Well, after a thoroughly embarrassing loss against Chicago, the Raptors almost redeem themselves by soundly beating Detroit, a team that has only won 26 games this year. If they can beat New York , a team that has only won 29 games, then Chicago will need to beat both Boston and Charlotte to beat Toronto for the final playoff spot.
In the game against Chicago, Boston has nothing to play for, but at least it’s not their last game of the season. If they were going to take the night off, I can see that being the one, the second night of a meaningless back-to-back.
Charlotte has played very well at home this year, and their only win against Chicago this season came at home. They still conceivably leapfrog Milwaukee in the standings, so they’ll probably be tough to beat.
That’s all good news for the Raptors, but one thing I’ve learned this season is never be too optimistic, or reality will throw you against a wall, rip your pants down, do it’s impression of a Catholic priest and kick you in the groin for good measure. Metaphorically speaking. Still, there is reason for hope, if not optimism.
Back to the Detroit game, though.
So Bargnani has something like his best game of the season and even chips in 7 rebounds. Of course, he only got to the line twice with 22 shot attempts. That’s a FT/FG ratio of .091 (Read this post if you want to understand what I am talking about). Still, 33 points is 33 points. If he can play like this against New York and then (if the Raptors make the playoffs) against Cleveland, will that make it easier to trade him? Of course, if that happens, does that give Colangelo a reason NOT to trade him?
Amir Johnson had fewer rebounds than assists, shot 6-7 from the line (where he’s shooting .607 this season), and outscored every Piston, including their prized free agent signing, Ben Gordon. You think Amir wanted to show the Pistons they made a mistake when they dumped him so they could open up some salary cap room?
Speaking of the Pistons free agent signings, their other prized one, Charlie Villanueva, who many Raptor fans bizarrely still pine after, apparently “guaranteed” a victory over the Raptors on Twitter. My head is close to exploding with the number of things I want to say about this. Are free agent busts of 26 win teams really guaranteeing meaningless wins now? Is this what the NBA has come to? Actually, I think this is yet another reason why this whole Twitter thing is immensely stupid. I don’t know which is sadder, that people are actually publicizing the minutia of their daily life and turning it into digital diarrhea, or that people actually are interested enough to take time out of their day to read it. CHARLIE! SHUT THE F**K UP!
Remember when Joe Dumars was considered one of the best GMs in the league? I, for one, felt he was overrated and basically fell into a Championship when Atlanta gave Rasheed to the Pistons. Reader, and fellow blogger, recently argued that any GM who has one a Championship is a great GM. I think Dumars disproves that. The Ben Gordon and Charlie Vilanueva signings have to go down as some of the most wasted cap space in recent memory. Think Dumars is regretting not holding off until this summer, when there are actually going to be some free agents worth signing, available? At the beginning of the season, I predicted Detroit would have to rebuild, and boy do they. He should have traded Prince and Hamilton last summer, back when they had way more value, and probably should have held onto Amir. Personally, I’d rather have Amir at $3.9 million for one season than Villanueva at $6.5 to $8.5 million for five years. Right now, they’re a fairly old team with a few mediocre young players. And absolutely no identity.
Back to Villanueva. Back when he was playing for the Raptors, I argued with other fans that he would never become a great scorer because he couldn’t get to the line. It’s then when I came up with my FT/FG ratio. Well, this season he averaged an anemic .150 FT/FG ratio. With his mediocre rebounding, horrible defense and penchant for chucking up threes, no matter what his percentage was, he would have fit in nicely with the Raptors. Oh, I forgot, Toronto’s already got one of those players.
Talk about peaking at the right time. When the All-Star break hit, Miami was a struggling team that looked like it would be lucky if it made it to .500 and were in a battle with Milwaukee for the 8th spot in the East. Meanwhile, the Raptors looked to be locked in the 5th seed and were cruising to a 45 win season. Two months later, and the two have switched places. Miami just hit 45 wins and are sitting in the 5th spot. Toronto won’t make .500 and will be lucky to make the playoffs.
AN EXTENSION? REALLY?
So Zach Randolph, having the most successful year of his career, is asking for an extension. Sure, Memphis missed out on the playoffs (again), but Randolph made his first All-Star game and set a record with the most consecutive games without a complaint about him. Maybe he has smartened up. Then again, he’s claiming that he should make what Pau Gasol is going to make for his extension. His thinking is that Gasol and he signed their contracts at the same time and for about the same amount. Apparently he doesn’t take into consideration that Gasol is a much better player.
Let’s keep things in perspective here. While Randolph played well, he led a team with three other very good players (Gay, Mayo and the other Gasol) to 40 wins. If Bosh had that supporting cast, the Raptors might very well have home court in the playoffs.
SPEAKING OF DUMB IDEAS
Apparently Richard Jefferson is pondering whether, after the most disappointing season of his career, to leave $15 million on the table and opt out of his contract. Think the Spurs will be trying to talk him out of it? Think, if he does, they might regret extending Ginobili’s contract? Without his salary (and without Jefferson’s), the Spurs would have been approximately $15 million under the cap this summer.
I know the Spurs will likely finish with the worst record since Tim Duncan came into the league and are currently sitting in the 7th spot in the West, their worst seed since Duncan was drafted, but keep in mind that they will once again win 50 games for the 12th time in 13 years (the year they didn’t was the lock-out shortened season). Wouldn’t it be nice to be disappointed with 50 wins?
You think Dallas really wants to play them in the first round?