The Toronto Raptors was seeking to turn the season around and bring home among the NBA’s last NBA Eastern Conference playoff seeds. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to do it against the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night in Toronto.
Despite missing starters Jose Calderon (broken thumb) and Terrence Ross (ankle sprain), the Raptors were still a team from the NBA’s playoffs. They were able to win some hard games, but ultimately lost to a group from the East, which is that the Celtics, that has got the top album in the seminar right now. Toronto’s loss leaves them out of the playoffs for the third straight year, the longest drought since the franchise moved to Toronto.
Now the Raptors’ main playmaker, Serge Ibaka (who was limited in game one against the Sixers), might have to play a major role in their playoff hopes this time around. In a match that Toronto really needed to win, and they couldn’t come , it seemed as if the Raptors were not able to lose. When you look at a few of the statistics, it doesn’t seem like there was much that Ibaka can do to help his team win.
He scored eight points, but he also dedicated two of Toronto’s three fouls in the first half. He had a minus-nine in things, and also a minus-eight in rebounds. It simply didn’t look like he was on his game in the first half. Even in the second half, when he made a couple of big plays, the Raptors just weren’t able to get into a rhythm with his teammates.
The lack of scoring from Serge Ibaka is a huge problem for the Raptors. Without him, Toronto cannot create enough things to win matches. Toronto should be able to score enough points to win a lot of matches, but it simply can not rely upon him to take the team. As good as he is, he isn’t a three-point shooting star. What he does have to do is go outside and shoot the big shots.
The other issue that is plaguing the Raptors right now is their inability to maintain the defensive intensity that is required to prevent Boston. That is the reason why they were losing games before they dropped the East. The Celtics are a fantastic offensive team that likes to drive into the basket and score, so the Raptors need to return into being an offensive group. And slow down Boston’s driving assault to slow down their crime. They’ll have an opportunity to do that if the Celtics run into a challenging shortage.
What will help the Raptors out the most on Wednesday is if they are in a position to play much better defense, particularly from the margin with the acquisition of Serge Ibaka. I am not worried about him being a one-dimensional player, but it might be a tiny bit too easy for him to turn into one in his job playing for the Raptors. He will need to demonstrate that he can contribute more than simply scoring points and rebounding every time out.
For all his amazing abilities, it will most likely be around Terrence Ross to ensure that the Raptors can still get the most out of Serge Ibaka. The Raptors need Ibaka’s versatility, and protection, since he’s among the best defenders in the NBA in the three-spot, and he’s not a high-post presence. The only real way Toronto is going to have the ability to acquire the East is when they bring in some reinforcements from the outside.