The NBA can be a cold and unforgiving place sometimes. And one of the facts of life for quality teams is that they have to experience growing pains in the postseason. Every great team has to face their own version of a video game Boss, and just like in the digital realm, they usually have to lose multiple times before they make it over the hump.
Michael Jordan and the Bulls had the Detroit Pistons, LeBron James and the Cavs had the Celtics, ad infinitum. Of course, some teams never quite make it past that next step. The question is, how do you know when your window has closed? That’s what the Toronto Raptors are facing now after being ousted by the Cavs for the second year in a row, with a 109-102 loss in Game 4 on Sunday to complete the series sweep.
There are obviously a set of circumstances that make this question much easier to answer. One of the more crucial ones is whether your team was actually competitive. Unfortunately for the Raptors, it was a resounding no in this series. For one, the Cavs simply have more talent. But that’s relatively true for the other 95 percent of NBA teams.
What’s troubling is why the Raptors weren’t more competitive. Granted, they don’t have LeBron James on their team, but they boast a pair of All-Stars in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, along with a versatile stretch-four in Serge Ibaka. They also have a strong supporting cast that includes Corey Joseph, P.J. Tucker, and Normal Powell.