Sometimes, dreams don’t come true.
I had a premonition of the Raptors going undefeated at home for an entire season and losing in Game 1 of the playoffs — the most Raptors thing that could ever happen. Alas, Erik Spoelstra and his band of Raptors clones delivered Toronto’s first home loss of the season.
The episode was recorded before the Rockets handed Toronto their second home loss of the season. Please disregard any and all predictions that include the words, ‘Toronto’, and ‘win’ in the same sentence!
On This Week’s Episode:
In my weekly Rap-Up, I mentioned the Heat as the Raptors’ doppelganger. That affirmation rang true throughout the night. Miami came in hot (pardon the pun) and never really took their foot off the gas pedal. While Toronto has made a name for themselves with a never-say-die attitude, it was the Heat that exhibited that quality more effectively. Whenever Toronto made a run, Miami would answer. When the Raptors defense was in scramble mode, the Heat would knock down open threes.
Bam Adebayo can officially be added to the list of Pascal Siakam disruptors, along with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jonathan Isaac, and (I guess) Joel Embiid. Siakam was tentative all game long, passing up open looks and rarely attacking the basket. We’re admittedly spoiled with his meteoric rise, so nights like these stand out a little more.
Oh captain, my captain! Kyle Lowry’s return was slightly shocking. Early reports had him doubtful to play, but he was quickly updated from game-time decision to starter with no minutes restriction. You can blame the rust on his 2-18 shooting (0-11 from three), but there was nothing slowing down his impact in other areas. Whether it was setting up the offense, crashing the boards, or collecting timely charges during the second half comeback, Lowry left his mark on this game.
The road didn’t get any easier for Toronto, as the Houston Rockets were in town last night. The timing of this matchup is interesting because the Rockets were also coming off a deflating loss. While Toronto’s second half comeback that was a borderline miracle was shot down, Houston lost a huge 4th quarter lead, spurred by a miracle no-basket (at least for Spurs fans).
Up 13 with less than eight minutes remaining, James Harden’s steal and dunk-that-wasn’t-but-actually-was, should have buried San Antonio. Instead, the basket didn’t count and the Spurs came back to win in double overtime. The NBA has since admitted incorrectly not counting the basket. Houston is protesting and hoping to either be awarded a win or to have the final 7:50 replayed.
As for Harden, he entered Toronto averaging an astonishing 39.5 points per game. Whether or not that’s sustainable is not Nick Nurse’s problem to solve. With a bevy of great (Rondae Hollis-Jefferson) to elite (OG Anunoby) defenders to throw at him, the Raptors tried their best to slow him down — even if it didn’t quite work.
2:55 - Heat Check
7:15 - Raptors Doppelganger
10:45 - Spice Reduction
17:20 - Captain Returns
24:25 - Rocket Launched
32:05 - Rocketman