Celebrate season before worrying about playoffs

on March 2016 | in Sports | by Dario Passarelli | @PapaDart | with No Comments

Looking back two years ago, the Toronto Raptors won 48 games in a season, tying a franchise record. Although the loss to the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs hurt, it was little easier to take, as they hadn’t been to the post season in six years. Following another team best last year with winning 49 games, a crushing four game sweep at the hands of the Washington Wizards left the Toronto Raptor faithful in tatters. What was another positive regular season, the second under Dwayne Casey, turned into another hugely disappointing playoff performance. Paul Pierce may have been right when he talked about “it”

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me Therefore, fans from the Six are not going to be sucked into a false sense of optimism for a third year in a row. They have been there before. This team will be judged solely on what they do in the playoffs. With only about a dozen games left, it’s not hard to understand why there hasn’t been as much excitement as expected. That is unfortunate, as this is turning out to be quite the season indeed.

With March Madness taking over the airwaves, you may not have noticed that the Toronto Raptors are on the verge of clinching a playoff spot. On top of that, the Raptors also find themselves in a legitimate battle with the Cleveland Cavaliers for first place in the Eastern Conference. The team was expected to make the playoffs and finish Top 8 in the East, but no one saw them as a Top 4 team of the entire league.

The Dinos are in the process of having the best season in the Raptors 21 year history as they close in on previous bests. To date, their best conference finish is 3rd, most wins in a season (49), most wins at home (30) and wins away (22). With 13 games still to play in this season, they have plenty of time to improve on their current 2nd place standing, 7 full games ahead of third place Atlanta. They have a total of 48 wins, 28 at home and 20 from on the road.

The Raptors are playing a very mature style of basketball and although it can get boring when they continuously run into plays on offence, it has been very effective. These seasons are a rarity in the GTA and rather than be ignored, they should be thoroughly enjoyed. This year however, it won’t because this city will only truly celebrate once the Raptors have won in the playoffs. Win, and this city goes crazy, Jurassic Park mental crazy. Lose and once again, Pierce’s words will have pierced the heart of the Six. Yes, I went there.

So how far can these Toronto Raptors go? Simply enough, they have the talent and work ethic to go as far as the Eastern Conference Championships and possibly, with a little luck, they may even make the NBA Finals. But, if they face Chicago or even Detroit, it would not be a surprise for them to bow out in the first round either. Other than the Cavs who have that LeBron fellow, there is plenty of parity in the Eastern Conference making it so hard to predict.

The Raptors do have reason for optimism as they have shown they can play solid defence for stretches and have a solid one two punch in Demar DeRozen and Kyle Lowry. What was considered minor pickups in Bismack Biyombo and Cory Joseph, have turned into solid additions as they both play critical minutes late in games. Finally, their main offseason acquisition, DeMarre Carroll has missed most of the season. He should be healthy for the playoffs and will automatically become their best wing defender and eventually help balance the offence a bit more. There is a great deal of hope moving forward and that’s fine, the playoffs are coming soon enough.

But for now, take a second, catch your breath and reflect. The 2015/2016 season has been pretty incredible and as it progresses and Raptors set more records, take the time to enjoy them for what they are. These milestones don’t directly tie in to playoff success, that is for certain, but they do tie in to the Raptors. It is a part of their history that should be celebrated and there is time to do so now.

Don’t worry Torontonians, when the playoffs start you will still have more than enough time to worry then. Promise.

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