What the Raptors might be able to learn from the Warriors’ playoff past

Title: What the Raptors might be able to learn from the Warriors’ playoff past
Date: May 28, 2019
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I looked at the Warriors’ recent and more long-term playoff pasts to see what the Raptors may be able to borrow from other teams who played them well.

Marc Gasol’s perspective Monday was appreciated, from a narrative and human standpoint. Asked about the journey to his first NBA Finals, both in career and 2018-19 terms, Gasol offered a quote many of us would be well-served keeping in mind from time to time.

“I’m not trying to reflect on it yet, to be honest,” he said in his soft, yet subtly combative, delivery. “I’m not looking back, I’m just looking forward and looking to obviously now the Warriors. I’m not looking back on what happened and whatnot, I’m just living in the moment.”

It’s a helpful attitude for his Raptors teammates to mimic. They are coming off the most emotionally charged victory in franchise history, a game that stood out as the biggest moment in the career of nearly every player on the roster. There is a risk, albeit probably a small one given the level of professionalism involved, that there’s a sort of hangover heading into Game 1, even with four days off to shift focus. It’s something the Raptors will look to avoid and is part of why they took Sunday off, a day to mentally and physically refresh and emotionally recentre. The time for appreciating the enormity of their accomplishments is a few weeks away still.

In the words of Modern Baseball, though, “Yeah, I said that I’m always moving forward, but my head’s really on a swivel.” A forward-focus is necessary emotionally to maintain the even keel that’s made the Raptors so successfulthrough the ups and downs of the playoffs. It can’t — and Gasol did not mean it as such — mean the past is ignored altogether. The past, especially the recent past, has value.

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