In years past, citizens of Toronto have given a free pass to their basketball franchise when it comes time to being held accountable for its actions. Both parties involved are at fault for this becoming a reality. The days of the Toronto Raptors existing in the background are near its end. With each passing game, this squad is being held under the microscope on a more consistent basis.
This brings us to Tuesday’s game vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers, who were playing the role of spoilers. Over the course of the season, playing up to the level of the competition is the norm — but what is a true contender made of? For starters, being able to fend off inferior opponents is at the forefront, especially when the team is currently in the midst of a tight playoff race, not to mention when a team’s A-game is not present.
The NBA stretch run also carries the weight of adversity along with it, and the Raptors passed its first test with flying colors on Sunday with a gutted-out victory over the Atlanta Hawks with the Chicago Bulls lurking in the background, battling for the coveted Eastern Conference No. 3 seed.
That momentum did not carry over on the road trip to Cleveland however, resulting the Raptors shooting 16-of-26 from the free throw line, combined with a whopping 32 three-point shot attempts. The usual fourth-quarter outburst of this squad could not bail out their atrocious first half in this one.
The season’s track record suggests a solid bounce-back with three bottom-feeders ahead of them on the schedule followed by three of the league’s elite. That said, the team must now be held accountable.
I get it, Toronto is a puck town first and foremost, but mutual respect in team coverage will forever be an official pipe dream as “winning” is not a prerequisite for hockey. As for hoops, as recent history suggests, once the smooth sailing encounters rough waters, it’s time to abandon ship for most.
This is not an attack on the ship-jumpers as five straight years of Raptors incompetence gives fans the right to do so (just as long as they don’t jump back on only when it’s convenient) — ask a few Cavs fans if they can relate. With the Raptors’ prolonged success this season, this team is headed in the right direction. However, if they don’t own up to their failures, they’ll find that things can change in a hurry.