"We need this win and the Raptors need this loss. They're neck-and-neck with the Cavs and Kings for fifth-worst."
A loss last night to the Philadelphia 76ers was big in terms of Toronto's draft lottery chances and based on the remaining schedule, the HQ takes a look at how the draft order could end up.
I'm at a bit of a loss this morning in terms of what to write about.
The Toronto Raptors dropped their 39th game of the 2011-12 NBA season, losing 94 to 75 last night to the Philadelphia 76ers, but there's not much really to discuss is there?
Philly, the more talented of the two clubs, took care of business as they should have, outscoring the Raps 30 to 18 in the game's final quarter to seal the W.
The end result was big for both teams.
For Toronto, the loss kept them neck-and-neck with both the Sacramento Kings and Cleveland Cavaliers, losers respectively yesterday eve to the New Orleans Hornets and Indiana Pacers. Toronto remains half a game back of the Kings for the league's fourth-worst winning percentage, and a game up on the Cavs for the league's fifth-worst mark.
Considering that the Dinos' next four matches come at the hands of the Celtics, Hawks, Hawks and Heat, it was very important to get an L last night in terms of the club's draft lottery hopes as it looked like Philly was the one potential W available on the schedule for the next week or so.
Add on the fact that Toronto closes the season with games against Detroit, Milwaukee and New Jersey (combined record of 70 wins and 104 losses) and it was paramount to lose last night to keep the tank rolling. I had Toronto with 21 wins on the season and at present course that looks to be just about right. At best the Raps win their final three matches to finish with 23 W's, which still should keep them in the discussion for a top 5 spot.
There' s no one catching Charlotte for the league's worst record (NINE WINS?? NINE?) and Washington with only 14 victories looks pretty locked in as well.
But what about the next batch of clubs, the Hornets, Kings and Cavs?
The Kings have a winnable match against Charlotte near season's end but unless teams like the Lakers and Thunder rest most of their stars down the stretch, it's hard to see Sacramento winning many more matches so let's put them at 20 and 46 when all is said and done.
The Cavs play Washington twice in their final slate of games as well as Detroit and a Bulls team that could be resting its troops (final match of the season for both clubs) so it's hard to see Cleveland having much of an advantage of Toronto in terms of potential finish.
And how about New Orleans?
A win last night over Sacramento gave them 16 wins so could the Raps potentially catch them in the ping pong balls race?
It's not impossible but it's very unlikely. The Raps would have to lose out I'd argue, and the Hornets would have to win final games against Charlotte, Houston (twice) and Golden State just to be in discussion, and maybe even need an upset W over a club like the Clippers, Jazz or Grizzlies.
I think realistically the Raptors can stay in that "top" five spot but again, the club has to keep the losses coming considering teams like New Jersey and Detroit are hot on Toronto's heels while another club, Golden State, is doing its damnedest not to lose its draft pick this year to the Utah Jazz.
Of course it helps if the Raptors continue to lose players to injury.
Linas Kleiza didn't return last night after half thanks to a sore right knee, and Jose Calderon went for stitches above his right eye, the same eye that was rendered black and blue last time Toronto and Philly faced off. I'm guessing Calderon will be a ok for Friday's match against the Celtics but here's hoping that Kleiza sits (and Bargnani continues to sit obviously.)
This would mean more minutes for the club's current D League crew but more importantly, hopefully more chances at the likes of Anthony Davis when all is said and done.
The argument has always been that the Toronto Raptors are an unlucky team in terms of the NBA draft so hopefully this year Bryan Colangelo and Dwane Casey keep these key players out of the line-up, hopefully to make some luck of their own.