If anybody would’ve told me after the Philly Game 7 defeat that it would take the Raptors five years to get to their next playoffs, I would’ve laughed, asked them to STFU and advised them to immediately acknowledge the Raptors as an Eastern powerhouse for years to come. Edit: I forgot about the Chris Childs shit, somewhat easy. Many fans thought similarly and one can’t really blame us, we had Vince Carter, Antonio Davis, Charles Oakley, Alvin Williams, all playing well at the time. But all that could go wrong did go wrong starting with Carter turning pansy on us, injuries and overpaid players under-performing to such a degree that the off-season signings seemed a mistake.
But forget all that. These are the new Raptors, built around players with talent rather than reputation and quarterbacked by professional NBA point guards and led by an all-star who for a change, has got his head screwed on straight. Yeah, Chris Bosh has his ups an downs and fans complain about what he could’ve and should’ve done in games that we lost, but the man has been magnificent all year long and his supporting cast has been consistent. The #1 draft pick of Andrea Bargnani was an extremely wise one and it really shows how little fans know about player drafting, we play armchair GMs all year without really having the slightest clue of what being a real GM actually involves. Bryan Colangelo has been God’s gift to Toronto basketball and for once MLSE made a brilliant decision in pursuing him. I can’t believe I’m saying this but kudos to Richard Peddie on that one. Shout out to the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan as well.
Sam Mitchell is an open book coach, as in everybody can see what he’s trying to do and what he’s not doing. It doesn’t say much about the guy as a coach but he has gotten the results this year, whether people say its largely because he has better players is another matter. He’s handled the Mo Pete/Joey Graham/Juan Dixon/Jorge Garbajosa minutes issues pretty effectively and although his substitution patterns are at times erratic and questionable, they’ve been successful more often than not. I think the area where most supporters have an issue with Sam is his offensive X’s and O’s and at times the completely non-existent defense. I think a lot of defense is about player communication and effort so lets not blame Sam entirely for that but the offensive sets remain an area that can be openly questioned. Overall, he’s produced enough results to cut him some slack.
The Charlotte Bobcats were in town to help the Raptors clinch the playoff berth and ironically enough there were some rumours that Sam Mitchell is in line to be their next head coach after Bicker Bickerstaff steps down (gets fired by Michael Jordan). They made little challenge to contest for this game and after watching it I cooled down on the idea of us pursuing Gerald Wallace in the off-season. He’s a good player but I’m guessing some team will over-commit and pay him way more than what he’s worth. You might say Anderson Varejao all the way but what about Kris Humphries? Maybe if this guy gets more minutes, he’ll turn into a more polished version of Varejao.
I think Chris Bosh is putting to rest anybody who might question whether Emeka Okafor and Dwight Howard are superior players. The other two can dominate in certain areas of the game but Bosh is simply a much more versatile and complete player. Morris Peterson had another bad game but as long as he can step his game up in the playoffs, which I think he will, he’ll be an asset to this team. Juan Dixon is fitting in perfectly with this team, once you look past his defensive problems against bigger guards, he’s an absolute force on the other end with an effective mid-range game and perhaps the highest basketball IQ on the team.
So we’re officially in the playoffs and in line for a division title. The Garbajosa injury hurts but as long as we finish the season without any more setbacks and Bargnani gets a couple games under his belt before the second season, there’s no reason to think we can’t win a first round series against Chicago, Washington or Miami.
You can check out all the highlights in Chasin’s RealGM thread, here’s the Game in a Flash: