For the first time in NBA history, the NBA Finals will be played outside of the United States as the Toronto Raptors defeated the Milwaukee Bucks to win the Eastern Conference Championship.

This win is also noteworthy because they started the season without the reigning and defending Coach of the Year Dwane Casey and superstar DeMar DeRozan. It also didn’t help that Kawhi Leonard is perceived by many as a rental and it feels as if the incoming season would spark the team’s rebuilding phase.

But no.

They won over the Bucks and have the homecourt advantage over the Golden State Warriors.  

Now apart from Leonard, they also got Danny Green from the said deal and in the middle of the season traded Jonas Valanciunas for Memphis Grizzlies legend Marc Gasol and former New York flash in a pan Jeremy Lin (although most of the blame should fall with the Knicks for letting his momentum slide).

So yeah, we got ourselves a dogfight.

The Warriors are unquestionably the team to beat here. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green have stepped up their games with the absence of Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins and if they swept the Portland Trail Blazers sans these two, what hell would they unleash if the trio becomes a five-headed monster. Nick Nurse has yet to lose a playoff series as head coach but he is going to face Steve Kerr – perhaps the only person in the NBA past or present to win three titles as a coach and three titles as a player (he had five titles as a player).

The combo of Lowry and DeRozan as well as the inability of Casey to step up in the playoffs could be a couple of reasons why their playoff hopes go dead in the tracks. But then again… something else got in the way.

Or someone.

So I still can’t comprehend as to why LeBron James had to move to the West and in the process, see his NBA Finals streak stop at eight. As part of the Cleveland Cavaliers, LBJ looked as if he’s the gatekeeper of Toronto’s NBA odyssey. Toronto compiled a 2-win and 12-loss playoff situation in the three years they faced the Cavs in the NBA Playoffs. In those three seasons, Cleveland swept the Raptors in two. There is even a Game of Zones episode where the Raptors “choked” at the hands of LeBron James posing as Drake.

I guess what I am trying to say here is that while the Raptors are the underdogs, they could pose like a viable threat more than what we are thinking. Sure, Lowry could stink up Game One like his other previous Game One battles but perhaps the NBA Finals could give his psyche a mental boost. The same can be said with the rest of the team – Lin and Gasol are great additions to a cast that also had the likes of Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka and the new and improved version of Pascal Siakam.

So I guess Toronto should thank LeBron for messing up his playoff hopes elsewhere… and I guess Golden State should thank James as well… for giving the team a new NBA Finals victim.



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