Raptors’ recent playoff history puts an added burden on Saturday’s Game 1


TORONTO — It seems ridiculous to have the first game in a best-of-seven feel series like a must-win game.

And yet, here we are.

The Toronto Raptors have a thing about Game 1s. You are probably familiar with the story: they are 1-12 in franchise history in the first game of a playoff series, having last won one of them when Jean Chretien was Prime Minister. Six of those losses have come at home, against lower-seeded teams.

And so, Kyle Lowry, asked on Friday afternoon about the importance of Game 1 against Washington, said this: “Our Game 1 is our Game 7 tomorrow, to be honest. That’s just how we’ve gotta do it.”

The Raptors certainly know that it will not be an elimination game on Saturday evening; they have three series wins in the last two seasons despite the Game 1 struggles. But Lowry is not wrong to feel like they need this one. In this season of their evolution, when they had everyone thinking that this team had reached a new plane of existence, and then had everyone reconsider that when they were smacked in the nuggets by the Cavaliers twice in recent weeks, a win in Game 1 against the Wizards would go some distance to convincing fans, opponents — and themselves — that these are not, in fact, the same old Raptors.

Lowry said his team is loose and confident now, and he said they have been uptight in series openers in recent seasons. The losses only exacerbated that feeling.

“I mean, we’ve lost a lot of Game 1s,” Lowry said.

Quite why they have done that remains something of a mystery. Lowry suggested they haven’t played hard enough, but coach Dwane Casey waved away any thought that effort might have been partly to blame.

“I don’t think guys go out there and not play hard,” he said, suggesting that perhaps other teams see the losses and come in with extra confidence. “It’s got to be mental more than anything. But it’s not effort.”

The coach also said something that was pretty on-the-nose: “It’s a phenomenon.”

Making shots will be key in Game 1 for Kyle Lowry and the Toronto Raptors.

One of those things, that is, for which there is not a clear answer. How weird is the Raptors’ streak? Over the last two seasons, NBA teams not based in Toronto have a record of 23-4 on home court in the first game of a playoff series. The Raptors are 0-3 in that situation over the same period. This isn’t hockey, where scoring chances are limited and a hot goalie can flip an outcome all by himself. Basketball is much more predictable, and good teams win at home in the postseason far more often than not.

Unless it is a Game 1 in Toronto. There is one element to the losing streak, though, that is not all that mysterious: poor shooting. Over the past two seasons, when the Game 1 struggles were particularly acute since the team could no longer blame youth or playoff inexperience, the Raptors …read more

Source:: Nationalpost – News

TORONTO — It seems ridiculous to have the first game in a best-of-seven feel series like a must-win game.

And yet, here we are.

The Toronto Raptors have a thing about Game 1s. You are probably familiar with the story: they are 1-12 in franchise history in the first game of a playoff series, having last won one of them when Jean Chretien was Prime Minister. Six of those losses have come at home, against lower-seeded teams.

And so, Kyle Lowry, asked on Friday afternoon about the importance of Game 1 against Washington, said this: “Our Game 1 is our Game 7 tomorrow, to be honest. That’s just how we’ve gotta do it.”

The Raptors certainly know that it will not be an elimination game on Saturday evening; they have three series wins in the last two seasons despite the Game 1 struggles. But Lowry is not wrong to feel like they need this one. In this season of their evolution, when they had everyone thinking that this team had reached a new plane of existence, and then had everyone reconsider that when they were smacked in the nuggets by the Cavaliers twice in recent weeks, a win in Game 1 against the Wizards would go some distance to convincing fans, opponents — and themselves — that these are not, in fact, the same old Raptors.

Lowry said his team is loose and confident now, and he said they have been uptight in series openers in recent seasons. The losses only exacerbated that feeling.

“I mean, we’ve lost a lot of Game 1s,” Lowry said.

Quite why they have done that remains something of a mystery. Lowry suggested they haven’t played hard enough, but coach Dwane Casey waved away any thought that effort might have been partly to blame.

“I don’t think guys go out there and not …read more

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