The Toronto Raptors are four wins away from reaching the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. But many don’t see them getting that far or, perhaps more accurately, don’t want to see them get that far.
Despite beating two pretty strong teams, including the Dwayne Wade led Miami Heat, not a lot of people are giving the Raptors a shot in hell of winning the NBA Eastern Conference Final over the Cleveland Cavaliers. In fact, some believe anything less than a Cavs sweep would be disappointing for basketball fans not just in Cleveland but around the world. Everywhere except Toronto and perhaps Canada.
But I think for them to think that way is OK. Since no one even expected the Raptors to advance past the Heat to get to the conference final, expectations of this team should be lower than the Canadian dollar. There should be no pressure what so ever on the part of the Raptors to do well from here on out. Simply put, the Raptors are now playing with house money.
The play of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan in the playoffs has been spectacular. They have shown they can come back from adversity and lead the team to victory. The contribution of the supporting cast has also been outstanding with DeMarre Carroll, Cory Joseph, and Bismack Biyombo putting up points and eating up minutes on the floor. This is a team supposedly everyone who likes an underdog can get behind. But we’ve seen in the past those allegiances get kicked aside because these same people like to be associated with a winner. No respect but again that’s cool because it’s not our money that is on the line.
To borrow a theory from Leafs Hate-ion, Cleveland is a town known for teams who choke like dogs. Despite having an abundant of talent, and managers and coaches who are well-respected in the league, Cleveland teams come up short each and every time. Browns, Indians, and now Cavaliers can’t get it done when it matters. So if you look at it that way, all the pressure is on LeBron James and company to win it all. They have a lot to lose, the Raptors don’t.
So Raptors fans, if the team does not beat the Cavs in the series it is not the end of the world. Like anything in life we chalk this up to a learning experience and move on. The Raptors have shown the world what a great basketball team they are and the publicity, no matter how negative or disrespectful it may seem, has hardly cost them a cent. They will walk away from the table with their heads up high.