Raptors Reasonablists, Volume II, Part VIII: Sisyphus, his infuriating boulder and a tied playoff series in Toronto

Title: Raptors Reasonablists, Volume II, Part VIII: Sisyphus, his infuriating boulder and a tied playoff series in Toronto
Date: April 23, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: Eric Koreen and I will be doing a semi-regular email exchange column about the Raptors, dubbing ourselves The Reasonablists. The latest edition looks at the Raptors coughing up a 2-0 series lead against the Wizards, allowing them to tie things up 2-2.

Welcome to another edition of Raptors Reasonablists with Eric Koreen and Blake Murphy. Throughout the year, lead NBA writer Koreen and regular contributor Murphy discuss hot-button issues surrounding the Raptors, but with an even-keeled approach in pursuit of finding reasonable middle ground. If we have faith in anything, it is that reasonable middle grounds lead to: a) workable long-term solutions; b) increased empathy and understanding for others; and c) more wins — at least more wins when they truly matter — probably. We hold these truths to be self-evident, and we hold these truths to be good truths.

MURPHY: Eric, maybe the best answer is simply that the Raptors are human. The feeling of trying to do things differently — trying to instill fundamental change, in approach and mentality and execution — only to wind up back at the same point repeatedly is incredibly relatable. One of my tattoos includes a nod to Sisyphus, after all, and while I am aware that we are supposed to come to imagine him smiling — for us, if you cannot appreciate the work and the struggle itself, you leave your fulfillment hopelessly at the hands of a single-sample outcome — it is more difficult to watch someone else push a boulder, or pound a rock as it were, and then kick it back down the mountain themselves.

Sunday was frustrating. Friday was more understandable even though the Raptors played objectively worse on the whole. Bad games happen, and while there’s a psychological warning sign from rolling over to a degree (and certainly a more prescriptive warning sign in how that game was managed), it just felt like One Of Those Games.

Game 4 was alarming because it brought to the forefront all of the issues that have long plagued this core in the postseason. The ball was sticky, DeMar DeRozan got tunnel vision, and the team largely lost its composure down the stretch. A winnable game was squandered because the Raptors fell into old habits, habits that they have three-plus years worth of evidence arguing against and that they spent an entire calendar year working to eliminate. This was the big question all year, even as the Raptors slowly moved toward applying the proper process to their regular season late-game offence (to admittedly mixed results): With the leverage dialled way up, have they really changed?

Continue reading at The Athletic.

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