For the first time since February 7th, Toronto enters a game in fourth place, but can reclaim third with a win tonight. In fact, this home and home series offers Toronto the opportunity to control their own destiny. Winning both games would clinch Toronto’s first post season appearance in six years.  Cut the irony with a knife as its also been six years since Toronto won in Beantown (January 23rd, 2008).

Speaking of irony, a Raptor win coupled with a win by Rudy Gay’s Kings (who play the Knicks) would literally cement a playoff berth for the team who traded him.

Before we break it down, Tom Westerholm of ESPN True Hoop Network and writer for Celtics Hub was kind enough to answer a few questions.

Tonight marks the first time this season Toronto will face Rajon Rondo. It was reported Rondo worked on his shot while rehabing his knee, yet the one area of his game which is significantly lower is his field goal percent (10% less than his career average). Is this due to Rondo being forced into late shot clock attempts or is there another reason for this drop off?

There are obviously a ton of factors at play here, but one of them is Rondo’s 3-point jumper. One can see the work he’s done over the off season on his stroke, and he clearly feels more comfortable taking them — he’s shooting nearly three times as many per game compared to last year. But even a career-high 29 percent from downtown (obviously not great, but an improvement) will pull one’s overall field goal percentage down.

We are also working with a small sample size and a new role as the Celtics’ top gun for Rondo, as well as a myriad of other factors that I won’t bother to get into here.

Jared Sullinger absolutely torched Toronto last game with 25 points and 20 rebounds, well above his season average of 12.8 points and 8.2 rebounds. Reviewing the season, his best games were against teams with 7’ centers (Cousins, Noah, Gasol and Valanciunas). Would it be fair to say he has an advantage versus big centers and why?

If Sullinger has an advantage over big centers, it’s because most of them struggle to cover bigs who can pick-and-pop. Sullinger can pick-and-pop effectively in roughly one out of every three games he plays, so if he hits his first couple shots, you may be in for a long night. You have a 2 out of 3 chance of getting a mediocre Sully game, though.

After an up and down season, Canadian Kelly Olynyk has been on fire in March from the field and 3-point line: 50% and 42.1%, respectively. He played point guard in high school, so his ability to handle the ball is a huge asset for a center. Do you envision him growing into a hybrid along the lines of Noah or Gasol with a 3-point shot?

This is going to sound like a cop-out, but Olynyk really is just Olynyk. There are going to be things he can do in the NBA (shoot, dribble, drive, rebound), and there are going to be things he can’t do (defend the rim, jump, run fast, not look like a homeless person). His lack of protection around the rim rules him out of any Gasol/Noah comparisons, but it doesn’t rule out the possibility that he could become an effective player. I’ve been thrilled with his developments in March, and I think Boston would be smart to give him as many minutes and as much of a leash as possible over the last 10+ games of the season to better gauge what he brings to the table and what would fit well around him.

Note: I couldn’t resist adding this picture after Tom’s homeless person joke. I think Olynyk resembles tennis legend: Bjorn Borg. Take a look and draw your own conclusions.

Bjorn Borg Kelly Olynyk

Boston beat Miami twice this season and accounted for one of Brooklyn’s 3-losses in March, so it’s safe to say this young squad gets up for seeded teams. Therefore, the Celtics will attempt to play spoiler again while the Raptors will look to re-claim third and create some space from the teams chasing them. Obviously Casey’s game plan will include containment of Green and outline a necessity to win the rebound battle to limit Sullinger’s effectiveness. What are the other keys to stopping Boston?

The biggest key to beating Boston’s offense is containing the perimeter and contesting jump shots. Avery Bradley and Jeff Green both very much prefer to launch jumper after jumper, and even Boston’s bigs (Sullinger, Olynyk, Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries) like pick-and-pop rather than rolling to the basket. If the Raptors can keep any Celtic from catching fire away from the basket, Boston won’t score much.

But honestly, even if Boston hits a bunch of jumpers, the Celtics probably aren’t going to win. Winning hurts more than it helps at this point, and those games you mentioned (Brooklyn/Miami) held special significance with Pierce/KG and LeBron vs. Rondo. As good as Toronto has been this year (and the Raps have been really good), it’s tough to imagine the Celtics being as inspired as they were against the Nets and Heat.

Positional Match-ups

Point Guard — Most intriguing match-up is at the point with both Lowry and Rondo experiencing their best stats month. Lowry is averaging 22.5 points per game in the past 10 and has scored 20 in all but one (19). Both are their team’s catalyst, but following a disappointing birthday loss coupled with stomach flu, look for Lowry to come out energetic with laser focus intent on getting the Raptor offense  rolling early.

March per game average:

  • Lowry: 20.8 Pts, 8 Asts, 5.8 Rebs, 1.9 Stls, 41.5%-FG%, 40.5%-3-Pt%
  • Rondo: 11.1 Pts, 11 Asts, 6.0 Rebs, 1.3 Stls, 33.3%-FG%, 24.3%-3-Pt%

Advantage: Raptors

Shooting Guard — DeRozan has had to deal with tall defenders and double-teams of late; tonight he’ll face a lock-down defender in Avery Bradley who is having his best month offensively.   In March, DeRozan is averaging 9.6 trips to the line accounting for 36% of his 22.6 points per game.  Prior to last night’s loss (13 points), DeRozan averaged 28.5 points the previous 4-games. He’ll need to produce a much better defensive outing to take the smell off last night.

