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Raptors’ no-frills formula could bring another title home



BUENA VISTA LAKE, Fla. – The scene was different, the virtual fans replaced the real ones, the silence of an almost empty arena broken only by hip hop music and the noise of the digital crowd pumped through suspended speakers. But for Masai Ujiri, everything seemed familiar.

A year ago, in Las Vegas, Ujiri begged Raptors fans not to panic. “Don’t lose a second of sleep,” said Ujiri, a few days after Kawhi Leonard packed his bags for Los Angeles. “We will be fine.” Now here is Ujiri, the president of the Raptors, a few meters from the NBA branded floor, in a hooded sweatshirt watching the batter of Toronto Orlando, his likely opponent in the first round.

For the Raptors, a 3-0 win and restart.

For Ujiri, perhaps, further claim.

Magic are just recovering from treating Dwight Howard. Cleveland has cratered twice. Oklahoma City made the playoffs a year after Kevin Durant left, but that took a season of history from Russell Westbrook and ended with a quick first-round exit. The story isn̵

7;t kind to NBA teams who lose superstars. In New Orleans it took years to dig out of Chris Paul’s business. Magic are just recovering from treating Dwight Howard. Cleveland has cratered twice. Oklahoma City made the playoffs a year after Kevin Durant left, but that took a season of history from Russell Westbrook and ended with a quick first-round exit.




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