Toronto Raptors


Raptors Win 7-Game Series

Heading into last night's game seven at the ACC, I was asked for my prediction. With apologies to Forrest Gump, I ended up comparing the Raptors to a box of chocolates. I could see us winning big, but I could also see us losing big.

Despite our two all-stars still struggling to make buckets, we were up by 14 to start the fourth quarter. A 14-point lead never felt so fragile. With just under three minutes to play, that lead was down to 3.

We held on, as you know, to advance to the second round for only the second time in franchise history. We'll face the Heat and I'm thinking we'll have to shoot better than 38.2% if we're going to have a chance at advancing.

Thank you Cory Joseph, thank you Norman Powell, thank you Patrick Patterson, and thank you DeMarre Carroll. Bring on the Heat!

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Damn Raptors

Let's go back to the Rudy Gay trade. It was late 2013, and the Raptors traded Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings in a 7-player deal. The Kings sending John Salmons, Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes to Toronto in exchange for Gay, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy.

That's when the Raptors team I fell in love with was born. Everything came together the remainder of that season. They immediate went on a 10-3 run and finally rose above .500. DeMar DeRozan was an all-star. We won the Atlantic Division, but lost to the Nets in the first round. Fuck Brooklyn.

We started the 2014-15 season 24-8. The core of Kyle Lowry and DeRozan won us another Atlantic Division title. We won a franchise record 49 games that season, but not a single one in the playoffs.

That brings us to this season. I watched more Raptors basketball this season than ever before. Lowry and DeRozan were all-stars again, and this team was exciting. 56 wins is a new franchise record, and for the first time ever, the Raps were a 2 seed in the conference. As pleased as I was with the regular season, I'm no fool. Here's a thorough explanation as to why I was showing restraint.

The Raptors have never won a best-of-seven playoff round. Never. This team was built to change that, but proof is in the pudding. Winning one round is essential, but it's going to take at least two to satisfy fans.

This pudding tastes like shit. Our all-stars are shooting miserably. At least Lowry is contributing in other ways. On most nights, DeRozan is most helpful with his ass nailed to the bench. I'd argue, with Lowry and DeRozan unable to make baskets, we're the least intimidating 2 seed in NBA history.

Tomorrow night is game 7. As a guy who has invested so many hours in this teams, I'm pissed, hurt, disappointed and dismayed. Do I believe we can win this series? Hell no. I hope I'm wrong, but I know stealing this series in seven likely means getting swept in round two. This is not a team built for the playoffs. This is a team built for the regular season.

Our We The North flag continues to hang in the bay window, and we're still hoping the regular season Raps show up Sunday night, but the writing's on the wall. The team needs an enema.

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Forgiving Vince Carter

Tonight, I surprised myself. I was at the Raptors game with the family and when Vince Carter entered the game, I found myself cheering. It was completely spontaneous. I was sincerely happy to see him again.

Less than two years ago I wrote this about Vince Carter. He quit on us, forcing Rob Babcock to make a terrible trade, and I was still pissed. There was no way I was going to forgive Vince for how he left this team.

2016-02-21_06-26-36

But there I was, with my 22-month old on my lap, flanked by my 14-year old and 11-year old, applauding Vince, and all that bitterness dissipated. I remembered the good times, and there were many. I remembered how he put this franchise on the map, the consistent flashes of brilliance and the complete and total Vinsanity that engulfed this city.

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It helps that I recently blew my kids' minds with YouTube videos of his best plays, and that he'll likely retire without a championship. It also helps that this team he abandoned is so damn good now, and to be honest, it helps that I'm older now, with new perspective on sport and life.

2016-02-21_08-03-37

I've forgiven Vince, and it feels good.

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Why Raptors Fans are Showing Restraint

The Toronto Raptors have won 14 of their last 15 games. They're doing it as a team, they're doing it on the road, they're doing it with defense and they're doing it without DeMarre Carroll. But make no mistake, this team is doing it.

Why Raptors Fans are Showing Restraint

The Raps are only 2 games behind the Cavs in the Eastern Conference, and as exciting as it's been, we fans are showing great restraint. This team will be judged by one thing and one thing only, and that's success in the playoffs.

The Raptors have never won a best-of-seven playoff round. Never. This team was built to change that, but proof is in the pudding. Winning one round is essential, but it's going to take at least two to satisfy fans.

It all starts in mid-April. Until then, continue to show restraint.

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Your 2015-16 Toronto Raptors

I watched most of the Leafs vs. Coyotes on Monday night. The sensation was very similar to how I felt after watching The Wire for the first time. It seems the end of the Jays season has me rather bored by mediocre hockey.

I'm hopeful the Raptors will give me something to get jazzed about. I loved their regular season last year, and this year's team is the same core with some good defensive upgrades. I'm willing to bet this year's team can even win a playoff game or two.

