Decisions, Decisions…..

By Clinton Hosannah
Updated: April 30, 2008

Toronto RaptorsTORONTO — The dream is over for the Toronto Raptors, their fans and the Dinos went out with a fight, but at the end of the day it was too little too late.

There can be lots of arguments made for why the Raptors failed to best Orlando in this play-off series. Some people want to blame Sam Mitchell claiming he didn’t effectively utilize the Raptors’ roster.

Other critics claim that the team lacks leadership on the court and that in another market; Chris Bosh would be considered a good player, at best, citing inconsistent play from the Raptors’ franchise player.

Then there are some who think the Raptors are just not that good and were out classed by the Magic. Regardless of what fans think the season is what it is and the Raptors’ .500 finish as well as disappointing playoff showing is now part of a history that is mired in lackluster performances, during crunch times.

The last two playoff games were hard to watch. The old adage so close but yet so far away comes to mind. There were times you could almost taste the victory.

Times when glory was on the horizon, only to fizzle, crash and burn like so many opportunities they failed to capitalize on.

The hot-handed T.J. Ford from Game Three only showed up for part of Games Four and Five. At times he looked unsure and nervous during those critical games. As a result he had numerous turnovers and bad shot evaluation.

He also looked tired on defense and mentally challenged. Moon had a groin injury and was not completely effective. But at the end of game four, the Raptors still had hope despite the dire position they were in.

“It’s not over yet,” said Ford after game four. “First one to four, you know, we got ourselves in a hole, we just got to continue to stay positive. We still have to believe, still remember the games we played in Orlando especially Game Two, when we had a chance to win.”

“We got to keep that same mentality and go to Orlando and get a win, that’s the only way we can come back and keep our season alive.”

The real sad thing is that the season started off on such a high note. The league was buzzing about how deep the Raptors’ bench was. Bargnani was actually good for a few games.

Jorge Garbojosa was hot before his re-injury. Sam Mitchell was coach of the year in the last season and Chris Bosh showed promise to be the leader the Raptors were looking for on and off the court.

In the season opener against the Sixers, the team seemed unbeatable. Ford and Calderon both only had one turnover each. Ford made a comment suggesting that if the guards always set the tone and play well, the other guys would be able to get open and develop more confidence in their own abilities.

That didn’t work out too well. In that game Bargnani scored 20 points, the game high. He had 32 points in total for the whole series against the Magic.

What now? The season is over and Bryan Colangelo has to make some decisions. Does he keep T.J. Ford? Calderon seems to be doing a great job and the guard is definitely a team player.

The Raptors could probably get a good deal for Ford.

This writer believes the Raptors need some more scoring ability, someone who can drive and create off the dribble, but who can also post up and help the Dinos in the paint.

Dwight Howard is extremely strong but Toronto had almost no success in the paint.

If Sam Mitchell stays it will likely be because he is expensive to get rid of and because he is a coach that believes strongly in fundamentals. One of his goals should be to use the bench more, and by doing so, build some confidence among the players.

This being said he is a very hard working and focused coach. His style of ball bodes well with the Raptors’ roster which is heavy with European players.

Toronto is ready to see the Raptors win the Atlantic Division again and then go deeper into the playoffs. To that end everyone associated with the team has to take some blame.

But one area of contention is the point guard scenario.

When T.J. Ford came back, from an injury he suffered in a game against Atlanta during the season, he was coming off the bench while Jose Calderon started. Calderon asserted that Ford should start and gave up his start to Ford.

Now, Calderon will be a free agent this summer and rumors are floating around about him signing a long term contract with the Raptors. That warrants a starting line up nod. It only makes sense to get rid of Ford after that happens because we know he won’t want to come off the bench.

Bryan Colangelo has a tough job this summer. The G.M. said that Sam Mitchell’s job is safe but big changes have to be made to address the Raptors’ rebounding problems, defense problems and the fact that Chris Bosh needs some help.