Single-elimination playoffs means that the 905 had only one chance to beat the team that had defeated them 3 times. This was the matchup that worried me the most.
The NBA G League have announced the upcoming playoff schedule, and because the Raptors 905 finished the regular season with the best record in the Eastern Conference (and the entire G League) they have earned a bye that will allow them to bypass the first round.
Having clinched a playoff spot, sitting at the top of the East with a league-best, and playing an eliminated team, the Raptors 905 had every reason to take it easy. They didn't.
Both the Hawks and the 905 play an incredibly fast-paced game, but it was the 905 who were in control of the tempo from early on all the way to the end of the game. Even up by 16, when the College Park stole the ball from Breein Tyree on a straight lane drive, Tyree was already back under the opposing net before the Skyhawks could even dribble across centre court on a fast-break.
*Lets out long, exasperated sigh* It wouldn't be the Raptors or Raptors-adjacent if they didn't beat their biggest opponent one game, and then lose to a team they've already beaten twice this season the following game. After an important win over the Delaware Blue Coats on Saturday, the Raptors 905 fell to the Westchester Knicks Wednesday night. Well, "fell" is objective in this instance, as the Knicks had the 905 scrambling from the beginning tip. Westchester lead by as many as 28 points, and every time the Raptors would cut it to, or close to, single digits, the Knicks would go on another run. Outside shooting for Westchester was handled primarily by assignee Miles McBride, who appeared to hit or assist on a 3 every time he touched the ball, finishing with 23 points and 9 assists. On the inside it was former 905er, Dewan Hernandez who used his 6'11, 235 lb frame to muscle his way to the rim on every rebound or bounce pass. Despite out-rebounding the Knicks 50 to 40, the Raptors 905 just couldn't find their rhythm, and it cost them a game that should have been an easy win.
It's very hard to beat the same team twice in a row, and even harder to completely blow them out of the water in back to back games. Basketball players, by nature, are ultra competitive. It is almost guaranteed that the opposing team, embarrassed after being utterly destroyed, will come back stronger and play harder with a chip the size of a boulder on their collective shoulder, ready to prove that they are not the result of their last game. The winning team, especially a team as young as the 905, may come out the next game still riding the high of the blow-out, with an ego bigger than their point differential. Easy mistakes or diverting from the plan may seem like not a big deal since the result the night prior was so promising. The complacency of the winners could very well meet the mercilessness of the losers, turning the tables and flipping the game on its head.