The story of 2017 for the summer for the Toronto Raptors is not what happened, but what could have happened. If the Raptors had LeBron they would have beat the Cavaliers. If they trusted themselves more they could have gotten further.
Now, Ujiri says their job is to be the best in the East on their own. The Raptors GM says his team needs to “figure it out” against the Cavaliers and hopes it’s enough of a motivation for his team to come together this fall.
“Our job is to beat him,” Ujiri recently told The Vertical. “You have to figure it out. If not, then go play in some other league or something. Go play in Greece. Our jobs, and the jobs of the players, [are] to figure out how to beat those guys. If not, you might as well give them the championship before it starts. I understand how good he is and I understand how good those teams are, but those things end. At some point, somewhere, somehow, we as leaders of our group, we have to figure out a way and motivate our players and give them the confidence to go out there and compete.”
Given that Kyrie Irving is likely leaving Cleveland, figuring it out may come easier than most expected it to for the Raptors. The problem for them, of course, is that the Cavs aren’t the only good team in the East. Even if Toronto can come through against Cleveland, there may still be the Celtics or even the Wizards looming as the newest big bad in the East.