This is the time of year when lots of questions are asked. Like can I honestly endure seeing that Andrea Bargnani Primo Pasta ad anymore? I mean honestly can I? What also is up in the air is how many ping pong balls the Raptors will have. After that the all important question on who will go to the lottery and represent the Raptors? But before we answer all of those "important" questions, there is the matter of having 3 games left to play. All 3 games could have an impact on the playoffs or lottery standings. Detroit currently is a game behind the Raptors in the reverse lottery standings. If you are the type to root for ping pong balls nothing but a Raptor loss will do today. If the Raptors were to lose it would virtually clinch finishing in front of Detroit in terms of lottery balls.
The scariest thing for Tank Nation is the Raptors win today, Monday and Thursday. There are still a number of teams bunched together and the ping pong ball race might be more exciting than the Playoff Race at this point. After all who cares if the Jazz, Suns or Rockets get in only to lose to the Spurs or OKC. Does it really matter if it is the Bucks, Kincks or the Sixers facing the Bulls at the end of the day? Charlotte long ago wrapped up the most ping pong balls and will have the best shot at Anthony Davis with 25% chance of landing the expected number one pick. Bobcat fans will not be thrilled to learn that position has only grabbed the number one spot four times since 1985. Which is one of the many reasons why I question all of this tank nation business to begin with. Washington has almost locked up the number 2 position in the ping pong ball standings.
After that it gets interesting. My favourite to win the NBA Lottery, the no longer league owned, and soon to no longer be Hornets. My favourite mascot next to the Raptor is going to be no more. Hugo the Hornet will be missed. Still he was had lots to cheer about lately as Hornets have won 7 of their last 10 games and put the 3rd worst record up for grabs. They are tied with the soon to be Vancouver Kings? They know how to tank, going 1-9 in the last 10 down the stretch. What they don't know how to do in Sacramento is how to build a stadium or win basketball games. Cleveland is next on the list of losers with the 5th worst record. The Cavs are back to the mess they were before they won the lottery and drafted Lebron James who showed Cleveland what winning was like, but never could end the curse that lives in the city of Cleveland and he moved on the South Beach. They won last year ironically with the pick they acquired from the Clippers and not based on their worst record in the league. They look to do the unthinkable double like the Orlando Magic were able to pull off. The Nets sit in the 6th position as they look to say good bye to New Jersey and likely Deron Williams this off-season and hello to Brooklyn with no real stars to speak of. The Raptors check in next tied with the Golden State Warriors just a half game behind the Nets, with the big TANKAPOLOOZA game on Thursday on the horizon. The Pistons round out the list of teams in this mess all with in 3 games of each other. Any win for them is a death blow at this point.
So that makes today's game with the Raptors and Pistons significant, but also likely painful to watch. All of that said it might look highly entertaining in comparison to what lies ahead with the Nets and Raptors on Thursday. If you took a nap till Friday and just woke up to see where the Raptors did end up finishing that might not be a bad plan. Seeing as that is likely not a realistic option for me, I will watch and be confused on what exactly I should be rooting for in these last three games. I honestly don't know at this point. So, I will watch and see what happens. Next year at this time if the Raptors are in this same awkward position it will have been a disaster of a season. Expectations for the coming off-season and next season in my view have already become too high. The Raptors have done a horrible job in managing expectations. The reason they have, is because if they didn't, who would want to watch this team next season and people might actually be talking about how bad this season has been even though it is an improvement over last season. The Raptors are heading in the right direction, but the speed they will be expected to go in that direction may not match the reality. Bryan Colangelo has an entire off-season to change my mind. He likely is not going to waste anytime either. When the Raptors and Nets game is done, I expect Bryan Colangelo will be on his cellphone or blackberry with in 5 minutes looking to make some moves. The trick will be finding some partners that are in as big a hurry as he is to get to work on building his roster for next season. One thing that likely will not be on the table is the Raptors draft pick even if they do the unthinkable and actually win the last 3 games of the season.