NBA Finals, Game 1: Something is Different

After last night, I think it’s clear this is not the same Toronto Raptors team I’ve been watching all my life. The team I grew up watching would’ve crumbled on a stage this big. They would’ve been intimidated by the Golden State Warriors. They would’ve looked out of place and dragged through the mud all over Twitter.

Not this team, though. Not this year.

The Toronto Raptors won Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Excusé moi? We did what?

The Raptors weren’t intimidated. They weren’t scared. Did they pass up some open shots? Yeah. But it wasn’t a glaring issue.

I was oddly calm and confident during the game. Part of that can be attributed to the fact that it didn’t hit me until half time that the Raptors were actually playing in the NBA Finals.

All of this hoopla doesn’t feel real.

It’s like I’m trying to teach my left hand that it’s capable of writing words, but my hand doesn’t want to believe it yet.

At no point during the game did I think the Raptors were in trouble. I was never worried about them coughing up the lead. I don’t know why I didn’t have those thoughts. I always have those thoughts.

As a Toronto sports fan, I am conditioned to look for red flags and sound the alarm. That didn’t happen last night.

The Warriors didn’t have Kevin Durant, and in my mind he’s not playing at all this series. However, they did have Curry, Klay, and Draymond. You can add Iguodala to that list.

Those are winners. The term “they know how to win” sounds ridiculous, right? Because everyone knows “how to win”. You score more points than your opponent, duh.

No. When you’ve won a championship before, you know exactly what it takes to do it. You know the mindset, the effort, the focus – you even know how to control the moment and make it work in your favour.

You can’t underestimate that.

The Raptors never win Game 1. The Warriors never lose Game 1.

And yet, I’m sitting on my couch watching this Raptors team cruise to a victory, in a pretty close game, and not worried about them blowing the lead.

What is wrong with me? Who am I? Do I need a system reboot?

Hello, my name is Paul 2.0. Can someone please help me through my start-up procedures? Be sure to select English when you get to the language part. Merci Beaucoup.

Seriously though, I’m not scared of the Warriors. Maybe I should be, but I’m not.

This series is far from over, I’m aware of that. But tonight’s win proved that the Raptors can beat this team. They needed this win. Losing home court advantage right out of the gate would’ve been deflating.

I’m not worried about Kawhi, even though the Warriors did a good job of containing him. He’s Kawhi Leonard. I don’t worry about superstars; they find a way, even if his leg is giving him problems.

Pascal Siakam had a big night and I’m happy for him, but this just means the Warriors will watch a lot of film and figure out how to stop him. Fortunately, without Durant, they don’t really have anyone with length who can disrupt him like Giannis did in the Bucks series.

Draymond Green is an elite defender, so maybe he figures out how to guard Siakam, but it won’t be with his smothering length.

Another reason I’m not scared of the Warriors is because of how much veteran leadership the Raptors have. This is a smart team. I’ll take a smart team over a skilled team any day of the week.

Granted, the Warriors are smart too. Dang it, can I just compliment the Raptors without forcing myself to say the Warriors hold the exact same attributes?

Both teams are great. There. Happy?

Bonjour, Je m’appelle Paul 3.0. Ou est le pamplemousse?

The playoffs are all about adjustments. In past years, it never felt like the Raptors adjusted after wins. They just came back with the same gameplan and were steamrolled because the other team figured out how to stop them.

All season, Head Coach Nick Nurse has been talking about how there are a million (or maybe he says thousands, I don’t recall) ways to win a basketball game and you just have to keep searching for the one that will work in the current game.

I love that. It forces you to be one step ahead. It forces you to change the question just as your opponent finds the answer.

The Raptors get OG Anunoby back for Game 2, which will be awesome because he’s had such a rough year, personally. I don’t know how much he’ll contribute after having not played in over a month, but his presence on the floor will be a welcome sight.

Last year, as a rookie, he was the one this team turned to to guard LeBron James. And he didn’t look scared at all. That says a lot.

I think the timing is right for this team. Everything has lead to this. The history of this organization has been put to bed.

All the former players that the fans booed out of the building whenever they returned, are now welcomed with cheers. We’ve grown to appreciate them.

As a fan base, we always wanted recognition from the US media. Hey, look at us! Hey, put us on national TV on Thursdays! Hey, stop giving us playoff games at noon! Hey, look at how good our team is! Hey, give us validation!

I don’t think we’re doing that anymore. Yeah, it’s still cool when they talk about us on PTI or Inside The NBA or even First Take, but now it’s more like, “Of course they’re talking about us” rather than, “Why won’t they acknowledge us?”

We’re no longer unsure of what we have. We know what we have. And what we have is a team that is three wins away from winning a championship and hosting a parade.

I’m aware this moment may be fleeting and the next four games could go the other way, but something is different. You can’t put it into words, you just feel it within.

