Sitting in the ACC yesterday evening, I made the stupid decision to feel comfortable about the Raps closing out the Bulls when they lead 103-91 at the six minute mark of the fourth following a Luis Scola corner triple. It was at the point when Jimmy Butler decided to elevate his performance from marvellous to historic. He proceeded to rip out and trample over the fans hearts down the stretch, concluding in a 40 point half that broke Michael Jordan's single half scoring record, which gave Chicago a 115-113 win.
Once again the Raptors biggest problem since the franchise's resurgence two years ago reared its ugly head, and another lead was blown in what should of been cruising time. The loss now has the Raps sitting at 4th in the conference with a record at 21-14 behind the Heat, the Bulls (who took control of the season series winning twice this week) and the Cavaliers, who the Raps will battle at the Q in Cleveland tonight.
Although the week begins with quite a tough test on the back-to-back tonight, the rest of the week is certainly winnable and the Raps should be able to go 3-1 this week before they head to London to face the Magic next week.
January 4th @ Cavaliers - Welcome to the Terrordome
The Raps head into "The Land" tonight to face LeBron and the nearly full strength Cavs, as Kyrie Irving is still working himself back into his normal playing shape. Toronto won't be able to hang their head about Sunday's disappointing loss, as the Cavaliers have a fearsome 14-1 home record. If the Raps keep LeBron out of the paint, continue to ice pick and rolls as well as run their gunners off the three point line, they can avoid one of those 12-0 knockout punch runs the Cavs can throw and keep the game in hand.
January 6th @ Nets - Only one Jack in the Building
That Jack will be Jack Armstrong, as Nets starter Jarrett Jack went down for the season over the weekend as he tore his ACL. He was seemingly the only impassioned player on the Brooklyn roster, as when you watch a Nets game the rest of the team lulls their way along to match the energy of the fans in the building surely. This one shouldn't be too tough, unless of course a Bargnani revenge game breaks out.
January 8th @ Wizards - Keep the Sweep Alive
The Raptors are 2-0 in the four game season series against the Wizards, and will play them again this Friday night in DC. Last time the Raps were at the Verizon Center Cory Joseph hit a game winning buzzer beater and the Raps beat the Wiz at home by three last week as well. Despite Washington being under .500 they still matchup very well with the Toronto lineup and John Wall will be trying his best to put on a show against Kyle Lowry. With the Wizards so banged up, the Raptors depth should be enough to get the win in the Capital.
January 9th @ Sixers - Watch out for the Trap
It may sound crazy, but this could be a trap game that makes fans want to break a lot of household items while watching. It's the last game before the team's trans-Atlantic flight to London and the Sixers have won two games in the past 10 days - a hot streak! The Ish Smith addition isn't technically a needle mover in terms of the teams competitiveness, but he is averaging 13 points and 7 assists in his return to Philly, which at least gives them a serviceable NBA point guard. That being said, this should be an easy Raps win.
Let's go easy this time out and go for 2-2 week. The question is, which of these wins will be surprising and which of these losses will be disappointing?
Make your picks in the comments.