I kind of feel bad for the Raptors. Last year they were scrappy division champs, perhaps the only bright spot in an otherwise bleak Atlantic Division. With a legitimate All-Star in Chris Bosh surrounded by a solid nucleus featuring the likes of T.J. Ford, Jose Calderon, Jorge Garbajosa, and Andrea Bargnani, this looked like a team on the rise.
And then, Boston happened. The Raps are suddenly the second-est fiddle in the entire NBA -- the Celtics already sport an 11-game lead, the most of any division-leader in the league. Not only that, Bosh has regressed (albeit slightly), Ford and Garbajosa are sidelined indefinitely and the team is hovering just two games above .500. Adding insult to injury, Kevin Garnett's arrival to the East means Bosh is no longer a shoe-in as an All-Star game starter, leaving him to beg for votes in cheesy, home-made videos.
That's not to say the Pistons should take the Raps lightly -- they shouldn't (and probably won't) -- but TO's star has clearly lost a bit of luster from the end of the season last year. Last year's success does still have residual benefits, though; I'm guessing it's the main reason why tonight Pistons/Raps game is on ESPN. I'd usually advise sticking with the local broadcast if you're in Detroit, but the chance to hear Sam Mitchell mic'd up means I'll be going with the Worldwide Leader.
Ball tips at 7pm -- as usual, leave your thoughts in the comments.