Toronto Raptors

Predicted Record
40-42 (Tom), 44-38 (GR)

Last Year’s Record

Sam Ricchezza’s Commentary
Well, well, well. The Raps went from dirt to first last year (okay, it’s only the Atlantic) aided primarily by the magic, force and will of Bryan Colangelo. So they lost to the Nets in the 1st round, who cares? I STILL hate Vince Carter and he can burn in hell, but life is now good. As Sports Guy puts it, it doesn’t matter how far your team goes in the playoffs, it’s the fact that it’s enjoyable to watch them play an entire season and they are RELEVANT! (The Celts have that to look forward to this year if Doc Rivers doesn’t screw it up.)

You can’t help but like the team that Colangelo is constructing (the key word here is TEAM). I wasn’t sold on Sam Mitchell as a coach but he sure as heck got them to perform as a team — or was that also Colangelo? They moved the ball real well last year and overcame their deficiencies with this play. It was great to watch. This year, with the added depth, so they’ll continue to be a force. So, while most are predicting greatness for the Celts with the holy trinity of Allen, Garnett and Pierce (guess what? they still don’t have a point guard) and while the Nets still have JKidd (I love this guy!) the Raps are still one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. They have kept up with the Jonses (er, the Ainges?). No doubt, Colangelo was handed lemons when he inherited the team, but he’s turned it into lemonade.

The key will be how the FNG’s are assimilated into the Borg Collective, er team, how well Bargnani continues to develop, and how well Bosh avoids injury.

I still think they can win 50 games this year and make a run at the playoffs, but really, who cares? People are talking about them already, so that means they’re RELEVANT! Like last year, I can look forward to actually watching and enjoying their games, instead of the years past, keeping that gas can nearby and wondering during each game when I should light myself on fire.

Rejoinder From Tom
TJ Ford and Chris Bosh are limited players who get too much time given the glaring weaknesses in their game; Bosh has been so overmatched in International competition that “Tyson Chandler, Olympian” is now a serious possibility. They’ll be all right in the long run, the program’s effective and they’ll find a coach. This year should be a tough one.

Gratuitous Comics Connection
When in Toronto, visit one of the world’s finest comics shops, The Beguiling.

Gratuitous Pharma Connection
There are a bunch of pharmaceutical contract manufacturers and analytical labs right outside Toronto. Sam works at one of them.

The Bottom Line
It’s Garbajosa time, baby! They’re not going to sneak up on anyone this time around, and I think they’ll be duking it out with NJ for one of the bottom playoff spots. –GR

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