Title: We Shouldn’t Label Them the Same Old Raptors Just Yet
Date: May 2, 2018
Original Source: Vice
Synopsis: In my latest for Vice, I wrote about the New Raptors introducing all the same old questions with a dispiriting Game 1 loss.
Same old Raptors.
That’s the story you’re likely to hear a fair amount of on Wednesday, a day after the Toronto Raptors let a mammoth opportunity get away from them. For almost the entirety of four quarters, they were the better team against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1, never once trailing over 48 minutes. And then with the game on the line, they bent the knee in epic fashion, squandering a cavalcade of opportunities and ultimately coughing up a 10-point fourth-quarter lead and losing in overtime.
It was… familiar. Not in how it played out, necessarily, but in the feeling the Raptors walk away with. They spent an entire season working to earn the No. 1 seed and drew the Cavaliers a round earlier than they expected, then took all of one game to hand the home-court advantage they’d fought tirelessly for right over to LeBron James and company. The locker room was heavy on frustration after the game, the realization quick to set in that the Raptors had punted on an opening they didn’t have in the two previous playoff meetings to take control of the series.
And so you’re likely to hear the same jokes and write-offs as in years past. The Playoff Raptors can never get out of their own way, even when they’re better. James has taken up space in their heads, rent-free, and with the game on the line the Raptors managed to miss some 11 consecutive field-goal attempts and score five points over the final five minutes of regulation despite an array of offensive rebounds and second chances.