After 6 months of “practice”, the real games have finally arrived!
Goodbye load management. Goodbye rotation experiments. Goodbye playing time for Chris Boucher, Jodie Meeks, Eric Moreland, Jordan Loyd, Patrick McCaw (probably?), and Jeremy Lin (hopefully!).
Hello playoff Kawhi. Hello secret Nick Nurse plays. Hello Jurassic Park. Hello Toronto sports playoff anxiety!
On This Week’s Episode:
The Raptors entered the season with so many questions — almost solely centred around Kawhi Leonard. It’s fairly safe to say the team has answered every single regular season concern. The team overcame a plethora of thumb injuries and roster movement, while still finishing in the same position (second best record in the NBA) as last year’s record-breaking regular season.
What grade would you give the Raptors’ season thus far?
Among the many positives to come from the regular season, it was encouraging to see how well the team performed in the clutch. More specifically, Kawhi answered the bell more often than not. He finished second in the clutch FG% and 1st in field goals made in the final two minutes of the 4th/Overtime that either tied or gave Toronto a lead.
Orlando has provided fits for Toronto all season. The Magic have the best point differential of any Raptors opponent — thanks in large part to two of the biggest blowouts of the season. Jonathan Isaac and Aaron Gordon have proven to be very solid defenders against Pascal Siakam and Kawhi Leonard, respectively. Nikola Vucevic plays the only position where the Magic would have a slight advantage.
Thankfully, the Raptors have sizeable advantages all over the floor. Kyle Lowry should have it easy guarding Orlando’s pu-pu platter of Point Guards — D.J. Augustin, Jerian Grant, and Michael Carter-Williams. Orlando was one of the worst teams, defensively, in allowing short and long mid-range jumpers. Toronto has not one or two, but three elite offensive players in the mid-range, Kawhi, Serge Ibaka, and Marc Gasol.
Raptors fans are programmed to be anxious before game one. For what it’s worth, even if the Magic were to pull off an upset on Saturday, the Raptors can still pull off the “Douchebag Sweep”. While the Gentleman’s Sweep is when the losing team wins game four (after losing the first three), the Douchebag Sweep is when the losing team wins game one — only to get swept over the next four.
I urge you to skip the Raptors Playoff Trivia portion, as Dre and I stumbled mightily through Jason’s questions. Listen if only to prove that you have a better memory!
We wrap up the episode with our predictions. What are yours? Is there a sweep in the cards for Toronto?
3:36 - That’s A Rap on the Season
9:35 - Letter Grade
13:15 - Kawhi in the Clutch
15:09 - Round One: Orlando Magic
20:13 - Raptors Depth
23:33 - Douchebag Sweep
27:05 - Raptors Playoff Trivia
44:03 - Round One: Predictions