Cover photo by Tom Arthur, used under Creative Commons license

Well, NOW I fear the deer

One of these days the Raptors will win a game one, and I’ll be there (maybe) to see it.

Today was not that day.

I did get to go to the game — a colleague had an extra ticket, which I happily bought — but the Raps didn’t win. Not even close.

In fact the Raps got blown out by the Milwaukee Bucks tonight. The fourth quarter was a serious letdown, but before that the stats were mostly even, apart from shooting percentage from 3-point land. There, the Bucks were twice as effective, which made all the difference until garbage time.

Game 2, Raps. Let’s go.

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.:.

Cover photo by Tom Arthur, used under Creative Commons license

We the north

Last night the Cleveland Cavaliers finally finished off the Toronto Raptors, after the Raps extended them to six games. I’d hoped for a game seven, but the Cavs just put the hammer down last night, the same hammer I really thought would sweep the Raps this round. But the Raptors are the Raptors, and they don’t go quietly. And that’s why we love them.

Disappointment over getting manhandled by the Cavs aside, no one views this year as anything but a success for the Raptors. They finished second, and made it to the third round of the playoffs, extending a true contender to six games after they swept their first two opponents. And let’s face it: the Raps weren’t considered a true title contender. This team wasn’t built to win a title; after the Raptors were swept out of the first round last year by a weaker opponent, this year’s team was built to not get swept again. The season was a check mark when the Raps won their direct round series against Indiana. It was a bigger checkmark when they beat Miami in 7, Miami being exactly the kind of team they would have folded to in the past.

So now, the challenge shifts to becoming a true contending team. If they can re-sign DeMar DeRozan they’ll have the core every top team needs: 2 all-stars (DeRozan and Kyle Lowry) and a strong third option (Jonas Valanciunas), but top teams surround those guys with strong bit players and good shooters who can extend the opposition’s defense. The Raps simply didn’t have that last night, or throughout the playoffs. Terence Ross disappears in the playoffs. Luis Scola might as well not be there. DeMarre Carroll’s a good defender but probably isn’t a reliable enough outside threat. Norman Powell’s still developing.

The Raps don’t have much cap room, but they do have a high draft pick (thanks Andrea Bargnani!) so I’m hoping they can add a good power forward or backup centre to replace Bismack Biyombo, who they almost certainly won’t be able to re-sign, and manage to sign (or, more likely, trade for) some veteran shooters.

Cover photo by Tom Maglieri, used under Creative Commons license

The second round

The last (and only) time the Toronto Raptors won a playoff series, I wasn’t even writing this blog. And I’ve been writing this blog for almost fifteen years. So.

Actually, the Raps had never won a 7-game playoff series — in 2001 they beat the Knicks in 5 before losing to Philadelphia in 7. Then came a 4-year drought, then 2 straight first-round exits, then another 5-year drought. The last two years have seen hugely disappointing first-round losses to lower-ranked opponents.

This year, finally, and barely, the Raptors survived the first round. On paper they should have beaten Indiana handily, but it took 7 games. You could see this team almost thinking they’re jinxed, but they held on, and the proverbial monkey alighted from their shoulders.

Now, in the second round, they play Miami. Again, on paper, they should win this, but Miami stole home court advantage in game 1. The Raps won game 2 and I’m hopeful that maybe they can regain their regular-season form, but…I don’t know. So far they seem tentative, almost cursed a little. Who knows, maybe they’ll pull out this series too and move on to the 3rd round and we’ll celebrate that milestone.

Right up until they play LeBron and the Cavs.

[UPDATE] They did indeed pull out that series win over the Heat and moved on to the 3rd round, and we all celebrated that milestone.

And then they played game 1 against LeBron and the Cavs.

God be with you tonight, Raptors.

.:.

Cover photo by Tom Maglieri, used under Creative Commons license

“But he’s not even a very good Prime Minister.” “***WHO CARES HE’S FAMOUS OUTTA THE WAY LITTLE GIRL!!!!!!!!***”

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I stared at this a lot last night. I mean, not this particular guy’s sweatpants-covered junk, but rather crowds of people all but standing on top of me.

See, Nellie and I went to the Raptors game last night. We hadn’t seen one in a while, and we decided to buy good tickets. After all, it was Andrew Wiggins’ first game in Canada, and against the T-Wolves the Raps were all but guaranteed a win. They did win, but it was closer than it should have been.

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Anyway, we discovered when we arrived (after it took us ten minutes just to walk the last 30 feet to our seats) that his gloriousness Stephen Harper was sitting across the aisle from us. That’s his head and torso (and, uh, son) in the bottom right of the picture. The crowds that were clogging up an entire section of the ACC weren’t his entourage, they were — and I still have a hard time even believing this — people lining up to have their picture taken with him.

*Sigh.*

Now, I’ll give the security guys credit: they actually tried to keep the aisle clear during play, as did the ushers. But the selfie-seekers are idiots, and would stand, gape-mouthed and blocking traffic, with Blackberries in hands until they could get a picture with that magnificent head of hair. As such we couldn’t see some of the game, and missed the entirety of the half-time show and on-court entertainment, including Raptor antics which, as everyone knows, are at least 15% of the reason to attend a game.

