A number-one seed beating an eighth seed in a playoff series’ opening game isn’t always headline-worthy, but it is when the one seed in question is the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors have rarely gotten their playoff campaigns off on the right foot, losing their last 10 Game 1s, with their previous victory in a Game 1 (also the only one in their history) coming in the 2001 Eastern Confernce semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers. But on Saturday, Toronto snapped that slump with a 114-106 win over the Washington Wizards. It wasn’t an easy one, though, and the game even got off to a bad start for them, with tipoff delayed thanks to a leaky Air Canada Centre roof:
— Chris Miller ??? (@cmillsnbcs) April 14, 2018
And things didn’t immediately improve once the game got rolling. The Raptors led 28-23 after the first quarter, but the Wizards poured it on in a 36-point second quarter that gave them a 59-55 halftime lead. And with both DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry shooting poorly (they finished with 17 and 11 points and 35.3 and 44.4 percent field goal percentages respectively), there were definitely some worries for Toronto fans.
But the Raptors got some solid performances from players typically less-prominent offensively. Amongst starters, that was Serge Ibaka, who finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds. And from the bench, Deion Wright chipped in 18 points, four assists and three steals off the bench, while C.J. Miles had 12 points and Pascal Siakam (seen above) had nine points and five rebounds. That led Toronto to a 86-85 lead after the third, and they pulled away partway through the fourth for a relatively comfortable win.
No one’s ever had a particularly good explanation for why the Raptors have been so cursed in Game 1s. And Toronto head coach Dwane Casey commented on that Friday:
Dwane Casey on why the Raptors always lose Game 1: “If you know, we could go to Wall Street and make a lot of money. Bay Street here in Toronto.”
— alex (@steven_lebron) April 13, 2018
Well, if anyone did know, that secret may no longer work on Wall Street or Bay Street. One game isn’t everything, but winning a game one is a pretty big change for the Raptors.