The Toronto Raptors enjoy a significant home court advantage inside the Air Canada Centre and outside Gate Five in Jurassic Park. It’s loud inside and it’s loud outside, so loud in fact that even the Raptors have struggled with the noise level in every Playoff Game One at home in the Dwane Casey era. Visiting teams can’t help but notice the crowd impact.
“Have you been here before?” DeMar DeRozan responded incredulously to a media inquiry this morning.
There will likely be an even higher level of electricity in the air and overwhelming noise inside the building and outside Gate Five for the first ever Eastern Conference Final game held in Toronto. The Raptors will need every advantage to beat the Cavs.
“I think being at home will help us,” Casey said after practice on Friday.
“We got our home crowd energy to feed off,” DeRozan said. “Understanding we’ve been great at home and we’ve kind of been in this position before. Probably not at this magnitude, but understanding that this is an opportunity for us to go home where we are comfortable at.”
Despite their Game One record in the postseason, the Raptors have played significantly better at home when the pressure is on. In the last two series, they had to win Game Five and Game Seven at the ACC to advance and they dominated after bad Game Four and Game Six losses. They have been here before, just not in an Eastern Conference Final.
“We’ll make shots tomorrow,” Lowry said on Friday. “We are going to be at home. We are going to play better. We got pride. We are going to play hard.”
The Raptors will give their all in front of their home crowd. The only question at this point is, will it be enough?
“Every game we get an opportunity to play is a must-win-game from here on out,” DeRozan said.
Toronto has to take both Game Three and Game Four at the ACC to get back in this series. It’s a steep hill to climb, but they’ve beaten the Cavaliers in Toronto twice before this season with the help of some fabulous crowd support. It’s just another opportunity with much higher stakes.