2 games. Yes, this is the first time all season the Toronto Raptors have won two games in a row, and it came in one of those games the Raps are ever so fond of; down the stretch, dependent on the last few plays of the game. Surprisingly, the Raptors didn’t blow the lead and came away with a huge 103-96 win over the Houston Rockets.
The Raps were down Andrea Bargnani and Kyle Lowry, and played a fantastic game. After the game, the whole world of social media blew up, instructing Bargnani to take his time recovering.
Regardless, this was a huge win for a team that’s trying to turn things around. They are finally playing to their potential, and are starting to show the team that everyone had high expectations for before the season started.
Jose Calderon is a true class act. A lifetime Raptor, Calderon has been involved in trade rumors, often critiqued for his bad defensive play, benched for other point guards acquired, yet he still comes, and plays hard every single night. He’s truly a luxury to have off the bench, and is arguably the best back-up point guard in the league. Considering how fragile Lowry is, the Raps should consider locking up Calderon as long as he’s content with his role here. Calderon was phenomenal tonight, posting his second triple double of season, logging 18-14-10.
However, the biggest key to success was the fact that Dwane Casey finally got it right. He went back to his roots, and during this winning streak he has the Raptors playing ‘Casey-ball’. A slow-paced, defensive system that spreads the ball on offense rather than reverting to isolation plays is what works for Casey, and he displayed that tonight. Before, Casey was trying to find the perfect balance, but I think he’s realized that he has to make this team embrace his coaching style and excel with it, and it’s been working for the past two games. While I didn’t like how long Casey waited to sub his starters in down the stretch, he made adjustments and his line-up matched Houston’s line-up. Ed Davis was playing great, however Casey had to adjust and his smaller line-up clearly worked.
Today the Raps displayed a true team effort, and I know it’s cliche, but think they are finally understanding that they will need to play as a team to get W’s.
The Raptors have some very winnable games coming up, with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, and Orlando Magic on their radar. The streak could very well stretch to 5+, and now is the time to keep pushing and turn this season around.