I know it’s hard. As Toronto sports fans we’ve been through so much already. Practically my whole life has been filled with sport heartbreaks and epic chokes to the point where post traumatic stress syndrome is a very real thing when it comes to sports in Toronto.
And last night was no different.
For two-and-a-half quarters the Raptors played a flawless game. They controlled the pace, kept LeBron in check, and both the defence and offence were humming.
At one point with the largest lead at 14 points, I actually felt comfortable with how they were playing. Others in the building were saying that the lead should be more, but the Raptors were showing otherwise and I allowed myself to believe that for just a moment.
But even with my faith, there’s always that little devil in the back of the mind that knows it’s too good to be true…but is it really?
Had the Raptors won Game 1, yes, it would have set a different tone and the win probably would have helped them psychologically to show they’re not the same old Raptors. But had any one of the many basket attempts towards the end of the fourth, or overtime, gone in, this conversation would not be had right now.
There are things the Raptors need to clean up on both ends, turnovers being one of them, but I’m not ready to dead the series simply because they lost a game they should have won.
If anything, the fact that the Raptors let that game go, proves that they have control, and are the better team.
Kyle Korver took 17 shots last night, 12 of them coming from three. JR Smith shot 83.3 per cent from three last night, and Tristan Kardashian who’s found new life had 14 points and 12 rebounds; all while LeBron shot 12-30 from the floor.
Will any of that be the same next game? No.
Should the Raptors have won this game? Absolutely. But my biggest takeaway is that when they started doubling LeBron for no reason (OG was doing fine on his own), it allowed the role players to get involved which translated to them having confidence when LeBron was no longer in.
If the Raptors follow their blueprint from the first and third quarters of last night’s game for even a full three quarters next game, 9-out-of-10 times they win. Even though LeBron shot poorly if you limit him to shooting jumpers and stay home on the other shooters that’s a win. If LeBron wants to go for 50, let him, it’s the other guys you can’t let bury you.
Kyle, DeMar, and Jonas all had good games last night, the problem was that they faltered and different points in the game when it mattered. Kyle’s turnovers and lack of aggressiveness down the stretch, DeMar’s passiveness, JV’s missed opportunities all hurt, but they’re fixable.
And for those of you quick to slander JV because he shot 36% on the game, he had a 21 and 21 game. He only struggled once Thompson came in and he started to miss some bunnies that normally would have dropped.
I know it’s frustrating, I know, but to solely blame a guy who dominated the Cavs is ridiculous. If there’s blame to be placed, look at Serge Ibaka who was “supposed” to be playoff ready and a legit third option, but only scored 9 points on 37% shooting to go along with 2 rebounds and didn’t register a single block.
Or CJ Miles who while he did knockdown two of his threes, couldn’t defend a “sole” on the Cavs and missed two good looks at the rim to avoid OT. Don’t be quick to bash the big names.
It’s a series for a reason, and while the Raptors now have to win one in Cleveland, there’s a lot more basketball to be played. This loss stings and it’s typical of the Raptors to make everything harder on themselves, but y’all won’t remember it if the Raptors dethrone King James.