Cleveland Cavaliers v Toronto Raptors

With the final game of the season upon us and many fans already looking ahead to what they hope is a prosperous off-season and next season, I figured I’d shake things up over here tonight.

On that note, in lieu of a Game Thread or Thoughts On the Game post later tonight, I’m going to just add some random thoughts I have throughout tonight’s game to this post.

- My first thought is whether the Celtics will actually play Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett tonight. Remember, Boston has already clinched the No. 7 seed and are locked into a first round series with the Knicks, so there’s really no reason for them to risk injury in the regular season finale away from home.

- In last season’s finale, it was Jamaal Magloire of all people who thanked the crowd for their support and guaranteed a playoff berth in 2012-13. No word yet on whether it will be Aaron Gray, John Lucas III, Alan Anderson, Sebastian Telfair or Linas Kleiza to take the mic tonight.

- In all seriousness, I’m going to assume it will either be Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan or maybe even Jonas Valanciunas tonight, and I’m also going to assume that the “playoffs” and “next year” will be included in the address to the crowd. That address will then be greeted by cheers from fans who forgot that the same thing was said a year ago.

- Rudy makes the brief pre-game speech. Smartly, no playoff guarantees this time. Just a “get ready for next year” and “hope to see you next year.”

- Thoughtful moment of silence and reflection for the city of Boston before the game with both teams at centre court. Celtics starting lineup then came out to “Sweet Caroline” in Fenway Park homage.

- Valanciunas is insanely active to start this game. Crashing the boards, blocking shots, using his pump-fake to get defenders in the air and then attacking the basket.

- Rudy Gay continues to shoot the three-ball well over the last month or so. As we’ve all stressed recently, if this offence is going to be effective with he and DeRozan playing together, one of them is going to have become at least an average long range shooter. The thing with Gay is that he’s a 35% career three-point shooter and once shot 39% from deep in a season, so there’s some hope to be had with his stroke.

- I wonder if Paul Pierce will check back into this game at all. You see the Celtics are off to a magical kingdom known as the “playoffs” after this, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the last we see of him tonight. Hopefully the Raptors know the feeling by game no. 82 next season.

- Landry Fields gave the Raptors some good minutes in that first half. I know a lot of fans have already given up on Fields living up to his highly scrutinized contract, but I still think he can be a solid piece of the rotation next season. Regardless of whether he can rebuild his shot over the summer (and we obviously hope he can), Landry’s a guy who can come off the bench to defend the opposing team’s best wing player, who rebounds well for his position and who can space the floor with his great off-ball movement.

- Amir Johnson just hit another three. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see that a little more often next season. His range has crept closer and closer to the arc every year. By the way, we’re all in agreement that Amir has been the most valuable Raptor this season, right?

- Speaking of things we may see more of next season, Valanciunas is drawing double-teams right now. Also, Quincy Acy.

- The wave is in full effect in the Air Canada Centre, the Raptors’ bench joined in, and the crowd just exploded for free pizza. For the love of God, this fanbase needs meaningful April basketball and playoff basketball again.

- I haven’t looked it up or even thought about it much, but I’m going to guess this is one of the only times in NBA history that a sub 35-win team has had three winning streaks of at least five games. What a weird season.

- Standing ovation for a 34-win team. For a passionate fanbase sometimes criticized for growing impatient too quickly or for booing prematurely, the fans have been beyond patient and generous this season.

I’m just standing and applauding the fact that this chaotic, disappointing season is over. Now, as we’ve become accustomed to doing at the end of an NBA season in Toronto, it’s time to say “maybe next year.”

Comments (23)

  1. All we can hope for at this point is that BC and Casey aren’t extended beyond next season.

    • I’ve had some major issues with Casey’s rotation this season and I’d be able to understand if a new GM wanted to pick his own coach, but I’d be disappointed if Colangelo himself outlives Casey as a Raptors staffer by firing him. You can make the argument for Casey at least to get another chance. Harder to make that case for B.C.

      • Well observed. Coach Casey let us down a bit this season, his rotation was often off almost inexplicably, but he already is to my mind the second best (or maybe the best – no disrespect to Wilkens) coach the team has ever had. He definitely rates another chance.

        As for BC, I think it is time for him to get fired. He never should have been extended in the first place. For those fans who point to positive moves – and there have been some, even this season – I say, well, I guess that’s his legacy then. I don’t want him drafting this year’s class, he needs to be gone by June.

        Gay, DeRozan, Lowry, Ross, Anderson, Fields, Acy, Johnson, Valanciunas – we are just now seeing the core of a team that should be kept together. PG and PF/C depth should be added via the draft or free agency.

        Bargs, Pietrus, Kleiza, Lucas, Telfair – it’s Banks Beer time for you. I’ll raise a glass for your service as I say farewell to your Raptor days over the summer. I can’t even believe I’m saying that about Bargnani, but clearly he needs to be moved. I’d trade him for actual useful depth / picks and eat a bit of salary to do it.

        Great column this year all the way around Joseph. Enjoyed it until I could no longer take the pain, as usual.

