Last year, it felt like the Leafs season was 82 exhibition games until the real season began against Boston. It was a (mostly) entertaining 82 games, but it just didn't feel like it mattered. When the real season started, we bowed out in the first round to Boston.
This season feels awfully similar. Last night, I was picking up my kids at YYZ and by the time we got home the Leafs were down 5-0. That's no fun, but I sure didn't panic. We clicked over to the OKC / Brooklyn game and came back when it was 5-3. The finish was great fun, even though we lost, but again, it really didn't matter. The real season for this team starts in April.
I feel the exact same way about the Raptors. The Raps are essentially playing an 82 game exhibition season before the real season begins in a month. Nick Nurse is mixing the new in with the old and trying various combinations and strategies before things matter. More often than not, it's thoroughly entertaining, but when we lay an egg as we did against the Cavs, it doesn't faze me. This regular season simply doesn't matter. Like the Leafs, the Raptors will be wholly judged by what happens in the playoffs.
For what it's worth, I could see the Raps winning the Eastern Conference, but I'd be shocked if the Leafs escaped the second round. Still, I'd like to see what happens when the seasons start.
We're almost there...