The Raps tip off tonight against the Pacers. Here are your 2015 Toronto Raptors:

  • Anthony Bennett - PF
  • Bismack Biyombo - PF/C
  • DeMarre Carroll - SF
  • Bruno Caboclo - PF
  • DeMar DeRozan - SG/SF
  • James Johnson - PF
  • Cory Joseph - PG/SG
  • Kyle Lowry - PG
  • Patrick Patterson - PF
  • Norman Powell - SG
  • Lucas Nogueira - C
  • Terrence Ross - SG/SF
  • Luis Scola - PF/C
  • Jonas Valanciunas - C
  • Delon Wright - G

If you want some more insight into the 2015 Raptors, and a peak behind the Canadian basketball media curtain, listen to my recent chat with Eric Smith.

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8 Cities with Longer Championship Droughts than Toronto

Firstly, this entry is about NHL, NBA, NFL and MLB championships. I realize Toronto has had great success in lacrosse and has won Grey Cups recently, but with all due respect, I'm not counting them as major championships. For Toronto, I'm only counting the Maple Leafs, Blue Jays and Raptors.

That means Toronto hasn't won a championship since 1993. That's a 22 year drought. As bad as that sounds, many cities have it worse.

San Diego

Let's start with San Diego. The Chargers haven't won since 1963, the Padres have never won a World Series, and even their former NBA teams (Rockets and Clippers) didn't win a thing.
52 year drought


Cleveland

I'm rooting heavily for the Cavaliers in this year's NBA championship and they're currently tied 1-1 with the Warriors. The Cavs have never won a title, the Indians haven't won since 1948 and the Browns haven't won since 1964.
51 year drought


Buffalo

Buffalo only has the two teams, but that's enough to count. The Sabres have never won a Stanley Cup and the Bills haven't won since 1965.
50 year drought


Kansas City

Kansas City also only has two teams, but they did have a short-lived NHL and NBA franchise. Neither won a thing. The Chiefs haven't won the Super Bowl since 1970 and the Royals haven't won a World Series since 1985.
30 year drought


Oakland

The Golden State Warriors haven't won since 1975, the Oakland Raiders haven't won since 1983, and the A's haven't won since 1989.
26 year drought


Cincinnati

The Bengals have been consistently brutal throughout the years, never winning a title. Meanwhile, the Reds haven't won a World Series since 1990.
25 year drought


Minneapolis-St. Paul

The Vikings have never won a Super Bowl, the North Stars and Wild have never won a Stanley Cup, the Timberwolves have never won and the Twins haven't won a World Series since 1991.
24 year drought


Washington

The Bullets / Wizards haven't won since 1978, the Capitals have never won, the Nationals have never won and their NFL franchise hasn't won a Super Bowl since 1992.
23 year drought

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The Raptors Need to Win a Round

The Raptors finished the regular season 49-33, easily winning the division. We're the 4th seed in the East, which means we'll face #5 Washington in the first round. For what it's worth, we swept the Wizards in the regular season, beating them three times.

It's rather important the Raptors win a round this season. We've only won one playoff series in franchise history, and that was way back in 2001. A loss in the first round this year could and should mean serious changes are in store for this rather likable squad.

The thing is, it's a tale of two Raptors teams. There's the juggernaut that burst out of the gates 37-17, then there's the Raptors team that underwhelmed down the stretch, going 12-16 since February 20. Heck, we've lost 10 of our last 11 games against opponents above .500. Not so good, Al.

Beat Washington or bust. It all starts Saturday afternoon.

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The Ebb and Flow of Toronto Sports

What a difference a single month can make in Toronto sports. Here's what I wrote way back on December 16, 2014.

I catch every Leafs and Raptors game I can, and lately, it's been pure joy. The Leafs are 9-1-1 since getting hammered by Nashville. The Raptors have been hot all season, now 19-6, good for first place in the Eastern Conference.

Since then, the Leafs have gone in the toilet. They're junk. We've lost seven of our last eight games, and have scored one single goal over the last four games. That's incredible ineptitude.

Meanwhile, the Raptors are on a slide, having lost six of eight. They'll likely bounce back, as they're actually a good team. The Leafs, a bad team, are toast.

I've lived in this city all my life. I'm used to this.

One King West is just one of the many hotels near the acc.

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New Raptors Logo

The Raptors just leaked their new logo. New uniforms and a full colour scheme will be unveiled in the new year.

Here's our first taste:

raps

I'd like to see more before deciding whether I dig it or not. I don't hate this, but it does seem a little close to the Brooklyn Nets' branding.

What do you think?

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It's Time I Jinx Our Teams Again

Of course, I'm kidding with that title. There's no such thing as a jinx. There's nothing I can say or write on this blog that will have any effect on our professional sports teams.

I catch every Leafs and Raptors game I can, and lately, it's been pure joy. The Leafs are 9-1-1 since getting hammered by Nashville. The Raptors have been hot all season, now 19-6, good for first place in the Eastern Conference.

I'm so jazzed about how well my teams are playing, I'm documenting this moment for posterity. Here are your red hot Raptors leading the East.

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 1.51.45 PM

And here are your red hot Leafs, winners of 5 in a row.

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 1.52.33 PM

Good times...

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