Raptors Cap Disappointing Season With Win Streak
It has shaped up to be another disappointing season that has seen the Toronto Raptors left out of the playoffs for the fifth straight season, but they ended it on Wednesday night with a 114-90 win over the Boston Celtics.
But fear not, the team sees this as the next step in the building process, and as coach Dwane Casey so clearly puts it - getting to the playoffs.
And Casey didn't hold back in summarizing the roller coaster of a season calling it "a tale of three different seasons."
"Three different teams, three different seasons,'' Casey said. "We are disappointed. I am disappointed. But if you disregard the 4-19, then we are knocking on the door of the playoffs.''
That 4-19 start left the Raptors digging out of a three feet hole as Casey and some of the players have candidly put it throughout the 34-48 season. And even though the Raptors were eliminated from the playoffs two weeks ago, they held their heads high winning their last five games - something that has left Casey proud.
"These guys held onto the rope,'' the coach said. "That is all I preached after the 4-19 start, and that is all you can ask for as a coach. We had a lot of mountains to step over, we had a lot of hurdles, but guys held onto the rope and kept going. I am proud of the way they fought."
Rudy Gay, who was acquired in the mid-season trade that sent point guard Jose Calderon to Detroit and Ed Davis to Memphis, addressed the crowd before the game thanking fans for their support, and telling them to wait for next year.
And Gay was optimistic that Toronto had the pieces to make it the playoffs next year.
"We definitely have the pieces! I think a good training camp, (plus) everybody getting a little older can benefit us."
And Gay says the team has a lot of potential and has gotten better since his arrival.
And DeMar DeRozan agrees adding that they finally figured out how to play comfortably with each other.
"Day in and day out, we were trying to figure out what we were most comfortable with and please everybody that was out there on the court. It sucks that it took this long for us to figure it out but understanding what style of basketball we feel comfortable with and now we know how to win."
While the team's finish may give fans some hope for next season, that success will boil down to what happens in the off-season, with many questions to be answered. The biggest question is what will happen to Andrea Bargnani, who has had the season from hell, thanks to injuries that have seen a virtual meltdown, coupled with fans booing him. General Manager Bryan Colangelo - if his contract is renewed - will have to do some serious dealing to trade the big man, as there will be serious backlash from fans if he is kept around. Then there's the issue of management - will we see Colangelo and Casey remain or will we see one of them sent packing?
We'll just have to wait and see, either way it should shape up to be an exciting off season that will prove whether this team is capable of making it to the playoffs next season.
NOTE: It was a sombre game for the playoffs bound Celtics, who wore a strip of black on the crest of their jerseys, playing in their first game since Monday's Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and left more than 170 others injured.
Both teams gathered at centre court, and the fans stood for a moment of silence to pay tribute to the victims. On the jumbotron were the words - "Tonight, we are all Boston fans,'' something that Jeff Green called lovely.
"The city of Boston has been through so much in the past 72 hours, so I think it was great to see Toronto do that by showing some respect."
And guard Avery Bradley says he is keeping the families of the victims in his thoughts and prayers.
The Celtics will head to New York to kick off the first round of the playoffs against the Knicks.