Advantage: Slight edge Raptors

Small Forward — Until recently Ross had some of his best scoring efforts on the second night of back-to-back series and was the most energetic Raptor on both ends. Fortunately for him Green is playing his worst defense of the season (+/- of minus 7.8).

Advantage: Slight edge Raptors

Front Court — Despite his wonky ankles, Johnson is playing his best ball of the season, while Bass is having his worst month of the campaign. With the onus on the importance of winning this game expect another gutsy effort from A.J.

Valanciunas is shooting his best average from the field in March, but Humphries has played well this month. More important than offense for J.V. will be the need for him to commit to defense from the onset.

Advantage: Raptors (this type of historical victory and need for a win has Amir’s fingerprints all over it)

Bench — Patterson has been cleared to practice with contact (hallelujah).  Doesn’t appear Vasquez twisted ankle is as sore as his ego so he should play; he’s averaged 16 pts in last 4.  To that end, without Patterson, bench scoring is down, the overall defense has suffered but more importantly ball movement has waned. So giving de Colo extra minutes couldn’t hurt as he seems to understand the need for someone to produce scoring options for others especially with Vasquez being the primary bench scorer in Patterson’s absence.

Meanwhile the Celtics have assassin Sullinger licking his lips in wait of another big game against Toronto. Bayless and Humphries will have the added incentive of performing well against their former team.

Advantage: Celtics

Team Rating:

  • Toronto: 39-31  – offense- 10th, defense- 6th
  • Boston: 23-47 – offense- 28th, defense- 16th

Referees:

  • Dick Bavetta
  • Dan Crawford (oh oh)
  • Courtney Kirkland

Vegas Says: Raptors favored by 3.5, over/under: 195 with public favoring Raptors by 62%

Tamberlyn Says: I tend to be slightly superstitious, but I’m also committed to my belief this team is the closest to the best Raptor team ever (2001). Raptor’s intangible is their heart and guts identity which is mirrored in its two leaders: Johnson and Lowry. This writer believes tonight will feature a focused effort led by them, specifically resulting in:

  • reclaiming third seed
  • benchmark 40th win
  • division record of 9-3 (Brooklyn & Chicago each have 5 division losses)
  • reduce magic number to  1

Get your shovels out it’s time to bury those ghosts!

Raptors by 6 (in honor of the six-year jinx)

  • Tanks-a-lot

    Raptors are going to get destroyed tonight. Lazy ass laurel resters gonna get smashed by Celtics that give a crap.

    • caccia

      Thanks for the laugh, but it’s the other team that’s tanking.

      • Tanks-a-lot

        Not on their home court. And, especially not against the Raptors. Unless the Raptors actually try for 48 minutes, the Celtics will win yet again on their home floor against the Raptors.

        • jjdynomite

          Oops.

          • Tanks-a-lot

            I’m very happy to be wrong

      • Tanks-a-lot

        Not on their home court. And, especially not against the Raptors. Unless the Raptors actually try for 48 minutes, the Celtics will win yet again on their home floor against the Raptors.

    • caccia

      Thanks for the laugh, but it’s the other team that’s tanking.

  • Reed

    Another game where the Raptors will struggle with a under .500 club. Casey will continue to baffle us with his dumbfounded lineups, plays and benchings. Lowry again will have to “coach” the team and carry us to a close victory over a lowly under .500 team.

    Tim. W is gonna have the last laugh when the Raps are bounced in the first round in 5 games and Lowry sick of Casey leaves to a greener pasture.

    • GetLicks

      Are you this optimistic in your day-to-day life? If so, I feel bad for ya

    • ac1011990

      Speaking of Tim W, where did he go?

    • ac1011990

      Speaking of Tim W, where did he go?

    • Ghotte

      Tim W – and any of similar stripes – would have the last laugh regardless if the Raps lost in game seven of the Conference finals. They could trumpet “I told you so!” with any playoff round loss, “The players suck, the coach sucks, the GM sucks and the organization is directionless and doomed!!”

  • JC

    1st Quarter efforts will show us what kind of game to expect tonight. We can’t get reliant on the comeback anymore. Full 48 tonight. It may be difficult, but I have hope that we’ll get this one. NO EXCUSES!

  • bizzy

    Jeez bunch of negative nancies and Debbie downers here, we lose one game to a team we should have won against now everyone thinks were getting bounced in the first round. Its no wonder people think were the most disloyal fans ever,one minute praising our team the next totally shitting on it. We have some very young players that are gonna have bad games, learn to deal with it or find another team. Have some pride and understand were not at full strength, we need patman back, the signal is up just gotta wait til he’s healthy.

    • GetLicks

      Well said: One minute the sky is falling, the next we’re a team of world beaters. I hate losing as much as anyone on here, but the emotions should be tempered both ways.

