DeMar DeRozan's season ended 12 minutes and 24 seconds earlier than his team-mates, thanks to a late third-quarter finish in Game 4 on Monday, and one can only imagine that they had to be jealous. Retire to the locker room before the imminent loss of 128-93? To shun the television cameras and come out of a cheering crowd of Cleveland who was happy in your moments of suffering?
Every Raptor on this floor must have wanted it.
Toronto's season is over. They have lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the third year in a row, and they have been swept out of the playoffs for the third time since they put together this DeRozan and Kyle Lowry core. This offseason will raise serious questions and possibly cause Dwane Casey to fire. Mind you, Casey was considered coach of the year all season long ̵
That was absolutely Toronto's chance: they won a franchise record of 59 games; they reinvented their identity with Casey's help, shot more three-point images, and earnestly invested in a defensive identity; they even built a young bank with promises. For a team without a top 20 player, it was probably as good as any team.
The only problem: you continue to play a team that has a top-1 player.
On Monday, James didn & # 39; Do not embarrass the team with a 40-point game or a playground-like game. He was great and his teammates were even better. A few days after Saturday Night Live paraded how bad the non-LeBron cavaliers were – rightly, I would say – it was the same cast-off supporting role that looked like they were the best of the world.  That could be Toronto's biggest embarrassment. Sure, their culture did not last. Their defense sank and bent into the hands of the best player in the game. Their stars fought again as the crushing weight of the playoffs pushed them down again. But worse than that, they were embarrassed by Cleveland's assistance, one that had been a joke in a first round of the Indiana Pacers.
This is not a story about what went wrong in tactics or why the Raptors could not get out of their staff. I am well aware that there were voting problems and there are limits to how good teams can be without a truly dominant star. It's clear that some of Cleveland's makeover were just luck. All of these factors came back to bite Toronto, but they swore that this team could be different. Well … they could not.
Toronto has earned so many believers this season, and many people have vowed that this year would be different. It was not as far off as people would think – what happens if Jonas Valanciuna's game gets 1 tip and wins the game, or if James & # 39; HORSE would jump off the line. But basketball is cruel and does not reward the Fast winners or the teams who ask, "What could have happened if luck were on our side?" The story only remembers the victors, and that was only LeBron at last. This was still Toronto's best season in franchise history, and it will always be marred by the worst possible end the team could ever have imagined. (As evidence: See how often Mavericks fans refer to their 67-year year and the subsequent first-round fluteout.) Go down in four games to be legitimately swept against a team that barely advanced the first round … What if the Raptors had all been ejected in this third quarter? Hell, maybe in the first moments of Game 1?
Nothing has changed.