GMs poll rips Raps

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 6:28 PM ET

Never mind a tough, big man who can rebound. The Raptors need a navigator because they've fallen right off the radar.

At least they have in the eyes of NBA general managers in the annual NBA.com survey. The vast majority of the GMs polled selected the Boston Celtics to win the Atlantic Division this season.

The New Jersey Nets were second, followed by the New York Knicks.

"I always care what my colleagues think, but it's not about hurt feelings here,'' Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo said. (This poll) is about best-guesses at what may happen. At the end of the day, no one picked the Raptors to win the Atlantic last year.

"If truth be told, if you look at past years and see how accurate (the GMs) were, there were a lot of inaccuracies. At the end of the day, games have to be played and playoffs need to be played.

"In my first full year (2004-05) as GM (in Phoenix), we won 62 games and ended up in the conference final. But we were picked (by the GMs) to come in 12th in the West and out of playoff contention."

The Celtics made a huge splash in the off-season by acquiring two high-profile veterans -- power forward Kevin Garnett and guard Ray Allen -- to play alongside Paul Pierce, giving Boston instant credibility.

The Celtics, a team that finished with the worst record in the East last season, also was deemed the most improved team in the poll.

"That doesn't surprise me," said Toronto forward Chris Bosh. "Given the moves they've made, I can see why a lot of people would choose them. But it's just the same as last year, nobody expected us to do anything. So there's no pressure on us."

Colangelo dismissed the theory the Raps were overlooked because they play in Canada, although Bosh believes that might have something to do with it.

"(But) no matter where a team is, a good team is a good team," said Bosh, who is expected to play tonight against the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers.

"(Boston) has three all-star calibre players and I think if they jell together, they are going to be a good team."

"But at the same time, we are the defending (division) champions, and we're going to act like it. So, we expect to win every game."

Another surprise in the GM poll is the fact that Raptors head coach Sam Mitchell -- the 2006-07 NBA coach of the year -- did not receive a single vote in any of the coaching categories.

Indeed, there were few Raptors represented in the poll, although Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon were 1-2 in one category: Which international player is most likely to have a breakout season?


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