    • ace5950

      I totally agree with you but if we continue to play bad 1st quarters and face it when looking at the entire season we’re pretty much a second half team, we most likely will struggle in the first round. But still there’s a more than possible chance that we can make it to the second

      • Tamberlyn Richardson

        It’s definitely a very bad habit BUT would you rather be a first half team who needs to learn how to compete in the second half OR a second half monster who needs to learn to bring a sustained defensive effort in the first half?

      • Tamberlyn Richardson

        It’s definitely a very bad habit BUT would you rather be a first half team who needs to learn how to compete in the second half OR a second half monster who needs to learn to bring a sustained defensive effort in the first half?

    • Wes mantooth

      It’s not one loss! They’ve had quite a few bad losses. The lakers the celtics the hawks.. I believe there’s more. This team has become notorious for bad starts and playing catch up. On a few occasions got lucky I the catch up to capture a W.
      Losing to a bad team without its best allstar player at this time of year is unexceptable.
      Also we put up a very poor performance against the pelicans without Anthony Davis !
      The negativity is absolutely warranted !
      If the raps are going t be a legit playoff team they’re character cannot be in question at this point in the season.
      They’ve proven nothing at this point.
      The coach feels the same way
      They need tuff love. Stop drinkin the koolaid and get your head outta ur ass

      • Ghotte

        Caught Miami and Indiana’s play of late?

        • Wes Mantooth

          Those are legit contenders that have built enough wins they can afford be cocky lose games or whatever so yeah I have. Also the heat are the champs. If ur point was that they’re struggling right now it’s irrelevant
          I also just caught the raps celtics. Glad they won but I know I didn’t feel at ease when they were only up 3.
          Not hating on the raps at all. Love the raps. Not loving there approach right now. If Lowry didn’t bail them out tonite they might’ve lost to the tanking celtics.

          • Ghotte

            Glad my point is irrelevant Ha ha.

            Butch Carter said (earlier today) that teams like the Celtics with losing records are playing carefree and loose so they tend to play the best ball of the year. Whereas some teams may be mentally fatigued due to the grind of a tight playoff race. In other words, teams like the Raptors are even more susceptible to these trap games. So, loses to teams like the Cavs are not that surprising.

            Guess his point is irrelevant too.

            • Wes mantooth

              No his point isn’t irrelevant.
              Yours is.
              The reasons for Miami and Indiana losing compared to Toronto are completely different.
              Dwayne Casey is saying the same thing I am. That they’re playing down to there comp like they’ve already proven something.. So I’m gonna go with the relevance of the current coach as opposed to the over the hill retired one.
              Don’t be glad your point is irrelevant it’s not a good look sweet pea

    • Wes mantooth

      It’s not one loss! They’ve had quite a few bad losses. The lakers the celtics the hawks.. I believe there’s more. This team has become notorious for bad starts and playing catch up. On a few occasions got lucky I the catch up to capture a W.
      Losing to a bad team without its best allstar player at this time of year is unexceptable.
      Also we put up a very poor performance against the pelicans without Anthony Davis !
      The negativity is absolutely warranted !
      If the raps are going t be a legit playoff team they’re character cannot be in question at this point in the season.
      They’ve proven nothing at this point.
      The coach feels the same way
      They need tuff love. Stop drinkin the koolaid and get your head outta ur ass

    • Tamberlyn Richardson

      I think so many fans have become accustomed to heartbreak they still have a hard time believing or having faith. We need to learn to fight & believe in our team like they believe in each other. This is still the same team that:

      1) hasn’t lost 3 in a row since the trade,
      2) played better basketball during toughest part of their schedule while Indy/Miami are performing worse now that they’ve hit theirs
      3) are tied with Indy for most sweeps vs. Western teams
      4) haven’t lost a game by 20 points all year
      5) have only lost 3 games by 13 since trade (the rest are all under 10 points which is tied with Suns for lowest loss average)
      6) have lost a minimum of 5 games on questionable refereeing (eventually the law of averages will kick in)

      7) are playing with 2 of our 3 best players injured
      8) are going thru a mini slump (a slump with a winning percentage of 58%) without Patterson who is key to our success on both ends

      AND most importantly are 13 and 7 since February 10 (65% win percent). Look deeper at those 7 losses which include 3 games that went to over time (Wizards x 3, OKC x 2 & Atl x 1).

      Sure they need to have better starts and find a way to motivate themselves versus the sub-.500 teams. But seriously to still be winning at close to 60% without Patterson in the line-up is huge.

      If we’ve learned anything this year it’s that THIS Raptor team is resilient and driven. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt because they’ve demonstrated to me a desire to win in crucial situations. Tonight is one of those nights.

