Finally. We sat through the loss to Denver and the even harder to-sit-through blunder against Miami and just when you think they are falling apart at the seams, the Toronto Raptors come up with a win last night against Charlotte. Ahhh..now we can breathe a sigh of relief. Some might say "who cares if they make the playoffs - they won't even make it past the first round". I wouldn't be so quick to judge. I mean, realistically, I don't think the Raptors are going to win any championships this year - that's safe to say. But take a look at the last three games and how they were won or lost. They were close, very close. As you know, in close games, both sides are hungry, working hard and want the brass ring. If a loss turns up on your side of the coin, it doesn't mean your team is not talented or deserved the loss. It means little mistakes like turnovers or missed shots from behind the arc got in the way. In the Raptors case, I think this means they know how to win now and we hope this game puts them back on the right track. After we talk about some of the highlights from last night's game, we'll touch on the Nets, NBA Hall of Fame and some hot comments made by LeBron James lately.
Have Faith in this Team
If there is anything I have learned from running marathons, minis or 30K's, you can be in the zone and everything's clicking or something pops, you hit a wall and as a result, you are left wondering "how am I going to finish this thing". The best advice anyone ever gave me is trust in your training, take each kilometre as it comes and enjoy the moment. So if we apply this to the Raptors, we can trust in the depth of their bench - they showed us that against Denver last week. The loss against Miami was like something popping. However embarrassing giving up a sizable lead like that was, they regrouped and found a way to win last night's game 103-101. I think it shows more character to win like this because it shows they know how to dig deep and stay the course. They need to play four quarters and not walk into saying "I wonder how we're going to loose today" but "how much we are going to win by". Whether you are making millions or playing high school basketball, taking so many losses in a row hurts team confidence and morale. They lost 13 of their last 17 going into Monday's showdown and this was the break they needed. It helped that Charlotte - including MJ - spent most of the night being mad at the officials and were thrown off their game a little. But that's how you win against teams like Charlotte or play-off opponents. Make them uncomfortable, make them take uncalculated shots and throw them off their game. I really hope the Raptors take time to enjoy this win - confidence is everything.
Worst of the Worst - Nets breathing a sigh of relief
According to the official NBA history books, the Nets will not be the most dismal team in the history of the game. As for this season, they may also no longer be the worst team in the NBA. While the Raptors were digging deep, the Nets were too, pulling out a dramatic 90-84 win over the Spurs on Monday night. This win passed them over the worst ever mark (9-73) set by the Philadelphia 76ers during the 1972-1973 season. This was huge, not just because of the impending doom that comes with being the worst team in the NBA, but because the Spurs have been really hot lately, winning 12 out of their last 16 going into Monday night's contest. Proof positive anything can happen when the playoffs are on the horizon. Plus, with three wins in their last four games, the Nets are also looking to enjoy the moment and stay the course.
Hall of Fame puts fans on the guest list
Traditionally, past inductees, people within the game and media members have chosen those individuals who they feel deserve to be in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Those who vote are not identified and once the screening committee narrows the list of nominations, another committee votes on the finalists and later votes on who will make the Hall. Sound a little cloudy? This is why Hall Chairman Jerry Colangelo is trying to apparently make the process more transparent and get fans interested in the process. The new plan is supposed to be formalized within the next few days and fans may begin participating in the voting process by next year. But don't get your hopes up yet. We don't know what value will be given to the fan voting or if this is just a little marketing scheme. I am a little skeptical.
Bron Bron showing some "braun"
I think those that are complaining about LeBron James' comments surrounding the NBA scoring title as of late are stretching it a little bit. As you know, Lebron is in a close race for the title with Kevin Durant and with the hype comes comments and interviews and things getting blown out of proportion. When asked about the title, LeBron, who is averaging 29.8 points per game, said he could win it every year if he wanted to but it doesn't matter. I took this as he has his eye on a bigger prize like the NBA championship, focusing on team accomplishments and unselfish play rather than individual titles. I heard some of my colleagues say he's being disrespectful to the history of the league or LeBron is setting himself up for a loss to Kevin Durant for the title, so he acts as if it doesn't matter. In the grand scheme of things, it's nice to get recognized for individual accomplishments but anyone who has ever been involved in team organized sports understands that winning a championship with your extended family/ teammates is a lot tastier.
On that note, enjoy your Final-Four-watchin'-turkey-eatin' Easter weekend and the bits will be back next Tuesday.