It was another ugly victory for the Toronto Raptors as they head to Miami for game 6. They are one win away from playing in the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time. Yes it was another dismal, nerve wracking 4th quarter as a 15 point Raptors lead dwindled to a single point. But as ugly and disjointed as their late game performance has been, they did get the “w” and so it is time to give this team the credit it deserves. The Raptors have had plenty of opportunity to fold and they haven’t. Plenty of opportunity to stop fighting and they haven’t. Plenty of voices telling them that down the stretch when it matters most, that they are choke artists, that they don’t have the mental fortitude and, thank you Paul Pierce, that they don’t have… it. Well ladies and gentleman, they do.
Now honestly, I didn’t always believe that. I am not talking about the Brooklyn or even Washington series, I am saying even as recently as two weeks ago, I still kind of thought Pierce was right about the Raptors and DeMar DeRozan. Near the end of the Indiana series I was unsure whether the Raptors should offer DeRozan a contract, let alone a max contract. We all know that the two-time all-star will get a max contract because that is what the market dictates he is going to get. The question is whether or not he will sign it with the Lakers (remember he is from Compton) or here in Toronto, the only NBA team he has ever known. But his ineffectiveness in the playoffs and with a strong showing by Norman Powell, I thought I wouldn’t be too upset by his departure.
— Jack Feeney (@Cool_Hand_Jack) May 12, 2016
DeRozan does deserve credit though and so does his partner in crime Kyle Lowry. It isn’t because of they finally broke out of their slump combining for 59 points in game 5, it isn’t because they attacked the rim or in Lowry’s case, they made some vitally important shots down the stretch. The all-star duo deserve credit because they are the engines behind a team that just doesn’t give up.
It may be difficult to see this during a single game because momentum swings back and forth multiple times, but take a step back and take a look at these playoffs as a whole. As of now, the Raptors record is a mediocre 7-5 in the post season. What is amazing about that not so amazing record is that 5 of those wins came without the duo playing like all-stars and that they have yet to lose back-to-back games. They come back stronger and hungrier after a loss and it wasn’t more evident than after losing game 4 in overtime, to come out in the first quarter outscoring Miami 28-18. In fact, at one point in the first half, they had a 20 point lead as they were (finally) forcing Miami to match their size rather than trying to play Miami’s small ball.
💪Bismack Biyombo brought the ENERGY scoring 10 PTs, 6 REBs & postseason career high 4 BLKs 💪https://t.co/VfREIuOeDp
— NBA Canada (@NBACanada) May 12, 2016
Sorry to interrupt this blog for another PapaDart ‘Called-it’ moment. Yes, it was I who wrote in my midweek column that they needed to go with their strength and play their big, Bismack Biyombo. Obviously Coach Casey won’t admit that he reads my work and used my idea, but to my followers who know I played an instrumental part in the Raptors having won that game, who am I to disagree with you. I’ll humbly accept any offers of cold adult beverages at your local patio. Just hit up my twitter account and let me know where and when! Back to the blog.
As I was saying, Toronto outplayed Miami for 20 out of the first 24 minutes. I mean it was as nasty as playing one-on-one with your younger brother who is 6 years and 2 feet shorter than you. They outscored Miami 53-29 during that time frame. So why was it only a 10 point lead at the half? Well, it’s because Toronto has had so much difficulty not only closing out games, but quarters as well. If you take the last two minutes of the first and second quarter, Miami outscored the Raps 16-2. So there is still plenty of room for improvement for these Raptors, but for today’s blog, let’s just be happy and enjoy the moment!
Turn the 6IX upside down, it's still a 6IX on the other side. All shirts are down at the ACC.
— Faizal Khamisa (@SNFaizalKhamisa) May 5, 2016
I say the moment, because as history has shown us we will lose game 6. Think about that for a moment, for a city and a team that prides itself on a number (The 6ix), the Raptors certainly stink on Game 6’s having gone 1/4 in their history including 0/3 on the road. But as much as I expect them to lose Friday night, I still believe they will win game 7. I am betting that these Raptors will not give up and continue win after a loss.
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