Where do we go from here?
It's a valid question, and a rather polarizing one for Raptor fans. I've personally gone back and forth on this one since the Raptors were swept away by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.
For the second year in a row, the Raptors lost in the playoffs to LeBron and his Cavs. There's no doubt we're not good enough to beat them. Heck, except for game four, it wasn't even a contest. At least we won a couple of games against Cleveland last season.
Now the question is whether Masai Ujiri tears it down and rebuilds or works this summer to improve the team. On Sunday night, I wanted the tear down, but today I'm leaning towards remaining a great and entertaining regular season team that wins a round or two before losing to LeBron James.
What would you do? What should Masai do?
Despite frustrating me for three quarters, the Raptors actually won in Milwaukee yesterday to tie their first round series with the Bucks at 2 games apiece. They should advance to the second round, although nothing is a surety when this team is in the playoffs. They're rather unpredictable, hence the frustration.
Tonight I'll be glued to the Leafs game as we try to win at home to force a game seven with the President's Trophy winning Capitals. What a series this has been... four games have been decided in OT and the other was decided by a single goal. The Leafs are hanging with the big boys and it's been thrilling.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are in Anaheim so I've been waking up to find out how we've done. We lost last night, lowering our record to 4-13. That's a .235 winning percentage. That's bad... very, very bad.
The past two years the Jays and Leafs were flipped. The Jays were thrilling, advancing to two ALCS. The Leafs were junk. They've essentially switched spots on the Toronto pro sports spectrum.
One day, all three teams will be competitive. It's never happened before, but hope springs eternal. In the meantime, I'm just glad we've had two out of three in the playoffs the past few years. It sure beats how things looked a mere five years ago.
And two out of three ain't bad.
I've been busy. I've failed to document not one but two significant trades involving Toronto teams.
Yesterday the Leafs sent minor-leaguer Byron Froese and a conditional second round pick in 2017 to Tampa for fourth-line centre Brian Boyle. The only reason you make this deal is to make the playoffs this season. It seems the tear-down is officially over.
Depending on the day, I can be passionately want the Leafs to miss the playoffs and land another top ten pick or make the playoffs and give me some fun April nights with the family. It seems the Shanaplan now calls for option #2. Giddy-up!
The Raptors, meanwhile, have won four in a row after a rough stretch. All four games have been comebacks from double-digit deficits and thrilling finishes. The defensive intensity late in games has been amped up with the addition of Serge Ibaka and now P.J. Tucker.
While I was busy, the Raptors sent Jared Sullinger and two second-round draft picks to Phoenix for the former Toronto draftee. We're going to need him if we're going to take a series against the Cavs.
We're all hoping we don't meet the Cavs until the conference final, but Kyle Lowry's surgery makes that unlikely. But if a finals berth goes through Cleveland, it might be better to catch them early. Here's hopin'.
Terrence Ross was infuriating, but I have such a soft spot for the guy. When my buddy was battling cancer, I managed to score two sweet seats from Ford Canada to see the Raptors take on the Clippers. My buddy was a huge Raptors fan and I wanted to help boost his spirits.
Alas, my friend wasn't feeling up to attending the game, but when I tried to return the tickets to Ford, they suggested I take my daughter. So that's exactly what I did. That night, Terrence Ross went off for 51 points, tying the franchise mark set by Vince Carter in 2000. As luck would have it, I was at that game, too!
When you take your daughter to a game and a member of your team scores 51, you adopt the guy as yours. Every time Ross threw down a big dunk, and the man could dunk, we'd exchange knowing glances.
Now T-Ross and a first round pick has been shipped to Orlando for power forward Serge Ibaka. Masai Ujiri's wanted Ibaka for a while now, and for good reason. Ibaka fills a need the Raps have and inconsistent Ross was a small price to pay.
Good luck, Terrence. We'll always have that 51.
I've been blogging here for 14 years, and during that time there were some pretty low times in Toronto sports. Just four years ago I wrote this about the new bottom for Toronto sports teams. Things were very, very bad for the big five.In 2016, things got a whole lot better. In fact, there's something great to report about every team in the big five not nicknamed the Argos. Although we didn't win a championship, we were close!
Ten years after their birth, TFC hosted the MLS Cup final, losing a heartbreaker to Seattle. That second leg against Montreal in the semi-final was absolutely thrilling.
Toronto Blue Jays
For the second year in a row, the Blue Jays played in the ALCS. Unlike the hype train of 2015, this didn't seem likely in September as we sputtered into the playoffs, but an Edwin walk-off against Baltimore in the wildcard game and a sweep of the Rangers in the ALDS helped recapture the joy of the previous year.
