Raptors win game one.
The Toronto Raptors have one goal throughout this entire playoff run. Win. They have been in the shadow of the Cavaliers, the Celtics for too long and need one thing to go their way. They need to show the world that game one against the Washington Wizards isn’t a problem.
Historically, the Raptors have had some very bad luck. In their nine playoff round one games, they have never come away with a win. Surprising for a team that has been a top of the eastern conference leaderboard for the last three years, breaking record, after record.
Another big pylon they will have to jump will be the fact last time the Raptors faced the Wizards in the playoffs, they were swept within four games. Paul Pierce drained three, after three and upset the Raptors in an incredible fashion.
But one thing is for sure different this time then most. They are vastly different then the years prior.
This year the Raptors finished first in the Eastern conference for the first time in Raptors history, they finished with a record of 59-23, a franchise win high. They have changed up their game year after year and this is the first time Toronto fans have felt like this is their year.
DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry have been the same. They both went to the All-Star game and proved they had deserved the accolades. They also have been the leadership and top scorers as well. Without them they wouldn’t have come as far as they have.
But since there is more to a team than just two players, their starting rotation has more than played their part. Jonas Valanciunas has put his game to an entire new level. The seven-foot centre is rebounding better, playing better and surprisingly shooting threes better. Over the course of the year, Jonas Valanciunas has attempted 74 three point shots and came down with an astounding 30 of them. The big centre had a fourty percent three-point percentage. For centre’s alone that is very impressive.
Serge Ibaka, a.k.a. Serge I-block-a has been a defensive monster for the Raptors. Not to mention his three point capabilities puts his above the rest. He has blocked multiple balls and has come up big on their side of the court to stop the opposing team.
The rest of the team has come from the bench or rotated within the final spot but what they have done is beyond the norm. Usually in the NBA, the starters take a crazy amount of minutes because they are the best and the coaches rely heavily on them. But with Dwane Casey’s coaching style, and the development of the bench has changed everyone’s minds.
Fred van Vleet and Delon Wright have been replacing the All-Star back court and shown a new combination. They drive up to the basket in different ways and still get points.
Pascal Siakam has been a one man machine and incomparable to find another player who takes shots from literally anywhere. He has improved his game to a point where he could be a starter on other teams.
CJ Miles, the legitimate three-machine, was brought in during the off-season to improve the Raptor shots from behind the arc, and he has done exactly that. He’s been throwing down threes from every angle imaginable and with incredible ease.
Jakob Poeltl has been the power centre that most teams wish they had as a back up. He drives to the net with such aggressiveness, the other team can hardly forget it’s only his second year in the NBA.
But probably the most important part of this team has to be head coach Dwane Casey. He has developed these players to a point where no one thought it was possible. They have all bought into his scheme of playing as a team, where any player can be the best on the court at anytime.
But it all starts on Satirday night if they can take Game one of the NBA playoffs. Will they stun the NBA and the world, and take home the Championship.