As has been the case all playoffs long, the Raptors stepped up when their backs were against the wall. Heading into Sunday’s game against the Bucks, the proverbial wall was a 2-0 series deficit, but by the 48th minute, the wall was Toronto overcoming the absence of two of their three most consistent performers in this series after they fouled out. Whether this game was a blowout or a heart-racing, double-overtime victory, Toronto got the win and kept their championship aspirations alive.
Check out the latest episode of That’s A Rap, as we try to collectively slow our breathing after a nerve-wracking game three victory.
On The Latest Episode:
The Raptors fought and clawed their way to their latest version of “most important game of the season.” I erroneously mentioned Toronto winning all the hustle stats. The fact that Toronto won the game despite losing all those stats is even more impressive. The Raptors wanted it more, and no one exemplified that desperation more than Marc Gasol. The Big Spain was rumoured to be out of the starting lineup. He redeemed Nurse’s choice to keep him as a starter by scoring early, and playing excellent defense late (five blocks while playing the last 15 minutes with five fouls).
Playoff Norm added to his legacy. Each of his 19 points off the bench were necessary in such a narrow win. His sixth foul was egregious, to say the least. Pascal Siakam’s game three performance was a microcosm of his season. He improved as the game progressed, and quickly answered any questions about his game. Spicy P could have been the goat after missing two free throws to ice the game. Instead, he redeemed himself with a game-changing block of Brook Lopez that could have tied the game with 43 seconds remaining in the second overtime.
Kawhi Leonard is the hero we asked for and the hero we deserve. Many will remember his game-high 36 points and game-sealing steal and dunk, but it was his impeccable defense on Giannis Antetokounmpo that won the game. The Greek Freak had his worst playoff outing, and all credit goes to the Klaw.
The victory also revealed a few holes that need fixing before Tuesday. Toronto’s time management needs to be cleaned up, as well as taking better care of the rock. Despite playing through a lot of questionable whistles, the fact remains that the Raptors cannot afford to battle the refs while facing the NBA’s best team.
If there ever was a question about this team’s resiliency, look no further than the 6:12 mark of the fourth quarter. Kyle Lowry picked up his sixth foul while the Raptors clung to a six-point lead. Danny Green and Fred VanVleet hit their only field goals, Kawhi played through an apparent leg injury, and Siakam took it to the MVP (forcing him to foul out). Never question the heart of this team.
Toronto has picked up some momentum heading into Tuesday. The Raptors have never lost game four in the Conference Finals (insert smirk emoji).
1:40 - Hustle, hustle, hustle... HARD
6:15 - The grass is greener on the northern side
9:50 - Key areas of improvement before game four
15:00 - Holding down the fort without the floor general
17:00 - This series is a movie