I could write about the Raptors' defensive disasters for days. What adjectives can be used to sum up the defense in 2008-2009? Jose Calderon's poor defensive was exposed big-time last year, and didn't help that a bum hamstring limited his quickness.
The Raptors averaged giving up 101.9 PPG, and the defensive efficiency was at a ridiculously high 110. Terrible numbers. Just terrible. Defense alone caused the Raptors go to 33-49 last year.
Yes, Bryan Colangelo brought in some help this off-season, but mostly offensive orientated players. It sounds like a lot of offense, but no defense whatsoever. It's hard to win in the NBA when you're giving up the same amount of points you just scored on offense. So all in all, I'm just as concerned this year. And it doesn't help I had a rude awakening when I watched the "olé defense" in the pre-season.
And this is the big reason why many ESPN panelists don't have the Raptors making the playoffs this year. While I disagree, I see the point they're making. I wouldn't be surprised to see a few final scores be 140-138.
If anyone watched the Finals last year, it was obvious how bad Hedo Turkoglu's defense was. Yes, he's clutch, and yes he can score at will--but he can't play a lick of defense. You know why Marco Belinelli rode the pine last year in Golden State? He can't play defense.
To be positive, Jose Calderon is 100% healthy, so expect to his quickness return. Chris Bosh has gained weight, so he'll be finally be able to contend with the Dwight Howard's in the NBA.
But when it's all said and done, defense is what it comes down to. Whoever said "defense wins championships" was 100% on the money. If the Raptors can't play defense in 2009-2010, us fans can kiss the playoffs goodbye once again.
Keep your fingers crossed.