Title: Toronto Raptors’ Culture Shift Clear as Day in Playoff Opener
Date: April 15, 2018
Original Source: Vice
Synopsis: In my latest for Vice, I wrote about the Raptors’ culture reset and all the ways it manifested itself in a Game 1 victory over Washington.
It was about this time last year when Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri faced the media and uttered two words that would define the 2017-18 season—culture reset. What that meant at the time was not immediately clear, but the message was: After a sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Raptors needed to start doing things differently if they were to get where they’re trying to go.
On Saturday, the Raptors opened the playoffs in a way that showed the entire NBA the meaning of Ujiri’s words. In finally winning a Game 1 at home—Toronto had never done so, nor had it won any Game 1 during this current core’s five-year run—the culture reset was about as subtle as a Mike Scott elbow to the chops. Every part of the plan was evident, every reason behind every tweak now obvious in hindsight.
What will pop out most is the 3-point shooting. Last year, the Raptors ranked 22nd in the portion of their shots that came from beyond the arc and 21st in total makes. In the playoffs, they were outscored from the 3-point line by a nearly historic level against the Cavaliers. There was hesitation. There was distrust. There was a timid deference to the swings of variance.