Words cannot express my frustration with the results of the Toronto Raptors first playoff game. Losing is bitter enough, but how our guys lost is worse. I can’t count, and won’t link to, the plethora of hoops pundits who predicted the Raps would lose this series because of our team’s inexperience with playoff pressure. These instant experts (many of whom would be hard-pressed to name more than 3 Raptors’ players, and have never seen a game due to the U.S. media’s criminal neglect of the team) were unanimous in their opinion of the Brooklyn Nets’ ability to keep the game close until the last 5 minutes, after which the Nets’ vets [sorry] would hit their shots, and the Raps’ kids wouldn’t. And, it must be admitted through clenched teeth, the cocky pundits were right. In crunch time, the Raps flopped, and the Nets didn’t miss, outscoring us 19-11 over the final 5:13. Who made those late buckets and free throws for the Nets? Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson and Kevin Garnett, who were boyhood idols of Terrence Ross.
OK, DeMar and Terrence and Jonas, you’ve had your stinker. Game 1 proved emphatically that we’ll need everyone’s contribution, newbies emphatically included. Brooklyn was ready to play, and we weren’t, digging ourselves into a Q1 hole which required too much energy to escape from. Tuesday’s game is an opportunity to prove all the smug commentators wrong. I’m tired of being patted on the head, and told it’s not the Raps’ time, that we’re not ready to win.
Yes, we are!
P.S. I’m hearing rumblings to the effect that the Raps should be happy just to be in the playoffs, as the experience gained will be invaluable when our team is more mature and fully fleshed out. If I’m Dwane Casey, I’m talking to the players today about this, to wit: “Guys, we don’t know what will happen next season. Will I be the coach, will you still be here? Anything can happen, including injuries, trades, a failure to even qualify for the post-season…we’re going as hard as we can, today. The future is Now.”