The NBA season is now in the final stretch. Each team has done their tinkering, the trade deadline has passed, and all major moves have been completed. The goal for most teams is to get into the playoffs.
That is the single most important goal for the Toronto Raptors. It’s the most important two months in franchise history. It is make or break for the team.
If the team does make the playoffs, then no matter what happens in the post-season, 2012-2013 would be deemed a success. If the team doesn’t make the playoffs, heads will roll. General manager Brian Colangelo and coach Dwane Casey will be fired. Andrea Bargnani will be traded and a new direction for the team will be found.
Looking at the past six seasons, the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern conference has gone to a team who has finished with an average winning percentage of 0.483. That number correlates into a record of 40 wins with 42 losses.
Currently, the Raptors sit in ninth place with a record 23 wins and 33 losses and a winning percentage of 0.411. The Milwaukee Bucks sit in the final playoff spot with a percentage of 0.481.
The Raptors have twenty six games remaining. To get to that magical 40-win plateau, the team has to win seventeen of its remaining games.
The team has eleven games against teams that currently sit out of the playoffs. They have to win all eleven. Also, they have two games at the BMO Harris Bradley Center against the Bucks, and they have to win both.
That would equal thirteen games won. All they need is another four wins.
The final five games of the season include a home-and-home against the Chicago Bulls, and then a home date against the Brooklyn Nets. The Raptors travel to face the Atlanta Hawks a night before they end their season at home against the Boston Celtics. Realistically, only two wins should be expected viewing that end of season schedule. The other wins will have to come against playoff teams all vying for positions in the standings. The team’s best bet would be to beat both the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks at home, which would give them the 40 wins needed to get in.
Can this be done? Absolutely. The way the team is playing with Rudy Gay closing, the wins needed can be achieved. Going 17-9 in the final 26 games is an attainable record for a team that is playing as well as the Raptors are. Barring an injury to Gay or DeMar Derozan, I see the team in the playoffs.
A playoff series against the Miami Heat is on the horizon and once in the playoffs arrive anything can happen.
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