Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Amazing Race

Other than the weekly reality show that airs on your television screen every Sunday, there is one race that truly pushes your mental and physical strength to the limit. To succeed, it requires cutthroat strategy, an unprecedented determination, and even a little bit of luck. With every team's eyes set on the same prize, you have to make a decision: Step up or be stepped on.

I'm no Phil Keoghan, but let's take a look at the final leg of the race for the post-season. Here are what challenges lay ahead for the Raptors, Bobcats, and the Bulls:

Raptors Schedule (8th):
vs. Clippers
@ Philly
vs. Golden State
@ Cleveland
vs. Boston
@ Atlanta
vs. Chicago
@ Detroit
vs. New York

Bobcats Schedule (7th):
vs. Philly
vs. Milwaukee
@ Chicago
vs. Atlanta
@ New Orleans
@ Houston
vs. Detroit
@ New Jersey
vs. Chicago

Chicago Schedule (9th):
vs. Phoenix
@ Washington
vs. Charlotte
vs. Milwaukee
vs. Cleveland
@ New Jersey
@ Toronto
vs. Boston
@ Charlotte

On a quick first glance, it seems as though the Bulls have the most difficult schedule. The only games they really should be expected to win no matter what would be the games against Washington and New Jersey. Every other team on that schedule will be fighting desperately for playoff positioning.

The Bobcats' schedule isn't that bad, but I wouldn't say it's the easiest of the 3 provided. They have three games that can easily be had against Philly, New Jersey, and Detroit. But the rest include a formidable group of teams that have either something to prove or want to finish ahead of Charlotte.

As for the Raptors, I can honestly say they have the easiest schedule of these teams. This is of course assuming they play with the same type of effort they've shown the last three games. If they do, and that's a big IF, I see them having no problem taking care of the Clippers, Sixers, Warriors, Bulls, Pistons, and Knicks. Getting even 1 of the BIG 3 stretch (Cavs, Celtics, Hawks) would also prove to be huge.

Remember Raptors Nation, Toronto holds the tiebreaker over both Charlotte and Chicago. This little fact could prove to be very significant down the stretch. This makes it even more difficult for Chicago to pass us and for Charlotte to finish ahead of us.

Since my NCAA bracket went down the drain a long time ago, I'm going to attempt to make myself feel better here and give you guys my crazy prediction for all 3 teams:

Raptors: 7-2
Bobcats: 6-3
Chicago: 3-6

That would leave us with a final Eastern Conference standing of:

7. Charlotte: 44-38
8. Toronto: 43-39
9. Chicago: 38-44

Unfortunately, that wouldn't be enough to finish ahead of Charlotte, thus giving us a date with King James and his Cavs. Obviously, this is just some prediction from some random Raptors fan, and a lot can happen from here on out; but I totally expect it to play out something similar to this.

Regardless, this is a race and the Raptors are in it. And though it took forever for them to get a clue, the point is it looks like they've got it. But now it's the final leg of the race. And with the last pit stop in sight, it's time to shift into another gear, because the last team there will be eliminated.

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