In a few hours the Toronto Raptors play the New Jersey Nets in the first round of the NBA playoffs. First playoff run for the Raptors since 2002 I believe, and joy of joy we have home court advantage this round.
Should be an interesting match up as the Raptors can claim the better all around team but new Jersey can claim a heap more playoff experience. I've been thought that playoff experience counts for quite a bit in this game so although I'm a Raptors fan I'm a bit pessimistic about their chances of getting out of the first round.
Would have been more optimistic if they had ended up playing Washington. Even before Agent Zero and Caron Butler went down I fancied our chances against those guys but alas it wasn't meant to be as the Wizards (always resisting the urge to call them the Bullets) slipped down the stretch to drop from third spot all the way to 7th.
That meant as third seed we got New Jersey. Its being hyped up as the match up of Vince Carter vs Toronto. Now lets be honest I'm not a big Vince Carter fan. I respect the skill when he's actually focused but in the pantheon of NBA stars who have pissed off Toronto and Raptors fans Vince reigns supreme. And by the way in case you're wondering who else is part of that group it includes Tracy Mcgrady, Damon Stoudamire, Alonzo Mourning, Antonio Davis and Kenny Anderson, and in case you forgot Kenny Anderson refused to report here from Portland after being traded for Damon somewhere back in 97 or 98.
However I think way too much is being made of Vince's return to play us here where it all started for him as 'Air Canada'.
The cover of one of our local newspapers yesterday actually featured him portrayed as a big baby.
Why I ask why must we continue to give this cat fuel to actually show up for a game? Why must we continue to hype this Vince vs Toronto feud? Yea Vince let us down when he phoned in his performances during his last years here as he attempted to orchestrate his own trade and yes Vince has always been seen around these parts as a whiny superstar, lacking in heart and unable to embrace his leadership role with the Raptors club but stop giving the man fuel to come back and prove something to us.
Yes I know its hard to forget and forgive but I'm not asking that. I'm just saying, the booing at the ACC and the media articles are just not needed now. Just keep your disdain on the low. He knows you don't like him just ignore him and see how he plays. Hyping him up for this match up can only prove detrimental to our cause as the cat can heat up and drop 40 on us in an effort to silence the criticisms.
Oh well! With regards to the actual match up as it stands I think ignoring playoff experience we stack up pretty well against the Nets. We definitely have the deeper bench and our front court is stronger but I cant count out the influence the trio of Carter, Kidd and Jefferson will have on the game. The key is going to be to contain those guys.
Also should be noted that Jersey played some of its better games down the stretch while the Raptors kind of faded as they tried to adjust to quite a few injuries. That being said guys like Kris Humphries and Joey Graham really stepped up their game in the absence of Jorge Garbajosa and Andrea Bargnani.
It should also be interesting to see what coach Sam Mitchell has up his sleeve. Adjustments become quite important after game 1 and I'm still wondering what Sam can pull out to keep the guys in a position to win this series.
Game one will be important. My keys to winning this series are
- Adjusting to playoff basketball
- Containing the New Jersey trio
- Coaching adjustments
- The return of Bargnani
- The play of Kris Humphries
Not going to stick my neck out on a Raptors win but I'll be in front of my tv supporting them. That means no interruptions hint hint. Go Raptors!
On another note, oh happy day, the dark lord Sauron is dead! A new but not necessarily immediately better day is dawning.