The frustrations among the Toronto Raptors have heightened a bit after Kyrie Irving hit a soul-crushing game-winner for the Brooklyn Nets and a blowout loss to the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.
Five straight losses are detrimental to any franchise, but to some, it’s a learning curve to championship success.
Warriors forward Draymond Green has been a contributor on four title teams in the last eight years, and within that time period, the Bay Area had to get accustomed to playing a majority of a season without their star players in Green, Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson.
The Golden State dynasty was struggling after missing the playoff two years in a row in 2020 and 2021, but the Warriors trusted their core to figure it out and find a way to win another title this past season, and they accomplished just that. Given Green’s veteran leadership, the former defensive player of the year shared advice on how to overcome the challenges, starting with their “commitment.”
“You start hearing noise about trades, and this guy shouldn’t be here, and that guy shouldn’t be here, but you have to stay committed to each other. You can’t let the outside noise dictate how you act or essentially your attitude towards the same or, more importantly, towards your teammates,” Green said per Sports Illustrated. “I think for us, you just always want to re-center yourself and re-center your focus to the game, and if you do that, the game rewards you.”
The struggles for the Raptors have come in crucial areas of the floor. Thus far, the Raptors rank as the third-lowest three-point shooting team at 32.6 percent. Meanwhile, defensively, the group gives up the fifth most fast break points (15.6) and averages the lowest defensive rebounds across the League (30.1).
There’s plenty to like for the Raptors as well, as they currently lead the League in steals at 9.6 per game, but capitalizing off those forced turnovers hasn’t been on full display as of yet.
“I don’t think that we haven’t shown that this group of guys can play the way we want to play,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse.
There are still a lot of games left to do in the season, but the turning point for the Raptors, as Green eluded to, is the team sticking through the thick and the thin of a losing stretch.
The circling trade rumors can’t become a distraction in the locker room if the team hopes to find post-season success; therefore, it’s up to the championship pedigree of the Raptors veterans to invoke a mindset to their young talent.
“We gotta play better; that’s the main thing,” Pascal Siakam said. “We[‘ve] got to get wins, and we[‘ve] got to figure out a way to get a win and then kind of build on it. Yeah, it’s hard for me to try to analyze everybody, but just us, we have to get a win.”
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