Raptors loss to the Suns last night officially eliminates them from post-season contention

Raptors loss to the Suns last night officially eliminates them from post-season contention

That the Toronto Raptors weren’t going to qualify for the playoff this year was a foregone conclusion, so last night’s 114-106 defeat on the road against the Phoenix Suns only made it official. In addition to confirming something everybody already knew, the game illustrated what is sure to be one of the club’s biggest challenges as it looks to next year: how to turn a ragtag group of youngsters into a seasoned professional squad.

There’s little doubt that the current Toronto side is comprised of a hard-working bunch. The boys give it their all every night, and their ethos is unassailable. The problem is, aside from the fact that they’re not particularly good at what they do (see: 51 losses, 20 victories), that they lack the basketball IQ they so desperately need to take their game up a notch. They have some raw talent to work with—case in point: last night Andrea Bargnani dropped 27 points and DeMar DeRozan added 19—but they’re lacking in experience.

Star basketball guru Doug Smith has the story:

Jay Triano was talking about a couple of specific plays when he may have hit upon the perfect epitaph when it comes to eulogize this Raptors season.

“The energy and the effort is there,” the coach said. “The basketball smarts has to keep improving.”

What the Raptors’ head coach already knows is that this group can’t play the “potential” card forever. If they’re going to improve next year, the organization needs to bring in the kind of professionals that can mould the skills and characters of the young players that the Raptors already have.

That means no more Hedo Turkoglus, please.

• Raptors show they lack ‘basketball smarts’ in loss to Suns [Toronto Star]
Aaron Brooks sparks Suns to win over Raptors [Globe and Mail]
• Suns just too strong for Raptors [Toronto Sun]