I actually felt a little bad for Harper…I think he just wanted to watch a basketball game with his kids. But then again, he decided to sit in a place which afforded maximum photo ops. Maybe he should have sat in a box where people wouldn’t bother him and where, oh I don’t know, crowds of people wouldn’t have trampled and blocked the thirty people nearest him who paid good money for their tickets.

The very best part? At some point in the evening he did a photo op with some actual players, and his social media lackey tagged the wrong player.

Oh, and the idiots next to us had a Wand of Narcissism, which just kind of capped off the evening.

11069260_10153062412070673_3175115648376994575_nMaybe the only thing salvaging the evening was meeting up with Kaylea, Jenna, and Jordan over some pizzas at Libretto. We used beer to wash away the distaste.

All they needed was a retired shooting guard

Another pretty good weekend: the Murphy girls were once again in town. But first I got to see the Raptors game Friday night which, despite the loss to Cleveland, was a pretty momentous game marking the anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s death. Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Dikembe Mutombo, and Tracy McGrady were all there.

On Saturday I ran some errands and hit the last couple of days of the Union Station Holiday Market. That night, after the Murphy girls got home we drank some Blue Mountain sparkling and a bottle of Gueuze Tilquin, hit Beerbistro and Triple A and then came home to knock off a few special bottles. This morning we loaded up on breakfast at the Jason George before the ladies left; since then it’s just been a Game Of Thrones marathon. Not a bad weekend.

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Things I've learned in the past 24 hours

  • I’m getting sick. Not enough to make me feel like I need to stay in bed, but enough to drain me of all energy and motivation to, you know, move.
  • The Rob Zombie remake of Halloween (imdb | rotten tomatoes) started off better than I expected, in that it gave us a Michael Myers preview, but the remake part was just standard slasher fare. The only thing I liked better about it than the original was that Myers moved like a normal guy…fast sometimes, normal speed the rest of the time, instead of at a slow zombie pace.
  • Sometimes our cats will sleep quietly through the night. Other times they will stage a Bob Fosse revival on our bed at 3AM. Last night was the latter.
  • We need a new coffee table and over-sized (but not too over-sized) chair, but aren’t having much luck finding them. Lo and behold, I read this in Thursday’s issue of Now, and figure we should give it a try.
  • Even when the Canadiens are down 4-1 going into the third period, I should still finish watching the game, especially when it’s against a soft team like the Islanders. The Habs scored 4 goals in the third period and won. They’re playing .850 hockey so far this season, the best of any team in the NHL.
  • The Raptors look pretty good, having won their third in a row to remain perfect in this young season. Bosh looks better with O’Neal there to take the pressure off, Bargnani looks better coming off the bench than he does starting, Calderon looks better without the T.J. Ford of Damocles hanging over his head, and Kapono just looks better. But the defense is what seemed different last night…not all the time, but a lot of the time. Players like Michael Redd and Richard Jefferson have carved through the Raptors like butter in recent years, but last night, the Raps seemed to challenge more. Anyway, we’ll see how they fare against real competition like the Celtics or Lakers.
  • John McCain isn’t funny.

"Give him the gun. Give him all the guns."

Bad night for my teams. The Canadiens lost and now trail a series for the first time in these playoffs. The Raptors lost and were eliminated in the first round, 4 games to 1.

.:.

I forgot to blog about it, but we watched both parts of Grindhouse (imdb | rotten tomatoes) a few weeks back. I’d heard Planet Terror was better than Death Proof, but I found it to be the other way around. A lot of people complained about the prolongated girlie conversations in Death Proof, but I found they were good buildup to the high-grade ass-kicking at the end.

[tags]canadiens, raptors, grindhouse[/tags]

2 days, 4 Dickinsons

It’s been just over 36 hours since some members of my family arrived: my dad, my brother and my nephew. Since they got here yesterday morning we’ve had some breakfast at Sunset Grill, walked around Toronto a bit, played some crib (while my brother & nephew went to the CN Tower), watched some Planet Earth, had dinner at The Keg, shopped at St. Lawrence Market, had breakfast at Over Easy, visited the ROM, relaxed (while my brother & nephew swam in their hotel’s pool), ordered some Pizza and went to a Raptors game (while Nellie bought herself a Nikon D-60).

The question now is whether they’ll be able to fly out tomorrow evening because of this storm.

[tags]sunset grill, cn tower, planet earth, the keg, st. lawrence market, over easy, ROM, raptors, nikon D-60[/tags]

I think the $117 would've been better spent on an hour of therapy

From the “I’m glad it wasn’t my country” file:

Who got the money and why? It went to help pay a psychic who performed a ghost exorcism in one of the units. The occupants of the home reported hearing banging noises and seeing objects flying across the room by themselves, and told officials on Easington Council in Durham County, England they believed their apartment was haunted.

[via CityNews]

.:.

Torontoist makes a very good point today that I should’ve made yesterday: while the national news media makes fun of Toronto’s weather spazztasm, the local media leads the hand-wringing.

.:.

Big night for my teams. Montreal snapped a 3-game losing skid by scoring late to tie the game and then winning in overtime, while the Raptors beat Vince Carter and the Nets like a red-headed stepchild…a game T-Bone was lucky enough to see live. The Duke Blue Devils even beat Maryland tonight, which I kinda half care about.

[tags]haunted apartment, torontoist, toronto media, snow, canadiens, raptors, vince carter, duke blue devils[/tags]