Series Over

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

The improbable dream came to an end on Thursday night as the Toronto Raptors lost Game 6 to the Philadelphia 76ers and were eliminated from the NBA Playoffs.

To be honest, there should have been a Game 7. Toronto was the better team in three of the six games, but they let Game 3 slip away at the very end. How Game 7 would’ve gone, I have no idea. Actually, Joel Embiid probably wouldn’t have been available.

Oh well, I’m not going down that rabbit hole.

Game 6 started with scoring sprees from both teams. It felt like no one could miss a shot. It was fun, it was exciting, but ultimately, it told me that the 76ers were “back” after sleepwalking through Game 5, which probably meant trouble for the Raptors.

The Raptors can’t sustain that pace. Eventually, they’re going to have their usual 3-4 minute scoring drought that they’ve been unable to shake all year.

That’s why they were so dominant in Game 5. They controlled the clock in their half-court sets and – Nick Nurse even mentioned it after the game – seemingly scored with only a couple seconds left on the shot clock numerous times.

Drain the clock and don’t let the 76ers get any momentum from a fast break. Winning combination.

They couldn’t stop the 76ers in Game 6. It was like Philly came in here and wanted to show us their greatest hits.

All that being said, the Raptors were only trailing by one point at half time and had only played OG Anunoby for eight minutes due to foul trouble. That’s not bad.

The third quarter was atrocious, though. It was probably one of the worst quarters of Raptors basketball I’ve ever seen.

The 76ers couldn’t miss a shot. The Raptors weren’t defending.

The Raptors then tried to get it all back by taking three-pointers, which we had shot poorly all series.

I’ve said it before: without Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent is our only pure three-point shooter. Yes, everyone else in our rotation can shoot the three, but when we’re down by double digits and Barnes, Anunoby, Siakam, and Boucher are forcing up shots from deep, we’re in trouble.

If they’re out there, who is rebounding? No one.

They aren’t Tyrese Maxey, or Danny Green, who combined for 9 threes. The Raptors, as a team, made 7.

I’m getting carried away. This game didn’t come down to three-point shooting.

Philadelphia outscored us by 34 in the second half and put this series to bed.

I didn’t really like the fact that Joel Embiid was doing the airplane down the court and poking fun (mocking?) at our crowd. The whole airplane thing goes back to 2019 when he did it in our playoff series when he thought his team was flying high, but then they lost the series, so Raptors fans have been doing it to mock him ever since.

So, this was him throwing it back in our faces?

Embiid is a great player, but he doesn’t need to do that. Be a silent killer. Crush our hopes and dreams and go home. You don’t need to do the airplane, of all things.

I just think he gets caught up in too many side shows and is susceptible to distractions.

I don’t think Embiid realizes he’s doing his opponent a favour by getting into it with the referees, playing games with the opposing crowd, or revealing too many of his inner thoughts at press conferences.

Joel, you are a freight train who plays basketball. Be that freight train on the floor, 100% of the time, and don’t slow down to look at the trees you’re passing. Don’t even whistle at them. You’ll win a championship.

A bit of a side note, that will eventually weave back into what I’m talking about:

To me, the Minnesota Timberwolves are Exhibit A of how not to behave on a basketball court when you get a lead and are feeling confident. Don’t release your emotions by playing to the crowd, or acting like you’ve accomplished anything when there is still a ton of time on the clock.

They are the hare in The Tortoise and the Hare.

When I’m watching NBA games, I watch for the teams that have a lead and go back to their huddle with their game faces on. Those are the teams that will go far.

Also, I look for the teams that are demonstrative and actively engaging the fans when they have a lead, but with a lot of time left in the game. I don’t trust those teams. I don’t want players coming out of their “bubble of focus” before the job is done.

They may get away with it at times, but I’ve been watching the NBA long enough to notice a pattern. The team that celebrates first, probably celebrated too soon. Trust me, watch for it. Body language predicts the future, I’m telling you.

Remember when the 76ers were talking about a sweep after Game 3? Exactly. They celebrated too soon. They got away with it, but this series had no business getting to a Game 6. It’s a Round 1 matchup. Put us away quickly and get rest.

Didn’t do it.

As for the Raptors, I’m just proud of them. For years, they have been such a joy to watch. I truly mean that. As a fan, you genuinely feel good after watching every game. They are easy to root for and don’t lay down for anyone. You always see their effort.

I’m disappointed they didn’t force a Game 7. It would’ve been one of the greatest sports scenes to ever exist. Oh well. I hope they turned some heads, anyway.

I’m going to end this here. I know it’s abrupt. I have more to say about the team and the off-season ahead, but I think it’s best if I do that in other posts.

Oh, one more thing.

May we never relive that 3rd Quarter From Hell ever again. I think I called a timeout from my couch every 10 seconds. It was truly traumatizing.

The series is over. The season is over.

It won’t end in a championship, but it will end with hope for the future.

And that’s something.

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3 Responses to Series Over

  1. I’m sorry that your team is out! I hope they get farther next year. Will you cheer for another team for the rest of the playoffs? You must be happy that NHL playoffs start as well!

    Liked by 1 person

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