How the Toronto Raptors became a real NBA playoff force

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Canada loves hockey. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. It’s their sport, they invented it and Canadian teams have combined for 43 Stanley Cup champions.

However, this year has represented a certain dearth in Canadian hockey talent with only the Montreal Canadiens qualifying for the Conference Semi Finals. So what’s a Canadian to do?

Root for the Raptors.

The Toronto Raptors were an anomaly during this regular season, squeezing into the third seed behind the free-wheeling Heat and Pacers and ahead of the .500 also-rans that inhabited the Eastern Conference.

During this playoff series against the aging Brooklyn Nets, things have proved to be a lot more even than anyone expected. The Raptors free scoring courtesy of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry have been countered by the experience of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and the sheer athleticism of Joe Johnson and Deron Williams.

Toronto took a crucial 3-2 lead in the series last night however, and make no mistake, the difference was not Lowry and DeRozan’s combined 59 points, it was the crowd.

Fans in Toronto are usually crazily packed into the Air Canada Centre. But they are usually wearing blue, not red as they were last night.

They usually cheer goals, not buckets and they usually cheer Phil Kessel not Kyle Lowry. However, with that absence of Canadian hockey it seems that entire province of Ontario has put the Raptors on their back and is carrying them past this playoff-hardened Nets team.

Whether this Raptors can actually finish the deal, let alone go on to face that Miami Heat team in the next round, remains to be seen. But for now, the Raptors are becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Toronto Raptors
NBA Playoffs

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