I said at the beginning of the season that it might not be until December that the Raptors started gelling as a team, what with the roster upheaval and all.
It looks like gelling time has arrived. After winning a tough road game in overtime last night in Washington, they are currently running the Bulls out of their own building. One sequence in particular stood out for me: the Raps reeled off four consecutive possessions, collecting offensive rebounds off three straight misses before Calderon buried a three to pretty much end the game with two quarters to go.
If you've been watching the Raps for a while you know how mind-bogglingly weird that sequence is. They're the team, historically, giving up all those offensive boards, not the team ripping them down.
They were up by 20 at the half, then extended that to 30+ in the third quarter (which had been their let-down quarter in the first two months, especially after a big first half -- the Denver game was probably the most egregious example.) It got so bad that on the last possession of the third quarter, Jarret Jack let the clock wind down by tucking the ball under his arm, leaning over and re-tying his shoelace.
In the annals of awesome dick moves in sporting events, that has to rank way up there.
After looking like total crap last week, the Raps are suddenly not just looking like a playoff team, they're looking like a dangerous one. They've hit bottom (coughAtlantacough), plunged through the crucible and come together as a team in the fire.
The Raps (Antoine Wright excepted... he still looked like his head wasn't in the game tonight) have figured out how they need to play to win basketball games. Now, they just have to keep doing it.
One more thing: Bryan Colangelo has done a great job building the roster not just for this year, but for next. If Bosh stays, great -- they've got five guys who can score in the starting lineup and some good plug-n-play pieces off the bench, and a roster that can play defense just well enough when they need to. If Bosh walks though, they can just find a defensive load to play center and block some shots, move Bargnani to the four and still have a dangerous offense with a better defense. Either way, it should be a solid team.
OK, two more things: DeMar DeRozan is going to be friggin' awesome. In a season or two he'll be Vince Carter without the sucky attitude. It's going to be a blast watching him evolve into Air Canada 2.0.