Started from the bottom now we here.

Started from the bottom:

2012 finish

Now we here:

2013 finish

Yup. A whole lot has changed but things remain more or less the same.

The team has, however, looked good of late, winning four straight against playoff teams and six of seven overall. Does this mean anything at all? Probably not, given the difficulty in taking anything this late in the season as true performance.

But there are positive signs – the development of Jonas Valanciunas, the defensive performance of the starting unit (seriously, it’s the fourth-best five-man unit in basketball if we loosen playing time requirements), the continued excellence of Amir Johnson, and more.

2013-14 might not be a terribly exciting season, but it definitely promises to be better than this year, the franchise’s fifth straight season missing the playoffs (the first time that has ever happened). So things should get better. But we thought that last offseason, too. Perhaps this late surge is just a part of the evil master plan, a way to galvanize fans before what will be an uneventful offseason, a red herring for Bryan Colangelo to point at and say “see?” to save his job. But maybe…

As the Raptors tip off at 8 p.m. against the Celtics tonight in a game that means literally nothing to either team, hope for a victory. The chances of keeping the team’s lottery pick are down to less than four percent, so a loss is meaningless, and at least a win let’s the team stick it to Hollinger with….one more win than he predicted.

I doubt we’ll see any Celtic regulars as the team tries to rest up for a first round match-up against the Knicks (and don’t underestimate the Celtics, that should be a fun series). So we’ll be treated to Courtney Lee, Chris Wilcox and likely game-MVP Shavlik Randolph, since he’s exactly the type of guy who would inexplicably have a big game against the Raptors.

But it should be a win, and a way to wrap up a very disappointing season on a somewhat positive note – a five-game winning streak and an up-tick in winning percentage. Plus, hey, just a few games back of the playoffs! BUY SEASON SEATS NOW!

I realize many of you are disenfranchised with the team and any wins now won’t phase you at all. That’s how it should be, since these games don’t mean a whole heck of a lot. But it’s the last time you’ll see a Raptors game until October, and by then I bet you’ll be missing it. Terrence Ross’ alley-oops, Rudy Gay’s separation creation, Amir Johnson’s hustle, Jonas Valanciunas’ enthusiasm, DeMar DeRozan’s mid-range game, Andrea Bargnani’s vacant stare…you get the point.

So yeah, just like Drake, for the Raptors “started from the bottom, now we here” means literally nothing. Drake had an in-ground pool and grew up in a rich suburb. The Raptors moved from cellar dweller to barely-also-ran. Aint nobody’s “here” much too far from where they started.

But embrace the meaningless winning streak. It’s all we have for six months in Raptorland. And after tomorrow….NBA playoffs. And you can’t beat that.

The Picks
Vegas: OTB
Hollinger: Celtics -5
Blake: Raptors by 8. 34 wins. Mathify that.

  • Raptors (FAN)

    I think your views reflect this website and it’s naysayers; but sure don’t reflect the view of fans who are selling out the ACC for Raptors games (yesterday being one of those days). I won’t convince you about any positives of the Raptors and their play in the latter half of the season and the picture coming together.. So I will do what I always do and visit this site once or twice a blue moon. I’d love to have a competing Raptors site that is not as one sided negative about everything….

    • BlakeMurphy

      You mean yesterday’s game IN ATLANTA? Cool story, bro.

      FWIW, I was a season seat holder up until this year (moved). And also FYI, there ARE other Raptor sites, which you’re welcome to go to. The fact is the team has missed the playoffs for 5 straight years, changed the “long term plan” every single season, and still doesn’t appear to be more than a first round team for the forseeable future. Would love to hear the positive spin on that.

      • iHeartLowry

        You guys do a great job, even if you do tend to downplay the positives (of which there are, admittedly, few) and highlight the negatives. Don’t feed the trolls…

      • Right Clique

        > You mean yesterday’s game IN ATLANTA? Cool story, bro.

        That was hilarious.

      • DumbassKicker

        Do you know what the “long term plan” was after Bosh left, and how has that been strayed from every year? Seems they’re doing exactly what they said they’d do, but I’m open to enlightenment.

      • RapthoseLeafs

        Have to say … I spend more time here, then at my other favourite site.

        Yes, sometimes the opinions seemed biased, and negative here. But hey … they are opinions, and everyone is entitled to them. I love the Rapid recap – miss the old style sarcastic Roll Call.

