3 In the Key: Toronto Raptors Game Day Preview vs. 76ers


4 - 3 - 2 - 1!

You got it, there are only four games left in what, for the most part, has been a miserable 2010-2011 regular season for your Toronto Raptors.

A summer of hope, promise and positive thoughts on the future are not far off but first the Raptors face off against the Philadelphia 76ers in game number 79!

Season's end is fast approaching. In fact, this is the last Friday night affair of the season.

Luckliy for Toronto sports fans the Jays have started well out of the gate.

Interest in the Raptors is at a low and for most fans the fact that Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon are not playing just made a rather unwatchable game even more so.

Of course letting the young guys play is what it's all about right?

It's a busy regular season and there is little time for experimentation and trying new things, but if there is one silver lining to these last few games it's that Coach Triano has a clean slate with which to work.

It's because of the Raptors horrid season and now countless injuries that the organization can really see whether some of these young players can well...play. The great piece by Adam (aka Franchise) on Bayless wouldn't be possible if it were not for the season that was.

On countless occasions you hear of young guys (or in many cases fans) complaining that a certain player needs playing time to show what they can do. Well, if you are fighting for a playoff spot or positioning there is little chance that such an opportunity will arise. For Raptors fans the conversation is now one of "where would Bayless fit" as opposed to "can Bayless play".

Silver linings right? That about all this team has right now.

Time for these young guys to seize the moment - I mean this is a great opportunity for Alexis Ajincato prove that he is, or at least could be, something better than Patrick O'Bryant. It's an opportunity for Triano and Colangelo to conduct a true audit of what they have on their team and not just through inter-squad scrimmages. Guys need to prove themselves against real opponents.

Time to see who steps up. 

Carpe Diem fellas.  

Here are tonight's three keys:

1. Play the Young Bucks: There's very litle reason for Coach Triano to put anyone on the floor tonight who is not either (a) a sure fire part of the future, or (b) a likely contributor to that future. Lots of minutes for Ed Davis, DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson and Jerryd Bayless and little for the like of Reggie Evans. Let the young guys play until the wheels fall off or they foul out. Let's not pretend that winning this game is going to mean anything in the big scheme of things.

2. Mix and Match:In an ideal world tonight Coach Triano would show some different line-ups. Let's see if Amir can play some three. Hell let's see if DeMar might even be able to play some PG. Now is the time when you experiment against real competition. Let's not wait for training camp of the 2011-2012 season. Who wouldn't want to see DeRozan, Weems, Johnson, Johnson and Davis all on the floor at the same time? Seriously..what is there to lose other than another game?!

3. Play Hard: All kidding aside, the worst thing that could happen tonight is the team mails it in. Despite the season being long lost this team has continued to play hard (see Orlando and Chicago games) and let's see that effort continue right to the bitter end. Whether or not you want to see Triano let go at season's end he has managed to get these guys to play at a good level all year. Let's not see that change.

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