SBnation: storybook season comes to an end
Old 05-05-2014, 06:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default SBnation: storybook season comes to an end

The Raptors' storybook season ends - SBNation.com

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Sunday was the first time a Game 7 was decided by one point since 2001. Lowry watched that game, rooting for the Philadelphia 76ers and his favorite player, Allen Iverson. The Raptors were their opponents, and a missed Vince Carter shot was the difference. The duel between those two stars is still Toronto's biggest moment in the NBA spotlight, but this one could be more meaningful if the team builds on it.

Lowry was noncommittal when asked about his free agency, but said this was the best group of teammates he's had in his life. The love is reciprocal. The Raptors all know how good he is, how determined he is and how much he means to the team.

"I always admired the dog that he has in him," Toronto swingman and fellow Philadelphia native John Salmons said after a recent game. "He's very tough. He has a lot of heart, and he plays with it, leaves it all out on the court, similar to A.I. That's really, from Day 1, that's what I always saw".

Seated at the podium beside his 2-year-old son, Karter, Lowry said he expected to go farther than the first round. He also endorsed Casey's return.

"I'm sure coach is gonna be back," he said. "I'm sure. He's done a great job. He's grown, he's become a great coach."

Casey said that the city should hope Lowry would come back and that the memory of the point guard "going through the meat-grinder" to get to the basket on that final possession would be fresh in his memory throughout the summer. He added that the loss will motivate the team and that the organization is in a good place. With his future up in the air — Casey's contract expires after this season — he sounded like a man who'd like to see things through.

"We're not a finished product," Casey said. "We're taking steps there. We're on our way there. Everybody wants to rush the process. We're a little bit ahead of it right now, but we're still not a finished product."

A season like this means most involved want another chance. Reserve point guard Greivis Vasquez has been saying for a while that he wants every single player to be back. Patterson said he hopes this is something that can carry over into next season. Both will be restricted free agents and neither knew what to expect from the team or the fans when they landed in Toronto by way of Sacramento in December.

Weeks earlier, forward Steve Novak admitted no one really saw this coming.

"Even going back to some of our internal meetings, I think to be honest, our expectations, we didn't set ‘em the highest," he said. "To be honest with you, I think we just decided we were going to come out and play as hard as we could and come together as a team and buy into our system. We did that, and I think very good things have come out of that."

In the immediate aftermath of the defeat, it wasn't easy to stay positive, even if the big picture is pleasing. The Raptors could be proud of how they battled, but they were by no means satisfied with the result.

"It's two completely different vantage points, obviously," Novak said. "You have the beginning of the year, where, like I said, I think there were very low expectations for us. And then you have the vantage of point of now, that we feel like maybe we actually have underachieved this year. I think we understood, as the season went on, how good we could be. Then I think we started to believe it.

"And I think, now, that's what makes this loss hurt."
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