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3 In the Key – Toronto Raptors Game Day Preview vs. Bulls

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A collector's item after tonight?

A collector's item after tonight?

Most fans gave up on this season quite a while ago. I would actually be very interested to see just how bad the TV ratings for Raps games have been as of late, in particular on TSN2.

That being said, even if your desire to watch the Raps has waivered as of late there are a few good reasons to watch tonight’s match-up.

Actually there are 6:

Chris Bosh
Joey Graham
Anthony Parker
Shawn Marion
Pops Mensah-Bonsu
Jake Voskuhl

The list above is the guys that could easily be playing their last game in a Raptors uniform (some more likely than others). If for no other reason other than a sentimental one I would advise watching tonight’s game.

When your commitment as a fan to both a team and its players runs as deep as it does at the HQ these moments are bitter sweet.

On the one hand it has been a long season and we are ready to see it end for a variety of reasons. There is no question we are pumped to get our coverage of the draft workouts underway and we are genuinely excited to see how this roster changes over the next few months. Also, when the curtain drops on this season we can finally stop talking about bad defense, poor effort and the growing number of losses. We at the HQ are more than ready to move on and see the focus change.

On the flip side it is hard not to get a little sentimental when it comes to the prospect of guys like Bosh, Graham and Parker possibly playing their last game for the Raps.

Bosh has been the face of the franchise, has done exceptional things in the community and has represented the city of Toronto extremely well. We have seen him develop from a lanky teenager into an NBA Star. If Colangelo deals Bosh this summer, no matter the return, it will be a disappointing day for many Raps fans.

Parker has had a good run with the Raptors since he arrived on the scene and has established himself as a solid rotational player in the NBA. Only a few short years ago Parker was a complete non-factor in NBA circles. He has also been a great representative for the team.

Joey Graham has grown as a player since Rob Babcock drafted him and even with all his flaws, he has been a favourite here at the HQ. It’s unfortunate he has still not put it all together but he has provided his fair share of highlight reel plays.

As a fan it is hard not to get attached to the players wearing "Toronto" or "Raptors" on the front of their jersey. It is even harder not to over-value these guys. Whether you think they should be on the roster or not next season, there is no reason not to tune-in and cheer these guys on in the season finale.

That brings us to the final 3 keys for the 2008-2009 Season:

1. Play Everyone: There is no reason for Triano not to enjoy tonight’s game. It could be his last as the Raptors Head Coach. He should also allow all of his players to enjoy the final 48 minutes of the season. Hopefully Triano will spread the minutes around and let everyone get a few shots up before heading back to Toronto, packing up the lockers and starting a long off-season in the face.

2. Play Hard: The Raps will hopefully play with some good energy tonight and there is no reason not to with the summer ahead. As much as I would like to see the team just fall short, thus possibly helping their chances in the lottery, I want to see them play with energy first and foremost.

3. Soak It In: If this is the swan song for all these guys listed above sit back with your favourite beverage, in the seat where you have watched the majority of the Raps games this season and enjoy watching them play one last time. We all know it has been a gruelling season so why not just kick back and take comfort in the fact that this season is finally over and there are better times ahead. That’s what we will be doing.

HOWLAND