I’ve been told “listicles” are all the rage. It’s those “articles” that don’t have to follow any coherent structure and can be a list of thoughts contrived on the spot. I assume this follows the general trend of this world where efficiency is optimized over quality. They also tell me that it’s content that is more consumable to the reader whose attention is dedicated entirely to swiping down on the notifications bar just to check if a notification came in that they weren’t notified about. So here’s to you whoever you are. Hopefully you can make it to the end of it. If you don’t, well, I don’t blame you.
- I bet you all those who complained about Kyle Lowry scoring 0 points in Game 1 of the Magic series while making $30 million plus are eating crow now. I never had a problem with the money Lowry or any other player made. The idea of complaining about a player in terms of how much they make and what they produce always felt contrived. Somebody deemed they were worth that at some point and they accepted the offer just like anyone would. They never committed to producing at a specified level. It’s a gamble and we have to be comfortable with it and instead focus on where the enjoyment of basketball is, and that’s the actual game.
- Serge Ibaka needs to be getting more press. Considering the miserable playoffs he had last year, the guy has come a long way to make amends. He is finishing near the rim, grabbing huge rebounds, and his jump-hook which often hit front-rim is swishing even from the baseline angles. Rightfully Norman Powell is getting a lot of credit but I feel Ibaka needs more love. The man has been awesome all season and all through the playoffs.
- I feel if there’s someone that can annoy the living hell out of Steph Curry it’s Kyle Lowry. Curry can get petulant and if Lowry pushes the right buttons without getting into foul trouble he can get inside Curry’s head. Taking a sliver out of Patrick Beverley’s playbook may be in order for the Raptors. And don’t we have our own Beverley in Patrick McCaw?
- It’s sad that TNT won’t be covering the Finals, and it’s probably because TNT isn’t as widely available as ABC in the States, which is a shame. Instead we have to live with ESPN’s cringeworthy coverage which is a significant downgrade to what was on offer at the East Finals. I think part of the reason why the TNT team is good is because they’re self-deprecating and realize that they don’t know it all, which fans appreciate.
- How often do rent-a-player trades actually work? In the Raptors case not one but two! I can now laugh at the other supposedly “game-changing” moves the Raptors made in the past and how poorly they turned out. Jermaine O’Neal, Hedo Turkoglu…oh God! O’Neal and Bosh were supposed to be the “twin towers” of the East if you can believe it.
- Somewhere Tim Leiweke is smiling. He is the one who came in and saw the shit show that Bryan Colangelo was running and in an instant recognized that he had to go. Him convincing Masai Ujiri to come back, bringing the All-Star game to Toronto were just two of the key steps made to bringing Toronto back to respectability. Give the man a statue.
- Tickets starting at $1100 for the upper deck is highway robbery. We are pricing out 95% of people who have loved this team and putting an immense amount of pressure on people’s wallets. I’m waiting for the day where some billionaire subsidizes the entire upper deck so people can get tickets for $50 again. It’ll never happen, but one can dream.
- I feel Pascal Siakam v Draymond Green can be a matchup that can work in our favor. Siakam will be breathing a sigh of relief because he won’t have Giannis coming out of nowhere to block pretty much every other shot he took. Green’s a great defensive player but Siakam has a better chance of getting his unorthodox shots off against him. Siakam also doesn’t seem to get affected by trash talk which can frustrate Green if he’s spending time bullshitting out ther without seeing results.
- Sticking with Siakam, his head-fake after picking up the dribble worked perhaps once during the entire Milwaukee series. He has to know that teams will not bite on his first shot after the spin and that it may be in his benefit to actually shoot at that point, just so his head-fake can mean something again.
- I am fully convinced that the Raptors going through a grind against Philadelphia helped them against Milwaukee. The Bucks had never quite felt real pressure for a prolonged period of time and once they faced it, they had no idea how to handle it. Adversity breeds character and we should thank Philly for a good fight.
- If this is the highest point in Raptors history then this game was the lowest:
Yup, that’s the one where Glen Grunwald made that speech. I always go back to that clip to remember how far we’ve come.
- If you’re going to the game and are bleeding on money, save yourself a few dollars by having your pre-drinks at Wvrst and swinging by the McDonalds at Union. You can sneak in a bunch of Junior Chickens to enjoy during the game. It’s tried and tested. Or you could pay $16/beer at the ACC. I’m just trying to help you out.
- The argument made by Seth Curry that the Warriors without Kevin Durant pose a perhaps more difficult challenge was laughed at but there is at least a point in the argument. There is an opportunity cost to every Durant-iso and if it’s higher than what Durant gives you then it works in the opposition’s favor. This argument would carry a lot more weight if Durant was a selfish player with tunnel-vision. From a Raptors perspective, not having to worry about him would be huge. I would approach the challenge similar to Giannis – single coverage because we have the best defender in the series.
