Do you ever get your hopes up for something, tell everybody about it nonstop, and then it blows up in your face? Have you ever finally opened up to that man or woman you really like and make yourself vulnerable only to get your heart broken? Well, that’s kind of how I feel as a sports fan right now.
After five months of telling everyone who would listen about how great the Rams were and how much I wanted them to win a Super Bowl, they embarrassed me and themselves with their performance in the big game. The season was awesome and I’m OK with how it ended, but I’m having a tough time getting back into that mode when it comes to my other favourite teams.
With the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors, the 2018-19 season has gone about as well as could be expected. Both the NHL and NBA have just a month left (the seasons end on April 6 and 10, respectively), and looking ahead to the playoffs is the natural step at this point. Both teams are all but locked into the playoffs and their seed, and it’s time to let the excitement and imaginations run wild.
Except, I can’t get there, not yet. With the Leafs, having the fourth most points in the league as of Tuesday, March 5) is pretty incredible. I would have been fine with that at the beginning of the season. But once it started and I realized the team was good, I started to poke flaws in the team, so the same thing that happened with the Rams wouldn’t happen again. Right now, I’m using the fact that the Leafs aren’t as good as the Tampa Bay Lightning to keep my dreams of a Stanley Cup parade at bay, when really, nobody is. And yet, we know that the chances of the Lightning cruising to the NHL Final aren’t that good. The NHL is crazy that way.
Instead, I should be getting familiar with these teams that I will go on a very emotional journey with in April. For the Raptors, I want to fast-forward to the playoffs so bad. When at full strength, they can beat anyone, but they won’t consistently be at full strength until the playoffs, when Kawhi Leonard stops resting and Fred Van Vleet is healthy.
As of March 5, the Raptors had the second best record in the NBA, which is incredible, and need to go 14-4 the rest of the season to set a franchise record for regular season wins with 60. That sounds harder than it is — the Raptors have won nine of their last 11 games. And yet, when it comes down to it, I’m still scared of a possible second round matchup against the imploding Boston Celtics, or even a first round matchup against the Detroit Pistons, who have beaten the Raptors twice this year.
That’s ignoring the feeling that even if the Raptors could make it to the NBA Finals, I don’t think they could win. The truth is, none of us Raptors fans dare hope for an actual championship because we know better.
Still, I know myself, and I know Leafs and Raptors fans. We will still get our hopes up, and the excitement will build over the next month. This doubt will soon seem distant, and knowing that, I say bring it on, let’s go win some titles.
Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at firstname.lastname@example.org.