Why Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors should miss the playoffs
The Quick Hit: It’s not exactly a ‘Clash of the Titans’.
On Sunday afternoon, the Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors will square off at Air Canada Centre. Both teams are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. And both teams are over-hyping the significance of this weekend’s tilt.
Simply put, eighth place means nothing. Nada. Zilch.
Whoever qualifies for the playoffs is a sacrificial lamb for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the best team in the Eastern Conference and NBA. Of course, in theory, an upset is possible. In reality, the Bulls or Raptors have no chance of lying on the floor, squeezing the ball, and screaming madly like Dikembe Mutombo when his eighth place Denver Nuggets surprised the first place Seattle Super Sonics.
And while we’re being realistic, neither can pull a ‘We Believe’ shocker similar to the eighth place Golden State Warriors embarrassing the top seeded Dallas Mavericks in the 2007 playoffs.
Those Nuggets and Warriors were hungry, talented, and feisty, while their opponents, the Sonics and Mavericks, were vulnerable. The Bulls and Raptors are limping into the playoffs, while the Cavaliers, like a heavyweight contender before a prize fight, are peaking.
In fact, the best thing for the Bulls and Raptors might be if neither squad qualified for the second season.
Chicago should only be concerned with this summer when they can turn their significant cap space into Joe Johnson or Dwyane Wade. Creating an elite backcourt has to take priority over losing to the Cavaliers in four or five games.
Remember, the momentum from last year’s playoff against the Boston Celtics didn’t carry over to 2010. If anything, it created unrealistic and unreasonable expectations, so the priority has to be signing a once in a generation free agent like Wade.
A token playoff appearance would excuse Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo from addressing the problems with his skilled but soft core of Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon, and Hedo Turkgolu. Whatever happens with Chris Bosh’s pending free agency, all three of these players can’t return to the Raptors because none of them defend consistently.
Only a seat at the NBA draft lottery in Seaccus, New Jersey would create enough of an uproar that Colangelo would have to change the Euro core he assembled. And drastic change is the only way a more defensive system gets employed for the 2010-11 season.
Of course, the Bulls and Raptors have appearances to maintain and must try for the playoffs. After all, fans won’t tolerate a tank job, even if missing the playoffs would be best for both organizations in the long term.
Are Chicago and Toronto better off missing the playoffs? Get at us in the comment box below. Photo courtesy of gbalogh.