Toronto Raptors Are at A Crossroad

Stephen BrotherstonAnalyst IMarch 16, 2010

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 02:  Chris Bosh #4 of the Toronto Raptors against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on December 2, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After an unexpected practice on Monday, a more mellow Chris Bosh told reporters, “Put up or shut up…crying or pouting is not going to get it done.”

A practice the first day back after a week on the road may have seemed unusual to the media following the Raptors.  However, no one should have been surprised by the fact the coaches and the players were not happy with an 0-4 road trip. 

And no one was complaining about being on the practice court yesterday.

There was some good news. 

Bosh says that he is now back to where he was before the injury and is ready to go.  But coach Jay Triano stated the obvious when let reporters know that he was playing both Bosh and Turkoglu through things during the road trip.

And Jarrett Jack summed up the Raptors situation the best, “We are at a crossroads.”  At least the players are not trying to fool anybody, including themselves.

This Raptors season is at a crossroads.

The injury to Bosh illustrated just how dependent the Raptors are on their All-Star. And Bosh’s slow start after his return only emphasized that point.

In Bosh’s first three games back after his injury, his shooting stroke was gone and so was his ability to drive.  In the next couple of games, Bosh found his stroke but was still mostly playing on the outside. 

And in his attempt to regain his offensive rhythm, Bosh turned the ball over nine times over those last two games.

Equally important for a poor rebounding team like Toronto, Bosh has averaged about three fewer boards per game since his return.

Maybe it was conditioning or maybe it was timing.  It’s even possible Bosh was still feeling the effects of that sprained ankle.  But without Bosh’s new found ability to dominate in the paint against all types of defenders, the Raptors looked a lot like last year’s team in four of the past five games.

The Toronto Raptors 1-9 record over the past 10 games comes with a ton of built-in excuses for their lack of success. 

But Bosh is right.  It’s time to put up or shut up.

If the Raptors can win the next two home games against Atlanta and Oklahoma City, the recent slide will become a distant memory and the Raptors will have shown the backbone and toughness that no one is presently giving them credit for.

But two more loses in a row, and the Raptors playoff aspirations will depend on the continuing implosion of the Chicago Bulls' fortunes.

And Chicago is likely to give the Raptors every opportunity to secure the eighth and final playoff spot. 

If the Raptors back their way into the postseason solely because the Bulls can’t win a game, that postseason berth will come with little excitement or enthusiasm for the Raptors fans.