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Thread: The Battle for 8

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    Raptors Republic Superstar Chr1s1anL's Avatar
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    Default The Battle for 8

    Who will get the Eight seed?

    Good article written by Stephen Brotherston about whose in the conversation for the eight seed. Thoughts?


    There have been a lot of roster changes that should have significant impacts on the NBA’s Eastern Conference standings next season. The battle for playoff spots in the East will be very competitive all the way through the eighth and final position.

    With Derrick Rose watching from the sidelines at the start of next season, the Miami HEAT is expected to take the top seed in the conference with little opposition and the improving Indiana Pacers should be able to edge out the Chicago Bulls for first place in the Central Division. The Boston Celtics reloaded, adding Jason Terry and Courtney Lee to a proven roster that could hold onto the Atlantic Division crown. The Atlanta Hawks are still playoff material and the Brooklyn Nets added Joe Johnson so they should have enough to get over the hump. The inconsistent New York Knicks have the star power to be a playoff team again, assuming Raymond Felton can still be an effective starting point guard and the Knicks’ rollercoaster chemistry stays on track.

    The opportunity for a newcomer to the East’s playoff picture will most likely come at the expense of the evolving Philadelphia 76ers and the drama-laden Orlando Magic.

    Orlando Magic, 37-29, sixth place last season

    The Magic will be entering next season without the best center in the NBA and nothing they could have received in return was going to replace the impact of Dwight Howard. Orlando managed to off-load Jason Richardson, Earl Clark and Chris Duhon and brought in Al Harrington, Arron Afflalo, Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless.

    While Harrington and Afflalo will be contributors right away, the other pieces the Magic acquired are for the future. Next season is the start of another rebuilding project in Orlando after losing the most dominant center in the game for the second time in team history.

    Philadelphia 76ers, 35-31, eighth place last season

    76ers President Rod Thorn was finally able to get full value for All-Star Andre Iguodala after years of speculation by landing All-Star Andrew Bynum in yesterday’s four-team deal. The trade also netted Jason Richardson and sent out young center Nikola Vucevic and rookie Moe Harkless, but everything may not be as rosy in Philadelphia as it appears.

    Before the trade, the 76ers’ roster had regressed significantly. Thorn had moved out two of their best players in Lou Williams and Elton Brand and replaced them with the questionable maturity of Nick Young and the journeyman Kwame Brown. Now, with Iguodala gone, the 76ers will barely resemble last year’s playoff team and while Richardson will give them a much needed veteran presence at shooting guard, his play has fallen off so badly that Orlando had good reason for wanting him gone.

    Iguodala was his team’s heart and soul and a big part of the reason Philadelphia was top three in points allowed and opponent’s field goal percentage. While Bynum is generally considered to be the better player, he is no leader and the overall impact on the 76ers may not be as big as expected. Head coach Doug Collins has a lot of work to do if he is to recreate the chemistry that unexpectedly snuck this team into the playoffs for each of the past two seasons.

    Milwaukee Bucks, 31-35 last season

    The Bucks flirted with a playoff spot for much of last season and wasted their chance to grab the eighth seed by losing seven of their last 10 games, but “Fear the Deer” is no more in Milwaukee as this lineup is far from overwhelming. An undersized backcourt led by Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis can score, but is suspect on defense. Without Andrew Bogut, the Bucks relied on the emergence of the 25-year-old Ersan Ilysasova to carry the scoring and rebounding load in the frontcourt.

    There is room for hope in Milwaukee, however, as Samuel Dalembert has replaced Kwame Brown at center and the Bucks held onto their “show me the money” free agent power forward Ilysasova. This team looks to be at least slightly better than last season and in the hunt for eighth once again.

    Toronto Raptors, 23-43 last season

    The Raptors would never admit it, but they spent the past two seasons tanking to get better draft picks. Incoming rookie center Jonas Valanciunas will make them better plus this year’s pick, Terrence Ross, could eventually be an upgrade over DeMar DeRozan. However, the Raptors’ immediate playoff aspirations will be resting on the big strides made this off season with the acquisition of Houston’s starting point guard Kyle Lowry for a future lottery pick.

    Under head coach Dwane Casey, Toronto is no longer a defensive sieve and the addition of free agent Landry Fields will further improve the Raptors’ small forward position. The veteran Jose Calderon is currently slated to backup Lowry and gives the Raptors one of the better point guard combinations in the league, at least until Toronto pulls the much anticipated trade to relieve the point guard log jam and cash-in on this asset.

    Toronto’s last two seasons collapsed after Andrea Bargnani went down with a calf injury and there has to be at least a little concern about whether this team can score enough points without him. However, heading into next season with a healthy roster, the Raptors believe they can capture eighth or better with some justification.


