As many expected, the Toronto Raptors woke up on Tuesday night on their home court, defeating the the Orlando Magic 111-82, in a game they really had to win to avoid what would have been deafening chatter of an ineffectively ran team expected to make a deep playoff run.
No one knew this more than the Orlando Magic.
What? Did they expect this to be easy?
Of course not, that’s why Steve Clifford’s squad will regroup as they head back to the Amway Center for a game three on Friday that will really pivot the series in one direction.
Expect the home team to be ready.
Here’s the deal from the other side of the lens. The Raptors have a tight window. Kawhi Leonard, their superstar will likely sign elsewhere this summer after being exiled there from San Antonio last year. This is unless Toronto wins it all or inspires him enough to believe they can do so if he sticks around.
That’s unlikely, especially with warm Los Angeles weather calling.
Toronto has built their championship hopes on a player “rental”. Orlando has built their team on prudent decision making on role players they believe can produce a competitive team.
For Friday, Orlando will learn and evolve. This is part of the winning formula that lead to a second half of the season that produced great results for the team’s first playoff birth in seven years.
The Magic are still the underdogs, don’t get that twisted, but if this team remains grounded and continues to evolve as the series progresses, they’ll give the Raptors everything they can handle.