Feb 1, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) goes to the basket against Los Angeles Clippers center Ronny Turiaf (21) at the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Clippers 98-73. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Playoffs or kids - for Toronto Raptors, it's time to decide

February 6, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Raptors guard Terrence Ross (31) tries to get around Boston Celtics center/forward Kevin Garnett (5) during the first half at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

“[Lord Ronald] flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse and rode madly off in all directions.” Nonsense Novels (1911), Stephen Leacock.

The Toronto Raptors season has reached an inflection point. The team has been hanging around the fringes of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference, and has made a trade designed to improve results immediately. If the Raps are going to make a push for the #8 seed, they need to string together a bunch of wins, tout de suite. Wednesday night’s loss to the Boston Celtics was a severe fumble, as the Celtics are a team the Raps must elbow aside to grab the last seat on the playoff train.

What was worse than losing was how the Raps lost. The fourth quarter collapse was triggered by a 10-0 Celtics run at the expense of the second unit, which was comprised of NBA veterans like Alan Anderson and John Lucas. Our promising youngsters were nowhere to be seen. For the game, Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross played a total of less than 7 minutes between them, while Quincy Acy remains bolted to the bench.

Raps management needs to figure out what it wants, and whether it’s achievable. If there really is a chance to sneak into the playoffs, fine, give it a run. But if that’s not realistic anymore (and I don’t think it is), then make the commitment to youth, and to next season. If I’m Bryan Colangelo, I say to Dwane Casey “Unless we go 7-3 in our next 10 games, we’re out of the race. If we drop out, I want to see a new rotation in which our youngsters play 20 minutes each per game. We’ve got to figure out how to integrate them into our lineup before next season.”

Feb 1, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Raptors forward Quincy Acy (4) during their game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Clippers 98-73. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not a fan of sports clichés, but here’s one I believe in – If you’re going to lose anyway, lose with kids. The Celtics game was the worst result possible: we lost with veterans. That can’t continue.

Brian Boake is a co-editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada. 

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Tags: Jonas Valanciunas Quincy Acy Terrence Ross Toronto Raptors

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