It’s Friday night, the team’s 20 games under .500, the Bobcats are in town and March Madness is on. This may as well be on TSN2 because its getting less viewers than a WNBA pre-season clash. You’d think there would be an element of revenge here after the Raptors got theirs handed to them in Charlotte but I doubt that’s the case since none of these guys care to take beat-downs personally. In that sense they’re a lot like that guy in high-school everyone rained insults on but never seemed to offend. You kinda just take it, you know.
Instead of droning on about matchups and strategies, let me just outline what each Raptor is playing for because it sure as hell ain’t a playoff spot.
Banks – He couldn’t care less if he gets another minute this season. He knows this is his last major NBA contract and after this it’s all about hunting for 10-days. Roko’s rightfully ahead of him in the depth chart and with some draft sites having the Raptors select a PG, I smell a buyout.
Bargnani – The only reason to watch the games. He’s looking to continue his aggressive offensive play and solid man-defense and finish the season on a high while cementing his case as the leader of this team. I focus on him on every offensive and defensive possession so I can appreciate how much he’s improved form last year.
Bosh – He’s got nothing to play for. He knows another big payday is coming in 2010 and he’s just trying to stay healthy and make sure the blame for losing is spread out evenly and not funneled towards him. Here’s some generic post-practice talk where he says they need to be more aggressive – sounds very wrong and ass-backwards.
Calderon – Trying to prove to the fans and the GM that the contract was not a mistake and that the reason he’s been crap for 90% of the season has in fact been the injury. The Detroit and Indiana games did something to help that cause but the Charlotte game canceled all that out. Not sure how much proving you can do at the tail end of a disastrous season when the games are pressure-free. Even though he’ll never admit to it, the FT thing is on his mind.
Graham – Ideally, wants to give Colangelo a reason not to re-sign Marion and hand him a contract and the starting SF minutes. Realistically, wants to showcase himself so anyone can hand him a contract in the range of what he’s making now.
Humphries – Trying to prove to the team doctor that his injury wasn’t caused by grinding with underage girls at Lobby.
Kapono – Again, nothing to prove and nothing to play for, that’s what guaranteed contracts do for you. He’s focused on not attempting any threes that might drop him out of the top 25 in 3-point shooting. He’s a conman who could be easily convicted of fraud in up to 36 countries.
Marion – Has something to play for. He knows he’s in for a massive pay cut but is trying to cut his losses by getting the Raptors to over pay or any other team to just pay.
Mensah-Bonsu – Applying for a job as the Raptors garbage-man, so far the interview’s gone well and the team is close to making an offer. The Raps are just checking references and will get back to him by the end of the week. Looking to continue the hustle on the defensive boards which looks especially great when you’re standing next to Bargnani and Bosh. Much better post-practice interview where he’s giving mad love to the fans. Marion teasing him in the background. BTW, his real name is Nana Papa Yaw Dwene Mensah-Bonsu.
O’Bryant – Can’t prove anything from the bench. We’ve got a $1,620,000 team option.
Parker – Wants to continue to prove that he can pass as a SG for 10 minutes a game and as a PG for another 5. That should be good enough to get a 1-year deal from a team that hasn’t seen him enough. The Raptor that has most benefited from this year.
Triano – Trying to show enough to get hired as an assistant next year. Post-practice interview says something about “taking it game by game” and “go over some of the things we’ve seen on tape” and “we could go on a great run” and “heart and soul” and “gritty effort” and “play every possession”. Yaaawwwnnn.
Ukic – Looking to crack the 30 minute mark in a game and why not? Let’s make the NBA initiation official and give him five straight starts just so opposing team’s can say they heard of this guy before the game. Too bad the the D-League season ends in April.
Voskuhl – Sad situation. Obviously he’s not coming back (he better not) but he’s not getting the playing time to show anyone else what he might be able to bring (which is nothing). Look for him in a Sobey’s near you.
Quick injury report. Marcus Banks is questionable with a toe injury and Humphries is out. Gerald Wallace bruised a knee against the Kings but the MRI was negative and is expected to play.
Quick game talk. We got killed in Charlotte and it would be nice to get some revenge until you think in pragmatic terms. We are tied for the 7th worst record in the league with Golden State and are 4 games ahead of Minnesota for 6th worst. A loss isn’t all that bad. That’s really all I can force myself to write about this one.
The Raptors are favored by a point and I’d put 20 bucks on them, if for nothing else so that if they win you’ll feel a little good about them. If they lose you’ll be out 20 bucks but at least you can call yourself a “gambling man” at cool parties.
Time to check out something easy on the eyes and we have Talisa from the Raptors Dance Pak who makes her second appearance on RR and that should tell you something. She’s attending the International Academy of Design and Technology and is into Grey’s Anatomy.
See if you can find the name of a popular Toronto sports personality in the RR March Madness Pool (must have Yahoo account). We’ll be at Philthy McNasty’s tonight and for once, I’ll understand if you won’t be showing up.Follow @raptorsrepublic