Starting tonight, the Raptors season hangs in the balance. We already know that they will win the Atlantic but the way they have played against lesser opponents the past two games is reason to worry. Too many “analysts” are giving the Raptors too much credit and telling us not to worry. That is ridiculous. If they want to secure a 2nd or 3rd seed in the East they need to win! They were projected at 50-54 wins and at this point I think it will be tough to reach 50. They finish their 5-game home-stand (currently 0-2) against the Clippers, Spurs and Wizards before going on the road after the all-star break to play Atlanta, Houston, New Orleans and Dallas followed by a visit from Golden State. They have played terribly against winning teams this season and 7 of the next 8 opponents don’t just have winning records, they all have at least 30 wins. The one team without a winning record is New Orleans and they already beat the Raps this season in Toronto. The only way for this team to stay on top is to win at least four of the next nine games. Any worse than that and they could fall as far as 5th in the conference and their chances at a deep playoff run take a big hit. We know they are in the playoffs but how far they go is up to the players and it starts now.
Far be it from me to give the Leafs any credit for anything but I am one of the few who think they are heading in the right direction: down. They fired Carlyle to remove that excuse and they had Horacek implement a new defensive system to see if these players were actually coachable in a proper system. The results have been horrendous in the standings (winless in 10) but there have been moments on the ice by certain players that prove they can do this. The other night I watched Craig Button on the TSN panel rip Shanahan and Leafs management for being inexperienced in their firing of Randy Carlyle. He believes they have no idea what they are doing with a rookie president like Shanahan in there. Well, here’s a fact Craig: since 1967 the Leafs have only hired EXPERIENCED coaches and managers and how has that worked out? Brian Burke put together the core of this team but it’s Shanahan’s fault that they’re this bad? How does that work exactly? The Leafs are finally hitting rock bottom like now-successful teams before them. They have never been willing to do it and it’s about time. Shanny needed a season to observe and report. He brought in Horacek and Spott as coaches and Kyle Dubas as Assistant GM. He’s already replaced the coach with his guys and his next GM is waiting in the wings. I expect them to trade anyone they can save for JVR, Reily and Kadri and re-sign Bernier to a short term deal. In the meantime, collect and acquire draft picks and build this team into something more than an embarrassment. Craig, if you were so good at building teams you wouldn’t be working in the broadcast booth.
Another day, another dumb comment from a former NFL player. Charles Hayley decided to weigh in on Tom Brady’s four Superbowl wins calling them “tainted” and saying “he has to live with the fact that he cheated”. Really Charles? You won three rings with one of the most law-breaking teams in history with the Dallas Cowboys teams of the 90s. Half the team was arrested for drug possession, firearm possession or assault but Brady’s wins are tainted because he used under-inflated balls? I’m sure your opinion bothers him as he wears his four rings and has sex with his Supermodel wife in their giant mansion. Words hurt Charles, words hurt.