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Raptors want to overcome the historical game 1. Fight against nets

The Toronto Raptors are the defending NBA champions and strong favorites in their first round against Brooklyn Nets, which begins in the NBA bubble in Orlando on Monday. But they have to overcome some jitter in the opening game that plagued the raps in their franchise history.

Whether led by Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Chris Bosh, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry or Kwahi Leonard, Toronto just doesn’t seem to win the first game. Since joining the NBA in 1995, the Raptors have been in Game 1 of the playoff series 4 to 15 times and it has become a joke among the team’s writers and fans.

“Who will line up 35 to beat us in Game 1 this season? How are we going to lose this time? “

The joke answer this year is Joe Harris or Chris Chiozza or some other unobvious Brooklyn gamer. But Toronto’s inability to win opening games in the playoffs is noteworthy.

After playing in the playoffs for the first time 20 years ago and being defeated by the New York Knicks in the first round, Toronto retaliated in the 2000-2001 playoffs but lost their first game. The Raptors may have won Game 1 in their second round against Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers, but fell in seven.

It would be another 17 years before Toronto won another Game 1. The raps lost 10 consecutive openings, including all three in the 2015-2016 postseason when they reached the conference finals. It wasn’t until the first round of the 2017-2018 playoffs against the Washington Wizards that Toronto finally got one, and then it was promptly swept by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the second straight season.

That sweep prompted Raptor’s president Masai Ujiri to replace long-time beloved head coach Dwane Casey with Nick Nurse, forcing him to make one of the biggest trades of the last decade, trading DeRozan and others for Leonard and Danny Green. That, as you probably know by reading this, resulted in the Raptors winning the title.

And Toronto not only won everything last season, they also scored an unprecedented 2-2 in Game 1, including a win over the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, doubling Game 1 wins over the past two decades . Maybe that’s the power of Leonard, who went to the Los Angeles Clippers after taking home the final MVP, and Green, who went to James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Will Toronto’s newfound Game 1 skill resume with both players gone? Or will the Raptors go back to their longstanding habits and somehow lose another series opener? Toronto just has to hope history doesn’t repeat itself again.

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