Monday, March 29, 2010

With Spring Comes Meltdowns Or Sunshine

It's funny how things work sometimes.

At around this point last year, the Toronto Raptors were playing very inspired basketball. After a horrendous and disappointing season, the team managed to get everything to come together. As a result, the Raps ended up winning 9 of the last 13 games of the season. The kicker? They were already well out of the playoff race.

Fast forward to the present, and here comes the depressing part.

While in the center of the storm that is the playoff race, the Raptors have managed to lose 10 out of the last 14 games. To say the month of March has been a total disaster would definitely be an understatement. It almost seems like every game, Toronto finds a new way to lose. To make matters worse, everyday fans read another new yet disturbing revelation about the team in the papers. One day it's Colangelo saying he feels the team has individual agendas, and then the next day it's Turkoglu seemingly faking a stomach flu. On top of that, this team has had some of the most frustrating meltdowns I've seen a Raptors squad go through. Yet the most frustrating of all has been the season itself.

And even still, it's not too late to save it.

Currently sitting in the 8th seed, only a half game above Chicago and three games below Charlotte, the Raps' remaining 10 games of the season is quite manageable. Ignoring the Charlotte game tonight for just a minute, the 9 games after that looks like this:


Regardless of the fact this team has lost its last two games despite the new starting lineup, fans who have stuck with the Raptors can still spot the difference in play. This isn't the same team that got blown out by 30 to the Thunder and the Jazz. The plays have clearly turned up the intensity and sense of urgency, but have unfortunately unable to finish strong.

Let's say they keep that exact level of play for the last 10 games. I think if they can manage to do that, wins will probably come against the Clippers, Sixers, Warriors, Bulls, Pistons, and the Knicks. And even if the Raps lose the games they're expected to lose, they'd still finish around .500 - which sadly will be good enough to finish in the 8th seed.

Of course, finishing in the 8th seed may be just as bad as missing the playoffs to some; but not to the players. It's these players - the same ones many in this city have given up on - that put in the work each and everyday to get a chance to play in the post season. They realize they've let Toronto down tremendously. I say give them a chance to redeem themselves and make it up to us. This roster just needs a brand new start, and that's exactly what the playoffs is. If this team plays hard, win or lose, I can guarantee a pretty exciting first round match-up.

Obviously, things wouldn't look very good for Toronto as they'd have to stay in front of the train that is LeBron James. But that's why there are such things as "upsets". And if the NBA Playoffs turns out to be anything like this year's NCAA tournament, you'll end up attached to your couch, eyes glued on the television, while cheering on the team you're so hopelessly in love with.

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