True to Boston form, the Celtics shafted the Raptors yet again; this time by losing to the Bulls after taking a 1 point lead into the 4th. It’s literally come down to the last game of the year for the Raptors, sort of:
- If the Raptors win, and the Bulls lose, Toronto’s in
- If the Raptors win, and the Bulls win, Toronto’s out
- If the Raptors lose, and the Bulls lose, Toronto’s out
- If the Raptors lose, and the Bulls win, Toronto’s out
You look back over the course of the season, and start to cringe at some of the losses the Raptors had that weren’t taken seriously at the time: Washington, Indiana (twice), Philadelphia, Sacramento, and Golden State (twice). You win any of those 7 games, and this thing is over. So when we were crying bloody murder after these losses, there was a method to the madness (and not just our pride being hurt).
The fact of the matter is the Raptors don’t deserve to make the playoffs. When you look back on the season, they always came short when the pressure was on, and only got to 5th in the east by taking advantage of a weak schedule. When the chips were stacked against them, they rarely stepped up. And even after dogging so much of the season, they are literally one game from making the playoffs. It’s amazing and upsetting at the same time.
Tonight we get the Knicks, a team that the Raptors have owned over the last three seasons, going 8-3 over that span. At the best of times, the Knicks are a shell of a team, on this last game of the season though, I’m expecting a bit more. Al Harrington and Tracy McGrady (questionable) will probably miss the game, meaning the Knicks should be better off – no one to take ill-advised 3’s while the offense is setting up.
David Lee has been a Raptor killer with Bosh in the lineup, averaging 25.7pts and 16.7rebs. Without Bosh, it will be a task by committee. Turkoglu has stepped up his rebounding as of late, and I fully expect Amir to return to his rebounding ways now that Detroit has been dispatched; which only leaves Bargnani.
If he drops 30, I don’t think I will care how many boards he grabs, but he needs to drop 30, end of discussion. If not, the Knicks have this guy called Earl Barron, who seems to be grabbing a great deal of rebounds (11.7) since joining the team, and who could sway things to the Knicks favour if he goes unnoticed and unchecked. That’s about all there is to be worried about, they have a couple youngin’s who can ball, but Duhon is leading the charge, forgive me if I’m not worried.
On the Bulls side of things, they’re in Charlotte to face a Bobcats team that is 31-9 at home. Larry Brown said that they owe it to basketball to compete hard and not roll over for the Bulls. How long that lasts remains to be seen considering the Bobcats have nothing to gain or lose with this game in terms of playoff position (it’s always better to win than lose in the grand scheme of things though). You have to figure D’Antoni is in the same boat as Brown.
Really, that’s all there is to it. The Raptors have to win this game, and they need to get dirty to do it, since the Knicks have nothing else going on but to c*ck-block us from getting into the playoffs.