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.”