- At what point will they expand the scope of the MVP award to include the playoffs? It sounds silly that we’re basing the league’s highest individual achievement on 82 games that everybody considers as practice. Why are we holding on to this idea that the regular season matters even a little bit? I’m hoping that Load Management catches on so the NBA is forced to seriously look at how to increase the regular season’s value. Hint: make it short, one team plays another just twice. Introduce secondary competition.
- The Raptors are the second best defensive team in the post-season after Milwaukee. The Warriors are eighth. The Warriors are the best offensive team and the Raptors are ninth. What does this tell you? Nothing. I figured I include some stats to make this post look a little more legit. Is this a case of a great offense meeting a great defense? Partially, but it’s much more about whether the great defense can generate enough easy offense.
- I love how Kawhi Leonard doesn’t smile. Vince Carter smiling while losing is imprinted on my brain and I’ve never been able to shake it. That was one quality of Carter that was unforgivable and Leonard is the polar opposite. Everything on the court is serious as it should be.
- I find Drake annoying. Too much attention being drawn to him rather than the game and team. The constant cuts during the game to catch his reaction to things is making it harder to watch. Luckily, this only happens on Sportsnet/TSN as TNT didn’t seem to care much. Knowing ESPN though, he’ll get 50% of all screen time and maybe even interviews.
- The Warriors against the Blazers were operating at peak potential. The Raptors against the Bucks were at 70%. That fills me with hope because if we click the way we’ve been clicking at some points during the regular season we will be difficult to beat. Getting Danny Green to fire again and Siakam to score the way he did before are the two key factors (I’m assuming Fred is back for good).
- Pump fakes and head fakes. The Raptors have to be better at guarding against those and can’t leave their feet. If they do the possession is over because instead of Nikola Mirotic and Brook Lopez, they’ll have Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala draining those threes. As a rule in Games 1 and 2, the Raptors should close-out instead of challenge and see how far that gets you.
- In soccer there’s a saying that “2-0 is the most dangerous lead” because of the complacency that can kick in when going up big. I was trying to think of an equivalent in basketball and landed on “18 points is the most dangerous lead”. It’s a number which makes you feel that this game is headed to a blowout, but considering the prevalence of threes and the generally higher pace, it can whittle down to 10 in 30 seconds. I’m not exaggerating that the only time I feel comfortable now is when the coach waves the white flag by emptying the bench.
- The NBA Finals feels like found money. Everyone’s pre-season goal was to get to the Finals and cross a threshold we hadn’t crossed before. That’s been achieved and I have no idea if that makes the team feel looser. Maybe the Raptors now feel how an 8th seed whose goal was to make the playoffs feels going up against the top seed in the conference? Kind of like how the Magic were against us in Game 1. I hope the nerves are calm and the muscles loose.
- One area of concern will be offensive rebounding. The Warriors are third-best in the post-season in collecting them. The Raptors are seventh in taking care of the defensive glass. This doesn’t bode well, especially if the defense is out of sorts by giving up dribble penetration on those pump fakes mentioned earlier. Milwaukee was able to stay in a lot of games on account of this and if the same opportunity is given to the Warriors, they’ll blow us out. There’s no chance of this playing out the other way as the Raptors are third-worst in getting offensive rebounds. Long story short: pay attention to the defensive glass and limit the Warriors to one possession.
- I kind of want DeMarcus Cousins to play so he has a chance to implode. I pray that he’s the ticking time bomb that throws everything off. It’s a long shot and unlikely that he’ll be that detrimental, but it would certainly help reduce the pace of the game so it’s aligned with our desired levels.
- I’ve always been fundamentally against the Raptors playing isolation basketball. Until this year. It’s the first time in our history (even with Vince) where I’m completely fine if Kawhi is iso’ing and loosely using a high screen, because I know the isolation will not sacrifice the quality of the look we’ll end up getting. The only other time that was sort of true (only because I didn’t care) was when we had terrible teams but above-average offensive players and there was nothing on the line, e.g., Mike James, Voshon Lenard.
- Man, what is up with this “Uncle Dennis” character. He’s like Deep Throat around here, where his word is almost twice as important as Kawhi’s own. Somebody give this guy the keys of the city and name a street after him. I almost feel that instead of the #KawineAndDine campaign we needed a #GiveUncleDennisFreeShit campaign.
Did you enjoy this listicle format? I thought it was a cop-out but I’m also old and may not know what’s going on.