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Your! Call: Is the Raptors' season at its tipping point?

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Pat Lovgren, TSN.ca Staff
12/12/2012 7:53:52 PM
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With 15 of their first 22 games on the road, it was evident that the Toronto Raptors would be tested through the season's first month and a half.

The thinking was, if the team could tread water and be at, or near the .500 mark by the time they returned home less than two weeks before Christmas, general manager Bryan Colangelo's squad would be able to move up into a playoff position with 11 of their next 14 games at the Air Canada Centre.

But after a disastrous string which has included 10 straight road losses and just one win in their last 14 contests, the Raptors are in danger of losing touch with a playoff spot before the New Year.

Already sitting nine games back of the eighth seed in the loss column, the Raptors remaining nine December games – five of which will be at home, with only one being played against a team more than two games over .500 – may define their season.

Looking at the win/loss totals of the eighth playoff seeds in the East over the last few seasons, it would be reasonable to expect that if the Raptors are to make a run at a playoff spot, a record around the .500 mark would be a must.

To accomplish this, the team would have to go 37-23 over their remaining 60 games for a .621 win percentage. That would be tough to do, but not impossible, as eight teams in the NBA are playing better than that mark, including the surprising Golden State Warriors, a squad that talent-wise was looked at prior to the season as being similar to Toronto's team.

Being a top-ten team the rest of the way is a stretch, but not completely unrealistic. However, if the losses continue to mount and the team falls further back come 2013 with nearly 40 percent of the season lost, they would have to post a better than .750 win percentage along the lines of the NBA's top five clubs, which include the Spurs, Thunder and Grizzlies -- something that even the most diehard Raptors supporters would think to be unrealistic.

Is the team capable of making such a turnaround on an almost immediate time frame?

Colangelo hopes so, but said a big problem lies in the failure of the new additions to gel, especially on the defensive end.

He said head coach Dwayne Casey's defensive system depends on a team concept with every player supporting one another facilitating things together.

"I don't think this team has developed that chemistry together on the court," Colangelo told Cybulski and Company, while on TSN Radio 1050 on Monday. "I think this group genuinely likes each other. They just don't play like they like each other or trust each other yet."

Without a contract beyond this season, the GM is getting pressure from media and fans to turn things around and said the team is exploring every angle to make the club better and suggested things would improve.

"We absolutely want to get better and will get better," Colangelo said.

The problem, after a 4-18 start, is that the Raptors have left themselves almost no room for error.

Coming home battered and bruised, the team needs to get on the same page defensively and will have to get the likes of Andrea Bargnani and Kyle Lowry to not only get healthy fast, but also improve their play.

But after a disappointing five game road-trip, which in many ways was a microcosm of their season, as the team lost a game down the stretch in Sacramento, had prolonged periods of defensive lapses against Utah and Denver and suffered multiple injuries in Portland, an immediate turnaround is tough to fathom.

So, what do you think?

Have the Raptors reached a critical point where their season can still be salvaged and if so, can they do it?

Or has the team dug itself into a hole which it cannot recover from and after just 22 games, has the season already been lost?

It's Your! Call.

Andrea Bargnani (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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