The Toronto Raptors are leading the NBA Finals 3-1 and Monday’s Game 5 could be the one where they bring home the title for the first time. As the big day approaches, here’s a look at what U.S. media are saying about the Raptors.
Move over, Golden State
Numerous analysts have said the Raptors are beating the Golden State Warriors at their own game. In a story that ran on the front page of the New York Times’ sports section on Sunday, Marc Stein declared that the defending NBA champions have met their match.
“For the Warriors are facing a team that believes it is Warriors North. That is the real issue,” wrote Stein.
Ray Ratto of Deadspin even declared that the Raptors “are the new Golden State Warriors.”
“The Golden State Warriors are finally all about the trailing step, the anxious shot, and the slumped shoulder,” wrote Ratto. “They are what they destroyed for years.”
In the San Francisco Chronicle, Bruce Jenkins says that the Raptors’ strategy of using big players have overwhelmed the Warriors’ use of small lineups.
“The Toronto Raptors have a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals partly because they have overwhelmed the Warriors with gifted big man Marc Gasol, the bruising Serge Ibaka, the supremely athletic Pascal Siakam and that punishing small forward for the ages, Kawhi Leonard,” Jenkins wrote.
Tim Legler of ESPN also agrees, and says the Warriors’ defence needs Kevin Durant to come back.
“Toronto’s playing big and physical. Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam, Gasol … (are) causing the Warriors so many problems because they’re playing small lineups,” he said on Saturday.
What does this mean for Canada?
During the news conference after Game 4, Kawhi Leonard was asked by a reporter what he thinks an NBA title for the Raptors would mean for Canada.
“I’m really not sure,” Leonard responded. “I guess you really have to ask somebody on the street or one of our fans.”
But the New York Times ran another story on the front page of its sports section on Sunday looking into the growth of basketball in Canada in the wake of the Raptors’ success.
In the piece, Times sports columnist Michael Powell writes that Toronto and Mississauga are becoming a hotbed for basketball talent thanks to the immigrant youth of these diverse cities.
“For a working-class kid whose family hails from Manila; Khartoum, Sudan; or Kingston, Jamaica, ice hockey can present a problem of cultural translation, not to mention the challenge of paying for skates and pads and club memberships and learning to stay upright while skating backward,” Powell writes. “Basketball offers easier entry.”
A successful business trip
From Drake’s courtside antics to the New Balance billboard in Oakland, media coverage has paid close attention to the trolling tactics throughout the series. A day after Game 4, the Raptors tweeted a spoof of the opening credits of Full House (a sitcom set in San Francisco) with the faces of Raptors players superimposed.
“Successful business trip to the Bay Area,” the Raptors declared on Twitter.
ESPN.com called it “the perfect tweet to sum up the Toronto Raptors’ 3-1 series lead over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.”
Even local media in the San Francisco Bay Area were fairly receptive to the trolling.
“Well played, Raptors, well played,” wrote KRON4’s Kayla Galloway.
“Well done,” NBC Bay Area sports reporter Josh Schrock wrote.
In SFGate, Dianne de Guzman praised the Raptors’ social media team for coming up with “a decent Bay Area reference” and wrote, “let’s give some credit where credit’s due.”
— THE STAR