Something is different.

Here’s hoping this different continues.


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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15 Responses to NBA Finals, Game 1: Something is Different

  1. The Lit Biwi says:

    Oooooh I felt that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. cd says:

    This is our year Paul, this is our year

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Such an electric game last night ! Raps making history 🎉🦖🏀🦖

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The sun was in our eyes. Yeah, that’s it…THE SUN WAS IN OUR EYES! Not to mention the Raptors were in our face—ALL NIGHT! Especially around the 3 point perimeter. You know, I could have sworn (but I won’t because this is a family blog dear Canadian (almost) identical twin brother) that I saw Raptors pitching tents out there—no wonder our guys had problems sinking three-pointers! Do Raptors even pitch tents? “Paging Dr. Alan Grant, paging Dr. Grant” —or Sam Neill. And what about all our injuries? There’s Durant, Bogut, and … and … Durant! And let’s not forget how Iguodala was limping around at the end of the game—I’m sure I won’t, but then, I’m an elephant. And, and, and, and Cousins standing around (looking like he was lost on a basketball court), in the middle of the passing lanes no less! Like a deer in the headlights—think Milwaukee. Or, or how protecting the basketball looked like a completely foreign concept to the Warriors. But, there’ll be no sour grapes coming from this corner, no sir—only ’cause I haven’t gone to the produce market yet. We’ll get you guys in game two… or maybe three… possibly in game four. “Just you wait till next year, Paul!” That was in case we might have to. But we won’t… ’cause we have to come back you see ’cause we’re the world champions—well that, and uh, our flight doesn’t head back to the Bay Area till Sunday night so we’re kind of stuck up here in the north until then. “But just you try and stop us (in case the TSA doesn’t) because we know how to talk tough even if we’re not the Warrior players—well, Per ‘Se. But we’re still their fans and we take no prisoners—’cause Alcatraz is closed! See ya Sunday, Toronto—how’s that for trash talking, huh? I mean… trash writing. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Can’t believe I forgot to reply to this, sorry! Ah there I go again being Canadian again, apologizing all the time. Sorry about that. AH! I’ve said it a million times but your comments are always incredible and always give me such a laugh! Your level of wit inspires me. I’m sorry the Raptors are winning the series and are making you suffer (is this accurate?), but there’s always next year as you said! OR there’s always 3 of the last 4 years that you can look back on. So, there are options is what I’m saying haha


      • Sorry? Sorry? No you’re not! You’re reveling in my pain while entertaining thoughts of Raptor glory not seen or heard since, since, since Jurassic Park! And I know this, because I can read your mind (you forget I learned how to read Canadian with the help of Rosetta Stone), and because I also happen to be your almost Canadian identical twin brother on our mother’s cousin’s nephew’s adopted sister’s aunt’s half-brother’s father’s moose’s side (from Nova Scotia), twice removed. Oh family, what a mouthful! I also want you to know that it hurt to write all of that, thus, further adding to my pain from the Warriors getting mauled by your Raptors in game three. Now Paul, you may think that I am possibly freaking out about our Warriors losing the title of World Champions to the only team in Canada (especially so after reading this response), but nothing could be further from the truth—except for perhaps this lie I am about to tell—that I’m worried that we Warrior fans may not get a World Championship ring … Yet AGAIN! That’s right. See, you would think that we Warrior fans would have gotten some of that bling after beating the Cavaliers 3 of the last 4 times, but … nooo! After all, we did yell our lungs out and cheer our heads off in support of our team, the physical pain of which was excruciating. I mean, you try going without a pair of lungs or a head for an entire off-season and see how you like it? Still, we Warrior fans have no rings to show for all of it, so as you can see, we need this world title MUCH more than you guys because we may not get many more chances to get (knock off plastic replica World Championship) rings if you guys beat us this time around. Especially if we lose Durant—like we haven’t already! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  5. bballscholar says:

    Good post man. Toronto looked real good in game 1. And also I’m following the finals on my website as well👍🏽

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sarah Warsi says:

    Excellent post and I couldn’t agree more! These are the Raptors revolutionized! Now if they can pull off a win in GSW’s home turf – oh man! That in and of itself will be something to remember.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      Absolutely! And with the Warriors dealing with a bunch of injuries, the Raptors need to take advantage of it and steal one of the next two games. It’s gonna be nervewrecking!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sarah Warsi says:

        Wow, I just looked back at my comment from several days ago and who would have thought that that exact scenario would come true?! haha crazy!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        Haha crazy! At the time, each game felt like it could go either way. But looking back, the Warriors had so many outside issues to deal with whereas the Raptors had their compass pointed north (pun semi-intended) the whole time. And I always find that it’s the teams who have every going right for them, who are the ones who end up winning in the end.

        Liked by 1 person

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