The Raptors keep showing us how big their... ahem, hearts, are, with these comebacks, don’t they?
Yesterday’s was a tough one to stomach — to come all that way back only to lose to an unheralded second-year player and a Myles Turner shot-clock beating fingertip three-pointer — but still... it was fun, right?
Let’s hold that and get right into the thoughts.
Wait, is it Fun to Lose?
It’s never fun to lose, no. But! This is a hell of a fun Raptors team to watch, and they generally make losing more enjoyable than it typically is. Think about the Clippers game, where they held Kawhi Leonard in check, or the second Philly game, where the full-court press nearly turned it around in the final minutes. Or, obviously, the Dallas comeback, and then last night, where they fought back (again) and took a late lead, despite missing three key players (and coming off that emotional comeback just 27 hours or so before).
Now, I’m not sure if this team is just fun to watch, or the guys are great to root for, or if my give-a-shit meter is misaligned thanks to the fact that the Raptors are the champs and the losing doesn’t affect me as much anymore.
But there’ve already been several losses that I didn’t mind, and that rarely ever happens.
Keep Showing ‘em the Jewelry
The Raptors have twice now responded to boorish fans by pointing at their fingers to remind said fans that hey, you can talk your smack, but we’re the champs.
Ibaka did it in Philly a few weeks back, and Lowry did it last night.
This has to be my favourite trash talk ever. The rings speaks for themselves.
Play to Win
I feel like the Raptors should have gotten a better shot at the end of regulation. I get that teams don’t want to try anything too “risky,” and don’t like moving the ball for fear of a turnover and so on. But in a tie game, on the road, on the second night of a back-to-back, with three rotation guys injured?
Play to win, man.
A simple Serge Ibaka screen for Kyle Lowry would have done the job. The Pacers had trouble containing that all night. It certainly would have generated a better look than a fall-away three from the logo.
I’m not gonna lie, I had no idea who Aaron Holiday was before last night’s game.
I sure as hell know now.
Holiday, the 23rd overall pick in the 2018 draft, appeared in 50 games last year and averaged six points in 13 minutes a night.
He’s been playing even more this year, about 22 mpg, and had been on a hot streak of late: coming in to last night’s game, he was playing 27 minutes a night over the previous six, averaging 14.5 points on 56% shooting.
He scorched the Raptors down the stretch last night, scoring 13 of his 19 in the fourth and OT, including three massive three-pointers, and dished four of his 10 assists. He was a difference maker for the Pacers in the absence of Malcolm Brogdon.
And now I fear we may have to add his name the Raptors killer all-stars.
Angry Nick Nurse is Great Entertainment
It’s probably not great for Nick Nurse’s health or stress levels, but I get a kick out of his facial expressions and body language, not to mention his actual language (or at least what I can read on his lips) when the calls aren’t going Toronto’s way.
And there were a lot of calls that didn’t go Toronto’s way yesterday, at least as far as Nick is concerned.
Seeing him loiter on the court after the final buzzer, as his players filed past, to throw a few more choice words at official Mitchell Ervin, might earn him some fines. But you know what, I bet his players appreciate it, that he’s going to bat for him. I think it’s another sign of the unity on this team. And I like it.
So, the Raptors are 2-1 since all the injuries happened, which is probably as good a result as you’d’ve expected after the Detroit game. They’re still an incredible 21-9!
Now, if they could maybe start off Christmas Day with an early lead and then build on it, rather than have to undertake a massive comeback effort, that might be a present we can all enjoy.