On New Year's Eve, I was at a party with my slo-pitch teammates. At the time, I wouldn't miss a Leafs game, but hadn't really paid attention to the Raptors since their hot streak after acquiring Rudy Gay last season. My friend Mike Kic convinced me to give the Raptors another shot, explaining that they're playing as a team following the trade of Rudy Gay to Sacramento.
The first game I watched was on New Year's Day, a 95-82 win over a very good Indiana team. Then there was a blowout win in Washington followed by a very close loss in Miami against the defending champs. Kic was right. This Raptors team was different.
With Bargnani gone, no player on this team makes my blood boil. With Gay gone, the sum is greater than the parts. Kyle Lowry is playing amazing, unselfish ball, and the end result is a team that's very easy to like.
Last week, in Brooklyn, the Raps won with a late steal and selfless pass from Lowry to Patterson. I don't think I'd ever seen the Raps win like that. On Friday night, I watched them win convincingly in Denver, and they battled back from a 19-point deficit to nearly pull off their first win ever in Portland. This team is good!
The starting five of DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Amir Johnson, Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas have won me over, and suddenly the Raps have a deep and solid bench.
The Jays tried to force the hastag #LoveThisTeam on fans, but it's the Raptors who deserve it. Kic was right, I love this team!