3 things we learned from the Raptors’ series with Orlando
This is not the old Toronto Raptors
I was in the building for game 1 (weird flex), and after Steph Curry took off his DJ Augustin costume and the final buzzer went, the entire atmosphere was sheer panic. I still had raps in 5 (sent to a group chat including fellow contributor Ben for proof) because I was confident the Raptors would not play that poorly again. Kyle Lowry had 0 points, they made some questionable defensive plays (Gasol not switching properly onto Steph- sorry Augustin), they didn’t go 2 for 1 at the end of the game, etc. and they still only lost by 3.
For the next 4 games, the Orlando Magic held the lead for 5 whole minutes. None of the games were even that competitive save for a 4th quarter Magic push in game 3 (better known as the Flu game famously among all basketball fans of course, there has never been a Flu Game before this). This isn’t the We The North era Raps, this is a contending basketball team. I get it - it’s the Magic, but they were one of the best teams in the league post-All-Star break and won a lot of games with a defence that could not contain Toronto. The Raps are a matchup nightmare for the 76ers, I expect another 5 or 6 game series.
Kawhi Leonard is good at Basketball
We didn’t really learn this, it was already a fact. It was just proven even more throughout the series. Last night, Kawhi had 27 points on 11 shots and shot 100% from the free throw and three point lines. He has, outside the flu game, looked like one of the 3 best players in the league all series. He just beats you so many ways, he can get you with the left or right, can dunk it on you or drop a 3 on your head, iso you or catch and shoot it. I really hope he stays, the Raps are contenders for a long time with Kawhi and Siakim (who I will get to). Please stay, Kawhi.
My preseason Siakim take is now a reality
In the fall, on the original Post Game Podcast that has now transformed into the Hot Takes Network, I said that Pascal Siakim is a fringe All-Star who was a corner three away from being a legit 3rd option on this team. Not only did that come true, it’s carried over to the playoffs, something recent Raptors superstars have struggled to do. If anything, from a scoring standpoint, he’s the second option now - with Lowry being more of the reliable facilitator. I heard on The Ringer a MJ/Pippen comparison between Kawhi and Siakim, and I’m starting to buy it. Obviously not to the degree of greatness that duo was, but the Raptors can go far with this tandem playing at the level they’re currently producing at. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the playoffs hold for the Raptors.
Thanks for reading. If you made it this far, be sure to check out our NFL Draft pod we recorded last night.