“Onions, baby, onions!” used to be the famous call of former Raptors play-by-play man Chuck Swirsky, when late game heroics were on display for the Dinos.
Lately, the Raptors haven’t had those onions—they’ve been more like sour grapes. At 1-6 the Raptors have struggled to close out games which they had controlled until the end.
When the going gets tough, the Raptors haven’t gotten going.
Who is the closer on this team? Where do the points come from when they are needed?
Below are the most likely options.
1. DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan has been playing inspired basketball since the beginning of the season. He leads the team in points per game with 20.7, averaging 5.6 of those points in the fourth period and overtime.
Although there’s been a small dip in DeRozan’s field goal percentage, he has shown more confidence in his jumper and has also exhibited a determination of getting to the rim. His free throw attempts are up to 6.4 per game from 5.3 a year ago, which would bode well in late game situations.
2. Andrea Bargnani
Bargnani’s versatility was supposed to be a major factor in the Raptors offense this year. His size and ability to draw larger defenders away from the basket was supposed to set up potential mismatches all year long.
We have yet to see this for a full 48 minutes.
Even worse, Il Mago has been virtually non-existent late in games, averaging 2.4 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. He needs to step up, especially in crunch time.
It’s been a small sample size of Lowry for Raptors fans, but reviews have been positive. His swagger and toughness were welcome additions to the team. Lowry has also been stellar in the fourth period of games, nailing momentum-shifting shots and averaging 4.3 points. Only problem is Lowry has only appeared in four games this season.
Injuries to key pieces Kyle Lowry, Landry Fields and Alan Anderson have forced new guys to step up and play bigger roles. We’ve seen some of these X-factors step up and play phenomenal for three periods—unfortunately for the Raptors this isn’t hockey.
A 1-6 record and the inability to close out games they are in command of may see things get a lot worse before they can any better.