Pessimism is a familiar feeling for Raptors fans. After going down 0-2, a team that has been swept out of the playoffs three times in four years would tend to have fans feeling this way. Of course, this year is different, because Kawhi Leonard has already provided us with a moment to last a lifetime, however, the Bucks are feeling more and more like a powerhouse every game they play.
It’s been painfully obvious that the culprit of the Raptors disappointment through two games in the ECF has been Kawhi’s supporting cast, headlined by Marc Gasol and Danny Green. Gasol, in particular, has struggled so badly that it’s almost impossible to see him recovering. Through two games, Marc has put up a 3-20 shooting total, with almost every shot being wide-open. It’s not the Raptors tragic history that has made us feel this way, it’s how badly those two Milwaukee games went for key players like Marc. The first game was a collapse and the second a beatdown.
Incredibly, the Raptors are favored in tonight’s matchup against the Bucks. But much like Portland last night, who had the inevitable fall against them, it certainly doesn’t feel like it because of just how putrid the matchup has looked for the Raps. Will a change of scenery really impact the high-flying Bucks? It doesn’t seem like it. But remember, the Raptors came out flying in Game 5 against Philly after not looking particularly good in Game 2, 3 and 4. A 7-game basketball series is unpredictable, even if one team is clearly superior. Who had the Raps winning Game 3 and 4 against the Cavs in 2019.
If the Raptors come out of the gates in Game 3 like we know they can and like we’ve SEEN they can, then it’s a whole new series. The regular season Raptors made an appearance in the aforementioned Game 5 Philly win. Who says they won’t come out like that again? Granted, it’s tough to see Serge Ibaka averaging 22 as he did in the regular season series against the Bucks, but these Raptors have a gear that they have not yet come close to hitting in this series, and it’s certainly not impossible that they do hit it.
The point is, we have an entire offseason to worry about, well, the offseason. The Raps aren’t dead… Yet.