You would call it unbelievable were it not entirely, 100 percent, absolutely believable.
The Raptors led Game 1 against the Cavaliers from 13 seconds in until LeBron James tied the game with 30 seconds to go. Somehow, Toronto still lost the game, 112-111, in overtime. Here’s a full description of how it happened.
Every demon the Raptors have been trying to face down this postseason — the Game 1 curse, Kyle Lowry shrinking in the biggest moments, being unable to match up with James, the team getting in its own head — came to pass by the end of Tuesday’s game. It was a masterpiece of Raptordom.
And it’s so, so sad.
It doesn’t have to be like this. The Raptors are objectively and definitively better than the Cavaliers. James didn’t have a fully dominant LEBRON game — had he, Toronto could tip its cap and feel confident he wouldn’t be able to keep it up for a whole series. But the Raptors lost Game 1 and still face the specter of James wearing the Infinity Gauntlet to one or more future games this series.
The Raptors really, really, really, really, really, really should have won this game. If Toronto is going to win this series and slay their LeBron-shaped demon, they are going to have to win games like this. It won’t ever be easy against James (unless you’re the 2014 Spurs or 2017 Warriors, which the Raptors are not).
At some point James is going to throw a moon at you, and to beat him, you’re going to need to survive it. If you want to get to that point, you can’t punch yourself in the face like the Raptors did in Game 1. There’s no space for it.
Jazz at Rockets, 8 p.m. ET, TNT
Houston leads 1-0
Links on Links on Links
Stephen Curry has logged back on, and while the Pelicans put up a helluva fight, the Warriors are now up 2-0. Golden State was +26 in Curry’s 27 minutes and -21 in the 21 minutes he sat. I dare say this was a loss if Curry wasn’t back. In any case, it looks like New Orleans will grab at least one of these games back home. If only they still had Boogie Cousins ...
I’m looking forward to the NBA explaining why referee Jason Phillips simply decided not to call a jumpball or foul with three seconds left in the Warriors-Pelicans game despite Rajon Rondo tying up Kevin Durant in the corner inches from said ref. It’s a tie-up or a foul. Call one! You can’t just decide the game’s over because it’s a five-point gap with only a few seconds left.
Drake is now feuding with Kendrick Perkins. The two exchanged words multiple times during the game, with Drake apparently telling Perk “I’m here for real” as they puffed out their chests, which, nah dude you are NOT here for real when it’s Kendrick Perkins you’re facing down. Anyways, after the game Perk texted Woj to explain what happened and Drake took to Instagram to make fun of Perk’s pants. The NBA, it’s fantastic!
Want another feud? Of course you do. Charles Barkley declared he wants to punch Draymond Green in the face. Green tells him to do it or shut up. The NBA, it’s fantastic!
Paul Flannery on how the Celtics bullied the Sixers in Game 1.
Zito Madu on the exhilaration and mild sadness that comes from watching James carry the Cavaliers. Seerat Sohi on James’ control as he ages. Harry Lyles Jr. on the perils of doubting James.
Great piece from Emma Healey on the need to cherish this incarnation of the Raptors, win or lose. Dan Devine on the surreal Raptors collapse.
Really great PSA from the NBA on the importance of mental health, starring DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love, who each spoke out on the issue this season. There are some good resources on the NBA’s Mind Health page, too.
This is awesome: Chiney Ogwumike will serve as a full-time NBA analyst for ESPN while playing in the WNBA. Chiney has been working for ESPN in various roles (including on the African edition of SportsCenter and with appearances on Rachel Nichols’ excellent The Jump).
Some new information on Kawhi Leonard saga has leaked out. It would appear the Spurs were annoyed Leonard is relying on his own doctors after their well-respected medical team cleared him. There is also some agent/manager drama. It’s all weird, but at least it makes a little more sense now.
Sounds like there’s a standoff in Detroit over Stan Van Gundy’s future with the Pistons.
The NBA’s global academy in Australia has sent two prospects — one from Argentina, one from Cameroon — to NCAA programs for the first time.
James Harden, watching baseball alone while eating ice cream out of a novelty bowl. Living his best life.
He Got Game, the second best basketball movie ever (after Air Bud), turned 20 on Tuesday. Here’s Aaron Dodson on how Ray Allen became Jesus Shuttlesworth and Bleacher Report’s brilliant trailer for She Got Game starring Jewell Loyd, which needs to actually happen. (That latter piece came with a Jewell Loyd Q&A from Natalie Weiner, which is also great.)
And finally: Victor Oladipo inspired Dirk Nowitzki to text his trainer about getting an offseason workout plan going. The result is hilarious.
Be excellent to each other.