So much for their Atlantic division banner, and the NBA coach of the year award in 2007.
2008 has been a roller coaster ride for the Toronto Raptors who after dropping back to back games this weekend versus the lottery bound Charlotte Bobcats, and New Jersey Nets, fell to 38-39 and below .500 for the first time this season since early November.
After a magical first full season under President and GM Bryan Colangelo, Raptor loyalists labeled 2007 as the "Birth of a Dino-sty". Now with five games to go in 2008, Raptor fans across Canada are now calling for Coach Sam Mitchell’s head.
Frustration is growing rapidly that Mitchell even dropped an F-BOMB following his squad’s 99-90 defeat to the Nets in New Jersey Saturday night. While guaranteed of a playoff berth, the Raptors continue to show no signs of playing post-season basketball.
Some point the finger at Mitchell responsible for the dinos, who struggle to defend for extended stretches, still make poor decisions with the basketball, still play with no urgency and can't find a way to step up in the fourth quarter, signs that all lead to an early April exit.
Others suggest, GM Bryan Colangelo deserves just as much blame for face lifting the roster with soft, cost efficient, perimeter oriented players. Or for selecting the debatable number one pick in the 2006 draft Andrea Bargnani over 2006 rookie of the year Brandon Roy or his budding teammate LaMarcus Aldridge who is averaging 18 points and 7 boards compared to Bargnani's 10 points 3 rebounds.
With experienced first class coaches Rick Carlisle, Larry Brown, Jeff Van Gundy, Paul Silas or Doug Collins currently unemployed and the Canadian Raptors struggles, Sam Mitchell would be lucky if still a head coach in the association next October.
Although people can debate until they are blue in the face about his coaching methods and actual performance, there is no way people can justify his lack of professionalism with the media.
How many times will he come out after a game and repeat "we just aren't that type of team, we don't have rebounders, we don't have slashers, and we don’t have shooters?" Mitchell tends to use too many excuses and never puts any of the blame on himself, one of the many reasons why he will be fired if Toronto continues to lose heading into the playoffs let alone swept this post season.
Also, what has Raptorland revolting is Mitchell hasn't got the best out of his No. 1 pick, whether that player is really good or not can be discussed, but when that player actually takes a step back from his rookie season something is wrong, same with Jason Kapono who he has not gotten anything out of.
Kapono has been able to get shots off every where he has been since college, so why not Toronto?
Don't look now, but the eighth-seeded Atlanta Hawks are two games in arrears of the Raptors, who suddenly face the possibility of opening the playoffs against Boston.
With five games remaining, there still exists time to hone their game, but clearly time is running out on the Raptors.