It appears to have been a closely guarded secret south of the border, but the Toronto fan base is loud and passionate and the Toronto Raptors players love it. Perhaps it was the long playoff drought that has hidden away the enthusiasm for the NBA in the North? However, the word is out now and the Air Canada Centre together with Maple Leaf Square is getting noticed.
“It’s unbelievable,” Kyle Lowry said. “Our fan base, it makes you want to be a part of it. The things we are doing now and the way the fan base is going out there, we want to go out there and play hard and give them a reason to keep coming back and packing Maple Leaf Square and packing the ACC.”
The contrast between the crowds at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the ACC in Toronto couldn’t be bigger. The ACC has the electricity of an NCCA tournament game with thousands watching outside on the big screen over top of Gate 5 that are just as loud. The Brooklyn crowd provided all of the excitement of a decent mid season NBA game.
The Raptors returned to Toronto looking forward to the home crowd advantage in Game Five.
“We need our fans,” Lowry said. “We love our fans. We want them to do everything they have been doing, packing the house, filling Maple Leaf Square. We need that. We want that. We can’t wait to see (Wednesday) – just the vibe and energy we are going to get.”
The Raptors split their games on the road and came within a couple of missed free throws of potentially being up 3-1 in this series. They are getting noticed south of the border. Lowry, however, only wants to be noticed for one thing and that’s winning.
“We will get respect by winning games and winning the series,” Lowry said. “That is how we are going to get respect. That is what our goal is. That is what our mentality is. To get respect by winning.”
The request is in. The Raptors want their fans to do what they’ve been doing to create the vibe and give them the energy to beat Brooklyn. It should be a loud and raucous night inside the ACC and outside in Maple Leaf Square on Wednesday.
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“This man (DeRozan) is becoming a superstar in front of everyone’s eyes,” Kyle Lowry said. “He is doing it on the defensive end and the offensive end.”