Raptors return home after taking it on the chin against the Clippers. Not to the extent the Sixers took it on the chin last night but it was still a loss at the end of the day. After a promising start to their west coast trip the Raptors struggled and ended up 2-3 as they return home to face the Pelicans for the first time.
Anthony Davis should provide quite the challenge not unlike the Raptors faced in their last two games. DeMarcus Cousins tore the Raptors apart which was lost in the fury over a blown call in the game with the Kings. While Raptors at one point gave up trying to play on defensive end and resorted to fouling Jordan with limited success in the third quarter. It was to say the least a little embarrassing to watch.
The Raptors really need to get a couple wins and enter the All-Star break with some kind of momentum in a positive way. Home games tonight with Pelicans and on Wednesday with Atlanta should be games the Raptors expect to win.
The Raptors have struggled on the defensive end and got away from the great defensive play that had been the driving force behind their turnaround. It would be fairly easy for the Raptors to lose focus with DeRozan heading to his first all-star game and Jonas off to All Star Weekend for the first time and Terrence Ross defending his Dunk Contest title.
The All-Star weekend will be some recognition for their play as a whole this season Kyle Lowry wasn’t invited to the party but it still is a weekend where the Raptors will be more represented than almost any other year. Involved in events on all three nights of the weekend for only the second time I believe.
Still all of this is nice but the Raptors must remain focused on the stuff that matters and sorry to inform you Terrence Ross defending a Slam Dunk title is not it. The Raptors sit just 2 games above .500 despite being third in the Eastern Conference just a half game in front of the Hawks who they will host on Wednesday. The Brooklyn Nets are only 2 and half games back in the Division behind the Raptors and will be pushing hard to catch them.
Soon after al the All-Star fun will be the trade deadline and the Raptors who at the start of the year would have been considered sellers may actually be buyers now looking to add something to get them to move away from the back in the East. Thoughts of trading Kyle Lowry have seemed to all but be forgotten. The Raptors have given every indication they are in it to win it.
If they failed to win these two games prior to the All-Star break and entered the break at just .500 with 32 games to play at 25-25. The difference a couple wins could make would make things look a lot better. The last time the Raptors saw themselves is a similar situation they decided to keep their All-Star Chris Bosh and he would be injured the game after that All-Star break and be out several weeks only to be injured again with a broken nose and the Raptors once secure playoff spot was gone.
The East is a lot worse than it was back in 2010 but the Raptors falling to the bottom of the playoff field would make the idea of them going all in for the playoffs seem rather silly. Kyle Lowry recently has had some knee issues and his missing All-Star Weekend might be a blessing in disguise for the Raptors.