Anyone who says New Jersey's victory over the Raptors in the NBA playoffs is an upset, knows absolutely nothing about basketball.
The truth is New Jersey is a solid team. In fact, they are as good as the Raptors. The only reason why the Nets finished 6th in the Eastern Conference was because a number of players had injuries during the season. It wasn't until the end of the regular season that New Jersey finally had a healthy roster. If they had a healthy roster for the entire season, the Nets would have probably finished in 4th place or higher in the Eastern Conference; maybe even taking the Atlantic Division.
It would be too easy to point fingers at the parties responsible for Toronto's first round exit. You can't blame a player, a certain play, a game, or a coaching decision. Winning is a team effort and in the end, the entire unit is to blame for the loss against New Jersey. Every Raptor had a moment where they could have played better. Even Sam Mitchell, the NBA's coach of the year, made decisions that ended up being the wrong decisions. I am not going to use the "lack of playoff experience" as an excuse. However, I also refuse to single out a specific player or official.
Am I disappointed with Toronto's playoff performance? Absolutely.
Does the loss to New Jersey ruin the Raptors' 06-07 season? No way!
The Raptors had an amazing season. No one expected them to be this good. I predicted that they would finish no higher then 6th and no lower then 10th. Sure, their playoff run was disappointing, but unless you win the NBA championship, I can't think of any other playoff run that ended on a happy note. This was a team that the entire city can be proud of. A few years ago, the Raptors were an awful team. Thanks to Bryan Collangello, they are no longer an embarrassment. The Raptors are on a road that will lead to more success. Many of their young players were great this season. There is no doubt in my mind that they will continue to improve. In a little while, players like Chris Bosh , TJ Ford and Andrea Bargnani, will be viewed in the same light as Steve Nash, Dwayne Wade and Tim Duncan.
I have always believed that the positives should outweigh the negatives. To me, the Raptors had far more positive moments then negative ones. Hopefully, we will see more great moments down the road.
Let's Go Raptors!
*A true winner: Episode 39 of the Audio Circus*