Blowout or Bust… Can the Raptors Bounce Back?

By Kimberly Daniels

The Raptors game one versus the Cavs was an incredibly hard game to watch. The last seven seconds of regulation saw a desperate team trying to win, and missing every single shot they were handed. (Hey guys, it’s okay to use the backboard) However, the mental breakdown and mistakes of the Raptors as a whole was the most disappointing; their plays after timeouts were sloppy, the turnovers were high and at most points it looked like Korver couldn’t even be touched on the three-point line.

For long-time Raptor fans it becomes really difficult to escape the feeling that we are seeing the same old tired mistakes that ultimately busted our Championship dreams in the past.

Does one bad game mean the Raptors are falling back into who they used to be? Are the Raptors doomed to their ghosts of playoff past?

Well, only time will tell. But tonight is do or die.

The Raptors will have to beat the Cavs before they hit the road and play two games in Cleveland and they will have to do so in blowout fashion if they’re to convince anyone, including themselves. Setting the tone early in this series and showing that they are capable of stopping LeBron and Co. is the biggest statement they need to make.

The Raptors pulling out a big win tonight will mean digging deep on defense and understanding how to guard the inside, continuing to challenge LeBron every possession while also ensuring no one is left alone to hit corner three’s. This will take more communication between the Raps and also means not giving the Cavs any second chance points opportunities.

But most of all the Raptors will have to showcase mental toughness tonight. They need to be alive with confidence and the fierceness we know they have. It is time for the Raps to show everyone why they are an opponent to fear and it’s also about damn time they put these playoff ghosts to rest.

Off with his head: Raptors look to dethrone the King

By Kimberly Daniels

And so begins another series, as the Raptors travel the road to Championship status. However, this time our opponent needs no introduction. This is the team (or should I say player) who has caused the demise of Raptors playoff dreams too many times in the past…

LeBron James.  A player who is argued to be better than Michael Jordan, who is referred to as the ‘King’ and who averaged 34 points and 10 rebounds per game against the Indiana Pacers series that went to game 7.

But all Kings lose their crown at some point right? And if there is ever a time where it could happen for LeBron, the time is now.

The Raptors are ready. They have a deeper bench, they have the confidence, they have the whole country behind their back and they even have Charles Barkley hopping on their bandwagon.

But what does the actual game plan look like to stop LeBron?

Defense will obviously be the upmost important key. OG and Siakam will be looked upon to stick with LeBron, make it as uncomfortable as possible for him to find a groove, and stay in his face and to keep him from getting into take-over mode, which can be nerve-racking and scary.

The starting five will need to come out on fire, setting the tone that every. Single. Possession. Counts. Taking good shots, feeding the bigs inside and jumping for every single rebound will be the true difference maker.

Our second-unit will need to stay with the mindset that they have had all year, knowing that they are the best bench in the league. With their leader VanVleet back, this should come easier than against the Wizards and if C.J. Miles can also get a hot hand with the three, it would give the Raptors the extra boost they need.

Above all, the Raptors as a whole need to know they can win. Surely, Neo and Morpheus understand that a King means nothing when you have the power to see all.

Prediction: Raptors in 6

Can the Raptors Close Out in 6?

By: Kimberly Daniels

After going up two games against the Wizards, Raptor fans felt unstoppable… then Capitol One Arena happened and all of a sudden, we were questioning who was to blame for back-to-back losses. Questions like “Can Ibaka play like he did in Game 1 again?”, “Does the second unit need VanVleet to really get going?” and “Are we seeing the same Raptors playoff fails from the past?” started dancing around in our heads.

But it was just two bad games, right?

The Raptors came back game five with a crucial (and heart-stopping) win. A double-double from Valanciunas and 18 points from Wright added to DeRozans 32 points in 39 minutes, sealing the deal in the fourth-quarter.

Being on home court with the best fans in the league and Drake on the sidelines talking trash to Wall is just so much more comfortable for the Raptors. A win at home almost seems inevitable at this point. So, the real question becomes – can the Raps close out the series on the road tonight?

According to Wizards Oubre he doesn’t think so, throwing some shade at Wright stating “Delon doesn’t play well anywhere else, you know, other than at home.” Wright has stated that he is saving his comments for Oubre after the Raptors win, but this game will come down to much more than just trash-talk for a W.

The Raptors will have to figure out how to get a handle on their turnovers leading to Wizard points and do a better job at protecting the boards. Watching the Wizards second-chance point opportunities this series has been frustrating, to say the least. Controlling Wall and Beal with determination on defense will also be a major key to finishing up this series.

Most of all the Raptors have to prove to everyone why they are the first seed team in the East. We will need the crew to buckle-down, stay focused on the game plan and play with the heart and strength the whole city of Toronto displayed this week #TorontoStrong

The Raptors may not have gotten the sweep Drake was telling Wall about, but it sure would be sweet to take the series in Washington and see what Wright has to say to Oubre.

Too Soon To Take Out The Broom?

By Kimberly Daniels

After a thrilling win in game two which saw all 13 players on the Raps roster hit the hardwood and DeRozan tie a playoff career high of 37 points in 37 minutes, it’s hard to deny the sense of pride Raptors fans are feeling.

We’ve never been here before: up two games in post season before hitting the road and damn, does it feel good to make our way to Washington with confidence rather than fear.

The last time we played the Wizards in playoffs it was a completely different story. So what’s the difference now?

Lowry says “he got slimmer and got more hair” but all jokes aside, we are watching a Raptors squad that is playing some of the best team ball we’ve ever seen.

Our starting unit found an offensive rhythm that produced 44 points in the first quarter of game two. The Raptors had a strong 20 point lead and when John Wall and the Wizards made a fourth-quarter surge, team members like C.J Miles and Delon Wright were there to help with some key plays to revive the lead and stop the Raptor fans’ heart-attacks.

Dwayne Casey is known for mixing up his lines and trying different player combinations but at any point that a player is called to the court, they’re ready to play with passion and energy. This series has seen our crew playing unselfish basketball, taking chargers, diving on the floor for loose balls and attacking the glass for defensive rebounds. Playoffs have come with the team mindset that every game is a game 7 and we need to do whatever it takes to win.

And while some team members are not as productive as others in this series – Normal Powell has struggled all season and Fred VanVleet only saw 3 minutes in game two before being taken off still not fully recovered from his shoulder injury – we know they don’t lack heart. Powell has promised fans “you may see me struggle but you won’t see me quit.”

If the Raptors can continue to build off of this electric team momentum they have worked so hard to create, all while being told by most that they’d never make it, you can guarantee fans will be seeing more wins.

The Raptors are clearly looking for revenge; DeRozan told the press post game two that he was feeling like Neo from the Matrix. So, how do we pull off a sweep? In the words of Morpheus “You have to let it all go, Neo. Fear, doubt, and disbelief. Free your mind…don’t think you are know you are.”

Or DeRozan and the Raps can just stick to his game plan and #ProveEm