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Raptors go down fighting in Game 7, a disappointing end to a fine season »

There aren’t many higher attributes a crew can have than being identified for taking part in onerous and fighting by lulls and at all times, at all times giving yourselves a probability.

They have develop into emblems of the Raptors, what they’re identified for, their tradition, and one thing of which they are often proud.

But all these good issues, all these positives, fly out the window while you throw the ball all around the gymnasium and one in all your greatest gamers shouldn’t be practically one in all your greatest gamers.

They did struggle till the end, fought the Celtics and, most essential, themselves, earlier than falling 92-87 to Boston on Friday evening in the decisive Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinal.

It is a disappointing end to a fine season for the defending champions, who had it to a one-possession recreation in the ultimate 30 seconds earlier than the Celtics pulled away.

Nothing exemplified the trouble higher than Kyle Lowry, who watched the ultimate 35 seconds from the bench after fouling out.

He wasn’t sensible — 5-for-15 from the ground for 16 factors with 4 assists — however he dragged himself by 41 minutes and gave the Raptors a fourth-quarter spark.

It wasn’t sufficient, primarily as a result of the Raptors weren’t sharp for lengthy sufficient durations and as soon as once more received too little from Pascal Siakam, who struggled as he has all collection.

The Celtics, who will transfer on to face the Miami Heat in the convention ultimate, had been led by 29 factors from Jayson Tatum.

For coach Nick Nurse, who was telling one and all for a day or so how a lot he enjoys the gut-wrenching, stomach-churning depth of playoff basketball, Game 7 was a time to pull out all of the stops.

He went to Matt Thomas in the primary quarter to open up area on the court docket, and it helped the Raptors overcome a 12-point first-quarter deficit.

He ran out the massive frontcourt of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol for an efficient couple of minutes, a counter-intuitive transfer after a small lineup had labored so effectively as Toronto survived an epic double time beyond regulation Game 6.

There had been box-and-one defences and triangle-and-two defences and nearly each trick in his e book.

But there have been two issues he couldn’t do, two issues no coach may do: exorcise no matter demons possessed Siakam, and cease his crew from committing expensive turnovers.

Siakam’s mysterious skittishness, anathema to how he’s carried out himself all through his profession, was painful to watch at occasions on the grandest stage.

His numbers weren’t horrendous (13 factors and 11 rebounds) and he did have some flashes of fine defence, however he performed nervously — committing 5 turnovers, lacking photographs he’s made since he broke by in the 2018-10 season — and spent far too many offensive possessions determining what he wished to do somewhat than simply doing it.

It will go down as probably the most sudden flip of occasions in a season stuffed with oddities for the Raptors. It is the primary time he’s failed to produce when it was most wanted, and the way he reacts the remainder of his profession will likely be a storyline to watch.

The turnovers had been atrocious and sudden for a crew that had dedicated fewer than another nonetheless alive in the NBA playoffs.

The Celtics had an unbelievable 31 factors off 18 Toronto turnovers and received up 11 extra discipline purpose makes an attempt.

But Nurse knew that it doesn’t matter what he did, what he stated, it was going to be about executing no matter schemes he devised.

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“I don’t think you’re saying anything that’s going to change their mindset or feeling towards (anything),” Nurse stated earlier than the sport. “As coaches, we still might try to look for a magical sentence that might resonate with them a lot, but I think they’re probably ready to go and play it out on the floor.”

The query now’s what turns into of this iteration of the crew.

VanVleet, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol are all free brokers, and Lowry has only one 12 months left on his contract, leaving president Masai Ujiri and normal supervisor Bobby Webster with critical questions to reply in the approaching off-season.

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