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Tip In, Toronto Raptors' Post Game: Leaving With a Win

Vicious D hopes Parker has a place on the team next year...Franchise just wants a higher draft pick.

Vicious D hopes Parker has a place on the team next year...Franchise just wants a higher draft pick.

For the Raptors, winning for the fans was reason enough to cheer.

Yes, we all might be arguing about draft picks and off season moves soon, but while there's basketball still to be played, we can't complain about an effort that left the Raptors with a win in their final home game of the season.

After all, the Raptors could have easily packed it in as they've done multiple times this season. However, with Toronto getting top production from all their starters and some much needed bench production, they managed to pull away with a 111-104 victory over the free-falling 76ers.

It wasn't the best of games ever played by the Raptors, nor should we expect this game to outline plans for the future. But as an isolated game, at the tail end of a terrible year, on the day that the fans came out to support the team, things worked out the way the Dinos wanted them to.

In this game, Toronto got just enough out of guys like Andrea Bargnani, who was excellent at intimidating the 76ers in the paint with six blocks for the night. If it wasn't for foul trouble for most of the game, Bargnani would have probably done much better offensively than his already-efficient 17 points. Chris Bosh was his usual steady self, giving the Raptors a workman level of play, and toss in some help from Jose Calderon, Anthony Parker, and a verry effective Shawn Marion, and all five Raps starters reached double figures.

Ironically, the difference makers for this game had to have been Quincy Douby and Patrick O'Bryant. While I don't expect either player to suddenly bloom into a bonafide stud that will challenge for minutes, both did a more than serviceable job for one evening. Douby, in particular, relieved Calderon with a steady hand for almost 11 1/2 minutes of play. Making his shots when they presented themselves, but concerned more with just making the correct, simple play, Douby displayed an almost Calderon-like calm on the court and allowed the Raptors to eventually take the lead.

On the other hand, O'Bryant finally gave the Raptors the size they've been asking for since his inclusion into the rotation. Making cuts, dunking with aggression, and getting five rebounds in 18 minutes of play, O'Bryant was not a force, but he did just enough to give Bosh and Bargnani the rest they needed when there was foul trouble.

Couple all that with 10 turnovers by Andre Iguodala, and you get the 31st Toronto Raptors win.

The most interesting part of the game, though, had to be the pre-game comments by Jack Armstrong. The discussion in question was concerning Bryan Colangelo's direction for the summer, and I couldn't agree more with Jack. He talked at length about how while Bosh is a great player, he may not be the right fit for the team moving forward, and it's something that Colangelo is going to have to look into when making his summer renovations on his stable of Raptors players.

And that doesn't only concern Bosh, as the Raptors need to think a lot about whether or not to bring Anthony Parker back in the right role for the upcoming year. There's no question that I believe that Parker is an important part of this team that is lacking experienced hands but should he start going forward? Perhaps not but on the flip side, we've seen him struggle coming off the bench this year.

Jack Armstrong also talked about building a team with a proper identity, and he mentioned that Toronto needs to have the correct personnel to compliment Bosh and Bargnani, especially if the Raptors expect to retain both. Jack mentioned the need for tougher and stronger wing players as a juxtaposition to the finesse nature of both Bargnani and Bosh. Of course, the corollary of that argument is that if the Raptors can't get that kind of toughness and athleticism from their wings, they'll need to move one of the two big men.

And that's of course what makes this upcoming summer so interesting to be sure.

Vicious D

Was it great for the fans for Toronto to get one last win at home?

Perhaps.

Am I happy about this?

Unlike my partner in crime, Vicious D, not so much. With a loss by the Knicks, Toronto again grabs that eighth spot in the draft, lottery aside, and puts a little more distance between themselves and suddenly charging Golden State.

Yes, the Raptors’ played some solid defense last night, forcing Philadelphia to turn the ball over and shoot low-percentage shots.

But really, it didn’t make me change my stance from late in Toronto’s six-game winning streak; I truly believe that this team, as presently constructed and healthy, would have made the playoffs had we started the season from scratch. There is just such a drop-off from Cleveland, Boston and Orlando that I really think the Raptors would have been battling it out with Miami and Atlanta for fourth or fifth in the conference.

And from a big-picture perspective, do I even want that scenario?

Not exactly, and that’s why I’d much prefer for this team to continue losing out, upping the chances of grabbing a top 3 pick overall, thereby facilitating the addition of superior talent.

This isn’t the NHL.

In the NBA, one or two new players can make a huge difference to a team.

This year is full of examples of this too, from Mo Williams and the Cavs, to even Derrick Rose and the Bulls.

On the flip side, we’ve seen many-a-team that has gone the opposite direction when they’ve been missing key pieces – Toronto’s opponent tonight, the Washington Wizards, being exhibit A. Minus Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood, and a few other players for chunks of time, Washington tumbled to the worst record in the league, and now find themselves with a great shot at the top overall pick. Should they land a Blake Griffin or Ricky Rubio, and have a healthy Arenas and Haywood to complement their other pieces next year, it’s hard not to see them jumping back into the East’s elite.

So here’s a question; if you’re a new NBA GM walking into a situation, would you rather be taking over in Philly or in Washington?

I found myself thinking about this while watching last night’s Raps game. In the current NBA, long-term contracts for big money are a huge negative unless the player receiving the cheques is named Lebron, Kobe, Dwyane etc. Washington may have some large salaries which look a bit risky at the moment but compare that to Philadelphia! The 76ers are going to be paying over $37 Million next year just to three of their players, Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand and Samuel Dalembert. Throw in the need to re-sign Andre Miler and the fact that they have guys like Willie Green and Reggie Evans on the books for about $5 Million per, and there’s not a lot of wiggle room going forward.

Compounding the salary situation is that Brand couldn’t remain healthy and even when he was playing earlier in the year, just wasn’t meshing with the running style of his teammates.

The Raptors of course found themselves in a similar situation after the Jermaine O’Neal trade however managed to dump some of that financial responsibility, and with a shot at a top pick in the draft, now can possibly rebuild quickly around key pieces not only to get back into the playoffs next year, but to advance past the first round, something that looks like an impossibility for the free-falling 76ers.

In fact, would you rather be in Ed Stefanski’s shoes right now, or Bryan Colangelo’s?

As much-maligned as BC has been this year, I think the answer is obvious.

Therefore as Toronto prepares to take on the aforementioned Wizards in their second-last game of the season tonight, the only 3 keys I’ll be looking at are lots of minutes for O’Bryant, Ukic, Douby and co., loss number 50, and yet another opportunity for Bryan Colangelo and his staff to do some evaluation on this group before switching into draft mode.

FRANCHISE