TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors got another dreaded early start time. This time, the club wanted to make light of the situation.
Game 5 of the Raptors' first-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers started at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, an hour before Game 2 started eight days earlier and 90 minutes before the Raptors' usual weekday evening starting time during the regular season. Accordingly, the team released a note from Toronto president and general manager Masai Ujiri meant to encourage employers to allow their Raptors-faithful employees to leave work early if necessary to catch the start of the game.
"With the busy NBA playoffs schedule, we have to start work earlier than usual tonight. 6 p.m. Eastern in fact," the note read. "As you know I'm sure, ________ is an integral part of our team and we need all hands on deck tonight for Game 5. So I'm personally asking for your help by excusing ________ early so they can be ready in time, either in the stands at Air Canada Centre, outside in the Square or tuning in from home, showing the world who we are. Thanks for doing your part."
The early start was clinched on Sunday night, when Cleveland finished a sweep of Detroit. That meant Tuesday's schedule would have only two games, both of which were taking place in the Eastern Time Zone — Toronto and Atlanta. When possible, the league prefers that its games do not overlap in the post-season.
Raptors fans have previously been nonplussed about start times. The team has hosted the first game of the post-season each of the last three years, a 12:30 p.m. start time. The Raptors have lost all three games.
"Evidently someone doesn't feel like we're deserving of that prime time spot," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said before the series started. "We have to use that as motivation."
Eric Koreen , The Canadian Press