Well basketball season is now officially finished and now the Toronto Raptors join the Toronto Maple Leafs as they are both put on hold until next season.
Well the Raptors are anyways, they made the playoffs, which ended today, the Maple Leafs on the other hand did not even deserve to.
The Raptors were finished off yesterday (Sunday afternoon), at home, against the Brooklyn Nets, losing 104-103 in what apparently was another wild and crazy Game 7.
There was another wild and crazy Game 7 in Boston last year which involved the Leafs, but we don’t really want to go re-visit that shit again.
Instead, we look at what was probably the best, most entertaining and exciting Toronto Raptor team going back over at least the last 10 years.
All I remember is some dude named Vince Carter. He pulled off that stunning reverse 360 windmill in the All Star skills comp one year; that’s all I recall. There was another short dude named Damon Stoudamire. But that is absolutely all I remember or recall about that group called the Raptors.
So….now we fast forward big time to 2013-14 season and there are a whole whack of ‘new’ guys who play basketball, who now call Toronto home. These players are good.
They did a lot of good things on the floor this year. I don’t follow them closely but anything that involves Toronto and involves sports, involves me, kinda.
It wasn’t that long ago when the Raptors clinched a playoff berth. To some it was not shocking. To me it kinda was, but that’s only because I am not a huge fan.
The Raptors finished four wins better than Brooklyn, but could only manage three against them in the playoffs.
The Raptors also finished a monster 14-wins better this regular season than they did last season.
On March 27 in a game at Boston against the Celtics, the Raptors put themselves in position to clinch a playoff spot.
It would be their first playoff appearance in six seasons.
“I’ve been here five years and see how passionate the fans are. It definitely means a lot.
“We feed off them, the energy they bring every single night. That would be great for the city and we have to take advantage of the opportunity,” said DeMar Derozan just prior to the game that they won that clinched the desperately and long-awaited post season position. That was following their 99-90 win at TD Garden in Boston.
The very next game was also against Boston, but played in Toronto. Toronto won that one too, 105-103.
That’s when they officially clinched.
“We made it!” said Amir Johnson to a throng of reporters.
Derozan had 30 points that night. Terrence Ross had 17, while Johnson provided the final tip-in basket that secured the team’s post season berth. Johnson was going to be making his first playoff appearance with Toronto, coming in his fifth season with the team.
“This team has worked so hard,” he said. “This means a lot.”
Now all we had to wait for was to see who they would play against.
Could it have been Miami? Could it have been the upstart Chicago Bulls who had been on fire most of the season however were pasted in the first round of the playoffs against the Washington Wizards? There were a few more possibilities too.
NO MORE TANKING
Now that the team basically did the unbelievable, or the unthinkable, whatever you want to call it, maybe this run, which greatly, and eerily resembles the one the Maple Leafs put together last season (challenge a strong team, take them all the way to the limit, then lose by a single point), is maybe expectations will skyrocket from here on in. there is no more praying to sink as low as possible in the standings in hope for a good draft pick in the lottery.
It punctuates the remarkable turnaround of a Toronto squad that opened the 2013 season with a 6-12 record and a fan base hoping they would just tank to improve the team’s chancing of drafting Canadian phenom Andrew Wiggins. They traded away star Rudy Gay for some lesser-knowns from the Sacramento Kings, who turned out to be pivotal contributors. And now the Raptors hold a playoff spot with 10 games left in the regular season. The team is also still in the running to win the Atlantic Division.
I wouldn’t agree necessarily that the Net’s top guns, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson and Mason Plumlee, however it was Pierce that came up with the play that essentially ended the series. I have never ever doubted the value of having experience. The Nets have enough of it that a win over the young inexperienced Raptors would definitely show the experience that Pierce and Garnett most definitely have from their days with the Celtics.
I hate to keep jumping into my hockey comparisons all the time but the Leafs moreless ran into the same thing in Boston last year; a team made of inexperienced youth for the most part (Kadri, Bozak, Gardiner etc) vs a handful of guys who played in the Stanley Cup final four seasons ago.
The Bruins last year, like the Brooklyn Nets tonight, showed that experience is tough to beat. Do I think that Pierce’s block on Lowry was lucky? Hell no. Not even close.
Also, there is no top player on the Raptor’s roster anywhere near either Garnett (37) or Pierce (36) in age. DeRozan is 13 years younger than Garnett.
As of that key win at home vs Boston on March 28
The last playoff appearance by the Raptors took place in 2008 when they were knocked out in 5 games by the Orlando Magic, back in the Chris Bosh days.
No Toronto team in basketball, hockey or baseball has won a playoff series since 2004.
In that same period of time, in Boston, the Red Sox have won 3 World Series, the Patriots have won 2 Super Bowls, and both the Bruins and Celtics have both been crowned champions.
Jonas valiencuinas ?? age 21
Demar derozan USC age 24
Kyle lowery Villanova age 28
Amir Johnson ?? age 27
The great 8/final 8
Trail Blazers Wizards