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3 in the Key: Celtics vs Raptors

The Raptors head to Boston to face off against a Celtics team that has been roughed up and injured. Yet the Celtics are almost a lock to be in the playoffs, while the Raptors are on the outside looking in.

Let him play!
Let him play!

"Stumbling towards the finish line."

Seems to define the Raptors season so far, doesn't it?

How about "falling into success"?

After being so frustrated with the way the Raptors have been managed all season and the irony and hypocrisy which seems to surround the team, we're finally nearing the end of the Raptors' 2012-2013 campaign.

Case and point: Everyone's been clamouring that playing rookies and winning are not necessarily mutually exclusive. The Raptors play Terrence Ross a little more and got some production out of him. Don't even get me started on Jonas Valanciunas.

The Raptors will play better without Andrea Bargnani. Of course, Bargs gets injured, the Raptors don't have to play him anymore, and that's exactly what happens.

Rudy Gay is not a piece who is single-handedly going to bring a team to playoff success. In fact, the Raptors are shooting better when he isn't in the lineup. (The first lineup with Rudy Gay in it is sixth overall in true shooting percentage, while Terrence Ross is in four of the six best lineups including the one Gay is in.)

This isn't how you manage a team. When you are a visionary, you have a hunch about how the team can get better and follow through on your vision. In the Raptors' case, it's always been about selling an idea or message until an injury finally slaps reality into management's face.

Heck, it was only a couple months ago where we were harbouring hopes that the Raptors would be competitive enough to challenge Boston for a place in the playoffs.

But this isn't simply a "this year" issue. This is the M.O. of every Raptors team under Colangelo's tenure.

Think about how Jose Calderon got his minutes.

Think about how the Raptors underutilized Jorge Garbajosa before giving him the starting job.

And it just makes a person tired of seeing it year after year.

For myself, I've had enough. For the rest of the season, I'm going to try to stop complaining about the management of this team because you've heard it all before. I'm going to try my hardest to make this about the players and the future of this club because quite frankly, there's only one way out of this. And unless Bell and Rogers figure it out where others haven't, I'm just wasting my energy.

And so, the Raptors are once again on the outside of the playoff dance while Boston has had another year in the ball. How did the Celtics do it again even without Ray Allen or Rajon Rondo? Well, when you take a look at the Celtics, they're last, or near the bottom in a lot of categories. However, they're 9th overall in field goal percentage, combined with seventh in steals and assists.

Toss in a 5th overall defensive rating, and the Celtics are a tough nut to crack.

In order to win, the Raptors need to do the following:

1) Don't be afraid to use youth - The Celtics are far from being spring chickens, so it make sense for the Raptors to try and increase the pace with people like Ross and Valanciunas to get the Celtics to really feel their legs. With such a defensive-minded team, the Raptors need ball movement and leak outs to become effective. We need to see a lot more Kyle Lowry and Landry Fields in this game to make the Celtics feel every breath they take.

2) Crash the glass - Although the Raptors are not exactly good at rebounding, they're at least way better than the Celtics. At 29th from the offensive rebound stat and 29th overall, the Celtics are practically rock bottom. The Raptors should not take this as an indication to go small ball. What I hope to see in this game is copious amounts of Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson crashing the glass with some Aaron Gray sprinkled in for good measure.

The Raptors should not get beaten on the boards by the Celtics and if they do, it could mean trouble.

3) Terry and Green - Paul Pierce is still a very dangerous star, but it's both Jason Terry and Jeff Green this year, who have helped Pierce and the Celtics stay in games. Both have the second and third best true shooting percentages on the team and have complimented Pierce on the offensive side of things with Rondo out of the picture.

If the Raptors manage to get a handle on Terry and Green, they should be able to make it a challenge for the Celtics to score.

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