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The Starting 5: Can the Raptors get over the hump?

The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the internet

1. Pressure on Raptors as ghosts continue to haunt their dreams — Bruce Arthur, The Star

The Raptors and Pacers match up for Game 7 today as Toronto looks to finally claw its way out of the first round. After botching Game 6 in somewhat epic fashion, Toronto is facing a ton of pressure and its fans are understandably anguished. Bruce Arthur has an enlightening look at the situation surrounding the team, franchise and its fans. If the Raptors can’t secure a Game 7 victory at home, you can probably expect to see a much different roster next season.

2. Who was that guy in the purple shirt heckling Dwyane Wade? We found him — Théoden Janes, Charlotte Observer

Anyone who watched Friday night’s Game 6 between Charlotte and Miami probably came away with two thoughts: 1) Dwyane Wade is still really, really good on the big stage; and 2) who the hell was that crazy dude in the purple shirt?! The Charlotte Observer does Pulitzer-level work here tracking down the now infamous “superfan” that just couldn’t stop screaming at a future Hall of Famer. As you may expect, Purple Shirt Man is certain his taunts had nothing to do with firing up Wade — even though all the visual evidence suggests otherwise. He also won’t be renewing his season tickets next year, which is probably in everyone’s best interest.

3. Drive to revive: Why Luke Walton chose the struggling Lakers — Ramona Shelburne, ESPN

Luke Walton agreed to become the Lakers next head coach in a fairly predictable move following the 36-year-old’s 39-4 stint overseeing the Warriors. Ramona Shelburne, who so often has the best scoops in Los Angeles, has all the details on this page of Luke Walton’s story. A man whose life has always revolved around basketball, the son of Hall of Famer Bill Walton had maintained a soft spot for his former team, the Lakers. With the job opening up and Luke arguably the most interesting candidate still available, this marriage makes perfect sense.

4. The Spurs expect dominance — Tim Cato, SB Nation

While the Spurs are undeniably favorites in the series, most NBA fans were looking forward to a hard-fought matchup between San Antonio and the Thunder. In Game 1, the Spurs laid an absolute smackdown from the opening tip, notching 43 points in the opening frame and winning by 32. Tim Cato breaks down the shocking opener and looks a bit at the implications for the series. LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard were ridiculous, but the return of Danny Green’s shooting may yet be the key to another Spurs championship.

5. The Hawks are ready for redemption — Paul Flannery, SB Nation

Last postseason, the Atlanta Hawks fell apart at the worst possible time, succumbing to a number of unfortunate and unfair injuries. Even though they “regressed” this regular season, the Hawks are more confident than ever heading into another matchup with LeBron James and the Cavaliers. Paul Flannery’s Sunday Shootaround takes a look at the confident squad, starting with the now-healthy Thabo Sefolosha. Flannery also briefly eulogizes the Celtics, who fell to Atlanta after seeing their depth fall apart in a similar fashion to the 2015 Hawks.

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