Saturday, April 29, 2017
The Other Playoff Picture 2017
Of course I realize that you are most concerned about the Stanley Cup Playoffs. There is, however, another set of playoffs that are of great concern to many Torontonians. Now that the Leafs have exited the playoff picture, you may now focus on the Toronto Basketball Team.
The Toronto Raptors have begun their playoff round against the Milwaukee Bucks. There have been two games played in Toronto at the Air Canada Centre. Just outside the west doors of the Centre is an intriguing square, affectionately known as Jurassic Park during the basketball season. Fans gather there in the hundreds to watch the game on a big screen. They will even gather there in the cold weather when the games are in the opposition's building. Serious supporters.
The Raptors have enjoyed a successful season. They finished higher than the Bucks, and earned the right to host the first two games. In basketball, having the home court advantage is critical. Basketball teams win home games with a greater percentage than do teams from the other major sports. There is a significant amount of “hype” generated by the fans to inspire the players.
Unfortunately, that was not the case for the Raps. They dropped their first game at home against the Bucks, digging themselves a considerable hole.
Most basketball teams rely on one or two players to lead the troops. The Cleveland Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, have already moved on to the second round of the payoffs, primarily because of LeBron's play. The Golden State Warriors rely on Steph Curry to provide the straw to stir their drink.
The Raptors have two key personnel to lead them: Demar Derozan and Kyle Lowry. Lowry has spent significant time in the sick bay this year, but appears to be ready for these post season games. In their third game of this series, Derozan had a terrible game. The ball would not go in the hoop. He ended the game with less than 10 points.
The Bucks returned to the court for the fourth full of enthusiasm. At half time, teams were even at 41. Demar had regained his touch, and outscored the rest of his teammates, combined. At the end of the game, he had 33 points, and 9 rebounds. Lowry added 18 points. After the game, trying to explain his dramatic improvement, Derozan added, simply, “Won't happen twice. Never happen twice”.
The Raptors also got a dozen points from Jonas Valanciunas, the same from Norman Powell. Serge Ibaka added ten, with 8 rebounds.
Most of the attention in this series is focused on a young Milwaukee player, Giannis Antetokoumpo. He was born in Nigeria, but raised in Greece. He is referred to as “The Greek Freak”. He was a first team all star, and is a dominant player. He had 14 points and 9 rebounds in the loss, clearly not his best game. Toronto's defensive tactics clearly held him in check.
Game five is on Monday night, in Milwaukee. Bucks coach, Jason Kidd will spend some time on game films before the tip. Ditto for Dwane Casey of the Raps. Momentum is vital in all NBA games. The winner of this series gets to play the Cavaliers!
One of the Memphis Grizzlies made 3 three point shots on Saturday night. First time ever accomplished by a 40 year old. Vince Carter. You remember the name.
UPDATE: April 29, 2017
The Raptors took care of business, almost letting a 25 point lead slip away. |Thye now face the Cavaliers in a 7 game series. Needless to say, they have their work cut out for them.
April 24, 2017