Toronto Raptors: After 60 Games in 2009-2010

Stephen BrotherstonAnalyst IMarch 6, 2010

NEW YORK - JANUARY 28:  Chris Bosh #4 of the Toronto Raptors celebrates a basket with teammate Amir Johnson #15 against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on January 28, 2010 in New York, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

It was seven games ago that the Toronto Raptors playoff push hit a sudden and unexpected speed bump in the form of a Chris Bosh ankle injury.

And while the Raptors have managed a 3-4 mark during Bosh’s absence, the only teams they have been able to beat are currently fighting to get the fourth worst record in the league by the end of the season.

Okay, the Knicks officially don’t care where they finish in the standings.  But the Tracy McGrady trade has almost guaranteed they will have a good shot at a bottom five seed.

Winnable games against Memphis, Portland, Oklahoma City, and Houston have all slipped past the Raptors during Bosh’s absence (Bosh injured his ankle just before overtime versus Memphis.)

So the Raptors finished the latest 10-game stretch at 5-5 and made the franchise win record of 47 that much tougher to reach.  And with Chris Bosh missing the most recent game because of stomach pains, the team’s concerns of the moment are just to maintain a spot in the playoffs.

Everyone is hopeful that Bosh merely has a touch of the flu.

But the Toronto Raptors have made it to the sixtieth game of the season at fifth place in the East with a  32-28 record.  After a 7-13 start to the season, that is something of an accomplishment.

Since that poor start to the season, the Raptors have finished each 10-game set at .500 or better and are 25-15 for a 62.5 winning percentage.  So finishing the season strong shouldn’t be out of the question.

With 22 games remaining, the Toronto Raptors have 10 home and 12 road dates.  They have 10 must-win games against teams who are out of the playoff race and seven games versus elite teams including:

  1. Road games against the Lakers, Atlanta, and Cleveland; plus,
  2. Home games versus Atlanta, Utah, Denver, and Boston.

A better than .500 record to the 2009-10 season should be a certainty and it is up to the Raptors to determine just how much better they want to be.

While Jay Triano is right to say it will be a fight to stay in the playoff race until the final day of the season, the Toronto Raptors can still finish as high as fifth.  And they will be fighting for fifth as long as Chris Bosh returns to the lineup by the end of the weekend.

This year, the Raptors have played well enough so far to put their playoff fate in their own hands over the final six weeks of the season.

So Raptors fans should be anticipating an exciting drive to the playoffs.

And maybe, just maybe, the Raptors can steal a game from their future first-round opponent in the process and send a message that they won’t be an easy out in April.