Toronto Raptors

USA Today

The Raptors Are One Win Away

Look. The. Hell. Out.

June 10, 2019 - 9:22 am

I was off Thursday and Friday to go to New York, so a lot has happened since I was last in this seat. The Blues took a 3-2 series lead. And Boston tied it up. Rafa Nadal won another French Open. Rory won in Canada and threw on a Kyle Lowry jersey. Another former Urban Meyer player at Florida was charged with murder. Least surprising thing I ever, I know. And the list goes on.

But here’s something that did not change: the Toronto Raptors. I told you before Game 3 that just because Golden State got the split in Toronto and they were going back home did not mean the series was over. It did not mean that Toronto was going to roll over and look for a place to die. And they didn’t. 

These dudes love the taste of their own blood. They get punched in the face, in Game 2, in their building, and have been landing haymakers of their own ever since. They’re an absolute machine.

Klay Thompson didn’t play in Game 3. Steph Curry puts up 47 and the Raptors still ran them out of the gym. 

Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney somehow come back for Game 4. They both play their asses off. And Golden State still gets hammered.

The Warriors had the lead in the first half, but they weren’t playing well. They were making mistakes. They let Toronto hang around. And then in the second half, the Raptors hit the afterburners. And the Warriors gassed out. Sure, at some point, it was all going to catch up with the Warriors. And you might try to argue that Toronto is just healthier; and they are that. But you really can’t argue that Toronto isn’t the better team. They are right now. There’s no debating that. Not at this time. 

Again, I hate to say I told you so, but I told you the Raptors were more than just Kawhi and Company. Sure, Kawhi is putting up absolutely stupid numbers in this postseason. Jordan-esque numbers. Seriously, he’s that good. You can mention the two of them in the same sentence. Legitimately. As it relates to what Kawhi is doing in the postseason; because he’s doing Jordanesque things. 

And they’re winning because he’s doing that…but he’s not the only one. Because unlike the Warriors, who just are not getting the contributions from anyone other than Steph and Klay, everyone else is stepping up for the Raptors. Serge Ibaka was an absolute force with 20 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 22 minutes.

And then there’s Fred VanVleet. Holy crap. FVV takes an accidental shot to the head from Shaun Livingston, the kind of shot that ends your night.

He’s just lying on the floor, bleeding, with parts of his tooth in his mouth and some on the court. He goes to the locker room, get seven stitches in his face, and comes back to the bench, ready to re-enter the game, but they didn’t need him. By that time, they’d blown the game wide open.

But he still dropped this quote after the game: “Losing a tooth is not fun. Obviously, the stitches I could deal with, but I was more upset that I could have the remnants of my teeth floating around in my mouth as I was laying there on the ground."

There you go. That’s who the Raptors are. That’s their identity. They aren’t just good. They are tough as hell. Tough as freaking hell. And they’re running into a Warriors team that is banged up, stitched together, and looks absolutely spent.

Meanwhile, the Raptors have put all that talk about what might happen in the future to the side. The future is now. They are one win away from the NBA title.

You want to talk about free agency? Or Kawhi reportedly buying property in Toronto? I don’t. You want to talk about this exchange? Because I don’t.

If you want to talk about Kawhi’s new nickname, the Board Man, we can do that. And I know the Board Man gets paid, but I don’t care who’s going to be paying him next month.

Let’s talk about now. Let’s talk about how Toronto is one win from an NBA title.

And they know it, even if they aren’t showing it or acting like it.

Did you see the Raptors walking off the floor on Friday night?

Did you see them walking off the floor at the end of Game 4? While Raptors fans in Oakland were taking over Oracle and partying, there wasn’t a single Raptors player celebrating. They had just won two straight on the road against the two-time defending champs. They are 48 minutes from an NBA title and nobody was happy. Hell, you couldn’t even find a smile. That’s how locked in they were.

About the only humor from them was their Twitter account dropping a Full House parody featuring the players in the opening credits and the caption: Successful business trip to the Bay Area. #wethenorth

And if the team is locked in, you know the fans are too. Holy hell. Fans were reportedly lining up for Jurassic Park on Friday. The game is tonight!

As in fans were at Jurassic Park on Friday night to watch Game 4 and got right back in line when the horn sounded. They didn’t go back home. They didn’t look to take a night off to maybe go home, shower up, rest up, get prepared for tonight.

They took the pickup game rules to heart – winners stay. Oh, our team just won Game 4? Let’s get back in line and run it back again. No wonder Masai went to visit them last night at midnight. Those fans are unreal. Absolutely unbelievable. Again, these people were camping out…not to attend the game. Or on the off chance they might score a ducat or two. They were camping out, days in advance, to watch the game outside…in Jurassic park?! Who the hell does that?! Raptor fan, that’s how! They’re unbelievable. And now their team is a game away from shocking the Warriors and the rest of the world. And the only ones who aren’t shocked are the players and coaches in that locker room. Oh and my man, Masai, who put it all together. 

And if you thought that city and that arena was loud for Games 1 and 2 for the finals, that’s going to be nothing compared to Game 5 tonight. A chance to beat the Warriors and win the first NBA title in franchise history at home? Look. The. Hell. Out.