Game 7

I woke up it’s Game 7, I’ll wait until 11, just to see if the Raptors have won. I think they got a lot of hope, but I never know for sure, what’s another year full of nope, when you’re spending every day on a tightrope? And here it goes…I’m just a fan and Philly’s a nightmare. I’m just a fan and the refs are just not fair. Nobody cares ’cause we’re alone in the North and the basketball world is staring at us…tonight.

Thank you, Simple Plan, for providing lyrics to “I’m Just A Kid” that can be easily replaced with other words.

The Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers are playing Game 7 of their second round series tonight. That sentence was also uttered eighteen years ago, when Vince Carter and Allen Iverson were the stars of their respective teams.

If you’re a Raptors fan, you’ll know that was the game where Vince Carter decided to attend his college graduation in the morning, before boarding a private plane to Philadelphia and missing a fadeaway jump shot at the buzzer, which would’ve sent the Raptors on to the Eastern Conference Final to face the Milwaukee Bucks.

The winner of tonight’s game goes on to face the Milwaukee Bucks.

You cannot script this any better.

For the last 18 years, people have been mad at Carter for prioritizing his graduation over focussing on Game 7. They say that if Carter had skipped his graduation and gotten his diploma in the mail, the Raptors would’ve won that game.

Personally, I don’t know that. How do we know they would’ve won? Sports fans like to look at variables on paper and play God, and pretend that if x happened, then y would happen.

You can’t do that. The Boston Celtics added two really good players to a team that won 11 playoff games last year. This year, they won five.

But ohhh, on paper, they should be better! Yeah, and Ferrari should’ve won three races by now. Sports are weird, just accept the unpredictably of it.

The Raptors lost Game 7 in 2001 by one point.

Carter played all 48 minutes, scored 20 points, had 9 assists, shot 33%, and had 0 turnovers.

Iverson played all 48 minutes, scored 21 points, had 16 assists, shot 30%, and had 4 turnovers.

I don’t know if those statistics tell us anything, other than Iverson had a worse shooting night than Carter, and he didn’t have to attend a graduation ceremony in the morning.

All I’m saying is, you can make the assumption that Carter would’ve played better had he stayed with the team all day, but you don’t know for a fact that he actually would.

Heck, if his shot at the buzzer was two inches shorter, it goes right through the basket and no one even remembers that he attended his graduation.

But because it’s the dramatic shot at the end of the game – an all or nothing shot – it’s an easy replay to show for all of eternity, as a reminder that the guy who took the shot, had to sit through a bunch of boring speeches before walking across a stage, that morning.

That Game 7 loss has never stung me the way it has other fans. They lost by one, despite shooting better percentages than the 76ers all across the board.

That’s sports. It happens.

If they had lost by 20, yeah I’d be angrier about Carter’s decision. But it was one point. Make a free throw, or something.

Anyway, that brings us to tonight.

I’ve been calm during this entire playoff run. Strangely calm. I think having a superstar like Kawhi Leonard on the team has greatly mitigated my urge to panic.

That being said, this has been a weird series.

Games 2 and 4 were decided by 5 points. The other four games have been blowouts.

I don’t know what kind of game we’re getting tonight, but it being in Toronto is good news. Everyone in that crowd better go home without a voice. There’s no time to be silent. There’s no time to let out a sombre “Awww” when the 76ers make a big shot. There’s no time to let their minds go to, “We might lose.”

To steal a curling phrase, the crowd needs to get on the brushes early and sweep the rock into the house.

It’ll be hard because a Toronto crowd is programmed to look for any sign of trouble and allow it to overcome them. They’re a bunch of realists, to a fault.

The Raptors have had no bench in this series.

Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell have not shown up on the radar tracking system. I don’t know if it’s a glitch, or if we’ve stumbled into the Bermuda Triangle, but they have yet to make an impact.

If they don’t show up in Game 7, Nick Nurse needs to run a six-man rotation wherein Kawhi Leonard plays 60 minutes. I don’t care that the game is only 48 minutes, put him out there for 60. That’s how urgent this is.

That being said, I don’t expect VanVleet or Powell to play more than 3 minutes, unless they show they’ve escaped the Bermuda Triangle.

I don’t know what to expect from Philadelphia. Is Joel Embiid going to be sick again, or is he going to be flying around like an airplane?

Ben Simmons can’t shoot the ball, I don’t care that he had a good Game 6.

Jimmy Butler is good for at least 25 points tonight. I’ll concede to that.

J.J. Redick needs to be contained. If not, Danny Green needs to match him with three pointers.

Tobias Harris is shooting 37% in this series. Go right ahead.

The Raptors need to get Embiid in early foul trouble. Two fouls in the first four minutes. Attack him. Go. Do it.

Once he’s out the game, you attack the rim. When the 76ers counter that by clogging the paint, you kick the ball out for open three-pointers.

But I know that the Raptors know this. I know the 76ers know the Raptors know this. I know the Raptors know that the 76ers know that they know this.

There are no surprises in the playoffs. It’s all about execution, effort, and endurance.

The Raptors have Kawhi Leonard. Use him. This is not the game for resting him on the bench for three minutes at the start of the 2nd and 4th quarters.

If Kawhi is on the bench to start the 4th quarter, someone check on my health and well-being. Please.

This is a big game.

If the Raptors lose, it might mean Kawhi is gone.

If he decides to leave, I’ll accept it. My only request is that we execute a sign-and-trade, where he gets sent to the Clippers and the Raptors get back, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (to be the point guard of the future), two first round picks, and anything else we can pry loose from them.

Remember that last paragraph because there’s a 50% chance it happens. It either does, or it doesn’t. Boom, math. 50%.

Then the team gets built around SGA, Anunoby, and Siakam, which isn’t a terrible starting point.

Just like in 2001, the result of this Game 7 will greatly impact the future of the Toronto Raptors. My only hope is that 18 years from now these two teams will meet again in the second round, and force a Game 7 where the winner faces the Milwaukee Bucks.

It would be a great tradition to have.

But, for today, there is no tomorrow.

Game 7.

Somebody hold me.

About Paul

I think of my blog as an all-you-can-read buffet. There's something for everyone and complimentary mints at the door as you leave.
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12 Responses to Game 7

  1. Okies, as I always do, I made a solid effort to read your sports post! A SOLID EFFORT! I got all the way through until you said something about curling, see I’m getting better!!

    After reading the first half though, I think if Carter had missed his graduation, he probably would have played worse. He would have been upset. I don’t know him personally, but I think if he was forced to miss it, his head wouldn’t have been in the game.

    Good luck with the game tonight!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dutch Lion says:

    I’ll be watching and thinking of you Paul. Have fun and enjoy it!

    Liked by 1 person

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