Raptors Lead

Raptors Prove Why They Belong in Game 1

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Scotiabank Arena was electrifying on Thursday night, as the first ever NBA Finals game played outside of the United States came to a close. For Raptors fans, it was worth the wait. Toronto held off the Golden State Warriors for a 118-109 victory and a 1-0 series lead.

Even hours after the game, it’s still hard to believe. A team that has struggled for years to get over the hump now has a lead in the finals. This is the Toronto Raptors we’re talking about. Yes, Toronto. Yes, the Raptors. Yet with its history of falling short in the playoffs, this team is quietly putting together one of the greatest post-season runs in recent history.

Okay, maybe not quietly.

 

But despite this phenomenal run, many fans and media alike were not yet sold on the team that Masai Ujiri has put together this season. One of the main concerns going into the finals was whether Kawhi Leonard would have enough help from the supporting cast.

Well, that question was answered pretty quickly.

Marc Gasol and Fred VanVleet combined for 35 points. Danny Green finally got back to being Danny Green, knocking down three from deep. Pascal Siakam finished with a team-high 32 points.

Talk about help.

On a night where Kawhi Leonard was visibly hurt and struggled for just 5-14 from the field, the rest of the team showed up. That’s something that wouldn’t have been said in the past. A team that has historically failed in big moments, was able to win in the biggest.

But it wasn’t just the offensive end where Toronto took control. Their defense has been their calling card since opening night in October, and it came through for them again. Toronto proved their ability to defend against an elite team in the Eastern Conference Finals, but defending perhaps the greatest 3-point shooting teams of all-time is a much taller task.

Barring a few lapses during the game, Toronto’s defense was as strong as most could ask for, especially against a team like the Warriors. The game one jitters that most would experience in their first finals was nowhere to be found. Toronto played as if they’ve been playing in the finals for years, defeating a Warriors team that actually has been.

After tonight’s victory, it’s clear to see that this team is special. The Raptors of old were a team that faltered. A team that knew how to win, but struggled. A team that tended to fade away in the spotlight.

But this team is different. This is a team that has stood strong. A team that knows how to win, and does it. A team that doesn’t fade in the spotlight, but thrives in it. This Raptors team deserves to be here.

It’s a long series though, and this is only one game. There’s still work to be done.

But live it up for now Toronto. You deserve it.

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