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Old 11-07-2012, 04:50 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Simmons on Raptors playoff chances

Simmons: Working backward, I have Miami, Boston, New York and Atlanta as absolute locks. I think Chicago makes it because of their defense and because Tom Thibodeau is an absolute psychopath of a coach. (And I mean that in the most endearing way possible. That team only knows one speed: balls to the wall. I just can't see Thibs letting them become a lottery team.) The Sixers are the big hit-or-miss team for me if they can't get 55-60 games from Bynum, they won't get to .500 and we can cross them off. So that means we either have two or three spots available for the Nets (haven't knocked my socks off, but at least we know they'll score 100 every night), Raptors (mildly intriguing, seems like they have one more big Colangelo-needs-to-save-his-job/win-now trade looming with Calderon's expiring contract), Bucks (possible 43-win semi-sleeper if Jennings remains in Eff You for Not Giving Me an Extension mode) and Pacers. Logic says it's between Toronto, Milwaukee and Indiana for that eighth spot. So I have two predictions:

1. The Raptors could steal that spot with an ambitious trade like, say, "Calderon's expiring contract plus lottery pick Terrence Ross to Memphis for Rudy Gay." Remember, Oklahoma City gets their no. 1 pick if it falls between no. 4 and no. 14 this year (via Houston, thanks to the Lowry trade), so if anything, it's in Toronto's best interest to make the playoffs because they also get to keep their 2013 no. 1 pick. I see them overpaying for one more quality player in January/February if they're close to sneaking in.
Also, Lowe's take:

Lowe: Meanwhile, the Knicks have looked great. The Nets can score. Philly is a mess, and their best player (Andrew Bynum) is hurt. The Raptors, assuming a quick comeback for Kyle Lowry, are dangerous and fun. The Bucks and Hawks are feisty. The Bulls are still defending like hell. That makes 10 solid Eastern Conference teams.

Danny Granger's injury and the future of the Pacers - Grantland
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