The collective Toronto fan base breathed a massive sigh of relief last Friday as the Raptors took down the Washington Wizards in Game 6.
The victory seemed to magically erase the pain and baggage from the 2015 sweep by the Wizards and it simultaneously allowed for a little bit of hope.
Win or lose, it isn’t always easy for some fans to watch games given the highs and lows in a given game. It certainly isn’t about to get any easier now that the Raptors are set to take on LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Round 2.
Now imagine what it would be like if you were watching a loved one play.
That’s the situation Lauren Miles, wife of Toronto forward, C.J. Miles, is in.
Lauren recently spoke to sportsnet.ca about what it’s like as a basketball fan and former NCAA player herself, to watch her husband play on the biggest stage in basketball.
SN: Do you get nervous before playoff games?
Miles: Oh, 100 per cent. One hundred per cent. When I walked into the arena (for Game 5 against Washington) I was nauseous the whole, entire game from the moment I stepped in to the arena until about two minutes left in the fourth quarter.
SN: When you’re sitting and watching the games are you cheering?
Miles: It’s really funny because during the regular season I hardly cheer. I don’t really clap unless it’s an amazing play, somebody gets dunked on or something like that. But during the playoffs, I’m intense. C.J. makes a shot and I’m like stomping my heels, jumping up and down. I’m THAT fan.
As a spouse, and especially me being on Twitter, it kind of opens the door for people to criticize C.J. via me. So, I always want him to play well just so I can be like, ‘ha ha.’ You know?
SN: So you can screen shot his stat line and send it back to them?
Miles: Ha ha, yes! So, you know, I think it makes the game a little more nerve-wracking for me and I’m not even the one playing. It’s just bragging rights for me on Twitter.
SN: Besides keyboard warriors on Twitter, do you have people throwing shade in the stands?
Miles: I haven’t really encountered that here in Toronto, but on the road when I’ve gone to away games that’s normally when it happens.
Anywhere you go there’s going to be ignorant fans, that’s just the nature (of things). People just watch basketball because it’s entertaining, they don’t necessarily know what’s going on. But sometimes it just crosses the line where it’s just idiotic.
You know, sometimes I just can’t hold my tongue. I have to put people in their place, but I haven’t really encountered anything terrible.
SN: OK, so you’re not afraid to mix it up a little with fans then?
Miles: Oh yeah. Yeah! I like good, clean trash talk. I don’t mind that at all. I’m not going to get nasty with you, but if you start it, I’ll finish it.
SN: A ‘dub’ usually means the car ride home is going to be fine, but after a loss, how does it go in the Miles’ household?
Miles: It really varies. There’s no tougher critic than C.J. (on himself). And I think honestly with the birth of our daughter (Ava) it kind of changed his perspective on things. Before (her), he would think about games all night. It would keep him up. I mean three, four o’clock in the morning, just replaying the game over and over. But now he comes home and I think Ava is kind of his release from that. You know it kind of brings him back down and gives him more of a balance.
SN: Round 2, James and the Cavaliers are coming to town. Last season with the Pacers you watched Indiana get swept in a very tight series. How frustrating is it watching LeBron do his thing knowing he’s arguably the best player ever?
Miles: Last season in the post-season was super frustrating. Obviously Game 1 with “the shot” and Game 4 when the Cavs came back after being down the majority of the game. It kind of leaves you dumbfounded because you do wonder how does one man affect the game THAT much? LeBron is by and large one of the greatest players I have ever seen, and I enjoy watching him, but I don’t need him to go Super Saiyan this series.
SN: So you already said you’re nervous watching these playoff games, is the anxiety going to amplify with The King in the Raptors’ way?
Miles: Absolutely! We all want the Raptors to be the giant killer this year and I think if there is ever a time to be that against LeBron, and if it can be anybody, it’s the Raptors. The world is watching now, all eyes on them, and I believe they can do it, so it’s definitely a little more nerve-racking.