      • Wes mantooth

        I love this team as much as anyone. I live in LA and by the league pass every year. I have never missed a game. I rewatch games!
        But this nonsense about Patrick Patterson being our X factor is ridiculous. He’s great but a bench player !!
        Thunder lost Westbrook and still won!
        The raps have played well there’s no question but this cocky playing down to your opponent bs is what sparks the negativity ! It shows a lack of character
        Raps need tough love not pats on the back for mediocre accomplishments

        • Will

          Relax man, you’ll live longer. It’s not like we’re the coaches. It’s not like the players are reading this site? Whether we’re positive or negative is not going to affect the outcome of the game. Venting on this site is not going to give any tough love to them. I’m not saying we should be happy about their recent play. But is it really as bad as you’re making it out to be?

          • Wes mantooth

            Haha I appreciate your concern.
            I am relaxed. FYI that’s what this site is about my friend. Talkin raps!! Hopefully constructively!
            I’m not talking to the coaches or the players I’m responding g to comments in this sight. Nor am I saying that my tough love will be heard. I’m saying they need tough love. There coach agrees
            But again I so appreciate your concern for my well being as I type this on a patio in the sun in Los Angeles very tensely.
            It is as bad as I say when they lose to the cabs without kyrie when we are jostling for position. A must easy win we lost the game and our 3rd seed. Our star player got shut down and Steve Novak played power forward for large important minutes while shooting I for5.
            Any other advice you have to lengthen my life would be much appreciated. Maybe I should shut my brain off drink some raptors flavored koolaid like u when I watch tonite
            You’re the best

          • Wes mantooth

            Haha I appreciate your concern.
            I am relaxed. FYI that’s what this site is about my friend. Talkin raps!! Hopefully constructively!
            I’m not talking to the coaches or the players I’m responding g to comments in this sight. Nor am I saying that my tough love will be heard. I’m saying they need tough love. There coach agrees
            But again I so appreciate your concern for my well being as I type this on a patio in the sun in Los Angeles very tensely.
            It is as bad as I say when they lose to the cabs without kyrie when we are jostling for position. A must easy win we lost the game and our 3rd seed. Our star player got shut down and Steve Novak played power forward for large important minutes while shooting I for5.
            Any other advice you have to lengthen my life would be much appreciated. Maybe I should shut my brain off drink some raptors flavored koolaid like u when I watch tonite
            You’re the best

        • Will

          Relax man, you’ll live longer. It’s not like we’re the coaches. It’s not like the players are reading this site? Whether we’re positive or negative is not going to affect the outcome of the game. Venting on this site is not going to give any tough love to them. I’m not saying we should be happy about their recent play. But is it really as bad as you’re making it out to be?

        • Tamberlyn Richardson

          Agreed they need to re-focus, however don’t discount how valuable Patterson is because he represents a big who stretches the floor and provides screens when Amir isn’t on the court. Also he’s one of the best defensive communicators. OKC is my favorite Western Team but to compare the Raptors to them isn’t an oranges to oranges situation for one reason: Durant.

          This team is based on 15 guys who all have roles and unfortunately losing one pivotal player out of that nine to ten man rotation for an extended period will create undue stress on the others.

          Plus, Amir and Kyle are both playing with a myriad of injuries. I’m not saying they can’t learn from this or don’t need to adjust: THEY DO.

          I’m saying it’s not a henny penny “the sky is falling” situation. And, based on this team’s character/identity they have repeatedly learned from their mistakes and improved throughout the season. Their next step will be to blow teams away early (especially the sub-500’s) so they can rest the guys who need it.

          • Wes mantooth

            Not comparing thunder to raps as much as I’m pointing out that 2 pat shouldn’t be such a big deal and such a valid excuse. As much as the thunder is better then us Westbrook is better then Patterson so the loss is reflectively equal. No excuses from them. That’s all

            • Abused Raptors Fan

              The Westbrook vs. Patterson comparison is a case of false equivalency for a number of reasons. First, OKC is better suited to absorb the loss of Westbrook than we are to absorb the loss of Patterson. The recently stellar play of KD is a prime example of this, as OKC’s SUPERSTAR player took it to another stratosphere to compensate for Westbrook’s loss. Additionally, the replacement players brought in by OKC are of a much high quality and talent level, who’re returning players on a team with a relatively established system.
              Without Patterson, the Raptors have a miniscule margin for error up front, as he basically served as our 6th man, as well as an insurance policy for our starting bigs – both of whom struggle in terms of consistency and durability. Without him, a inconsistent night from JV or an injured Amir results in heavy minutes for either Hansbrough or Hayes, who are best suited for spot minutes in certain situations. When this occurs against mobile, athletic or lengthy frontlines or a quick penetrating guard, our defense struggles mightily.
              On offense, Patterson provides floor spacing through his another offensive look with his Pick n’ Pop abilities and 3pt shooting, as well as a pressure release for our guards if (and often when) they encounter a defensive wall mid-drive (I’m talking to you here Demar and Vasquez). His scoring also takes the pressure of Vasquez to score, which allows him to focus on setting teammates up with the bench unit.
              Finally, Casey’s insistence on never playing JV in crunch time has come back to bite him in the ass now that we desperately need him to come through for us. Without developing any kind of confidence or comfort within those situations earlier in the year, JV’s inexperience really hurts us in our close playoff run.

