On the morning of Dec 11, 2007 …
The Raptors W-L record stood at 11-10 (.524),
‘Forderon’ was in full swing,
Chris Bosh was on the cusp of stardom,
and the Dinos, as a group, were far ahead of
their pace for W’s, in comparison to the ’06-07 season (which started, ignominiously, 7-14) … until the following happened in that night’s game vs the Atlanta Hawks …
and, the fortunes of this franchise turned … from a simple linear path of progression to a topsy-turvy course of ups, downs, lefts and rights.
Four months on … the Raptors will emerge this evening as, essentially, the same team they were that night in Atlanta, physically (with reservists Juan Dixon & Darrick Martin replaced by Primo Brezec & Linton Johnson).
But, mentally and emotionally … that’s a different story.
Since that fateful night, this version of the Raptors has:
* Been unable to right their ship, playing .509 ball (27-26) since then … in sharp contrast to what last year’s team was able to do, going a remarkable 40-21 (.656 Win %) from the 21-game mark through the remainder of the regular season;
* Flip-flopped its starting Point Guards;
* Endured a
minor knee injury to its lone All-Star;
* Seen the 2006 No. 1 Overall Draft Pick regress overall, in terms of his production.
With 8 games remaining until the end of the regular season schedule, tonight’s match-up vs Atlanta provides the perfect opportunity for this Raptors team … with its present line-up … to re-establish itself as an emotionally & mentally healthy squad, heading toward its 2nd consecutive playoff appearance.
A win tonight, followed by a strong finish over the next 7 games (with 6 W’s v Charlotte, @ New Jersey, v Milwaukee, v New Jersey, v Miami and @ Chicago), and an 8-2 mark for the last 10 games of the regular season, would mean an overall 45-37 (.549) record for this year (just 2 games off last year’s pace) … and represent a solid recovery from the scary/turbulent circumstances of Dec 11, 2007.
[P.S. Which, irrespective of a 1st Round playoff exit … would then, at least, allow the 2007-2008 season to be perceived as a year of ‘treading water’ for the Raptors, instead of a ‘backwards step’ in the eyes of Raptors’ fans.]