There's been a note of disbelief coursing through this entire season-opening onslaught from the Golden State Warriors. In every close call, in every comeback win, and especially in every effortless dismantling, it rings out: The Warriors have to lose eventually, right?
Every edict of basketball, mathematics, history and, if we're being real, the very fabric of the universe itself knows this to be true. And yet--and yet--the Warriors have not lost yet. It may be inevitable, but it somehow feels impossible. These laws cannot account for things like Steph Curry and the ease at which he can score the basketball. (He's got a 70 percent True Shooting percentage despite averaging 34 minutes a game.) They do not understand whatever wizardry Draymond Green has been able to summon forth over the past few years. (This is the period of time he went from an unknown entity to the cornerstone of a truly fearsome basketball construct.) They do not acknowledge the Warriors' specific and astounding combination of skills, IQ and unselfishness. It is unprecedented.
The Raptors, as a franchise, have been here before. Twenty years ago, a very different Toronto team faced off against a brutal juggernaut--the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls of 1995-96. Yes, that was a vastly different time, a different team, hell, even a different arena. The feeling, though, that was the same. Those Raptors were not expected to beat the team that would finished the season 72-10; just as these Raptors are not expected to beat this Warriors team aiming to better that mark.
But the Raptors did win then, and they can win now.
Some pre-game reading:
Here's Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star with a delightful piece on Steph Curry's basketball evolution with Steve Nash.
Dan Grant's got your game preview, with a look at the three things to watch out for in today's game.
Finally, keep in mind that both Jonas Valanciunas (obviously) and Harrison Barnes (interestingly) are both out for today's game.
UPDATE: Add Andrew Bogut to the list of players sitting out for today's game. Brandon Rush and Festus Ezeli are set to start for the Warriors.
Let's go Raptors. On to the comments!