In my eyes, last night's match against the Boston Celtics was a major signpost for the Toronto Raptors' 2012-13 season.
The club had recently traded for Rudy Gay, was getting Andrea Bargnani back in the line-up, and seemed eager and willing to make a push for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff spot. A win over the Celtics, the team they were chasing for said playoff entry, would pull Toronto to within six and a half games of the C's in the race for 8.
Now six and a half games is not exactly a close race.
But with 34 games left on the schedule, the door was still open so to speak.
A 20 and 14 finish, not absurd considering the club up until last night, had been a game over .500 over its last 25 matches, would have given the club 37 wins on the season, a mark that would have put them right in contention for eight. Last year Orlando, New York and Philadelphia all made the dance with 35 to 37 win totals.
Boston will be without Rajon Rondo for the rest of the season and Philly, another team ahead of Toronto in the standings, is floundering and has now lost Thad Young for a few weeks, someone Sixers' coach Doug Collins recently called his most important player.
The thought was that therefore Toronto and Detroit, both had legitimate shots at that final seat on the playoff bus.
And while Toronto's next opponents are no walk in the park, if the club could hang around until March, the hope would be that this group would gel and take advantage of schedule full of clubs like the Bobcats and Wizards, and leap-frog into eighth.
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