Title: Raptors look ready for 76ers test with decisive close-out of Magic
Date: April 23, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic, I wrote about the Raptors’ closing out the Magic in decisive fashion, showing they’re not the Raptors of old, and making it clear they’re ready for a bigger test in round two.
Midway through the fourth quarter Tuesday, Raptors fans tried to get the wave going inside Scotiabank Arena.
This is not meant as a referendum on the existence of the wave at sporting events. I am not the arbiter of how to properly be a fan. It was unusual, though, because a Raptors home crowd doing anything other than sitting on their hands anxiously awaiting the clock to expire in a playoff game – any playoff game, let alone a close-out game – would have been unfathomable not that long ago. The franchise’s playoff history, even when ultimately successful, doesn’t need refreshing here, and when the Orlando Magic stole Game 1, it looked like it might be the same old story for the Playoff Raptors.
Instead, Tuesday saw the Raptors ahead by 33 points, cruising to a 4-1 series victory. It is the first time in franchise history the Raptors have closed out a seven-game series so quickly. It is the first time the finish line has been so obvious, so reachable, so inevitable.
Were there any doubt that the Raptors would take care of business, eschewing any of the tongue-in-cheek expectation of a needlessly extended series and another trip to Orlando to wear themselves out, it was extinguished early. In their earlier wins, the Raptors set the tone with lockdown defence that held the Magic scoreless for several minutes. Nick Nurse challenged his team to match that energy in Game 5. He didn’t come out and say the intention was to break the Magic early and put the final game to rest, but it’s not hard to imagine Nurse’s pre-game address having simply been a replay of the first four minutes from Game 2.