              • Wes mantooth

                So ur saying losing Westbrook isn’t as bad as losing Patterson!?
                I disagree. Point proven lastnite when they didn’t play him in ivertime and the list to the mavs
                I do agree that we’re a different club and are 15 strong as Lowry says and less equipped to deal with loss which is exactly why they’re cocky approach to playing lesser teams is inexcusable ! And pointing out that it’s because we’re missing PP is a horrible excuse. If we are that good it shouldn’t be such an issue

              • Wes mantooth

                So ur saying losing Westbrook isn’t as bad as losing Patterson!?
                I disagree. Point proven lastnite when they didn’t play him in ivertime and the list to the mavs
                I do agree that we’re a different club and are 15 strong as Lowry says and less equipped to deal with loss which is exactly why they’re cocky approach to playing lesser teams is inexcusable ! And pointing out that it’s because we’re missing PP is a horrible excuse. If we are that good it shouldn’t be such an issue

            • Abused Raptors Fan

              The Westbrook vs. Patterson comparison is a case of false equivalency for a number of reasons. First, OKC is better suited to absorb the loss of Westbrook than we are to absorb the loss of Patterson. The recently stellar play of KD is a prime example of this, as OKC’s SUPERSTAR player took it to another stratosphere to compensate for Westbrook’s loss. Additionally, the replacement players brought in by OKC are of a much high quality and talent level, who’re returning players on a team with a relatively established system.
              Without Patterson, the Raptors have a miniscule margin for error up front, as he basically served as our 6th man, as well as an insurance policy for our starting bigs – both of whom struggle in terms of consistency and durability. Without him, a inconsistent night from JV or an injured Amir results in heavy minutes for either Hansbrough or Hayes, who are best suited for spot minutes in certain situations. When this occurs against mobile, athletic or lengthy frontlines or a quick penetrating guard, our defense struggles mightily.
              On offense, Patterson provides floor spacing through his another offensive look with his Pick n’ Pop abilities and 3pt shooting, as well as a pressure release for our guards if (and often when) they encounter a defensive wall mid-drive (I’m talking to you here Demar and Vasquez). His scoring also takes the pressure of Vasquez to score, which allows him to focus on setting teammates up with the bench unit.
              Finally, Casey’s insistence on never playing JV in crunch time has come back to bite him in the ass now that we desperately need him to come through for us. Without developing any kind of confidence or comfort within those situations earlier in the year, JV’s inexperience really hurts us in our close playoff run.

          • Wes mantooth

            Not comparing thunder to raps as much as I’m pointing out that 2 pat shouldn’t be such a big deal and such a valid excuse. As much as the thunder is better then us Westbrook is better then Patterson so the loss is reflectively equal. No excuses from them. That’s all

        • Tamberlyn Richardson

          Agreed they need to re-focus, however don’t discount how valuable Patterson is because he represents a big who stretches the floor and provides screens when Amir isn’t on the court. Also he’s one of the best defensive communicators. OKC is my favorite Western Team but to compare the Raptors to them isn’t an oranges to oranges situation for one reason: Durant.

          This team is based on 15 guys who all have roles and unfortunately losing one pivotal player out of that nine to ten man rotation for an extended period will create undue stress on the others.

          Plus, Amir and Kyle are both playing with a myriad of injuries. I’m not saying they can’t learn from this or don’t need to adjust: THEY DO.

          I’m saying it’s not a henny penny “the sky is falling” situation. And, based on this team’s character/identity they have repeatedly learned from their mistakes and improved throughout the season. Their next step will be to blow teams away early (especially the sub-500’s) so they can rest the guys who need it.

      • Wes mantooth

        I love this team as much as anyone. I live in LA and by the league pass every year. I have never missed a game. I rewatch games!
        But this nonsense about Patrick Patterson being our X factor is ridiculous. He’s great but a bench player !!
        Thunder lost Westbrook and still won!
        The raps have played well there’s no question but this cocky playing down to your opponent bs is what sparks the negativity ! It shows a lack of character
        Raps need tough love not pats on the back for mediocre accomplishments

      • FLUXLAND

        No offense, Tamberlyn.

        But what exactly do your points mean? It’s like a “hey, we are not brutal” excuse list.

        1) so what?
        2) they’ve had the easiest schedule in the L since January 15th.
        3) again, huh? We play the playoffs in the East. not the West.
        4) so they don’t get blown out?
        5) …..
        6) refs don’t win or lose games.
        7) injury excuses.. here we goo..
        8) see above.

        The team went from brutal to average. None of what you are pointing out addresses the fundamental flaws of this team. And more importantly, none of the regular season stuff you are listing means anything regarding the playoffs.

        Also, ” desire to win in crucial situations” – desire is nice, but you actually have to win games. You seem very misinformed regarding their 4th q performances.

        • Tamberlyn Richardson

          No offense taken, we are all entitled to an opinion and mine is this team will rebound in the face of adversity. My comments speak to their consistency and facts, simple as that. If it doesn’t make sense to you or you disagree I respect your opinion. :-)

          • FLUXLAND

            Fair enough. I’m just reluctant to relay on historical stats (from the regular season) as any indication of what my transpire in the future – especially the playoffs -, while ignoring the circumstances of said consistency. “You are only as good as your last game”, as it were.

