I’m moving this weekend, and it is turning into a truly nightmarish ordeal. As such, these notes will be short, sweet, and to the point. Because, well, these boxes aren’t going to pack themselves. So without further ado…
-Prior to the tip off, the folks on Raptors TV make a big deal about the fact that Chris Bosh supposedly blew off Dwight Howard when Superman attempted to say hello to him. Oooh, intimidating! He didn’t say hi?! Surely, this means war.
-Rough start to the game, as both teams are whistled for offensive fouls. Nerves, perhaps?
(Dwight Howard doesn’t have any nerves, though, as he skies for a monster one-handed putback to put Orlando on the scoreboard.)
-Dwight, as you of course know, is an athletic anomaly. In a good way. He jumps so high that on a goal-tend in the early going, he begins complaining about the call while still suspended in the air. Howard nearly completed his argument before touching down again.
(He could’ve had a cup of coffee up there if he wanted to. Howard, by the way, finishes the opening quarter with 4 dunks.)
-Predictably, the Raptors come out with a ton of energy and swagger, taking an early nine-point lead.
(Unpredictably, TJ Ford is still in the starting lineup, and he’s playing pretty well so far. Sam Mitchell, ladies and germs. Let’s give him a hand, shall we?)
-A Marcin Gortat sighting! In case you’ve never had the, um, pleasure of seeing this man, allow me to describe his appearance for you: Long, slightly crooked nose, hilariously out of place tattoos, his body an amalgamation of impossible angles, and he has a wildly noticeable receding hairline. Just an unfortunate situation all around. I love the guy to be perfectly honest with you.
(Do you realize that the Orlando Magic gainfully employ both Hedo Turkoglu AND Gortat? What are the odds? I find this simply stunning. They might be the only two guys in the League who go home empty-handed after a night out clubbing.)
-By the way, Toronto is eating the Magic alive, and has a 13-point lead as the crowd loses their collective sh*t.
(Speaking of the crowd, gotta give the home folks some credit here. They’re now a legitimately great Playoff crowd. And to think that about ten years ago, some of these people knew so little about the game that they were standing up and applauding when the Raptors got called for offensive fouls. Give yourselves a pat on the back, T.Dot. You’ve come a long way.)
-The Artist Formerly Known as TJ Ford is reintroducing himself to the world, and Carlos Arroyo is getting absolutely worked over. Herky jerky moves, steals, ankle shattering crossovers, and silky-smooth rainbow jumpers have given the much-maligned Ford 18 points in the first half.
(Toronto fans, who despised his guts about an hour ago, are now chanting his name in unison. Oy.)
Toronto (61) – Orlando (40), Halftime.
-Try as they might, Orlando can’t cut Toronto’s lead to under 10 in the second half. Feeling the frustration, Howard shoves Bosh out of his way on the way up the floor midway through the third quarter. That’s what you get for not saying hello, Chris!
-To show that they’re not messing around, and fully intend to make this a long and hard-fought series, Jamario Moon and Chris Bosh team up to, uh, basically chop down Dwight Howard as he attempts to make a move in the paint.
(Moon was quite literally Samurai-sword swinging his right arm at Howard. Good thing Dwight is built from pure granite, otherwise he might not have survived that attack. Yipes.)
-I’ve always been fascinated by how well teams – namely, desperate ones – usually respond when they hit their home gym. Never underestimate the psychological power of homecourt advantage.
(Orlando might as well have just chilled at the hotel bar all night long, instead of showing up and getting their asses kicked. Now, that would have been a productive way to spend a Thursday evening.)
-The Magic were completely outclassed tonight. Not only that, but they got pushed around and left the arena with their tails between their legs.
Of course, Game Four is going to be an entirely different story. Things will likely be tight a lot tighter, and the intensity will get cranked up to a much higher level.
Enjoy this one Raptors fans; Saturday afternoon will be stress-filled. Better load up on that Labatt.