The Toronto Raptors have done a great job keeping themselves afloat following the departure of Kawhi Leonard. With a record of 53-19, the second-best record in the East, they have been a consistent and steady force all season long.
But come playoff time, teams without a true superstar tend to get exposed and the Raptors may be the latest to fall victim to the trend.
Facing an 0-2 hole entering Game 3 tonight, the team needed a win to have life in the series. And while Toronto did end up winning the game, why is it that they fell into an early hole to begin with? According to Fred VanVleet, their matchup in round one may be the answer.
“With all due respect to Brooklyn, I don’t think that got us ready to play at the level we needed to be ready for Game 1 (vs. Boston). … Nobody was happy. People were pissed off. The mood wasn’t great,” he said post-game, via The Washington Post’s Ben Golliver.
To Brooklyn's credit, they were playing without many of their key players, including Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, and Spencer Dinwiddie.
The Raptors swept the short-handed Nets and came into this series without having really faced much of a challenge.
We'll see how if this game-winner will be enough to wake them up, or if it just postponed their inevitable downfall.