The Toronto Raptors’ 2017-18 season, one in which the team found unprecedented regular season success, ended the same way as it has the last two years: at the hands of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Toronto could point to being competitive in the first three games of the series, but Game 4 went completely off the rails as the Cavs trounced them, 128-93, to complete the sweep.
Cleveland won games in seemingly every way imaginable, whether it be a massive comeback in Game 1 in which they didn’t even lead in regulation, blowing a big lead in Game 3 only to have LeBron save them at the buzzer, or the comfortable victories in Games 2 and 4. The final game was such an emphatic, dominant performance that it left most viewers with the same question: What do the Raptors do now?
Toronto enters a third offseason in a row in which they have to answer the same main question, and it will only get harder for them to preach patience with a core group that has an apparent ceiling in the postseason. The Raptors are well over the cap for next season with no real wiggle room to try and shuffle their roster. There are no obvious answers for Toronto’s problems, which is what makes that question so difficult.
The Raptors have built themselves one of the East’s best teams. It’s a squad that can seemingly roll out of bed and rack up 50 wins in a season, guaranteeing a top-4 seed in the conference. However, the postseason has never been kind to the Raptors, and for all the talk about how things would be different this season for a variety of reasons, the end result was the same.
DeMar DeRozan had a fantastic regular season, expanding his offensive game to be more efficient with a career-best 55.5 true shooting percentage while averaging 23 points, 5.2 assists (also a career-high), and 3.9 rebounds per game. Against the Cavaliers in the playoffs, however, DeRozan was at his worst, scoring 67 points on 66 shots over the course of the four-game sweep with his three worst +/- outings of the season in succession to end the year.