The basketball gods couldn’t just sit around and let baseball’s Opening Day steal the show, so they decided to bless the hoops world with a heavyweight showdown between the Miami Heat and unheralded Toronto Raptors, who have continued to drive their little engine that could right into the heart of the East’s elite.
The Raps were five wins away from tying the franchise mark, along with requiring a single victory to surpass their all-time road record — so there was plenty on the line. Not to mention, any time Chris Bosh can be an outlet for the city of Toronto’s anger, it has the makings for an entertaining evening.
Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen ended up as no-shows, but it doesn’t take a treasure map to lead you to the conclusion that LeBron James and company can hold the fort down, especially with the home-court advantage. Besides, the playing field evened out with Kyle Lowry‘s fourth-quarter knee injury absence.
The giant force that is King James owns that rare on-off switch capable of exerting control over any aspect of a game at a moment’s notice. The Raptors have been first-hand victims of his dominant assertion, as the beast has been awoken in each of the three meetings between these two clubs this season, averaging 30.7 PPG, with a 63.6 FG percentage throughout.
Ah, the life of an NBA superstar and his squad, a world where free passes to the free throw line never end.
With the stage set for this matchup to blow the roof off, it became evident that school was about to be in session — a championship lesson that can only benefit Toronto as the Raptors embark on part two and three of their murderer’s row of opponents vs. the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers, both on home soil.
Non-stop ball movement, crashing the paint, and not settling for jump shots are demons thought to have already been met head-on by Toronto. The problem is, Miami is the prototype. With Miami’s inevitable overtaking of the East’s No. 1 seed, a future seven-game clash at the conference’s highest stage between these two franchises just might be in the cards. The Raptors just need to study the blueprint provided.