    Washington Wizards, 20-46 last season

    Washington has cleared out a dysfunctional locker room and replaced the misfiring pieces with solid veterans. Next season, John Wall will have Nene, Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor to work with plus third-overall pick Bradley Beal at shooting guard.

    The Wizards have improved dramatically from the self-centered group that started last season and this new environment is one in which young players like Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker and Jordan Crawford should be able to develop in. However, they will have to exceed expectations to be in the hunt for the eighth seed and the only reason the teams ranked ahead of them have to be concerned is just how much better Wall will be when he’s not surrounded by knuckleheads.

    Detroit Pistons, 25-41 last season

    It may be hard to find a team that has made more moves to confound their fans and the media alike than Detroit, but through the confusion, the Pistons have acquired some very good young talent.

    After just two seasons, Greg Monroe has become a beast down low with his rare combination of true center-size, quickness and good hands and the addition of rookie Andre Drummond gives Detroit the potential of having a dominant frontcourt. At the point, Brandon Knight had a solid rookie campaign and the now 26-year-old Rodney Stuckey continues to prove he is very good combo-guard, even if these two players do look like duplicates of each other.

    Detroit’s playoff hopes for next season are resting on the unlikely combination of incoming Corey Maggette actually playing most of the games next season, Charlie Villanueva rediscovering the productivity he demonstrated before signing that big free agent contract and Drummond developing some of that vast potential. As all of this happening at once is somewhat unlikely, Detroit will remain on the outside looking in, but it would be a mistake to dismiss the Pistons out-of-hand as the talent is there to do better.

    The Rest

    The Cleveland Cavaliers are sticking to their rebuilding plan and willing to let the chips fall where they may. The Cavaliers’ focus on developing their young players will push any playoff aspirations off to future seasons. The Bobcats are attempting to dig out from an even deeper hole than the Cavaliers were in after losing LeBron James and will be happy if they can just be competitive in most of their games.

    By the time April rolls around, the battle for eighth should be down to a three-way struggle between Toronto, Milwaukee and Philadelphia. Experience tells us Collins will get the most out of whatever the 76ers give him to work with, Milwaukee almost made it last year and should be better this time around and Toronto is poised to make the biggest jump in the East after the Nets.
    @Chr1st1anL

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    Very nice find Chr1s1anL! I feel that this evaluation of our current roster is relatively fair. Our playoff aspiration all hinges on Bargnani being healthy, our rookies (Val and Ross), and team chemistry. Hopefully things will work out for us next season!

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    Quote Blacklash2k4 wrote: View Post
    Very nice find Chr1s1anL! I feel that this evaluation of our current roster is relatively fair. Our playoff aspiration all hinges on Bargnani being healthy, our rookies (Val and Ross), and team chemistry. Hopefully things will work out for us next season!
    I think it also hinges on Lowry's never quit attitude infecting the rest of the team. He will be the engine of the team. A lot is riding on him.
    Walking like I'm already there.

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    Raptors Republic Veteran Nilanka's Avatar
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    Pretty much everything needs to go right for the Raptors to have a chance at the 8th seed.
    "I don't lie. I willfully participate in a campaign of misinformation." - Fox Mulder

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    I hope that Bynum continues his immature ways and that Phili really struggles on defence

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    Quote MyTEAM4Life wrote: View Post
    I hope that Bynum continues his immature ways and that Phili really struggles on defence
    .... and Amir and JV run circles around him and kill him end to end on transition.

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    Quote Matt52 wrote: View Post
    .... and Amir and JV run circles around him and kill him end to end on transition.
    and give him the crook eye / stink eye while running him all over the court while yelling center piece, center piece.

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    Raptors Republic Superstar Chr1s1anL's Avatar
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    Quote Nilanka wrote: View Post
    Pretty much everything needs to go right for the Raptors to have a chance at the 8th seed.
    IMO I don't think things have to go perfectly right for 8. We just need chemistry. To get a high seed than 8 than everything has to right. Just like 06-07. Some way this team reminds me of that team. Every player compliments the team perfectly.

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    Quote Chr1s1anL wrote: View Post
    IMO I don't think things have to go perfectly right for 8. We just need chemistry. To get a high seed than 8 than everything has to right. Just like 06-07. Some way this team reminds me of that team. Every player compliments the team perfectly.
    I agree with that.

    I think that so much is up in the air right now with so many teams in the East. A team like Philly for example, can be very good this year, or simply horrible, even if everyone stays healthy.

    Ultimately, if we play as a unit and stick to the role cards (which DC gave out to every player at the start of last year), I think that is all we need. It is much different than last year where we simply did not have the talent to compete over the whole season.

