TORONTO – With an uncanny calm, the Toronto Raptors have advanced within one victory of a historic NBA title, bringing joyful delight to supporters even as they maintain a stoic manner.
Winning twice on the road to seize a 3-1 edge over defending champion Golden State in the best-of-seven NBA Finals brought only stone-faced looks from players, taking the cliché of getting neither too high or too low to epic levels.
“The focus part has been impressive (and) necessary,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “They know we can’t get some place before it gets here. You got to put in the work to do it. There’s still a lot of work to do.”
A dramatic victory to reach the brink of the NBA crown they’ve chased since last October produced all the enthusiasm of a corporate report at a business meeting from the Raptors.
“We’re focused. We know that it doesn’t mean anything until someone has four wins,” Raptors star Kawhi Leonard said. “You never know what could happen and you got to take advantage of it and don’t get overly hyped and excited.
“Just stay in the same routine and just focus on what’s in front of me. Human beings, we do think in the future. You just got to stay current, stay in your routine, be patient and not rush anything.”
Leonard, who missed most of last season with an injury, has made his mellow monotone a trademark. Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol and Danny Green have helped pass it to teammates.
“Kawhi certainly sets that tone, but so does Kyle, Marc, Danny. The younger guys take the cue from them. They just know there’s not a whole lot of energy to spend on celebrating before time,” Nurse said.
“Our collective IQ, our experience and our demeanour has been good. They have gone in after games and talked about continuing to work and improve. There’s still a lot of room for improvement,” he added.
The Raptors look to finish off the Warriors in Game 5 today (PHL time) at home. (Jim Slater, Agence France-Presse)