Although we can’t predict how the season will go based on five games alone, something’s gotta give if the Toronto Raptors want to proper in 2021.
The Toronto Raptors were starting to look a little more familiar following their victory against the New York Knicks on Dec. 31, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was an ugly win. They followed it up by losing to the New Orleans Pelicans on Jan. 2 in yet another close game. Not exactly the best way to start the new year.
However, even with a 1-4 record, their worst start since 2005-06, it’s still too early to hit the panic button.
This a new group, playing at a new home, in a season like no other (New year, new Raptors, literally). There are 67 games left to play. The first half of the schedule is already tough enough, and the second half of the schedule is yet to be released.
That being said, let’s all take a collective breath and go over a couple of things that we’d like to see done, not just this season, but this whole year, on and off the court.
These resolutions exclude tanking and trade scenarios, and instead, focus on what could be done with the current roster. I’ve left out the obvious, but it doesn’t change the fact that their offense needs immense improvement. The Toronto Raptors currently have the worst offensive rating in the league. Trading for a certain superstar who wants out of Houston is sounding better and better every day.
1. Finish strong
Of course, finishing strong applies to the regular season, but it also applies to every game as of late.
On top of their struggles on offense, this Raptors team has been having a difficult time when it comes to closing games. They tend to collapse in the second half.
The most frustrating thing isn’t losing, it’s the way that they’ve been losing. A lot of these games could’ve been easy wins. Instead, the Raptors enter halftime with a lead just to lose it by the fourth quarter, often blowing double-digit leads in the process.
They played some of their best basketball of the season in the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks on Dec. 31. We need to see more strong finishes like this in 2021, ideally with equally strong first halves.
Just as things were starting to look up again, the team was back to collapsing in the second half. They kicked off the new year with a 120-116 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Jan. 2. Again, failing to close it out in the second half.
One particular player who has been having trouble closing down the stretch is Pascal Siakam. He’s been having decent first half but his energy tends to die off in the second half, disappearing when we need him the most.
There is a lot of pressure on Siakam this season and he needs to step up his game this year if he wants to perform up to expectations and prove his critics wrong. Many fans want to see him succeed, but right now he just isn’t in the right headspace. Hopefully, he can figure it out and bounce back sooner rather than later.