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    I certainly think playoffs should be the realistic goal for the Raptors this season. I'm done with dealing with lowered expectations, I think it's time that BC, DC and the players are all held accountable.

    Here is how I would breakdown teams in the East:

    Sure Thing
    - Miami
    - Indiana

    Probable
    - Boston
    - New York

    Likely
    - Chicago
    - Brooklyn
    - Philadelphia
    - Atlanta
    --> Toronto would have to beat out a team from this group to make the playoffs, even assuming that none of the "unlikely" teams jump up into the "likely" group

    Unlikely
    - Milwaukee
    - Washington
    - Cleveland
    - Detroit
    - Orlando

    No Chance
    - Charlotte


    Ultimately, I think Chicago & Atlanta will benefit from playing in much weaker divisions, meaning 6 spots are set.

    That leaves 2 spots up for grabs. Toronto will have to fight Brooklyn, Philadelphia and any other suprise teams for the #7 and #8 spots.
    Last edited by CalgaryRapsFan; Mon Aug 13th, 2012 at 01:44 PM.

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    Quote CalgaryRapsFan wrote: View Post
    I certainly think playoffs should be the realistic goal for the Raptors this season. I'm done with dealing with lowered expectations, I think it's time that BC, DC and the players are all held accountable.

    Here is how I would breakdown teams in the East:

    Sure Thing
    - Miami
    - Indiana

    Probable
    - Boston
    - New York

    Likely
    - Chicago
    - Brooklyn
    - Philadelphia
    - Atlanta
    --> Toronto would have to beat out a team from this group to make the playoffs, even assuming that none of the "unlikely" teams jump up into the "likely" group

    Unlikely
    - Milwaukee
    - Washington
    - Cleveland
    - Detroit
    - Orlando

    No Chance
    - Charlotte
    Milwakee should be in the likely list.

    Raps in the unlikely.

    Brookyln in the probables

    Cleveland, orlando and detroit on the no chance list

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    Raptors Republic Veteran Nilanka's Avatar
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    Quote Chr1s1anL wrote: View Post
    IMO I don't think things have to go perfectly right for 8. We just need chemistry. To get a high seed than 8 than everything has to right. Just like 06-07. Some way this team reminds me of that team. Every player compliments the team perfectly.
    - Bargnani has to stay healthy for at least 70 games.
    - Calderon can't show any effect of being demoted (which sort of plays into the chemistry idea).
    - Valanciunas/Ross need to be contributing solid minutes by the end of the year
    - Landry has to return to his rookie form
    - Kleiza's knee needs to remain strong coming off the Olympics
    - Lowry needs to prove no ill-effects remain from his injury
    - Casey needs to drastically improve the offensive structure
    - etc.

    I can't confidently say that any of the above are guarantees, but it's easy to see the season going south if any of the above don't happen.

    Chemistry is a big deal...I definitely agree with that, especially with so many new faces. But for a team that lacks elite/superstar talent, a LOT has to go our way to make the playoffs.
    Last edited by Nilanka; Mon Aug 13th, 2012 at 02:27 PM.
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    Quote Nilanka wrote: View Post
    - Bargnani has to stay healthy for at least 70 games.
    - Calderon can't show any effect of being demoted (which sort of plays into the chemistry idea).
    - Valanciunas/Ross need to be contributing solid minutes by the end of the year
    - Landry has to return to his rookie form
    - Kleiza's knee needs to remain strong coming off the Olympics
    - Lowry needs to prove no ill-effects remain from his injury
    - Casey needs to drastically improve the offensive structure
    - etc.

    Chemistry is a big deal...I definitely agree with that, especially with so many new faces. But for a team that lacks elite/superstar talent, a LOT has to go our way to make the playoffs.
    The same thing can be said about Phili,

    Bynum must stay healthy
    Jason Richardson has to get back to playing like he did a few years ago
    Thad young has to be able to deal with starter minutes (they have no other real PF)

    so just as much as a lot of things have to go the raptors way the same can be said about the teams we will be fighting with for that 8th seed

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    Raptors Republic Veteran Nilanka's Avatar
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    Quote MyTEAM4Life wrote: View Post
    The same thing can be said about Phili,

    Bynum must stay healthy
    Jason Richardson has to get back to playing like he did a few years ago
    Thad young has to be able to deal with starter minutes (they have no other real PF)

    so just as much as a lot of things have to go the raptors way the same can be said about the teams we will be fighting with for that 8th seed
    Yup, there's no denying that.

