Downtrodden, yet purposefully optimistic, the Raptors went into the New Jersey swamp last night with revenge on their mind. Who knew that their revenge would be so so sweet.
Both the Nets and Raps have been (not surprisingly) overlooked this off-season with the 'Big 3' in Beantown. But it looked as though the Raptors were on a two-fold mission last night. 1) Pound and embarrass the team that ousted them from the playoffs last year. 2) Prove to the league that yes, they are for real and ready to defend their Atlantic Conference crown. The Raps stormed into the lethargic atmosphere of the Izod Centre and absolutely spanked the Nets like they had stolen a cookie from the cookie jar, 106-69.
The Toronto version of kindergarten ethics -'sharing is caring'- shined once again as everyone who got in the game got a hoop. Il Mago led the way with 21 points Friday night, making it the second game in a row to post up over 20 and lead the team in scoring. The sophomore finesse player is looking like he's living up to the hype of a #1 overall draftee.
Also chipping in for the explosive Raps was CB4 who dropped 15, while still trying to get back into full playing shape. Dixon, Calderon, Delfino and Parker all posted double digits.
The main story here though is that the Raptors proved a point last night. They went into an historically bad building for them, where the ghost of playoffs past once loom and completely exorcised their demons. The 37 point victory was a record for the Raps on the road, and it has set up the match for what I think will be an Eastern conference playoff matching. Sunday they play the Celtics and can truly shut the critics up.
The best is yet to come.