Title: Raptors’ crunch-time execution against Blazers should help expedite the top lineup’s chemistry
Date: March 2, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about the Raptors getting a lot of high-intensity reps in a tight win over Portland, reps that could be big in forging a necessary chemistry.
Sometimes a good, old-fashioned slobber-knocker is exactly what a team needs.
The Raptors do not have a great deal of time to build chemistry. Their roster has experienced significant churn, both in the offseason and at the trade deadline, and that’s before getting to the persistent unfamiliarity of having its highest-usage player in and out of the lineup. There is an urgency to find if not an identity — the lack of identity may be the team’s defining characteristic, if versatility and flexibility are to be valued at a premium in the postseason — then a sense of comfort as a team-on-the-fly. In making several massive moves in the past nine months, the Raptors have lost a lot of what made them them, and the season’s final quarter is about discovering the new them.
What better way could there be to expedite that process than playing tough, close games against very good opponents? Those high-pressure situations call for a team’s best and most coordinated effort, and they test a team against an opponent also bringing its best. It would seem that a few intense games down the stretch could make up for a relative lack of time to meld.