T’was a Happy Festivus for the Maple Leafs and Raptors

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 23: William Nylander
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 23: William Nylander /

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors pulled out victories before heading into the Christmas break.

Although some cities in North America had a rough day, it was a Festivus for Toronto sports fans on Saturday.

The Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs both had a chance to play on the secular holiday, and boy, it was a fun night for both.

The Raptors matched up with the Philadelphia 76ers for the second half of the teams home-and-home series, while the Leafs travelled to Manhattan for a game against the New York Rangers.

The Raptors took care of business winning handily over their Atlantic division foes by a 102-86 score, while the Leafs squeaked out a 3-2 victory.

In a month that has been filled with triumphs, two of the big dogs in the city made their respective fan bases happy going into the Christmas break.

Airing of Grievances

It has almost become second nature for Raptors fans to be upset at the league over (Insert topic here). Tilted officiating, NBA All-Star Game snubs, and Demar DeRozan’s pre-season player ranks have all become lightning rods of criticism from the Raps faithful, and for good reason.

But nothing has gotten the fanbase more and more fired up than the snubbing of the team every year in the Christmas Day slate of games.

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This year, the day will be highlighted by a Championship rematch between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, as well as a matchup between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Ok, look at those games, and it’s understandable that the Raptors wouldn’t be involved on Christmas. Oh wait, there are more games? Well, who’s pla- oh, I see.

The day will also feature three other matchups, namely, the Sixers against the Knicks, and Timberwolves against the Lakers.

Obviously, some teams get the big game on the 25th because of the markets they are in. You aren’t going to snub LA or New York, the two biggest markets in North America. But Philadelphia and Minnesota are a bit of a head-scratcher.

The Undefeated’s Mark Spears came out with an article on Friday where he talked to both DeRozan and Kyle Lowry about not being involved in the showcase.

"“It has gotten to the point where you just sigh and say, ‘Another year …’ That’s crazy. I always wanted to say that I’m playing on Christmas,” DeRozan said. “We’ve won. We’ve been one of the best in the league the past few years. To not get that look is definitely crazy. … There is really no excuse. We’ve proven we are a top team in the league for a reason,” said DeRozan, who has played with the Raptors since 2009."

"“I care when the schedule originally comes out. But then, after that I say, ‘All right, whatever.’ I plan my Christmas Day. I get to be with my kids and all my family. So that’s more important.“That’s one of the first things I look at. I know me and DeMar, that’s one of the first things we see. … I’m not mad at it. We just want the opportunity. It would be really cool to play on Christmas.”"

The Raptors took their anger of the snub out on the Sixers during the afternoon tilt. DeRozan scored a game-high 29 points to go along with five rebounds, and two assists. He also followed up his six three’s on Thursday with four more in this game.

Serge Ibaka also added 17 points of his own with six boards, while Delon Wright provided a spark off the bench. The second-year guard had 14 points and three steals.

The Raptors now have the chance to go home and watch their competition from the couch on Christmas Day. Their next game comes on Boxing Day, on the road, against the Dallas Mavericks.

Feats of Strength

The Maple Leafs had it in tough against the New York Rangers, a team that has always played them tight. The team did get some great news just days prior as Auston Matthews returned to the lineup after missing six games with a concussion.

He featured on his regular line with William Nylander and Zach Hyman. It didn’t take the linemates long to find the scoreboard. Matthews set up Nylander for the first goal of the game and judging by Nylander’s celebration he was happy to see Matthews feeding him passes once again.

Matthews was not done there scoring his 14th goal of the year off some hard work along the boards from both Nylander and Hyman.

Although the Leafs were more dangerous on offence, their run-and-gun style left for offensive opportunities the other way for the Rangers. J.T. Miller brought New York to within a goal before Michael Grabner tied it a minute later.

However, the goal was called back as Kevin Hayes was offside.

The Leafs had three breakaways in the last 10 minutes of the third but were unable to solve Henrik Lundqvist, who played a great game.

Next: Leafs should take advantage of Marner's hot streak

Frederik Andersen would shut the door the rest of the way to help get his team two points.