Playoff R1G1 Orlando Magic vs Toronto Raptors: The Quest for NBA Finals Begins!
With Anunoby (emergency appendectomy) is expected to be out for at least 2 weeks and McCaw (sprained right thumb) out another week, Toronto Raptors will be a little short-handed to start the playoff by hosting Orlando Magic. Will the Raptors get off to a quick start? And will Jeremy Lin play well enough to exceed the expected 8-10 minutes in the 2nd unit? It’s time to find out how the Raptors players respond in the crucial Game 1 at home.
We can only hope that Lin’s back or body will be ready with the help of Master Lo (massage therapist) who came all the way from Taiwan. And Lin can once again find a way to believe that he can help his team in the pressure-packed playoff environment.
Coach Nurse expressed the desire to reach the NBA Finals so it can put additional pressure for players to perform to their abilities.
The Raptors have long grown accustomed to reaching the playoffs. Toronto’s streak of six straight playoff appearances is the longest in the Eastern Conference and ranks behind only the San Antonio Spurs (22 years-, the Golden State Warriors (seven) and the Houston Rockets (seven). The Spurs have the longest active streak in the four major North American pro sports leagues.
But the Raptors have grown restless with early exits from the postseason. Toronto has yet to reach the NBA Finals and has gotten to the conference finals just once in its current run, when it fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games in 2016.
The Raptors appeared positioned to finally break through last season, when they won a franchise-record 59 games and earned the no. 1 seed in the East. But Toronto was swept in the semifinals by the Cavaliers.
Head coach Dwane Casey was fired following a seven-season run and replaced by Nick Nurse, who spent more than 20 years coaching at small schools and in minor leagues both in America and overseas before becoming Casey’s assistant in 2013.
Nurse’s task is clear: Get the Raptors to the NBA Finals. Toronto finished two games behind the Bucks in the race for the best record in the East
“I know it’s my first shot in the NBA, but I’ve been in a lot of playoff series,” Nurse told Sportsnet in Toronto earlier this week. “And I feel good about being able to read the game and then feel what the next one might be like and the one after that against the same team.
“It doesn’t get any better than this as a coach.”
The Raptors will be without reserve forward OG Anunoby, who underwent an emergency appendectomy Thursday night. He is expected to miss at least two weeks. Magic forward Jonathan Issac (concussion) and center Nikola Vucevic (illness) are both expected to play Saturday after missing the regular season finale Wednesday.
The Raptors and Magic split four regular season meetings, with both teams going 1-1 on their home floors. Toronto earned a 93-91 win in Florida on Nov. 20 before notching a 121-109 victory at home on Apr. 1. Orlando cruised to a 116-87 victory at home on Dec. 28 and recorded a 113-98 win at Toronto on Feb. 24.