  2. Any reason why Terrence Ross is inactive again this game?

    • Sprained left ankle

      • He looked okay vs Atlanta, sad we don’t get to see the full rookie showcase in the last game for our beloved Raptors.

        • He sprained his ankle again in the final minutes vs ATL going for a rebound and landed on Jonas’ foot. He did look fine up until that’s point though

  3. Toronto sports mad fans love this team so much there’s no way Colangelo gets the boot. He could probably run for Prime Minister and win. He pi**es fine wine. Fill the stands to the rafters Raps fans, so easy to separate you from your money, so good for the economy. You’ll never have a championship team imho sad to say.

    • Sorry for the negative post last night, if I could delete it I would. This team situation is just soooo depressing.

  4. What’s this win mean for our draft pick?

  5. I’m also excited to see Landry take on a bigger role next year — hopefully he gets most of the minutes that were allocated to AA. Alan, it’s been a pleasure watching you play for an NBA contract and you certainly did shoot us back into some games (and out of others), but I think it’s time for both sides to move on. Wish ya the best.

  6. As disappointing as this season was, I hate the offseason. Especially one with no 1st round pick and (probably) no changes to the starting 5. The only thing we have to anticipate is the trading of Andrea Bargnani. Wait a minute, that will be a glorious day – almost too good to be true, right? I have a hard time believing that dumping Bargs will be a straightforward transaction and good news for Raptors fans. I’ve got this feeling that BC is going to be forced to package Terrance Ross in the deal, along with the left nut of every season ticket holder. You just know this whole Bargs/BC love affair will cost us all one last time…

  7. Also, call me a moron but I honestly believe Lowry/Derozan/Gay/Johnson/Valanciunas have more potential as a starting five than anything dating back to the VC years.

    The keys to them being successful are simple: Lowry has to figure out how to lead the offense properly, defense has to play up to their athletic potential, and those guys need to play to their strengths and avoid their weaknesses (ex. 3′s from low percentage shooters early in the shot clock without any prior ball movement).

    The probability of all that coming together seems slim – I’m not sure the team has the leadership or the basketball IQ to make it happen. And, after all, this is the Raptors – Where Futility Happens.

  8. Podcast soon?!!!

  9. Thanks for all the blog posts throughout the season. It made a mostly miserable season somewhat tolerable.

    I supose with the offseason now in full flight, my greatest fear now is that Colangelo gets his option picked up. Both me and my liver do no want this.

  10. Much appreciation for the blogs this season Joe. Not much to look forward to next season, honestly. Hopefully JV improves some over the summer and BC is fired; but that may just be wishful thinking.

  11. I would give BC one more year – he has done tremendously better since Stefanski arrived two years ago. Raps would have made the play-off this year (they weren’t that bad of a team over all after that horrendous 4-19 start) if not for these 3 things: the bad start (which is not BC’s fault) that’s on the coach and the players and those 3 bad calls (league apologies) all resulting in last shot losses (Not BC’s fault) and the two ugly losses in March to Washington and a Irving-less Cavs team (back to Back) and again, (Not BC’s fault). He deserve another year, just one more too make the play-offs and hopefully win a round or more – BUT, he must IMO learn to sit back more and have less influence on telling Casey who and when to play certain players. I believe he is in Casey’s ear too much (Like Sam Mitchel said he was in his) and he needs to let Casey to his thing…..for example dictating Bargnani and Ross’ rotational playing time.

    I read BC is interested in signing a young from Italy who is 6’8 and plays a tough interior game – just can’t remember his name, I wrote it down and missed placed it. I also read that it is not out of the question that the Raps trade themselves into this years draft – from Hoopsworld – maybe Bargnani??? …….Hey, one can dream can’t they!!!!

  12. IMO – I don’t believe that Raps are too far away from being a decent team. I do totally agree that these wins should be seen through rose coloured glasses, but in all seriousness they are two – three non starters away from being a really good team. They don’t need rookies, they young vets and a solid contributing veteran on their bench.

    I believe with an addition of a solid back up PG, a three point threat role player and another rotational “big” (hopefully similar to the style of play like Davis – rebounder, defensive presence, rim protection with the ability to score in close to the basket), they will be a force.
    I love AJ, but (IMO) with him coming off the bench next year and a different starter at the 5, this team will be harsh…Johnson will be an amazing six man. He has proven he can play like a starter of the bench and the Raps need a guy like that – it will give them tremendous depth with their bigs. AJ can sub at the 5 or 6 and still play 35 a night.
    They have Bargnani to trade and (not exactly sure but roughly) 9 million to spend from what I remember and that should be enough to get them two maybe three solid players for the bench.
    How about a Lowry and Bragnani swap to the Bucks for Jennings and Larry Sanders or Jennings and Ersan Illyasova (I rather Sanders)…Jennings said he doesn’t want to be there, better then losing out on him for nothing.

    • Lowry is a bum, so is Bargnani. Bucks are a playoff team. Now why would they make such a stupid trade?

      • Hey Sly Smith – still following me, eh! I would answer that question for you – but seeings that it will fall on dumb ears that are boarding mentally retard I wont! How come you have such a crush on me Sly???? You gay?

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