Last game of the year! With the Raptors taking on the Heat, it's a fitting cap to a season that began with Chris Bosh's departure.
As we bring this season to a close, we'll be talking a lot about the Raptors in the upcoming weeks because there will be a lot of deconstruction going on. There's going to be the mandatory Bryan Colangelo spin-o-rama conference, the non-stop parade of best and worst moments from the 2010-2011 season, and the entire lead up to the draft.
In other words, what was, what is, and what will be.
But thinking back on it all, there were really just a few turning points in my mind.
First was Chris Bosh leaving the Raptors.
Second was Reggie Evans breaking his leg.
Finally, was James Johnson's arrival on the Raptors' squad.
I'm not saying that these are the end all and be all for this season's genealogy, but in my mind, these are as good places to start as any. Chris Bosh leaves, Raptors fan base feels like we got kicked in the nads as our Canadian Complex rears its ugly head again. Reggie Evans breaks his leg, and the entire squad forgets how to play any semblance of defense until his return. James Johnson comes to the squad and finally there's some sort of hustle again that's been missing for years.
It's been quite the roller coaster ride this season.
And boy, the stats. The stats are staggering.
Guess who the best rebounder per minutes played the Raptors have that's not named "Reggie Evans"?
Best Steals per minutes played?
Julian Wright followed by Solomon Alabi and Joey Dorsey
Best Blocks per minutes played?
No surprise, but it's Amir Johnson followed by Ed Davis and James Johnson
And if you want to think about hope or at the same time the direction of this team, all those "defensive" categories are dominated by our youth core. Granted, the Raptors finished 19th in Steals and 26th in Blocks. But coming into tonight's game, after 81 games of Raptors basketball, I want to look at some positives for the future.
Especially since the man from the past is coming to the ACC tonight.
We're back to talking about Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat thanks to those devious NBA Schedulers. At the end of the day, there's not a heck of a lot I want to talk about for tonight's game. The Heat are still tinkering a little with their starting lineup as Joel Anthony has been replaced by Zydrunas Ilgauskas, but I have little doubt that their stars will get a break in tonight's action.
Heck, Erik Spoelstra has talked at length about needing that punch from his bench.
So I'll be wholeheartedly expecting a large dose of Mario Chalmers, Joel Anthony, James Jones, and Juwan Howard tonight. I expect the Raptors to come out and take this final game on the chin as well. The Raptors are looking for that high draft pick, while the Heat are looking for that final tune up.
It's like a match made in heaven, and a fitting end to 2010-2011.