So it has been a bad 24 hours here at DNB HQ. I had a lousy spring cold and to make matters worse had no internet access, so the combination of those two things made it pretty impossible to offer much opinion on the Raptors second win in a row vs the Hawks in Atlanta. The first time the Raptors have won in the ATL in awhile as they had lost 7 straight there until last night. That included a thrashing on the MLK holiday for the Raptors with much more health bodies. Based on that win the Raptors match their win total from last season in a shorter season this year. The Raptors are already 4 games better on the road this season as well with 10 wins and still 3 more road games to play. It proves the old phrase that defense travels to be true.
The Raptors are as Tank Nation will point out, really messing with there lottery odds winning a couple games they were not suppose too against Boston and Atlanta. They now are tied with the Nets and a half game behind the Pistons. Both of whom they will play down the stretch and will have a direct impact on their lottery odds. They play the Pistons on the road on the 22nd with 3 days rest prior to that game and close out the season against the Nets on the 26th. Golden State also is one of 4 teams with 22 wins but have 2 fewer losses than the Raptors. What you love about Casey is the exact thing that is costing the Raptors in terms of the lottery. He refuses to allow his team to quit and they continue to bring effort. What it might cost you in the draft might be worth it in terms of what you have in a coach.
Also the way Demar DeRozan has been playing down the stretch has to be impressing some folks. Even Ed Davis has shown signs of life in this late part of the season. I can't imagine the Raptors finding a way to win the next two games. An angry Hawks team rolls into Toronto tonight and then playing the Miami Heat on Wednesday should be losses. What you can take good from these games is the Raptors have competed well against some teams with everything to play for. If you choose to see the glass half empty you can say that the Raptors are playing with no pressure on them and the teams they are beating have simply overlooked them. I can't deny either of those things being true. Still you are building some confidence for some players and showing that this team will not roll over and die like it has in the past.
While I won't go as far as some have said that this team could be a playoff team if not for injuries, I will say that this is a team heading in the right direction. In terms of what happens with the Lottery if they win or lose is not the point. Let's say they did lose all of these games down the stretch and still find a way to not win at the Lottery than where are you at? At least players are ending the season on a high note and enter the off-season more motivated to improve for the future. The Charlotte Bobcats will have the best chance to win the Lottery and that has been clear for awhile. Even if they were to win and land Anthony Davis does anyone think that takes them to the next level? Worse if they don't where are they at? If the Raptors don't get Anthony Davis it likely allows them to not have to decide on if they have to say good bye to Amir Johnson or Ed Davis. They still may ultimately make a decision on those players but if they do they won't be forced into it. Besides at the end of the day isn't Jonas Valanciunas basically the guy you have for that spot? If the Raptors landed at the 3rd spot and got a shot at Kidd-Gilchrist that would be a much easier guy to fit into what you already have without having to be forced into altering the roster.
Not to mention the simple fact of you are not getting any joy out of the Raptors pulling off two pretty unexpected wins. But however those lottery balls end up your number still has to come up to win it. It would be nice if the Raptors got into the top 3 and land another good young player to add to the mix. That said this is a draft that is fairly deep and it doesn't have that break out star at the top and huge drop off beyond that. While Davis is the consensus number one pick it is not like people honestly can say he will be a giant superstar. He can be a very good NBA Player but the jury is out if he gets to that rare air of a huge superstar. There are lots of good to very good players that will be available no matter where the Raptors happen to end up selecting. There is also nothing that says Bryan Colangelo would not swing a deal to move up if he wanted to do that. He has all that cap room earlier from the Barbosa trade to play with for a reason. It could include moving up in the draft or acquiring a second first round pick. Time will tell.
The bottom line of everything is do you do not feel at least more optimistic than you were at this time last year? That is a good thing and a sign that this thing might be finally heading in the right direction.