        Gems like:
        DeRozan: while the entire team played like they just found out they had herpes, DeMar played like he found out he was the cause. [ALTRAPS]

        Davis: He was banging bodies and grabbing more balls than a hernia doctor tonight. [ALTRAPS]

        A. Johnson: his game tonight reminded me of how my first girl described our sex life: 7 minutes of nothing. [ALTRAPS]

        Anyways … I miss these.

        • Lorenzo

          Haha, those were great

    • Sam Holako

      Being pessimistic about the team, and going to a game are mutually exclusive. There has been great improvement from the beginning of the season till now, of that there is no doubt. Things are looking for the first time since Bosh left, but it is still FAR cry from what has been promised by management, coaches and players heading into the season.

      • DumbassKicker

        I don’t know about “promises”. Who made promises, when, and what were they that reality has been a “FAR cry from”? Though I don’t think anything was “promised”, they said the goal was to challenge for a playoff spot. As they stand, despite the horrid start and injuries, they’re only 4 games out.

      • WhiteVegas

        Dumasskicker is correct, the promise before the season was to make the playoffs, and we only fell a little short. We’re going to end up 17-16 with Rudy Gay, which bodes well for making the playoffs next year, so while management has fallen a bit short, it’s not “a FAR cry” as you imply.

        • CJT

          I don’t think they promised that at all. I seem to remember them saying that they wanted to contend for a playoff spot and that playoffs was the goal.

    • Bouncepass

      I agree. It seems that this site has a bunch of frustrated YMCA-ballers who can’t remember what they wanted, and then criticize the Raptors when they do it. Remember a year or two ago when so many posters were begging BC to score a 3 like Rudy Gay? Check. Remember all the critics who wanted BC to dump Calderon and let a guard like Lowry run the show? Check. Meanwhile, so many seem to have a hard time figuring out that as a rookie C, JV had lots of issues on defence early, along with the usual “rookie whistle” that NBA refs hit him with every game. It was a matter of time and experience before he would hit his stride in the NBA, and the team had to suffer through that growing process this year. Objectively, the Raptors starting 5 has a lot of potential. They need a back-up big and some consistent scoring from the bench, but I expect that this team is going to be fun to watch and dangerous to play against next year.

      • BlakeMurphy

        So…you didn’t read the article?

    • Tim W.

      I hear a lot about how “negative” this Raptor site is, by people who continue to read and comment on it. What’s funny, is that I have yet to see an alternative Raptor website that doesn’t have pretty much the same point of view, save for Doug Smith’s blog and the official Raptor website, both of which are nothing more than a mouthpiece for the organization.

      I also read RaptorsHQ, which is basically the other alternative, and see a few people complaining about the exact same thing.

      At some point, you have to wonder whether it’s the Raptors websites, or the Raptors themselves, that are the problem.

      John Hollinger got raked over the coals for predicted the Raptors would end up with 32 wins, which is where they are right now. I predicted 35 wins and 10th in the East, which was apparently TOO optimistic.

      Maybe you’re mistaking being realistic, for being negative.

      • WhiteVegas

        I partly come to this site over Raptors HQ because at least this site has a few (just Andrew?) positive writer(s), and some who mix in a little positive with all their negative. The bigger reason I come here though is that there are plenty of positive fans in the comment section and forums, which you don’t see at Raps HQ, it’s literally like a room full of whining 3rd graders over there. So the best thing RR has going for it is the community, and that’s why you see so many comments complaining about how negative the site is. If the comment section was all Tim W,’s and FAQ’s I’d stop coming here. Thankfully that isn’t the case.

        • Tim W.

          You’re really putting me in the same category as FAQ?

          What bothers me is this whole “negative” “positive” issue. That’s crap, to me. Why do we have to categorize like that? I write what I see. Period. Sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s bad. I don’t skew one way or the other. When Valanciunas was drafted, I was one of the few who really liked the pick from the beginning, and got a lot of flak for my defense of the pick. I was also very pleased about the Ed Davis pick. Both were drafts where a players I really liked unexpectedly fell to the Raptors.

          I also was in the minority when I consistently defended Amir’s contract, and called it ridiculous when people talked about amnestying him.

          But if what I’m seeing I don’t like, I’m not going to sugarcoat it to appease to fans who only want to read “positive” things. I don’t really understand why anyone would want this, anyway. It gives one unrealistic expectations.

          If I wanted to be positive, I could have predicted 41 wins at the beginning of the season and a playoff appearance, but that’s not what I saw and that’s not what happened.

          Whether you agree with my opinion or not, I don’t particularly like what I see with this team, right now, so that’s what I’m going to be what I write. That’s not being positive or negative. That’s being realistic.

