The Raptors are on a four game winning streak at the moment, but unfortunately their last loss came against their nemeses, the Chicago Bulls. I predicted a 3-2 week and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome -- especially given the rash of Raptors injuries. But that loss, oh, it stings. And with the Bulls driving hard for the 7-seed, well, the sting could turn into something much worse.
For the week, the Raptors hope to get Jonas Valanciunas (left hand contusion), Patrick Patterson (sore left ankle), James Johnson (sore left Achilles' tendon) and, could it be, DeMarre Carroll (you already know) back on the court. Now would be the time, with the Raptors making a push for the 1-seed and the regular season rapidly coming to a close, to make a healthy run.
With our usual Rap man Mitch Robson covering the Ryerson Rams' bronze win at the CIS National Championships, I'm stepping in again this week to take a look at the upcoming games and make some picks. We look ahead to a mere three games.
March 23rd vs. Celtics - A Season Sweep?
The Raptors have had Boston's number all season, having beaten them three times already this year. At one point it seemed like the Celtics were ready to be a the clear 3-seed in the conference. They have All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas, a Coach of the Year candidate in Brad Stevens, and enough interesting players to be dangerous. But, they've gone 5-5 over their last ten games and suddenly find themselves in fifth behind both the Miami Heat and the Atlanta Hawks. The East is funny that way. The Raptors will be coming off a couple of days of much needed rest, and the Celts will definitely be hungry. This could be trouble.
March 25th vs. Rockets - A Junk Revenge Game
I'm still steamed the Raptors gave up a win to this hopeless Rockets team. They've got talent in Houston, but there's just no way a team as together as the Raps can be ceding wins to this band of malcontents. Can you even imagine what it must feel like to play basketball with Dwight Howard on a daily basis?
Let's just move on before I start flipping tables.
March 26th vs. Pelicans - The Long and Winding Road
It's hard not to feel sad for the New Orleans Pelicans. This was supposed to be, if not their year, at least a year. Instead, the 2015-16 season will be remembered as an absolute disaster. The supposed coaching saviour Alvin Gentry turned out to be a mess. Injuries plagued whatever talent the team had, with players like Tyreke Evans and Omer Asik missing time. Hell, Jimmer Fredette got in four games with this squad. Things have been bad. And this is all before we mention that the team just decided to shut down basketball superhuman Anthony Davis for the rest of the season. Instead of a playoff spot, the Pelicans are hoping to slide further down in the standings; an ignoble end to a terrible season.
So, yes, here's hoping the Raptors win that one. Plus the other two. OK, I don't think we'll get a 3-0 week -- I feel like the Celtics are due. I'll go 2-1 with the Raptors keeping pace with the Cavaliers but not quite gaining any ground on the number one seed.
What do you guys got as your picks this wee?