Title: The Toronto Raptors Played Everyone for Fools
Date: May 8, 2018
Original Source: Vice
Synopsis: In my latest for Vice, I wrote about the misguided collective belief in the Raptors finally overcoming LeBron James. Sigh.
Congratulations, we played ourselves.
The Toronto Raptors convinced a lot of people that this was the year they could finally get past LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. They were better by most objective measures, handled their business mostly to form in the first round of the playoffs for a change, and were better built for playoff basketball this time around. In the end, it was no different. Everything that mattered turned out the same, and the 2017-18 Raptors season ended exactly like the one that came before it, with a sweep at the hands of the Cavaliers.
This wasn’t just the Raptors fan base believing, to be clear. That would be a lot easier to wave a hand at with a smirk. Untethered optimism comes with the territory there. The Raptors had more than just a large section of their fan base fooled this time around. Every analytic model publicly available favored them. ESPN, notorious in Canada for its alleged distaste for the franchise, had more than half of its staffers pick the Raptors to win, many in six games and some in fewer. Even Vegas, often a solid arbiter of the objectivity of narrative, took the bait, and has now surely taken a hit here for having listed James as a two-to-one series underdog against a team he’s now won 10 consecutive postseason games against with a personal plus-minus of +178.