TORONTO — With less than a minute to play in one of the craziest games you’ll see all year, two-time MVP Steph Curry beat his man and drove uncontested to the rim. As he entered the key, he was met by second-year centre Jakob Poeltl, who leapt up and, with a mighty swat, blocked Curry’s shot attempt straight into the shadow realm.
Toronto’s bench erupted. The Air Canada Centre erupted. The Raptors — down one in a game they once trailed by 27 — erupted, sprinting in the other direction for a fast break and a chance at the lead.
But from a remote corner of the court: a whistle. And an arm in the air. The officials were calling a foul on Poeltl, who couldn’t possibly have blocked the shot any cleaner. Standing in front of his bench, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey threw his hands on his head.
“That was a backbreaker,” Casey said. “We had the ball going the other way in that situation.”
Instead, Curry went to the line for two. And although the career 90 per cent free-throw shooter missed both shots — the ball, it don’t lie — the Raptors momentum was halted, and Toronto had to run a play against a settled and prepared Golden State defence, instead of having an opportunity in transition with defenders still scrambling back from the opposite end.
Ultimately, DeMar DeRozan was just a hair off on a mid-range jumper, before the Warriors rolled back up the floor and ran a practically un-guardable pick-and-roll with Curry and Kevin Durant, which resulted in a Durant make and the Warriors stretching their lead just far enough to sneak out of Toronto with a win.
After the game, neither Casey nor DeRozan were interested in suppressing their displeasure with not only the call on Poeltl, but several others down the stretch which made the unthinkable task the Raptors were attempting — overcome a nearly 30-point deficit against the best team on the planet — near impossible.
“It’s frustrating being out there, feeling like you’re playing five on eight,” DeRozan said. “That’s just what it feels like. Period. Some of them calls was terrible. Period.”
“It was just so many calls down the stretch – I’ve got to look at them. I’ve got to look at them and see,” Casey said. “It’s just mind-boggling when you ask the official, ‘did …read more