You can make a case that this series was over at the end of regulation in Game 1 when we missed three chances to win it at the buzzer. For the fragile Raptors, the emotions of blowing it served as the backdrop to an OT period where Cleveland took control, fully knowing they had gotten a reprieve after playing poorly. Game 2 was merely a scaled up continuation of the OT period. This culminated in the all-too-predictable lineup change for Game 3 – like those ever made a difference, Ibaka was brought back in at 5:52 of the first when the team down 10. And here we are facing a sweep.
As a Raptors supporter you’d be forgiven if you skip out on Game 4. No team has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit, and dropping the first two games at home makes the chances of overcoming that historical fun fact close to zero. Sprinkle in a little bit of LeBron James historical dominance of the Raps and Vegas would rather take odds on Voyager 1 finding alien life. So what does Game 4 mean? There’s a few ways you can look at it:
Pissing off Cleveland fans
There’s something about denying a baying crowd the pleasure of a sweep that is motivating to the players and the fans. No doubt we’ll find at least one guy with a broom and it would be nice to think about him taking the subway with that broom jamming train doors, hitting old ladies, and causing mild annoyance to everyone around him. Schadenfreude is delicious and we should have any of it we can get it, even if it’s petty.
Memory recollection powers of a sweep
Player psychology and mental health is important, and there must be be some long-term effects between “getting your ass swept” and “losing in a short series”. I get it, you get your ass kicked in both, but one has to have a somewhat easier path to rehabilitation than the other. Just look at the Washington series from three years ago – people still bring that up like it was yesterday and throw it in our faces. I say losing in five is slightly more forgettable than getting swept and we need to do everything in our power to erase this shit from our memory Men in Black style.
“That’s pride f***king with you”
I’m not sure how much pride is recovered by losing the series in 4 versus 5 games, given the Raptors are the top seed. Will Dwane Casey feel an iota more or redemption if he loses in 5 or 6 instead of 4? I say probably yes because, technically speaking, we’d have “accomplished” more than last season where we got swept so again, technically, this would be a “step up”. I know, it’s weird mental math and consolatory thinking but that’s how a lot of the world works – we convince ourselves we’re something we’re not, so if it gives the Raptors a mental boost, I say why not extend this baby and pretend we’re hot shit?
Rip the bandaid off
In the old days when they wanted to torture a guy, they used to hang him upside down, spread his legs, and then slowly saw him down the middle starting at the groin. It was a prolonged death, likely very painful where the subject would probably beg for death if it weren’t for the curdled blood jamming up his vocal cords. The Raptors aren’t even in close to such a predicament, but there’s a lot to be said about a quick death. As long as it happens in a humane format like a 5 point loss instead of the upside-down thing.
It’s another home game for MLSE! A few million in gate receipts and $18 beers never hurt a corporation, and all that is “free” money because you’re not paying the players anything extra beyond their contract. Another bright side of Game 5 is the suffering of those people/scalpers who hogged all the tickets hoping to sell it at a premium. They’ll probably still have to buy them but won’t even be able to sell it for face value. I really hate scalpers and the ticketing websites like StubHub etc. – someone should do something about it. Maybe that’s something Doug Ford can use to endear people.
More chances to play the Raptors drinking game
Game 4 represents a fantastic chance to try out a drinking game that I’ve been experimenting with and one that I’d like some feedback on. It’s quite simple: take a shot every time Devlin refers to a Raptor by their first name only.
I’m going to be catching Game 4 the next day since my league game is at the same time, so Will’s got the post-game podcast. I’ll talk to you after Game 5.