            ( I do find your use of “rebound” a little ironic. : ) )

            • Tamberlyn Richardson

              Good one. Lol.

              From my perspective any playoff experience is exactly that EXPERIENCE. As a fan I want them to excel, but I understand they are young. I still feel they’ll get third and face Wizards which would be the best scenario. Experience is tangible: Brooklyn has that in spades and Chicago has experience and youth with no fear (SCARY).

              Anyway, enjoy the game and thanks for you input. :-)

            • Tamberlyn Richardson

              Good one. Lol.

              From my perspective any playoff experience is exactly that EXPERIENCE. As a fan I want them to excel, but I understand they are young. I still feel they’ll get third and face Wizards which would be the best scenario. Experience is tangible: Brooklyn has that in spades and Chicago has experience and youth with no fear (SCARY).

              Anyway, enjoy the game and thanks for you input. :-)

          • FLUXLAND

            Fair enough. I’m just reluctant to relay on historical stats (from the regular season) as any indication of what my transpire in the future – especially the playoffs -, while ignoring the circumstances of said consistency. “You are only as good as your last game”, as it were.

            ( I do find your use of “rebound” a little ironic. : ) )

        • Tamberlyn Richardson

          No offense taken, we are all entitled to an opinion and mine is this team will rebound in the face of adversity. My comments speak to their consistency and facts, simple as that. If it doesn’t make sense to you or you disagree I respect your opinion. :-)

      • FLUXLAND

        No offense, Tamberlyn.

        But what exactly do your points mean? It’s like a “hey, we are not brutal” excuse list.

        1) so what?
        2) they’ve had the easiest schedule in the L since January 15th.
        3) again, huh? We play the playoffs in the East. not the West.
        4) so they don’t get blown out?
        5) …..
        6) refs don’t win or lose games.
        7) injury excuses.. here we goo..
        8) see above.

        The team went from brutal to average. None of what you are pointing out addresses the fundamental flaws of this team. And more importantly, none of the regular season stuff you are listing means anything regarding the playoffs.

        Also, ” desire to win in crucial situations” – desire is nice, but you actually have to win games. You seem very misinformed regarding their 4th q performances.

      • asifyouknow

        This team is just Dog tired…period….They have no legs left…Look at some games from a month ago, look at the jump shots. Notice the elevation the form etc (I did the other day ..lol…I have no life) then look at the last 5 or six games, It will tell you the whole story. Clearly!

        • Ghotte

          Mental fatigue. They have arrived at a stretch in the schedule where they would just love to coast to the finish line but with other teams nipping at their heels for playoff position they are not being allowed to (poor fellas.) You can see the coaching staff trying to push them.

          Especially true of the younger players. An argument can be made that the organization is trying to limit the youngsters for long-term rather than short-term gains (read: playoffs.)

      • asifyouknow

        This team is just Dog tired…period….They have no legs left…Look at some games from a month ago, look at the jump shots. Notice the elevation the form etc (I did the other day ..lol…I have no life) then look at the last 5 or six games, It will tell you the whole story. Clearly!

    • Tamberlyn Richardson

      I think so many fans have become accustomed to heartbreak they still have a hard time believing or having faith. We need to learn to fight & believe in our team like they believe in each other. This is still the same team that:

      1) hasn’t lost 3 in a row since the trade,
      2) played better basketball during toughest part of their schedule while Indy/Miami are performing worse now that they’ve hit theirs
      3) are tied with Indy for most sweeps vs. Western teams
      4) haven’t lost a game by 20 points all year
      5) have only lost 3 games by 13 since trade (the rest are all under 10 points which is tied with Suns for lowest loss average)
      6) have lost a minimum of 5 games on questionable refereeing (eventually the law of averages will kick in)

      7) are playing with 2 of our 3 best players injured
      8) are going thru a mini slump (a slump with a winning percentage of 58%) without Patterson who is key to our success on both ends

      AND most importantly are 13 and 7 since February 10 (65% win percent). Look deeper at those 7 losses which include 3 games that went to over time (Wizards x 3, OKC x 2 & Atl x 1).

      Sure they need to have better starts and find a way to motivate themselves versus the sub-.500 teams. But seriously to still be winning at close to 60% without Patterson in the line-up is huge.

      If we’ve learned anything this year it’s that THIS Raptor team is resilient and driven. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt because they’ve demonstrated to me a desire to win in crucial situations. Tonight is one of those nights.

    • asifyouknow

      God bless you bizzy..I don’t feel so alone now….I see what you see….lol

    • asifyouknow

      God bless you bizzy..I don’t feel so alone now….I see what you see….lol

  • Guest

    Better than exercising a ghost!

  • FREEJV

    iwe need to win the next 3 games. fuckin brooklyns one game behind in the loss column. next week they might go ahead of us if we dont get our act together with miami houston and indiana coming up

  • FREEJV

    fuck me dick bavetta and joey crawford are gonna take over this game with their egos.

