Outside of the playoffs, has there ever been a more "must win" game for the Raptors than tonight against Oklahoma City, the NBA's worst team.
About the only thing that has kept Raps fans sane this month is the knowledge that Toronto has played the toughest schedule. And, although they have demonstrated that they have not taken a step up to the top half of the league, evidence -- if you really look carefully -- is showing that they really haven't gone backwards either. Toronto still beats bad teams. Put together, that spells a No. 6-8 seed and a first-round playoff exit. It's nothing to be too excited about (what with this not being 2006 and all), but it isn't as grim as the reactionaries like to paint it.
Confidence -- or to be real geeky and slightly more accurate, self-efficacy -- is a funny thing. It isn't always based on reality. So, even though the Raptors may understand that they have played a tough schedule they may start to think that they are worse than they are. The team's play drops accordingly, reinforcing the perception that they aren't good. So, even though it may not be accurate, it might as well be.
They suck because they think they suck.
Which brings us to tonight. An argument can be made that the whole season rides on this game. If they go out and do what they are supposed to do then we can look ahead and see that,just by beating the teams they are supposed to beat, they should be back around .500 by Jan. 31. Lose to the Super Sounders (I think that's the name, right?) and...it could be a really long year.
There are four winnable games on this road trip -- tonight, Clippers, Golden Stare and Sacramento. If the Raps go 4-2, it says here that they will still be heard from moving forward. If it's 3-3? Sure, there is still hope. 2-4 or worse? Well...
And, let's not even think about 0-6.
Notes: Could someone please tell me why I can't watch this one on my TV?