It wasn’t fun to watch an incredibly excited Toronto Raptors team and home crowd come up short in their Game 7 battle with the Brooklyn Nets. It would have been amazing to see that comeback culminate in a buzzer beater to send that insane crowd into a Canadian frenzy. It would have been unbelievable to see a young player, absent for the entire series, come up with the defensive play of the year and be able to take the credit for one of the biggest wins in franchise history. It would have been great to see what the young Raptors could do against the mighty Miami Heat, with no pressure whatsoever.
It would have been a fun couple of weeks. Either way, though, congratulations have to go to the Toronto Raptors. They were all over the map during the season and I skewered them accordingly, but it was a successful run that had to ring with optimism.
I remember watching Game 7 and thinking of all of the prognostications that I had made throughout the series, reveling in both the accuracy of some and the incredibly impulsive nature of others. Regardless of the frivolity of some of the assertions, I never believed, even when the Raptors held on to win Game 5, that Toronto was going to win the series. Game 7 went pretty much to form as I stated in the previous column: a super aggressive Kyle Lowry, making up for a potentially nervous DeMar DeRozan, and Joe Johnson exploiting the mismatch that he had for nearly the entire series.
But for all I figured would happen in Game 7, that last defensive play by Terrence Ross and the subsequent possession to win the series where Lowry tried to make something out of nothing, I am left wondering about the reality and what could have been.
It’s only fitting that Lowry, the man whose pending free agency has been the elephant in the room the entire season, had the ball in his hands with the chance to make a major statement about the future about the Raptors franchise.
He split a double team, but got blocked by Paul Pierce. He got blocked by Paul Pierce. Blocked.
Now I could laugh about that all day. Thinking about Pierce elevating to block someone of even average NBA athleticism is really something. It’s an aberration. But it was a veteran making a play to seal a series. And relative playoff newcomer Lowry took it hard.
But that’s the question now. The season is over and Raptor front office and fans can go back to wondering if Lowry, who, even while I waxed poetic about DeRozan consistently throughout the season, I still think is their most important player, will be around to build on the significant momentum that they created this season.
Obviously this will be an ongoing discussion this summer and speculation will run rampant just as it did during the season. The pendulum swayed from a certain tank all the way to thinking that this team had the start of something big. The reality is similar all over the NBA and clearest when the viewer takes their emotion out of it; the truth lies somewhere in between. A floater that goes in instead of being blocked by a cement-footed veteran doesn’t change that fact, but it is noteworthy to think about whether it changes Lowry’s view of the future with this franchise.