The Toronto Raptors need to stay the course heading into Game 3

Norman Powell #24 of the Toronto Raptors dunks the ball against the Golden State Warriors in the first half during Game Two of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Norman Powell #24 of the Toronto Raptors dunks the ball against the Golden State Warriors in the first half during Game Two of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors should stick to their original plan: split the next two games, and use home-court to their advantage.

The biggest game in Toronto Raptors history is just hours away, and Canada’s team is poised to enter Oracle arena with a unique aura.

Golden State, a team many have suggested could be the greatest ever, have learned the lessons of game one.

These Raptors will not be taken likely again. They will be treated as the worthy adversaries that they are – the closest thing to a rival the Warriors have faced in the past three years.

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Not since the 2016 Cavaliers have the Warriors struggled with an opponent, and even that Lebron-led team did not look as competitive as this through two games.

Still, many in the media are treating the Raptors game two loss as if it was the team’s one shot at glory. As if Toronto had to go back to Oracle up 2-0 to have any chance of winning this series.

That is neither accurate nor realistic.

At the beginning of this series, the mantra of the Raptors fan base was “they have to win one.”

One of the two games at home had to be Raptor victories, or NBA twitter would be right in trending #warriorsinfour.

When the Raptors soundly beat the Warriors in dramatic fashion in Game 1, everyone – fans and media alike – started to drink the Kool-Aid. The mantra changed. Now there were talks of a sweep the other way, or of a possible series-clinching game at home in five.

The Raptors were suddenly the favourites, and when the Warriors were able to win Game 2, it felt like the suddenly attainable dream was snatched away from us just as it was beginning to take shape.

But that shouldn’t be the case.

As Fred VanVleet put it in his post-game press conference, “what exactly where y’all expecting?”

The Warriors were never going to roll over and die – they’re the Warriors.

The Raptors had to win one. They did. Now they go to Oracle, and the same situation presents itself.

Toronto won Game 1 after Golden State failed to deliver their trademark “run”. Instead, that run came in the second game, and despite a painfully flaccid six-minute stretch where the Raptors didn’t score a bucket, they were still competitive right until the final buzzer.

They took the best shot the Warriors had while delivering their weakest, and still almost pulled the game out.

Watching the Raptors six-minute nightmare to start the third, it was impossible not to draw the connection to the Houston Rockets infamous three-point drought in last year’s playoffs.

An absolute statistical anomaly at the worst time caused the Rockets to throw up all over themselves when it mattered most, and a game seven that could have ended the Golden State dynasty instead turned into the last competitive game the Warriors faced on the way to their third title.

Unlike those Rockets, Toronto’s statistical anomaly happened in game two, meaning they have ample time to bounce back.

The Raptors will not go another six minutes without scoring again this series. They may not go half a quarter without scoring ever again– such a lack of scoring is hard to envision in this new era of basketball.

As long as the Raptors can avoid repeating a historically awful feat, these games will be just as winnable as the two in Toronto.

Also, when you factor in the Warriors injury problems, the Raptors have a real shot to achieve the goal they should be focused on.

Win one in Oakland.

Win one in Oakland, and the math becomes simple.

It’s a best two-out-of-three, and you host two of those games.

It’ll be a dogfight till the end, just as Van Vleet and the Raptors have always expected.

A dogfight in Toronto.

Right, where you’d want it.

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