Well, here we are — the end of the road. Game 7 against the Boston Celtics came right along and ripped the collective hearts out of Raptors fans, but you know what, it didn’t feel quite as bad as past losses. That must have something to do with the shimmer of rings on fingers and banners in air that magically eases the sting of not winning.
Would we all have loved it if the Raptors stomped on the Celtics and not turned the ball over 18 times in Game 7 in increasingly maddening fashion? Of course! And yet, the feeling remains that everything is going to be okay in Toronto, even with the litany of questions facing the team in the coming off-season.
With all of that, let’s dive into the final Toronto Temperature of the very bizarre 2019-20 season.
Kyle Lowry, Consummate Teammate
Look, there’s no way that the final Who’s Hot segment of this column wasn’t going to start with Kyle Lowry. While Lowry didn’t have the best Game 7 (33 percent shooting, 3 turnovers, and a -10 and 6 fouls), there’s just no way that the team is where they are without him. As a matter of fact, you’d be smart to put your money on this team possibly not even making the playoffs without him — he’s that good. Stats and basketball greatness aside and the final image of Kyle’s season being a forlorn walk off of the court after fouling out, let’s all relish in the splendor of what really embodies his greatness one last time.
Kyle Lowry "You miss the oppportunity to play with these great f*cking guys." pic.twitter.com/yrnzRu9gs0— CJ Fogler #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) September 12, 2020
See you next year, champ <3
MLSE, Big Money
Now that Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment has enjoyed the fruits of a championship (those fruits being big dividends), it’s time to open up the coffers and pay those who were responsible in getting you there.
The first two names that come to mind are Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster. The dynamic duo fleeced the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green thanks to a trade of Andrea Bargnani to the Knicks (lol), traded for Big Daddy Spain and Ma Fuzzy Chef, grifted the Bucks into taking Greivis Vasquez for Norman Powell and a pick that turned out to be OG Anunoby (the biggest LOL), saw the potential in Pascal and Fred and were handed an even bigger gift from the Knicks when Dolan turned down a trade for Kyle Lowry. If that’s not enough to hand over a blank cheque to both of these dudes, then MLSE deserves all of the worst things.
The next big decisions all involve players in that previous paragraph. What happens with Fred? Can the Raptors keep both, one or none of Gasol and Ibaka? Will MLSE be okay with going into the tax? The shape of the franchise will be determined this offseason.
Was there one more thing that Ujiri and Webster might have accomplished to bolster their offer from MLSE? That’s right! They fired Dwane Casey who was fresh off of winning Coach of the Year to hire a rookie coach in Nick Nurse who then went on to win this year’s Coach of the Year award! That rookie coach is now a champion and MLSE showed that they are down to do the right thing by locking him up to an extension this week.
Speaking of Nick Nurse...
Nick Nurse, Fix Up Look Sharp
Nick Nurse was definitely a roadman when he coached in England. pic.twitter.com/GUUd9krCPC— SH (@RetroBoominati) September 15, 2020
Horrible Raptors Fans, You Know Who You Are
First things first — Pascal Siakam was, to his standard and expectation on the offensive end, really bad in the Bubble. Careless turnovers (five in Game 7), bricks from deep and an overall lack of confidence shook Pascal out of an ability to positively contribute everywhere outside of the defensive end, where he was brilliant against the Celtics. You know what that doesn’t afford you, Raptors fans? The agency to be racist, horrid trash cans of human beings because another human being was underwhelming in a basketball game.
Canadian fans hear a lot about how dire practically everything in the United States is right now, but you know what, it’s pretty terrible here too. Sure, rampant systemic racism might be slightly more cloaked than south of the border, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist and Siakam surely has seen the brutal slander on social media associated with his name. If you’re a reader and perpetuate that kind of hatred in any way, we don’t want you here.
Marcus Smart, Let Us Live
Who are your two most hated NBA players and why are they Marcus Smart and Patrick Beverly?
All right, let’s be honest, I couldn’t put him up there, but Marcus Smart is molten lava hot right now. Since dispatching the hapless 76ers, Marcus Smart has shot 41 percent from beyond the arc, which is a full 10 percent better than his career average and he’s doing it all while giving the Celtics everything you hate him about him on the defensive end.
Truthfully, the best thing about the Celtics and Raptors series being over is that we no longer have to watch Marcus Smart. Bless you if you’re tuning into the Celtics vs. Heat because then you’d also have to watch Goran Dragic, who surely must be your third most hated player.
I wonder what’s going on with Patrick Beverly.
The Clippers, Ah Ha Ha Ha Ha
Does anyone remember if Kawhi used to play with a high IQ point guard? Asking for a friend.