raptors changing their identity and was taking advantage of their weaker opposition.
Tonight the Raptors get a chance to rebound at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Rebound might have been a good choice of words as battling on the glass will be vital to any success the Raptors hope to have against Minnesota.
The T-Wolves are having a season that has been typical of their existence of late being 18-20 and 5-5 in their last 10 games. Which if they were in the East would have them firmly in the playoffs. In the West that is good enough to have a lottery ticket that could land you a very nice prospect.
T-Wolves typical of most teams with that kind of record are only 7-12 on the road while the Raptors have been struggling to establish a home court advantage that is not Drake based. Just 9-8 at home after a win over Brooklyn as they enter play this evening.
It was a terrible night for the Raptors front court in Boston as none of the Raptors big men had a particularly strong performance. That can not be the case tonight against Minnesota or the result will not be a favourable one overall.
The Raptors have no doubt been adjusting to life with expectations and perhaps been a little bit caught up in what they have been able to accomplish. The key to their success has been the solid teamwork they have had on both ends of the floor and they need to get back to that tonight in short order.
The Raptors have built a little bit of room for error by there strong play in the last month and half but not so much that they can afford a prolonged losing streak in games where they are the deserving favourite.
A trend that was fairly un-noticed with their strong play of late has been somewhat slow and lacklustre starts. A sign they are on the right path would be a good opening six minutes tonight against Minnesota. The key in beating lesser talented teams is to get on them early and eventually they will accept their fate and fold in many cases. The Raptors can not always count on their ability to fight back to be successful. It is a great quality in games where they are the underdog and a quality that against lesser teams can allow them to win games that they perhaps have not brought their “A” game to the table.
However the quicker you get off the blocks the easier night overall it can be. The Raptors still have a lot of growing to do and need to learn what it is like to be the team that is being hunted rather than the plucky loveable loser that has been their prior identity.
Will see what happens tonight and if what we saw in Boston was an anomaly or a sign of true regression. It has been a long time since the Raptors have lost a game that people expected them to win. How they respond is the biggest storyline heading into this game.