The Toronto Raptors fell backwards into the #3 seed in the NBA playoffs by winning while losing. Both the Chicago Bulls and the Brooklyn Nets lost their final games of the season. Chicago fought hard, but Charlotte prevailed in OT, so Chicago ended #4. Washington bumped the Nets to the #6 seed, so Brooklyn plays the Raps. The Nets’ final game, which they mailed in, was against the also-ran Cleveland Cavaliers. Brooklyn was steamrolled by 29 points, and none of their starters stepped on the floor. I note with amusement the list of “injuries” to key personnel, which relegated them to spectator status: Paul Pierce (right hip pointer), Kevin Garnett (back spasms), Alan Anderson (abdominal strain) Joe Johnson (right calf soreness), Deron Williams (right knee tendinitis), Shaun Livingston (right big toe sprain). I guess they ran out of cool injuries when they came to stretch-4 Mirza Teletovic – he was held out for “personal” reasons.
I fully expect all these gentlemen to have drunk some magical elixir before they face the Raptors on Saturday afternoon. They will emerge from the visitors’ dressing room at the Air Canada Centre miraculously healed of all their aches and pains, and ready to play the team they wanted to face all along. From the Nets point of view, one can understand their desire to face the Raps rather than the Bulls, while still deploring the shabby fashion in which they “cooked” their final standing. The Nets have a boatload of playoff-savvy veterans, and I’m sure they view our team’s lack of playoff experience as its Achilles heel, particularly in the first round. I also suspect they wanted to avoid Chicago’s fierce defense, which allowed an NBA-lowest 91.8 Points Per Game [PPG]. While that’s certainly impressive, the key stat for me is the difference between points scored and allowed. Chicago is plus1.9, while the Brooklyn
‘Fraidycats Nets are minus1.0. The Toronto Upstarts Raptors beat them both, at plus3.3, which ranks ninth in the NBA. Chicago is 13th and Brooklyn 19th.
The Raps are in tough here, but that’s irrelevant. Every playoff matchup is nasty. Can our kids defeat the greybeards from Brooklyn? We’ll have a full analysis for you soon.
The playoffs are finally here, Rapture Nation. Our wait is over….16 wins to a championship.