          • CJT

            I wouldn’t necessarily call it realistic, but more opinionated. What is realistic to you isn’t necessarily realistic to others.

            • Tim W.

              We’re all opinionated here. Otherwise no one would argue anything. And considering my track record, I’d say realistic is definitely a good way to describe me.

        • Tim W.

          And by the way, I noticed you didn’t comment on my “positive” article about Valanciunas. Ironic that you seem to ignore the positive things and focus on the negative things I say, and then call ME negative.

          • WhiteVegas

            I will admit, you did write a good positive article on JV. It was a nice turn from you shitting on his rookie of the month award a few days earlier in your post-game.

            • Tim W.

              I’m going to assume that your being intentionally ironic with your comment.

              • WhiteVegas

                “Before the game, it was announced that [Jonas Valanciunas] had won the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for March, which seems like a great honour until you realize that most of the decent rookies are in the West, and the last Raptor that won it was Jamario Moon.” – Tim W.

                • Tim W.

                  Okay then. You weren’t being intentionally ironic. I was commenting on the fact that you’ve been accusing me of focusing on the negative, including the quote that you just gave, and that’s EXACTLY what you’re doing. You ignored the vast majority of what I’ve said about Valanciunas, the vast majority of it good, and got upset about a bit of a throw away comment which is factually mostly true. The two best rookies in the league are both in the West, Lillard and Davis, and Jamario Moon DID win the Eastern Conference Player of the Month Award. Okay, I exaggerated the “most of the decent rookies are in the West” comment for effect. Partly, I forgot about Bradley Beal, who I think is the third best rookie in the league.

                  I could write an entire article in praise of a Raptor, and in it say one critical thing, and I think you’d criticize me for including that one critical thing.

  • RAPS (FAN)

    you also lose credibility in my eyes when your standings chart is incorrect… Orlando is not in the standings

    • truuth

      nobody cares about orlando fuck face.

    • BlakeMurphy

      It’s not incorrect…it’s a screengrab and the entire list didn’t fit on the screen. Jesus.

    • Dan

      The other chart is missing Charlotte so it balances out. He’s not trying alter any stats in his favor.

    • Tim W.

      I think anyone who doesn’t ignore all the negatives of the team loses credibility with you.

      • CJT

        Agree completely that there are a bunch of negatives that can be pointed out. There does seem to be a tendency to overdue that IMO, but I can understand why. Like you mentioned above, I think the range of predicted wins was between 35 and 38 for most on the site (as far as I remember) and hopefully to challange for the 8th spot. I guess what I don’t understand is that the Raps have pretty much delievered on the predtictions within a game or two and we hear a lot about disappointing and underacheiving etc. Did they really underacheive significantly? I am always hopeful about the team as that is my nature and I will do so again next season. I am excited to see JV continue to develop and think that Lowry is finally starting to find a good balance between attack mode and pass mode. I do think the coaches need to be more creative with the offensive sets and as we have seen in the past month or so, work the ball inside to out through JV.

        • Tim W.

          I don’t know what others predicted, but my prediction was 35 wins and 10th in the East. I have never said the season was disappointing. On the contrary, it’s been pretty much what I expected. And that’s been the problem. I simply don’t like what I see with this team, for the most part.

          • CJT

            Fair enough. I respect your viewpoint and agree that unless you wanted to try and find the silverlinings, that the season wasn’t all that impressive. I suppose I view the league in general as a bit of a monopoly and we are going to struggle to become a contending team. I also think that there are only two teams that can realistically win the championship and to the fans of the other 28 teams the season will be seen as a disappointment.

            • Tim W.

              I’ve never really understood this argument. How you can cheer for a team, but have the belief that that team will ever actually contend, I really don’t understand. That seems like an exercise in futility to me.

              To me, one of the reasons so few teams win Championships is because so few organization are actually set up to do so. I remember Charles Barkley saying, quite a number of years ago, that most of the GMs in the league aren’t trying to win a Championship. They’re just trying to keep their job, and that means playing it safe.

              To me, Colangelo is trying to keep his job, not trying to win a Championship.

  • Deadallus

    Stick it to Hollinger???? The fact his prediction was within one game is incredible.

    • BlakeMurphy

      It was sarcastic.

  • Paul Stevens

    My oh my. Rap fans on both sides take the whole thing just a little bit too seriously. I think Blakes posts are worth every penny he is paid to post them. I mean that without reservation. On a side and personal note, thanks for the work you do Blake. Looking forward to a better Rapos team next year, and continued high level work on this site.

