Raptors/Heat – Sunday, March 17, 2013

by Rob G

I had the opportunity to catch the Raptors/Heat game live today thanks to Dove Men+Care, as they unveiled their interactive change table. The table was designed to call attention to the brand’s campaign to support real men and their changing role in today’s society. The table provides the tools necessary to keep dad and baby happy when change is necessary. I saw the table up close, and every dad would love this table in their home. Not sure that’s possible, but a dad can dream, right? Anyway, thanks to Dove Men+Care, as it was a great opportunity to see one of “the” games of the year at the ACC.

As for the game, well, it was much of the same old, same old. And, as Doug Smith wrote on thestar.com, “a miraculous upset would have been delightful, but let’s be real.” To paraphrase Elvis, we’re caught in a trap, we can’t walk out.

The Raptors kept it close for a good part of the first quarter, but the Heat had an 8 point lead by the end of it. The Heat subs enter, and toward the end of the second quarter the lead had grown to 14 points. The first half ended with the Raptors down 12, and who would be surprised?

A Raptor run late in the third quarter allowed them to close the gap to 4 points, and early in the fourth quarter, they tied the game at 77. The joint was jumping. Unfortunately, LeBron James and Chris Bosh were on the bench resting during that run, and in the blink of an eye with their return, it was 105-81 with 4:02 left in the fourth quarter. Ironically, much of that was driven by Ray Allen as much as by the Big 3. Enter the scrubs, and the Raptors managed to score another 10 points in garbage time to make the final 108-91.

Smith couched much of his game story with the Raptors learning from the loss to the Heat. And let’s be honest – only the greatest optimist in the world would give any credence to the thought the Raptors could win the game. But what irks me about much of the media coverage of the Raptors is exactly what I just mentioned. Most commentary is couched with positive spin of a negative narrative.

So here we are. Another Raptors loss, another game story calling it mostly like it is, in that polite Canadian, there-there tone.

What surprises me is with a view to the long term, there’s talk that Raptor’s GM Bryan Colangelo might get a contract extention?

I acknowledge Colangelo enjoyed success building a winning team in Phoenix, but there is zero evidence that he deserves to generally manage the Raptors past this season. We’re 7 years into his tenure, and while I don’t doubt Colangelo’s basketball IQ, the bottom line is from a leadership perspective, I have little sense of the team’s vision. On the court, the team’s effort is sporadic, within a game they have success in spurts, while their ability to contest on the defensive end is spotty at best. What this adds up to is inconsistent play – they’re a team without the ability to sustain maximum effort at both ends of the court. When will they be called out by the voices that matter? The bigger question, to be tackled in another post, is not when will the new ownership take a hard look at the basketball side of the business (because I’d be shocked if that wasn’t happening now), but rather what are the next steps to turn the Raptor’s ship in the right direction.

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