And just like that, the season is, mercifully, coming to an end.
What started as a season brimming with hope for a playoff run has been altered to an off-season brimming with hope for a lottery Saviour! Considering where we, as a fan base, were in December — hopeful that Aron Baynes and Alex Len could hold the fort — it’s quite remarkable how upbeat things are for the team’s first playoff-free post-season since 2013. The final five games will surely have another Kyle Lowry appreciation vibe to them, so get your tissues ready!
For now, enjoy the latest episode of That’s A Rap!
In This Episode:
4:30 — Good or bad news?
The Raptors dropping five of six during the most important stretch of the season would typically be gut-punching news. However, Toronto took the Jazz, Clippers, and the Wizards down to the wire, while giving away otherwise close games to the Nets and Nuggets because Nick Nurse played tank-worthy lineups in the fourth. Within each game were flashes of Toronto’s potential next season: Malachi Flynn is looking like the next coming of Fred VanVleet; OG Anunoby’s offense becoming more polished; Khem Birch is establishing himself as the Centre of the future; Gary Trent Jr. is reaffirming himself as the new, younger Norm Powell (with better defense to boot!). All of this was achieved while improving draft odds!
23:45 — Mild or medium Spice
In the most important game of the season, with two of the core four sitting out, Pascal Siakam turned up the spice level against Washington. While some folks will notice the missed free throws in the final minutes or the missed game-winning buzzer-beater, how about focusing on his career-high-tying 44 points? What about the dominance he had in overtime, essentially a one-man offense? With an actual off-season to hone his game, Siakam looks primed for a ghost pepper spicy 2021-22 season.
39:14 — LBJ’s play-in flip-flop
All of a sudden, Lebron James hates the play-in. For someone who’s been very selective and careful with his words, saying that someone “should be fired” for a concept that he previously approved is not a good look. It’s no coincidence that his Lakers, beset by injuries to James and Anthony Davis for large portions of this season, are currently sitting in a play-in position.
46:30 — The Days of our (NBA) Lives
The play-in has infused some additional excitement to the NBA season. With four additional playoff(-like) spots, more teams are fighting for some post-season shine. I wouldn’t necessarily say fewer teams are tanking, but that middle-ground where it’s uncertain if a team is trying or not is ostensibly smaller. With the final week upon us, only the Bulls and Pelicans appear to be doing the fake comeback for a play-in spot.