    • Statement

      Well said,
      Blake you do a great job.

  • Right Clique

    Interesting poll results on the site. Speaks to me of fans being used to this sort of thing.

  • Roarque


    It’s been a good run for this season’s Team RR and I had to take a minute to say thanks for your intellectual equity and for your passion as a fan of the sport. Now if we can just get a team in Vancouver….

  • Duncan

    raps got this

  • Big D

    We shouldn’t take much from this winning streak since it’s the end of the season but there are certain things that can be taken away. Rudy and DeMar making 3’s makes a huge difference in how we space our offense. Both need to come back next year with a respectable 3 point shot. The style of play as of late really makes use of the athletes on the team. Casey has finally loosened the reigns on Lowry and he’s dictating 60% of the offensive plays. By doing so the pace has quickened and we’re seeing how this team could work next year in this style. I think the biggest thing is chemistry. When we got Rudy it put a wrench into things, as the players and the coaching staff had to figure out how to mesh with Rudy. It took time finally we’re starting to see some results of that chemistry building. Right now I think our starting unit is pretty much solid, it’s the bench that gonna need work. Where this team finishes next year who knows but I’m keeping my expectations low just in case since you never know with these Raptors lol.

  • kaiokev

    I stopped coming to this site regularly when Raps were in the playoff hunt and had Wash., Cleveland, Indiana and Milwaukee coming up (late Feb-early March). I was hoping they could win at least 3 games out of those 4 because it would have been a huge statement and playoff push if they could win some. They pulled-off a big donut in the 4 games and to me, that spelled the end to their playoff run. Nice to know they will not loose 50+ games this year.

  • RapthoseLeafs

    There are 2 ways to look at this win.

    1) Team is relaxed, nothing to lose. As such, the win shouldn’t be a surprise. Not a true representative, relative to the beginning of a season (or mid-point for that matter).

    2) Team is jelling, and win should be appreciated (like the last few), because these opponents were play-off bound teams – with something at stake (better play-off seeding).

    I tend to view this game (and the last group of games), as a harbinger of what is possible. I don’t seem doom & gloom, as some fans do. Certain players I’d favour one way over the other. They would include:

    Demar: I think he’s playing better (of late), for reasons explained in #1 (more relaxed – pressure is off). But – with more confidence – Derozan can continue this current style of play and effort, right into next season. Work that 3 point shot, and who knows.

    Rudy: #2 all the way – IMO. This last set of games seems to be demonstrating to RG, that it’s incumbent upon him to “adjust” and be more dominant in ways beyond simply scoring.

    Kyle: I’d go back to when Jose left. Since that time – with a few hiccups (some bad) – Lowry seems to have learned from Calderon. That quarterbacking a team is essential to its’ success. Add in KL’s “bull-dog” ability to score, and Raps could finally have that PG (in ONE package), that they’ve only had as a tandem.

    I was wrong about him. I never thought he could adapt, simply because this is his 7th year, and Raptors are his 3rd team (with mirroring issues from the first two teams). To give a perspective, I compare 2 stats – albeit, not a true statistical perspective.

    2011-12 … Kyle was 6.6 apg [32.1 min] – Houston fg% was .359 (8th in league)
    2012-13 (last 10 games) … Kyle was 4th (amongst PG’s) with 8.6 apg [32.6 min] – while Toronto shot .319 (28th).

    Add Jonas with 1 year experience, Ross with more seasoning, a firmly established Amir, a surprise in Acy, and Raptors have all the makings of a team I’d like to see go forward – one with MINIMAL changes. The Andrea situation is difficult, and I see no reason to make a decision until the trade deadline. I’d rather amnesty him then take back crap. I can only point out to the last year with Bosh, when Bargnani (as 2nd fiddle) was our top scorer (by efg% … +10 fga), even over Bosh. Mind you, CB was much more valuable to the team. Suffice to say, I’d gamble one more year, and if it doesn’t work, jettison him. His contract would have significant value in 2014-15 (his last year) – as an expiring contract.

    All in all, I don’t see the gloom and doom expressed by many. I feel more positive, not simply because of how this season is ending, but because of the chances that Raptors may FINALLY hold themselves together for the first time in eons. A team that doesn’t have the record for Starting line-ups (or once did). A team that doesn’t turn over 9 new players ever year.

    In retrospect, a situation where this team actually gets to develop as a cohesive unit, and not a reactionary line-up of chaos.