The Toronto Raptors are going for it all.
Long criticized for not having the ‘it’ factor, four time all-stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are inviting the pressure this time around. Making a guest appearance on ESPN’s The Jump, the pair told host Rachel Nichols that anything less than a shot at the Larry O’Brien trophy in June will be considered a severe disappointment.
“It’d be a waste of a year,” DeRozan said. “You put in all this work, you want to compete for that championship. Anything less, you go into the summer upset thinking, ‘I got to do this all over again?'”
The Raptors are as confident as they’ve ever been, and rightfully so. They earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference with a franchise-record 59 wins, playing a brand of basketball that is far removed from the one that earned them heavy criticism during previous post-seasons. They have built one of the best benches in the league, and that has allowed more rest for Toronto’s all-star point guard who had been among the top three in minutes per game the past two seasons.
Lowry was quick to dismiss the worry about the doubts of their past, citing that the Raptors get a worse rap than their accomplishments deserve.
“They [the media] always say myself and DeMar, we don’t play well in the playoffs,” Lowry said. “At the end of the day, we’ve been to a conference finals, we’ve been to the second round, we’ve played the fifth most playoff games in the last — whatever — how many years.”
“People crazy,” DeRozan quickly chimed in after that.
If they lose Game 1 of the first round for the 10th time in franchise history and the fifth time under their watch, the criticism might get a whole lot worse than crazy.