The Toronto Raptors got their faces kicked in by the Cleveland Cavaliers in last night’s Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, losing 116-78 and putting their season on the line in a do-or-die Game 6 back home in Toronto.
Anyone who watched the game knows that the Cavs played just about the perfect game, with their Big 3 of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love combining for 71 points, and the entire team stepping up on defense to eliminate the Raps’ two-headed monster of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.
Yet, some people think that a new report about Toronto’s role players, DeMarre Carroll and Cory Joseph, being at a Cleveland casino till 2 a.m. on the morning of Game 5 could have been a reason for the lopsided outcome.
I declare bullshit!
According to Toronto’s head coach, Dwane Casey, he doesn’t even think it’s that big of a deal, per the Toronto Sun:
“I didn’t know that,” said Casey, when told his starting small forward and backup point guard were spotted at the Jack Casino, a short walk from the Quicken Loans Arena early Wednesday morning. “This has nothing to do with curfew.
“This isn’t why we lost … This is the NBA, they’re grown men. These are grown men. These things happen.”
Neither Casey nor the team indicated whether there would be any kind of fine for Carroll and Joseph being outed.
“It was an 8:30 game. That’s the good thing I guess,” said Casey.
As the Sun writes:
Why would DeMarre Carroll and Cory Joseph put their own reputations in question, possibly put their team in question, by being seen wandering around in the middle of the night?
Excuses aside, the optics aren’t good. The Raptors won two spectacular games at home trying the series with Cleveland. This was their opportunity really to jump into the clouds, to be where no one thought was possible. At least to put them in a position to do so.
That’s why the backdrop of Carroll and Joseph being caught out late has to be troublesome. It may not, as Casey said, be the reason they lost. It wasn’t. But what if it was symptomatic of something else? Players not necessarily prepared? Players not taking their jobs seriously?
Were Carroll and Joseph in the wrong for being out till the early morning the day of the biggest game in franchise history? Obviously. Did it effect their team for a game that tipped at 8:30 p.m. much later that same day? Not a chance.
Sure, the two role players were key pieces in the Raptors winning games 3 and 4 at home, but their combined eight points in a combined 36 minutes on the floor in Game 5 was more about what the Cavs did than doubling down 18 hours earlier at the blackjack table.
“That’s not why we lost. They kicked our butts. That’s the bottom line. We didn’t meet that standard tonight for whatever reason.”
Michael Jordan was a different animal, but he used to go out and gamble till the wee hours in Atlantic City during the playoffs way back when and still go out and dominate—even if he did get massive criticism.
Raptors fans might be pissed off about the news of DeMarre Carroll and Cory Joseph, but the James Gang had more to do with the beatdown than two grown men still awake at 2:30 in the morning, so let’s just bury this nonstory.