Ladies and gentleman, please remain seated as this roller coaster of a ride we call the 2016 NBA playoffs, is far from over. Allow me to rephrase, if you are a fan of the Miami Heat, please exit the car, kindly step aside and begin to reminisce on what a great season you had because your ride has ended. For the usually polite, often apologetic fans of the… ahh who the hell am I kidding. Toronto Raptor fans may not be used to the roller coaster ride of a long playoff run, but they are not shy or apologetic and they are certainly not quiet. They have cheered, waved and shouted loudly for 21 years whether it is inside the ACC, outside in Jurassic Park or even in enemy territory. They have watched last second shots fail, watched their team get swept and yet will still stand in cold, wet, atrocious weather just to support their home team. The 2016 rendition of the Toronto Raptors have made it to the Eastern Conference Finals which is a level they have never reached in its history. Lose your voices today as you sing, shout and enjoy the moment because as fans… you certainly have deserved it.
— Adnan Virk, ESPN (@adnanESPN) May 15, 2016
Just as every other game in this series with Miami has been unpredictable, so was game 7. For once, the Raptors took it easy on their fans by not allowing Miami to make a 4th quarter comeback. This time they took an 8 point lead and stretched it to win 116-89. Not only did they win by 27 (yup, that’s not a typo, I did say twenty-seven), but they finally scored more than 100 points for the first time in this series. The only consistency the Raptors showed was with their effort even though they had plenty of opportunities to give up. For example, they lost game one at home (again), lost their best player up until that time, Jonas Valanciunas and they did not even have their all-star duo play like all-stars until the final three games of the series. Yet, they never made excuses and never gave up.
Biyombo throwing it down, and a foul!https://t.co/bXvR8KLFpy
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) May 15, 2016
The starters today made the difference by playing big minutes and getting big results even though technically, Bismack Biyombo and Patrick Patterson aren’t usually starters. Biyombo was a monster with 17 points and 16 rebounds.
Let me interrupt this blog for another free piece of advice from @PapaDart – Toronto fans, please take the time to enjoy Biyombo’s skills and energy in these next few games because sadly, I sincerely doubt he will be wearing a Raptors uniform next year. He has a player option for $2.9M and for someone who is expected to be offered contracts in the $10M+ /year area, he will certainly opt out. Just like everyone else, I would love for him to stay, but it will be very difficult for the Raptors to match any offers, especially since they already have JV locked up for the next three years. Now back to the blog.
After some time to adjust, Patrick Patterson has now gotten used to being a starter and besides the excellent defence he has always provided, he had a double double with 11 points and 11 boards. DeMarre Carroll chipped in with 14 and the backcourt of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry combined for 63 points. It was a team effort and as we are used to in the north these days, not always pretty basketball. But for a city that cheers the ‘grinders’ like Tie Domi or Jerome Williams, the original Junk Yard Dog, it is not difficult to understand why this city and this country, have fallen in love with the Raptors. It is not only their most endearing quality, but it is the one quality that just might (and I hesitatingly repeat) might make them victorious over their next opponent, the Cleveland Cavaliers. That’s right, step aside Dwyane Wade and come on in LeBron James.
Dwane Casey's response to people saying the Raptors won't beat the Cavs?
"This group is hungry. Never say never."https://t.co/b3VxMSDBPs
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) May 15, 2016
Most pundits, myself included, have the Cavs winning in four maybe five games. This is not a reflection on how the Raptors are, but more so on the circumstances surrounding this series. Cleveland has not lost a game yet all playoffs, they have no significant injuries and everyone is well rested. On top of that they have been playing excellent basketball even setting a record for most 3 points made in a game. This will be a tough challenge for the Raptors and they will need their perimeter defence to be super strong to have any chance. If they can make the Cavs uncomfortable and force them into turnovers like they did Miami, well then Raptor fans, buckle up, for the roller coaster ride begins again.
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