    • Tamberlyn Richardson

      Not JOEY Crawford, Danny Crawford

      • FREEJV

        nvm. just bavetta then

      • FREEJV

        nvm. just bavetta then

      • Tamberlyn Richardson

        Not that it matters now (moot point since game is over) but Danny Crawford was the referee listed when it was actually Joey who was scheduled. Just wanted to let you know I was wrong. (rather, the site I got the referees listed from was incorrect, but I reported it so I’ll take the responsibility for giving out the wrong info).

    • Tamberlyn Richardson

      Not JOEY Crawford, Danny Crawford

    • Will

      What’s wrong with Dick Bavetta? I’ve never known him to take over games.

      • FREEJV

        hes been known for match fixing no lie

        • Tanks-a-lot

          Bavetta is known for obvious make up calls, that’s all

        • Tanks-a-lot

          Bavetta is known for obvious make up calls, that’s all

      • FREEJV

        hes been known for match fixing no lie

    • Will

      What’s wrong with Dick Bavetta? I’ve never known him to take over games.

  • Tamberlyn Richardson

    By the way… no comments on Kelly Olynyk resemblance to Bjorn Borg??? lol

    • FLUXLAND

      I’m a huge tennis fan and I thought it was spot on.

    • FLUXLAND

      I’m a huge tennis fan and I thought it was spot on.

    • Tanks-a-lot

      You are a racist that thinks all white people look alike. Shame on you.

    • Tanks-a-lot

      You are a racist that thinks all white people look alike. Shame on you.

  • Tamberlyn Richardson

    By the way… no comments on Kelly Olynyk resemblance to Bjorn Borg??? lol

  • truth be told

    “but I’m also committed to my belief this team is the closest to the best Raptor team ever (2001)” Or do you mean the team the year before that had McGrady and Carter and the host of veterans (Oakley, Willis, Curry, Christie, Brown,etc)?

    This team is not close to that one in terms of talent and I would be hard pressed to say that they were better than the 2007 team, as at least the team was close to having a star player (Bosh), but not quite a franchise guy. They’ve played admirably this year but this team doesn’t have any of that.

    • FLUXLAND

      I agree. The comparisons make zero sense.

    • FLUXLAND

      I agree. The comparisons make zero sense.

    • Abused Raptors Fan

      Talent-wise, you might have an argument, at least at the top end of the spectrum. However, in terms of the overall product, this year’s team has a better offensive and defensive rating, even when considered relative to the league averages each season.

    • Abused Raptors Fan

      Talent-wise, you might have an argument, at least at the top end of the spectrum. However, in terms of the overall product, this year’s team has a better offensive and defensive rating, even when considered relative to the league averages each season.

    • Tamberlyn Richardson

      Ok,
      I’ve tried unsuccessfully to reply to this twice so now I’m going to write in word and copy it over as I’ve lost it twice ARGH.

      Letme give you a quick response, but I don’t know if it will properly convey my full reasons for believing this simply because it merits a detailed breakdown and this isn’t the forum for that.

      First: this is ONLY MY OPINION so I appreciate if you don’t agree and second to be more accurate I feel this year’s squad is closer to the 1999- 2001 team than the 2007 team.

      I could give you positional match-ups:

      Lowry – Willliams (both Philly P.G’s who don’t shrink from big moments, play injured and never quit)

      Athletic youth who COULD develop into stars like Ross – similar to MoPete and J.V. however I don’t think there has ever been a similar center to compare him to. Neither Camby or Clark are comparable if you look at what we imagine to be JV’s upside.
      ·
      Salmons/Hayes/Novak – Curry/Oakley/Willis: vets who filled specialty roles and provided leadership on and off the court

      Hansbrough – JYD: Energy & hustle

      DeMar – Vince: whether you want to agree or disagree that Vince was a bigger star, when he left he became part of a 3-prong approach with Kidd/Jefferson and never again reached the pinnacle of what could have been in Toronto. DeMar has grown while here but if he were to leave he would find himself in a similar position, i.e. a second or third option or part of big 3 .

      ·Amir is an enigma and yes he and TMac were both high school draftees but I do see the comparison of how equally important a role they play/played especially from a defensive perspective.

      However the more accurate reason I can offer is I see this squad on the precipice of growth with a young athletic core just like that team was prior to gaining valuable post season experience. Also the 99-01 team(s) had a certain je ne sais quoi … which I believe was CHEMISTRY. So does this year’s team.

      Plus, there was an excitement at the ACC and around the team of what they could become. I never felt that about the 2007 team perhaps because that squad with Bosh, Bargs, Parker, Calderone et el were good but they didn’t excite me like the 99-01 team did, not like this team does.

      Anyway, that’s my response without writing a whole diatribe. Hope it explains it a bit and like I said it’s JUST MY OPINION.

    • Tamberlyn Richardson

      Ok,
      I’ve tried unsuccessfully to reply to this twice so now I’m going to write in word and copy it over as I’ve lost it twice ARGH.

      Letme give you a quick response, but I don’t know if it will properly convey my full reasons for believing this simply because it merits a detailed breakdown and this isn’t the forum for that.

