“Same as it ever was… same as it ever was…” — The Talking Heads
Have you ever had one of those recurring nightmares that haunts you? You know, the one where no matter how fast you run… how strong you are… how much you try and fight… the boogeyman still gets you in the end… and you wake up screaming? I know the Toronto Raptors (and their fans) have. Only this particular nightmare usually recurs every May for the dinos… and this May is no exception. They’ve tried harder, made themselves stronger, reached the highest seed ever… but still find themselves in a fairly insurmountable 0-3 hole.
The difference this time, is that instead of just images of being chased down by the boogeyman (in the 23 jersey), this nightmare could show flashes of the end of the world as these Raps know it. After all, how many times can you run into the same wall before you have to find a different way around it? Yes, given how they’re presently constituted, Toronto will have some soul searching to do if they are swept away yet again by LeBron James and the Cavaliers. Even if they somehow fight back and claw out a moral victory tonight at the Q… is it really feasible for them to win three more straight against this team (something 129 other squads in that same situation have failed to do — none have succeeded by the way)?
Maybe the hardest thing for these Raptors to swallow, is that they weren’t that far away from being up 2-1 instead of fighting off extinction in Game 4. Despite the blowout in Game 2, the Cavs won the other two games by a combined three points (one in overtime and the other on an instant classic buzzer beater from none other than the Boogeyman himself). This statistic alone should give Dwayne Casey enough ammunition to exhort his troops to give their all tonight to salvage some measure of pride and give their fans back in Toronto a glimmer of hope. On the flip side, Tyronn Lue has already warned his guys about the dangers of being overconfident… wanting to make sure they show up ready to take care of business.
Closeout games are usually the hardest in a series to win. To do so requires the team who has the upper hand to set the tone early and try to make the contest moot by halftime. The Cavs have not been great at this routine in these playoffs, regularly coughing up big leads at the worst times. However, their mental edge over these Raptors should prove to be the difference… even if the final score is much closer than it should be.
Prediction: As usual in the playoffs, no score prognistication from me… I’ll just say that LeBron should once again haunt the dreams of the Raptors, and rip out their hearts this final time with an extinction level event.
Catch all the action on TNT starting at 8:30pm EST, and as always chime in below…