started

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.