Game 1 caught everyone watching off guard; and, I think it caught the players off guard too. Bucks played a tentative game for the most part and the Raptors were too comfortable or over-confident, or both. As the fourth got underway, reality began to set in for both teams but on opposite ends of flow and joy. The Bucks went from seeing a way that they could win the game to being confident that the game is theirs to lose. The Raptors went from knowing that the game was well within their reach to suddenly feeling panic that the game was slipping away; and unfortunately, it did.
It’s the classic story. It always happens in basketball, and at all levels. It happens in all competitive sport too but what happened to the Raptors is a typical problem. They rested too heavily on their laurels. It’s easy to plan and to look back on the past, feeling confident about your ability in the future. It’s easy to count your eggs before they hatch. That’s the easy part. It’s not easy to predict what the conditions will be in life. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned. You never know how many fans will show up. You never know how people will react to adversity. You never know what changes will happen in your environment. You never exactly know the threats you may face on the court. Technical problems. Equipment problems. Who knows? The main point is, you can’t live in the future. You definitively can’t plan for and live in the future at the same time. The Raptors rushed in. They were able to feel that they needed to be patient and not panic, but that late in a game, it was more about execution. Executing in the moment. You can’t cheat the process.
So, Game 1 is done. Game 2 is on the horizon. If the Raptors are going to win this series, they’re going to have to live in the moment. They’re going to have to do it as a team. In all truth, the Raptors have the better team and that’s their advantage. It’s going to have to be a team effort. Everyone has to be locked-in and everyone has to be given a chance to contribute. Instead of focusing on Giannis, they need to look at the Bucks as a team and break them apart. It has to be methodical and it has to involve elite execution. Everyone needs to be ready to step up and they need to have counters to everything and everyone on the Bucks. The game has to be won in every possession. That’s what the Playoffs are; who can play as a team, who can execute in each possession, who is ready and, which team will win.
Let the dance begin.