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Bench Talk / Off The Wire

A Raptors Breakthrough


By Fred Wallace

Game 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference Quarterfinal between the Raptors and the Washington Wizards resumes tonight in Toronto.

To a certain extent, the Raptors may have scored several victories already.

Most significantly, Toronto holds a 1-0 lead in the best of 7 series after posting a 114-106 victory on Saturday.

But almost as important, the victory for the Raptors came in Game 1 of the series, a point in time that has seemingly held a curse on the Toronto franchise for more than 15 years.

You have to go back to 2001 when the Raptors where still somewhat of an NBA novelty to find their previous victory in Game 1 of a playoff series; that being a triumph over the Philadelphia 76'ers in the opening game of Round 2 that post season.

In fairness, the Raptors missed the playoffs 9 times in that stretch so they never had a chance to win, or lose, an opening game.

And also in fairness, the Raptors overcame a Game 1 loss to eventually win a series on 3 occasions.

Still, with 10 straight losses in series openers, Game 1 Saturday against Washington was viewed as a mental roadblock as much as a physical challenge against a Washington squad who threatened for most of the first 3 quarters of that game to extend Toronto's futility streak.

Toronto did prevail, a large sigh of relief was heard, and tonight the Raptors try to make it 2 in a row to launch their series with the Wizards and leave the curse of Game 1 far behind them.

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