The Toronto Raptors drew a massive television audience for their final game of the 2019-20 season.
Toronto’s NBA title defense ended with a heartbreaking 92-87 Game 7 loss to the Boston Celtics, who will meet the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, with Game 1 taking place on Tuesday.
According to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press, more than 6 million Canadians tuned in for the thrilling Game 7. This was a strong increase from the Raptors’ Game 6 double overtime win, which reached 4.6 million Canadians, per Sportsnet:
It obviously wasn’t the result that the Raptors and millions of Canadians wanted, but the popularity for Canada’s only NBA team hasn’t waned in the slightest. If anything else, it’s only growing.
The Raptors completely exceeded expectations during the 2019-20 season. After losing superstar and 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard to the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency, countless pundits believed the Raptors would fail to hit the 50-win mark again.
But the Raptors cruised to their third straight Atlantic Division title. They finished with the second best record in the Eastern Conference at 53-19, only behind the Milwaukee Bucks (56-17). Nick Nurse was named Coach of the Year for his efforts.
Veteran and All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, rising star Pascal Siakam and guards Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet helped the Raptors remain in title contention throughout the year.
The Raptors erased series deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to force a Game 7, but the Celtics got by thanks in large part to young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brow. This marks Boston’s third trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in four years (they lost to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017 and 2018).
VanVleet and veterans Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol are all slated to become free agents. Raptors president Masai Ujiri has several tough decisions to make as he tries to help this team compete for another championship in 2020-21.
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