    But it doesn't make it less true from a Raptor perspective.
    "I don't lie. I willfully participate in a campaign of misinformation." - Fox Mulder

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    Quote Nilanka wrote: View Post
    - Bargnani has to stay healthy for at least 70 games.
    - Calderon can't show any effect of being demoted (which sort of plays into the chemistry idea).
    - Valanciunas/Ross need to be contributing solid minutes by the end of the year
    - Landry has to return to his rookie form
    - Kleiza's knee needs to remain strong coming off the Olympics
    - Lowry needs to prove no ill-effects remain from his injury
    - Casey needs to drastically improve the offensive structure
    - etc.

    Chemistry is a big deal...I definitely agree with that, especially with so many new faces. But for a team that lacks elite/superstar talent, a LOT has to go our way to make the playoffs.
    We don't have a so called superstar. Neither does Denver but, that team has amazing chemistry. That's why chemistry is that much important. We've seen it before that chemistry trumps talent. We have the talent and depth needed to compete in this conference.

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    Raptors Republic Veteran Nilanka's Avatar
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    Quote Chr1s1anL wrote: View Post
    We don't have a so called superstar. Neither does Denver but, that team has amazing chemistry. That's why chemistry is that much important. We've seen it before that chemistry trumps talent. We have the talent and depth needed to compete in this conference.
    Lowry, Fields, Jonas, Ross, represent 4 new players in our top 8 rotation. Yes, they're all good character individuals, but chemistry has not developed yet. It will take time. We shouldn't be writing like it's a given.

    Besides, I'm not sure if chemistry will help much if Bargnani is missing 50 games, or we're only scoring 90 pts/game (for example).
    "I don't lie. I willfully participate in a campaign of misinformation." - Fox Mulder

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    Quote Nilanka wrote: View Post
    - Bargnani has to stay healthy for at least 70 games.
    - Calderon can't show any effect of being demoted (which sort of plays into the chemistry idea).
    - Valanciunas/Ross need to be contributing solid minutes by the end of the year
    - Landry has to return to his rookie form
    - Kleiza's knee needs to remain strong coming off the Olympics
    - Lowry needs to prove no ill-effects remain from his injury
    - Casey needs to drastically improve the offensive structure
    - etc.

    I can't confidently say that any of the above are guarantees, but it's easy to see the season going south if any of the above don't happen.

    Chemistry is a big deal...I definitely agree with that, especially with so many new faces. But for a team that lacks elite/superstar talent, a LOT has to go our way to make the playoffs.
    Just to make a quick correction. Lowry wasn't injured he had a bacterial infection that could have killed him if it wasn't found out.

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    Quote CalgaryRapsFan wrote: View Post
    I certainly think playoffs should be the realistic goal for the Raptors this season. I'm done with dealing with lowered expectations, I think it's time that BC, DC and the players are all held accountable.

    Here is how I would breakdown teams in the East:

    Sure Thing
    - Miami
    - Indiana

    Probable
    - Boston
    - New York

    Likely
    - Chicago
    - Brooklyn
    - Philadelphia
    - Atlanta
    --> Toronto would have to beat out a team from this group to make the playoffs, even assuming that none of the "unlikely" teams jump up into the "likely" group

    Unlikely
    - Milwaukee
    - Washington
    - Cleveland
    - Detroit
    - Orlando

    No Chance
    - Charlotte


    Ultimately, I think Chicago & Atlanta will benefit from playing in much weaker divisions, meaning 6 spots are set.

    That leaves 2 spots up for grabs. Toronto will have to fight Brooklyn, Philadelphia and any other suprise teams for the #7 and #8 spots.
    Sleeping on Washington? Nene could very well be the second best Centre in the East after Bynum and ahead of Chandler. Also, Beal may not be AS ready as Blake Griffin to transition to the NBA, but he's close in my opinion (not in impact, but readiness). Wall finally has guys to dish to and is going to have a monster year imho.

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    Quote DG88 wrote: View Post
    Just to make a quick correction. Lowry wasn't injured he had a bacterial infection that could have killed him if it wasn't found out.

    Actually it was both, he had a bacterial infection, and then had a groin injury and sports hernia
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    Quote Chr1s1anL wrote: View Post
    IMO I don't think things have to go perfectly right for 8. We just need chemistry. To get a high seed than 8 than everything has to right. Just like 06-07. Some way this team reminds me of that team. Every player compliments the team perfectly.
    Everything needs to go right for the Raps to have a shot at the 8th seed.

    Nothing worng with optimism but reality wins out the majority of the time.

    They won 23 games last year no? They've added players but I'd be hard pressed to say any of them are game changers as JV is not ready to be that type of player, yet.

    The 06/07 team had Chris Bosh. There is no one on this team as good as he was.

    It's nice to have complimentary players but elite talent wins in this league. It would be great if Lowry could take that kind of jump but it's hard to envision that.

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