Fans at the Air Canada Center got another first-hand look at playoff-caliber basketball on Friday night, but to the disappointment of those in attendance, the Toronto Raptors couldn’t finish Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder in a double-overtime thriller, and have now lost three of their last four games.
Unable to find the formula that led to an impressive win on the road over Oklahoma City last December, the inexperienced Raptors let a hard-earned lead slip away late in the second overtime, and poor fundamentals were again at the root of the issue.
Instead of rebounding however, Toronto’s downfall on Friday night can be attributed to a combination of individual incidents involving turnovers, missed free throws, poor decision-making, points off the fast break, and an awful performance from 3-point range in which the hosts shot just 8-of-29 for 27 percent.
While the Raptors hung with one of the league’s best and pushed the Western Conference powers to the brink of defeat, failing to win against this level of competition simply because the team was unable to take advantage of what they could control doesn’t bode well for the upcoming playoffs.
Aside from the team-related problems that led to the deflating loss, starters Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas struggled from the floor and combined for only 10 points on 4-of-20 shooting. Fortunately, Toronto’s talented center earned his 45 minutes of playing time by adding 13 rebounds to his otherwise dismal performance.
Toronto is still clinging to its precarious position as the third seed in the East, but after losing three out of the last four, the Raptors will be looking forward to the following seven days when they’ll play four straight contests versus bottom-feeders that are currently planning their late-April vacations.