The Toronto Raptors' title defence came to an end on Friday with a 92-87 Game 7 loss at the hands of the Boston Celtics.
TAKEAWAYS: Raptors season ends in Game 7 heartbreak
It was a valiant effort from the Raptors, who overcame a number of odds to have a historically successful 2019-20 season. Following his team's season-ending loss, head coach Nick Nurse, who was named the NBA's Coach of the Year after leading Toronto to the league's second-best record, was asked about the pride he felt about his team.
"We all should be really proud of them. They represent the city, the country and the organization (well). And when you watch our team play most nights - win, lose or draw - you gotta say 'those guys gave everything they had' and I think they do it at an extraordinary level.
"It's an extraordinary level of commitment and desire and fight that they bring so it's always sad when a season ends, that's for sure, and that's a special team."
Throughout the season, Toronto defied the odds, finding ways to win despite overwhelming amounts of adversity in the form of injuries. The Raptors missed 219 man-games to injury this past season, the fifth-most among all NBA teams and second-most among teams to qualify for the playoffs.
That the Raptors earned the East's second seed despite all of these things speaks to the team's resolve.
"We're gonna remember how well we played considering there were really low expectations for us," Nurse added. "I think we never got hung up on that, I don't think we got hung up on winning the title last year. I think we took it as this season and tried to max out what we could do and for the most part, we did."
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And while Nurse lamented the way in which things ended, he didn't let the second-round letdown take away from a special season:
"We didn't play great in this series, there's just no denying that but pretty much the whole rest of everything else we did this year, we played awesome with overcoming a lot and just never wavered and it's almost hard to believe that we were really within a possession of continuing on here."
Now, the Raptors pivot forward with some uncertainty this offseason, including the impending free agency of three key players in Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet.
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"I already miss this team," Nurse said about the possibility of the roster undergoing changes moving forward. "That was a hell of a two-year run with the core group of these guys."
A hell of a run, indeed.
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