After falling down 3-0 to the Wizards those of us that weren’t convinced already accepted that:
1) The Raptors are an average NBA team in an awful Eastern Conference.
2) As Zach Lowe wrote, “DeMar DeRozan is basically a random points generator. He takes brutal shots that go in some nights and not others.” Dero’s ball handling skills are below average for a two-guard, and that was exposed by the Wizards. Somehow no coach before Randy Wittman realized that if you don’t bite on DeRozan’s pump fakes, he’ll shoot the resulting horrendous shot anyway. DeMar went 40% from the field, and averaged only 4.3 free throw attempts (as opposed to 7.2 in the regular season).
3) Dwane Casey is a poor strategic coach. It’s not like I would have come up with some great plan, but refusing to adjust your defensive approach to John Wall, and sticking with getting torched from the perimeter, is pink-slip worthy.
After Game 4, we learned another key nugget about this team, especially its core – when pushed, it will quit. How else do you explain falling down by 20 midway through the second quarter in an elimination game and never showing a hint of fight? Even more damning are the performances of teams in equally dire situations:
1) The Bucks lost two straight heartbreakers to go down 3-0, come out energized for Game 4, won, then take another game in Chicago to force a Game 6.
2) The Mavs – down 3-0, with Rajon Rondo cut by the team mid-series, fight the potential MVP and a spry Dwight Howard to force a Game 5.
3) The Blazers – down 3-0, trailing by 10 in the 4th, crowd silent, go on a furious rally led by frickin CJ Mccollum to force a Game 5.
As the cliche goes – these teams could have quit, but they had some pride and successfully extended their seasons. The Raptors laying down and dying is inexcusable. Masai Ujiri has known for a while that this roster is underwhelming. Now he knows it lacks heart too.