They say politics makes strange bed fellows. Well so does sports. How else can you explain Raptor fans cheering on the Celtics to beat the Bulls? When you look at things this is the Raptors best shot to make the most season. Now Larry Brown is on the record saying the Bobcats will play their full roster vs the Bulls on Wednesday. However forgive me if I don't see them being highly motivated to win, or for Brown not to pull the plug on his starters quickly. The Bobcats have nothing to play for. They have already qualified for the playoffs. Which by the way I predicted that they would and the Thunder too. How is that for an unlikely daily double? Anyway back to the point. Bobcats have no reason to win and the only things that can happen for them are bad ones.
Like the injury to Sonny Weems last night. Which by the way both Weems and I were up far to late last night on Twitter. In the wee hours of the morning Weems tweeted thanks for fans concern. He also tweeted there was no way he was going to miss the biggest game of his NBA Career. So as much as Larry Brown is preaching all the right things in terms of doing what is right for the game of basketball. Fact is even if his players do play how honestly motivated will they be? The answer is likely not all that much. If you want a Raptor example of it. How about when the Raptors won their Division Title and raised the banner. They had zip to play for and were easily defeated by a Sixers team that was not heading to the post season.
So that is why tonight for my money (Weems Nickname Pun Unintended) the Raptors hope lies with Boston. As I outlined in the blog the Celtics still have a slim chance of catching the Hawks for 3rd in the East. The main motivation in securing that 3rd spot is you would draw Orlando in round 2 instead of Cleveland. Who regardless of who wins the final seed, Bulls or Raptors, will be a massive favourite to advance. In fact let's be honest about this they are a heavy favourite to win the NBA Title. Which was also one of my pre-season predictions. However if you think I am gloating trust me I am not. You remember who I had for 6th man of the year award winner? Rasheed Wallace was my pick and he has not exactly lit it up in Boston. But Go Sheed, right? At least tonight it will be the case. That was all the buzz on Twitter today with Raps fans. Trying to come to grips with cheering for the team that has punked the Raptors on so many occasions. That knee to Chris Bosh's groin by Paul Pierce is now water under the bridge. K.G smack talking with Jose Calderon a simple exchange of ideas. It is all very odd and bizarre.
The one person I will have no issue with cheering for on the Celtics in Rajon Rondo. I believe I have told this story in the blog before but it is worth repeating. I was out at a social gathering in the Early fall after the Big 3 was coming to Boston. I was among a group of people and the topic of the Celtics came up. Someone expressed extreme doubt that Rondo was good enough to make this all work. He suggested that the Celtics needed to get a point guard in order to make this make over a success. I at the time said " No you just wait and see, Rondo is going to be fine,trust me". Not sure if that person did or remembered this conversation, but the results have been very positive. Rondo in the Big 3 era has become a star. While the Big 3 has got old, Rondo has gotten better. In fact I am willing to say that the Celtics are now more about Rondo then they are about any of the Big 3. As Rondo goes so go the Celtics. He is the only reason they were able to hold off the Bulls from what would have been an epic upset last year. That series for some was one of the greatest of all time.
This is good news for the Raptors if you want to be optimistic. These two teams fought in a sports version of a war. That leads to bad blood and people not liking each other very much. So beyond having their own reasons to win, sticking it to the Bulls would be a cherry on top. If it helps the Raptors in the process so be it. I don't think the Celtics are fearing they would see the Raptors in the post season any way. Even if by some miracle they did they swept away the Raptors in 4 meetings this season and have traditionally owned them.
It also doesn't hurt that everyone is doubting the Celtics, and some may even favour them to lose in the first round, depending on who they draw as an opposition. This is for whatever you make think of them a group that has a lot of pride. Celtic Pride is a real thing, and even for a team that has some questionable characters that means something. Yes they talk smack, drop f-bombs and at times play like they are God's gift to the world. It is very easy not to like this team. They give you lots of ammo to hate them. But for this one night forget all that and cheer for them anyway. I feel you have no choice, because I honestly see this as the Raptors only hope to make the playoffs.
If you are one of those folks that doesn't want them to get into the playoffs you can do what is natural and cheer against them. I understand that logic may dictate missing the playoffs makes the most sense for the Raptors. After all they get to keep a first round draft pick. The chances of Chris Bosh staying seem bleak for most. I just can never get behind wanting the team that I support/cover to lose. It is just not something I can go to bed and sleep at night over. Yes, the chances of advancing are remote at best. If Chris Bosh is not healthy, which we still do not know for the playoffs, they become even less so. What is the point to getting in?
I will give you three off the top. Jack, Weems and DeRozan, none of which have made the post season. It will be a great experience for them, even if the Raptors were to be swept aside by the Cavs. To get a taste of what the playoffs are like. Many pro athletes have experienced and talked about it. There is absolutely nothing that can prepare you for the intensity of the post season. Every possession counts, the level of defense is turned up and cranked to the max. Wild crowds out of control with noise. I know it has been a few years but we all remember that right? There is nothing like it. Be it from Vince Carter and A.I doing battle to Vince Carter no longer a Raptor returning. The Playoffs is a different animal and the more experience not just those 3 can gain, but everyone the better the Raptors are for it. Getting to the post season is like a drug, once you get there you want to come back. Once you get a taste you want more. It is the biggest natural narcotic in sports and every player wants it once they have had it.
So that is my take on what will be a very odd night in Raptorland. If you happen to be a fan of the RoundBall Review that I do on here, the cartoon hosts have their own Twitter account. I know it seems a little nutty, but I asked folks on Twitter if it was a good idea and got 3 fast replies with enthusiastic responses to the positive. So if you would like to follow the antics of J.B and Joey G on Twitter they have an account DNBsRoundBall is them. If you some how do not follow the blog on Twitter please do @dinonationblog and also Anas is on Twitter to @ThisisAnas as for Danielle, I am working on it. Eventually will get the DNB's Double D on there as well. Read her NBA Column that just went up as I was working on this. She calls it Jiggly Bits. I love all our little DNB Family from my cartoon employees, to the living breathing ones, and yes all of you that read it and support it.
So Go Celtics Go. Really? Yes REALLY!!!