Seven straight playoff losses for the Toronto Raptors is the true definition of insanity. Doing the same thing and expecting different results messes with the Raptors mind. Kyle Lowry stinks this time of year and DeMar DeRozan isn’t any better. This was supposed to be the year the two Raptors guards would fling their playoff demons behind them, but it was the same story as usual which means the ending is a bore because we can figure it out an hour before the final seconds tick off. The Raptors have lost in the first round for two straight years. And the beat goes on.
When Paul George took over the third quarter like all star players will do in a playoff game, that is why they are stars, the Raptors lost whatever small confidence and swag they had. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan didn’t do anything from a strategic standpoint, a leadership standpoint or an emotional standpoint, to wrestle the game out of Paul George’s hands.
There is a growing feeling that the two guards for the Toronto Raptors are great regular season players but don’t ratchet up their game and mental will when the pressure is the greatest. Neither Lowry nor DeRozan took it upon themselves to say to the rest of the crew, “I will lead us through this. Trust me. I got you.”
All the Toronto coming up short again chatter takes away from Paul George’s brilliance in the second half when he scored 27 points and was unstoppable. That is what happens with gifted players in the playoffs. They don’t care that they are on the road and George has added incentive. This time last year, the Pacers were out the playoffs and George was still trying to get his leg right. 100% healed, he admitted he had some good days while he was rehabbing and some bad days but he “loves the results.”
“The injury made me work hard. I am where I want to be. [Last year] the biggest burden was not being able to get this group to the playoffs. It means a lot to be back here, to be on this stage again.”
He refused to take credit for the woes of DeMar DeRozan. He attributed it to one of those bad games when a good player misses shots. He also didn’t see the need to get all happy about the victory. “This is a good team.”
The Paul George who dismantled the Raptors was a near facsimile Paul George who went up against LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Finals. This year, his team was totally reworked in order to make them faster. They really aren’t. But all George needed in game one was consistency from his supporting cast and he got it from Monta Ellis who scored 15 points. Rookie Myles Turner added 10 points and 5 blocks. but don’t get it twisted, George still is the straw who stirs the drink.
“I had to be smart. I know it’s going to be hard to score. It’s going to come down to me making big shots. I slowed the game down and let everything develop. I slowed my dribble. Made the right plays. I have to keep watching film and have a different approach because shots have to be there. I love being the option and go to guy. It’s on me to make the right reads.”
Dwayne Casey thought his team was tight on the offensive end which impacted their defensive play. He basically said they played scared. And then in the same breath he brushed aside all the talk about what happens to teams when they lose the first game of a series, too bitter after a loss to acknowledge teams that lose the first game of a series usually lose the series. He thought the Raptors missed easy shots, shots they usually make. What he didn’t mention is that Monday’s game is the most important game of the season. The pressure will be a thundercloud of bricks waiting to fall and crush the Raptors into midgets if they don’t find a way to gut out a win.
All of a sudden, irony is the elephant in the room. A team that doesn’t perform well under pressure is going to have to find a way to perform under pressure.
“When they got baskets it was hard for us to get in transition. We didn’t play well. We got looks that we like. Looks that we know we can make. We weren’t tentative. We just missed a lot of open shots. This is not last year.” (Kyle Lowry)
“We turned the ball over. We didn’t give ourselves opportunities. We just had a bad game. We missed twelve free throws. We have to play better as being leaders of the team. They got hot in the second half. We just played terrible at home. We have to go on the road and get one. We understand it’s going to be a challenge. ” (DeMar DeRozan)
photo via llananba