Toronto Raptors not showing the mentality of a contender

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19: Kyle Lowry
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19: Kyle Lowry /

While the Toronto Raptors remain at the top of the standings, their most recent stretch is not showing the mentality of a championship team.

Five games. That is how many are left on the Toronto Raptors’ schedule before the playoffs and right now, they lack the mentality that made them a favourite in the Eastern Conference.

A 112-106 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road is not going to inspire much confidence if both teams meet up at some point in the postseason. As Dough Smith of the Toronto Star writes, the Raptors could not generate a rhythm at either end of the court and the Cavs took advantage.

It is tough to excuse the Raptors’ performance, considering how they have played the past month. After watching Villanova dominate Michigan in the National Championship game, Kyle Lowry had a less than stellar performance, which was not ideal.

However, despite Lowry’s struggles, the Raptors allowed Cleveland to dictate the style of play. None of the starters on the Cavaliers shot under 50 percent from the field, as Jose Calderon and Kevin Love feasted from beyond the arc shooting over 60 percent.

More from Tip of the Tower

Forget about the dominating performance against this same opponent back in January, because that was nearly two months ago. Since then, Cleveland has retooled their roster and LeBron James continues to prove he can carry a team.

In the month of March, the Raptors have seen their defensive rating fall all the way down to 18th in the league according to They have now fallen out of the top five after being ranked fourth for most of the season.

Ahead of their game against the Boston Celtics, there should be no excuse for a lacklustre performance, considering both teams played the night before on the road.

Dwane Casey has a good reason to make the Raptors worried about their recent play; other teams are starting to catch on. Their big advantage in the East is now down to just two games.

"“I think it’s just one of those stretches where things aren’t going our way offensively,” DeMar DeRozan told reporters postgame. “It’s kind of affecting us defensively because we’re giving other teams opportunities to get out and get their rhythm going.”"

At no point should this team think about taking it easy before the real grind of the postseason. It is much tougher to flip the switch and get back into a contending mentality considering the Raptors’ lack of playoff success.

This is a time where showing some urgency can go a long way because if one area continues to struggle, the Raptors don’t want to have to overcompensate. They are a much better team when their play on offence and defence is balanced and right now that does not appear to be happening for them.

While there is still time to sort through things, eventually those final five games will disappear and if the team hasn’t sorted through their issues, the first round of the playoffs are going to be a struggle.

Next: The difficulty with resting players while contending

What did you make of the Raptors’ performance? Is there a reason to be concerned, or will things eventually turn around for them?  Let us know in the comments below.