We have reached the quarter pole of the NBA season and the Raptors need to get their car into the pits to get it fixed quickly, if not, they may be headed for a dust-up.
Many observers looked at the schedule upon release and with the Raptors opening with 15 of the first 22 games on the road, they felt the team would start the season somewhere below the .500 mark. But they are now 4-18, I am not sure many forecasted it to be this bad.
With the Eastern Conference being as what it is, if Toronto could have come out of the fray with seven or eight wins, they would still be in the thick of things. Currently 10 wins is holding down the final playoff spot. While that doesn’t look bad, the pace means that it will take 43 wins to get grab the eighth seed. The way things look from a Raptor perspective, it doesn’t look like Toronto can get there.
So now what?
Everybody wants someone fired or traded but unless the players pick it up, it won’t matter what other changes occur. Until there is a trade made to upgrade the roster and change the chemistry, the Raptors will continue to find themselves looking up in the standings. It’s up to the players to perform.
Toronto has to change its fortunes and that task will be make more difficult by the recent turn of events.
Andrea Bargnani took a hard fall on a drive to the hoop in Portland on Monday and that same contest saw Kyle Lowry get injured when attacking the basket in the first half. Linas Kleiza is also hurt and Mickael Pietrus knees are not 100 percent. To make matters worse, for at least one game, Amir Johnson will be sitting and watching thanks Insert link http://www.sportsnet.ca/basketball/2012/12/11/raptors_johnson_suspended_one_game/ to a suspension.
Johnson’s actions in the game against Portland were out of character. Both he and referee David Jones acted “childish” as Johnson stated in the locker room afterwards. Not that Johnson’s actions post-ejection didn’t warrant a suspension, but the fact that he has a good reputation and is a first-time offender may have helped hold his banishment to only one game. Can you imagine if it was Metta World Peace or Rasheed Wallace?
Jones, as a veteran official, needed to realize the entire situation and do a better job of diffusing it. The first step after a tussle for the ball would have been to blow the whistle and issue a delay of game warning or a technical foul. Some sort of progressive discipline need to be employed. Nobody knows exactly what was said between two but it was interesting that Johnson didn’t blow his cool until after the ejection. The suggestion of progressive discipline goes out the window if egregious actions are taken. It can only have been words from Johnson because there was nothing else.
It’s interesting that it all started over a tussle for the ball. I wonder how the official would have reacted if it had been say LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, or one of the league’s other highly recognizable stars tugging at the orange for a feel? It has become a common practice around the league and if the NBA wants to do something about it, they should say so, with a rule.
But that’s not what lost the game for Toronto and Johnson’s behaviour is the least of the Raptors worries.
For now, until a roster move is made, the Raptors will have to look internally to try and get it done. Like the line from the movie New Jack City, they can only look at one another in the locker room and say “we all we got”.