For the first time in franchise history, the Raptors won a best-of-seven playoff series. And we did it twice! We even took two games against Cleveland in the conference finals, making this far and away the best Raptors season, ever.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Last season, the Leafs were bad. Very, very bad. This is a good thing, as it helped us land Auston Matthews with the first overall pick in the draft. Now, with Matthews, Marner and Nylander, the future actually looks bright and the present is a lot of fun, too.
Let's not ruin this entry with an Argos update.
In addition to successful developments for the big four teams in this city, Toronto hosted the Grey Cup, World Cup of Hockey and World Juniors. 2016 was a very good year for Toronto sports. Let's hope for a championship in 2017.
Last night, the Raptors were in Oakland losing to the mighty Warriors. I went to bed after a disastrous first quarter but see we came back to make it a game. At some point, DeMar DeRozan surpassed Chris Bosh as the franchise leading scorer. He now has 10290 points.
Here's the current all-time Raptors top ten.
- DeMar DeRozan - 10290
- Chris Bosh - 10275
- Vince Carter - 9420
- Andrea Bargnani - 6581
- Morris Peterson - 6498
- Kyle Lowry - 5771
- Jose Calderon - 5235
- Doug Christie - 4448
- Antonio Davis - 3994
- Amir Johnson - 3957
Don't worry, I got us...— DeMar DeRozan (@DeMar_DeRozan) June 29, 2010
In the world of professional sports, I'm focused on the Jays vs. Red Sox this afternoon. A win and we'll host the wild card game Tuesday. This is a big game.
I was just biking with my two older kids and we were chatting about the Jays. My 14-year old son is more excited about Auston Matthews' debut with the Leafs tonight. My daughter will "follow" the game on Instagram. This led to each of us ranking Toronto's big 6 teams in terms of personal preference.
My 14-Year Old Son's Rankings
My 12-Year Old Daughter's Rankings
Straight from the mouths of babes, as they say. Despite the fact I watch most Jays games and talk about the team often, the team is a distant third on each of their lists.
You can lead a horse to water...
Our We The North flag is still hanging in the bay window. Yesterday's loss to the Cavs in game six wasn't unexpected, and to be frank, we were ready for it. And when it was all over, I didn't feel sad or mad, I felt glad it happened.
It's been a great six months for Toronto's sports teams. The Jays and Raps both got within two wins of the finals, and the Leafs won the draft lottery. That's more success than we saw in the previous decade.
After the best regular season in franchise history, I knew what I had to see. I needed to see the Raps win a playoff series. Heck, I needed to see them win two.
We did that, advancing to the Eastern Conference finals against the mighty Cavs. I was confident the Raptors were the second best team in the conference, but even more certain that the Cavs were the best team in the conference. I predicted the Cavs would win in five.
The Raps gave all they had, giving us fans a helluva ride, making further progress. It was both infuriating, and exhilerating. It was, as sports is meant to be, damn fun.
My focus returns to the .500 Blue Jays and the hopes the offense will right itself and we'll be enjoying another pennant race this September. The next step is a championship.
In the end, it wasn't even close. The Raptors beat the Heat handedly in game seven of their second round series to advance to the Eastern Conference finals against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The final score was 116-89.
Prior to tipoff, I was surprised by how little anxiety I felt. It was as if I had seen the game and knew we won. Here's what I tweeted.
I'm surprised how optimistic I'm feeling about this game 7. I sincerely believe we'll win this game.— Toronto Mike (@torontomike) May 15, 2016
Kyle Lowry was unbelievably good. He scored 35 points, added 9 assists and 8 rebounds. DeMar DeRozan wasn't too shabby himself, finishing with 28 points and 8 rebounds. This is the backcourt that led us to the 2 seed in the East.
Bismack Biyombo added 17 points and 16 rebounds, helping us forget that Jonas Valančiūnas was watching from the sidelines in a camouflage suit.
This is now, without a doubt, the most successful Raptors season in franchise history. It's our first conference final, and equals the distance the 2015 Blue Jays went before they bowed out in the ALCS. The Leafs haven't been to a conference final since 2001-02.
I'm not going to worry about what lies ahead. Instead, I'm going to enjoy the fact we've finally won a conference semi-final series. How sweet it is!
Prior to game 3 in the Raptors ~ Heat series, Dwyane Wade was caught shooting during the singing of O Canada. Here's the video evidence.
I get the feeling I'm supposed to get all riled up about this, yet I feel nothing. Was it disrespectful? Probably. Should Wade apologize and promise not to do it again? Probably. But I sure don't feel angry about it.
Maybe that's because I don't really believe we should be singing anthems before games. Maybe that's because I don't believe Wade was trying to slight this country. Maybe that's because there are enough upsetting things in the world, and this one just doesn't make the cut.
I just want to see the Raps come out and win tonight so we have a chance to clinch at home in game five. That's what has me all riled up.
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