4. The Raptors won a Game 1
Whereas LeBron James had been unbeatable in the opening game of the playoffs in recent years, the Toronto Raptors were the exact opposite. Heading into this postseason, the Raptors had dropped 10 straight Game 1s, with their last opening-game victory having come against the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals back in 2001.
They snapped that ignominious streak Saturday with a hard-fought 114-106 victory over the Washington Wizards at home.
Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined for only 28 points on 10-of-26 shooting, which would have been a death knell for Raptors teams in past seasons. This year’s squad, however, proved its regular-season way of doing things could carry over in the playoffs.
Between 23 points and 12 rebounds from Serge Ibaka and a combined 39 points off the bench from Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and Pascal Siakam, the Raptors staved off disaster despite their stars’ struggles.
“Guys played their role. It’s the same role they’ve played all year,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said after the game, echoing comments he made in early March. “As long as those guys are producing the way they are, why should we change our rotation?”
While the Wizards don’t tout the depth Toronto does — particularly in the wake of Jodie Meeks’ 25-game PED suspension — their starting five proved they’re up to the challenge of making this a series. But by snapping their lengthy Game 1 losing streak, the Raptors sent the message that this year’s squad isn’t backing down, either.
Next: 3. The T-Wolves didn't get blown out