I suppose this game could be somewhat special with the return of Moon and O’Neal and the Matrix facing another one of his former teams, but even more important than that is the fact that the Raptors now have twenty games left in this miserable season. It’s good that people (well, I’m sure there is more than one person saying it, so I will say “people”) are still talking about the Raptors getting in on that last playoff spot, with even Chris Bosh saying that once the second season begins, then they can show what they’re made of, but I’m guessing that what they are made of may be ever improving chips out of the rough.
The Raptors are not only coming off an 0-3 road trip, they are facing arguably the hottest player in the league right now in Wade, who has been scorching teams by scoring and distributing the ball. We are even seeing him dunk more often than usual, attacking the rim without any fear. When his game is on, he is definitely one of those players who can make others around him better, something that Jamario is quickly finding out (as you could see by the ally-oop he threw down last night).
Twenty games left. Essentially one quarter of the season to go. Is it possible for the Raptors to still make the playoffs? Yes. But the problem isn’t so much about catching that last spot, it’s more about passing the teams in between them and that last spot. in order to make the playoffs, the Raptors not only have to play some great ball, they have to hope that the teams in between them and the 8th spot DON’T play great ball. It’s a lot to ask and in a season where there have been a lot of questions and hardly any answers, this could be one of the few responses we as fans receive.
It seems that 3/4 of the way through the season, the Raptors still don’t know who they are, what kind of team they want to be. It doesn’t help that they have changed coaches and have had some personnel moves, but in the end, the Raptors have gone from an offensively minded team to a more defensively minded team to one that now looks to push the ball up the floor. There have been some off court distractions relating to the much talked about departure of our star players, but realistically, I don’t think that has played a role in what has happened with the Raptors this season.
So going into the game with the Heat, let’s see if the Raptors can finish strong down the stretch. See if they are able to at least play for a little respect at the end of the season. I think right now, the fans might even forgive if they saw some of that.
3 in the Key
1. Attack JO. We’ve seen how he can get into foul trouble early, so might as well go right at him.
2. Pump fake on Jamario and you’ll have open looks aaaaalllllllll night.
3. Play tough D on Wade, not letting him walk down the lane. If you have to crown his ass one time, then so be it.