So how do you sum up this season and this series in words? Unbelievable is the first word that jumps into my head. This season was never suppose to happen let’s make that clear. The Raptors were the Knicks accepting a trade away from it not happening. Kyle Lowry now becomes the focus of this off-season and his re-signing with the Raptors and playing to the same level he has shown this season is vital to any of what has happened this year continuing. DeMar DeRozan seems confident that he will but he hasn’t been here for 19 years to have the fragility that Raptors’ fandom is. We saw the city of Toronto rally behind this team to numbers we have never seen in the past. Not just Toronto but this country and it is proven by ratings. The Raptors ratings were off the charts in this playoff run even bigger than when Vince took that shot that didn’t fall in Philadelphia.
Speaking of which how this all ended was painful. It made you cringe that the Raptors could allow Kyle Lowry to be triple teamed and have no chance to get a shot off at all. It was over and if not for this magical season and the fact no one expected the Raptors would be here there would be a lot more questioning going on.
This series for me had three parts to it that defined it. The Raptors in the first three games played like the underdogs that didn’t have any true belief in them winning. In Game 4 and most of Game 5 the Raptors found a swagger and suddenly had the confidence that they were good enough to win this series. The third and final shift the Nets made a furious run to close game 5 and that while not getting the win showed the Nets a path to victory.
In the very end the Raptors as they always seem to do found a way back into a game that they really had no business being in and had that chance to win that we already talked about. I am in the end so proud that Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozan got to experience this cause they both deserved to see what this city and country can be like for the playoffs. It was so big that even people from the Nets and from the NBA in the U.S could not deny. I prefer not use made up MLSE catch phrases like Northern Uprising but it was something. It was validation the Raptors can be as big as the want to be if they only give fans some reason to hope and believe.
It remains to be seen if all of this is real and can continue going forward. The signs are that it can but the Raptors have been hopeful about the future before only to have things blow up in their face. That is the real task ahead for Tim Leiweke and Masai Ujiri to prove that they are not just simply the latest smart people to claim to have answers for the Raptors.
Dwane Casey deserves a ton of credit for taking this team to this point. He has his contract up and it would be a huge shock if he was not back. I have been in that locker room and know the respect he both demands and gets from his players. That is not in question what is though is a lot of decisions Dwane made as a head coach in this series. This was his first playoff experience as well but against Jason Kidd in the same circumstances he was out duelled.
I want to believe this can all work and move forward I think we all do. In fact more people than we ever imagined do as was proven by fans in square that was named after a hockey team that was taken over by basketball fans in just as big numbers and maybe more at the end of the day. The Raptors had people talking about them that I didn’t even know watched basketball. Will they be back and will the Raptors give them reason to be back.
In the end I didn’t pick the Raptors to win this series and they ultimately didn’t. I take zero joy in that and honestly tell you that they changed my mind during this series. Anyone that knows my history the amount of times I change my mind about anything are rare events indeed. I for a time thought they were going to win this series and in the end they came so close to doing it. That has always kind of been the Raptors mantra in their history. Raptors have been close too something or on the verge of breaking through before. We arrive at another one of those points of being on the verge of better things and brighter days. I can’t tell you they won’t come anymore than anyone else can tell you that they will. I hope for all that they do and the horrible history this franchise has can finally be but in the past. That maybe we can move on from Vince Carter being some jerk and realize that Vinsanity was pretty cool and whatever happened we all were lucky to have seen it happen. It’s hard to let go of that history and not fear it. To simply ignore it I think is naive and not acknowledging the elephant in the room.
Now we see if things have really changed and if the Raptors can really build something. Can they keep Kyle Lowry and have him be as successful as he was. Not just that but can they get others want to come here and be a part of things. If all those people standing outside wasn’t good enough to make a NBA player want to call Toronto home than nothing will.
I am proud of the Raptors for believing in themselves long before any of us truly believed in them. It was that belief that carried this team this far.
All of this being said I made some comments on Twitter that I am considering the future of the DNB. As great a season as it was for the Raptors it was by far the toughest for me. I struggled to keep this thing going and live up to a promise I made to myself to make it through this season. I have done that but beyond that I am really not sure. I will probably write a few more blogs and tie a bow on this season and likely reach out to Jack Armstrong and get his thoughts on everything. After that I am going to take a break and consider if I can keep doing this going forward. I am not making hardly anything in terms of income and have worked hard for 6 years looking to build to something else to support me. It hasn’t happened despite my hard work and dedication. At some point you have to consider if things make sense and that is where I am at with the DNB. If I decide to stick around or not, I promise to explain my complete thoughts on all of this the good, the bad and even the ugly. The truth is though if the DNB is going to be done I have had a lot of good and I am grateful for all of it.
So that is it for now. Thanks for reading today and for all the other times you have.