Is this the last Game Day Preview for the 2009-2010 Raptors season?
Will the team be cleaning out their lockers in the next few days or will they be getting ready to face the Cleveland Cavaliers?
I will keep this short and sweet - because all that matters tonight is a W.
Whether or not the Toronto Raptors make the playoffs simply comes down to this - the Raptors must beat the Knicks and the Bulls must lose to the Bobcats. I could probably end the preview here.
The Raps need to play well, while the Bulls need to continue their recent hot play having beaten the Raps and the Celtics in the last two games.
Everyone knows what is at stake here (I won't repeat what has been said 100 times) and there will be a lot of scoreboard watching as the games progress - if you were wondering both tip-off at 8:00 EST.
Despite the fact that the Raps will be looking to sweep the Knicks this season and that organization the has long forgotten about the 2009-2010 playoffs and solely focused on what changes will occur and who they will sign this off-season (hey maybe this will convince CB4 not to leave), this game won't be a walk given the Raptors injury woes.
The only question tonight is what Raptors team will show up and by the end of the night, will it matter?
With all the ups and downs and ins and outs this season it has come down to the last game of the season.
Here are tonight's three keys:
1. Dig Deep: If the Raps hope to secure the 8th spot they are going to have to get some big performances from some unlikely players. With Bosh, Wright and Weems out for tonight's match-up someone, actually EVERYONE is going to need to put it all on the floor. Don't think for one second the Knicks don't know what this game means to the Raps - they do, and they are going to want to play spoiler.
2. A Repeat Performance by Bargnani: Anyone have a gut feeling on which Andrea Bargnani is going to show-up tonight? The guy who disappears at the worst time or the guy who was unstoppable in Detroit? The Raps need the latter in order to get the W. If the big Italian doesn't show tonight that will tell me a lot about his ability to rise to the occassion - something this team has struggled with all season long,
3. Start Quick or Face the Wrath of the Fans: I feel comfortable saying that less than half of the attendees at tonight's game with realize the Raps lose their first round pick if they make the playoffs. Consequently, should the Raps start slow expect the fans to turn on this team in a hurry. The fans have become jaded with this team. If the players do hope to make the playoffs they need the fans on their side.
For the record: I hope they lose.