      First: this is ONLY MY OPINION so I appreciate if you don’t agree and second to be more accurate I feel this year’s squad is closer to the 1999- 2001 team than the 2007 team.

      I could give you positional match-ups:

      Lowry – Willliams (both Philly P.G’s who don’t shrink from big moments, play injured and never quit)

      Athletic youth who COULD develop into stars like Ross – similar to MoPete and J.V. however I don’t think there has ever been a similar center to compare him to. Neither Camby or Clark are comparable if you look at what we imagine to be JV’s upside.
      ·
      Salmons/Hayes/Novak – Curry/Oakley/Willis: vets who filled specialty roles and provided leadership on and off the court

      Hansbrough – JYD: Energy & hustle

      DeMar – Vince: whether you want to agree or disagree that Vince was a bigger star, when he left he became part of a 3-prong approach with Kidd/Jefferson and never again reached the pinnacle of what could have been in Toronto. DeMar has grown while here but if he were to leave he would find himself in a similar position, i.e. a second or third option or part of big 3 .

      ·Amir is an enigma and yes he and TMac were both high school draftees but I do see the comparison of how equally important a role they play/played especially from a defensive perspective.

      However the more accurate reason I can offer is I see this squad on the precipice of growth with a young athletic core just like that team was prior to gaining valuable post season experience. Also the 99-01 team(s) had a certain je ne sais quoi … which I believe was CHEMISTRY. So does this year’s team.

      Plus, there was an excitement at the ACC and around the team of what they could become. I never felt that about the 2007 team perhaps because that squad with Bosh, Bargs, Parker, Calderone et el were good but they didn’t excite me like the 99-01 team did, not like this team does.

      Anyway, that’s my response without writing a whole diatribe. Hope it explains it a bit and like I said it’s JUST MY OPINION.

  • truth be told

    “but I’m also committed to my belief this team is the closest to the best Raptor team ever (2001)” Or do you mean the team the year before that had McGrady and Carter and the host of veterans (Oakley, Willis, Curry, Christie, Brown,etc)?

    This team is not close to that one in terms of talent and I would be hard pressed to say that they were better than the 2007 team, as at least the team was close to having a star player (Bosh), but not quite a franchise guy. They’ve played admirably this year but this team doesn’t have any of that.

  • unknown

    I think it is pretty telling that a stretch that we would have killed for the last five years is now the subject of such derision.

    Consider: P-squared out of commission, Amir playing through a dozen nagging injuries, KLow sick, and we were STILL within one play of taking two games that we had no business being in. KD’s shot misses the mark, or Vasquez doesn’t blow a tire last night, and you all are planning the parade down Yonge Street.

    This team is good. Maybe not yet good enough, but they are good. They are no longer the northern joke of the league. They will make us proud by the time the next two months are over, no matter the end result, and then we will all be yearning for camp to open up with even higher expectations. When was the last time that happened in Toronto?

  • unknown

    I think it is pretty telling that a stretch that we would have killed for the last five years is now the subject of such derision.

    Consider: P-squared out of commission, Amir playing through a dozen nagging injuries, KLow sick, and we were STILL within one play of taking two games that we had no business being in. KD’s shot misses the mark, or Vasquez doesn’t blow a tire last night, and you all are planning the parade down Yonge Street.

    This team is good. Maybe not yet good enough, but they are good. They are no longer the northern joke of the league. They will make us proud by the time the next two months are over, no matter the end result, and then we will all be yearning for camp to open up with even higher expectations. When was the last time that happened in Toronto?

  • Bear Q

    I hope Landry gets some run tonight. Last game was a perfect time to give him some playing time but he was forgotten, I hope that isn’t the case against the C’s. Salmons taking one night off so Landry can run wouldn’t be the end of the world Casey! It’s a back to back situation too
    I really feel like when our rotations get tighter in the playoffs, a healthy Landry is a better defender/rebounder than Salmons. However he needs run time asap to shake off rust. It’s worth a try to see how he’s playing at this point in the season

  • Bear Q

    I hope Landry gets some run tonight. Last game was a perfect time to give him some playing time but he was forgotten, I hope that isn’t the case against the C’s. Salmons taking one night off so Landry can run wouldn’t be the end of the world Casey! It’s a back to back situation too
    I really feel like when our rotations get tighter in the playoffs, a healthy Landry is a better defender/rebounder than Salmons. However he needs run time asap to shake off rust. It’s worth a try to see how he’s playing at this point in the season

  • asifyouknow

    New starting five:
    Lowry
    DeMar
    Greivis
    Amir
    JV
    That will fix that first quarter blues and rest Lowry ( per his own words) “I don’t have to run around as much playing with Vasquez”

  • asifyouknow

    New starting five:
    Lowry
    DeMar
    Greivis
    Amir
    JV
    That will fix that first quarter blues and rest Lowry ( per his own words) “I don’t have to run around as much playing with Vasquez”

  • Chris Read

    Vasquez got destroyed…while being talked about

  • Chris Read

    Vasquez got destroyed…while being talked about

  • lewro

    gif of chuck hayes pass in 3rd quarter please? jv needs to finish stronger!