The Toronto Raptors are 0-9 as a franchise in the first game of a playoff series.
Combine that with the ghost of lousy playoff performances past, a difficult first-round matchup against a Washington team that has a lot of talent on the roster and gets John Wall back, plus an uneasy fan base that seems to expect the worst, and you get a Game 1 packed with pressure for the Raptors. It seems to overshadow the fact they won 59 games, have had a top-five offense and defense on the season, and that they have been clearly the best team in the East all season.
Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry acknowledged the pressure, via Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun.
If Toronto can win Game 1 comfortably — which is entirely possible, depending upon which Wizards team made the trip north of the border — they will gain confidence and should carry that over to a comfortable series win. However, how does the team react if it’s tight late in the fourth? Or even if the Raptors are down eight midway through the third quarter? Will the energy be sucked out of a nervous building?
The Raptors are saying all the right things.
We’ll see if that translates to the court.