Raptors superfan Nav Bhatia says Toronto's 1st round win 'like a dream'
'We have the monkey off our back now,' says well-known NBA fan
The man who has supported the Toronto Raptors since day one says he is relieved and optimistic after seeing the Dinos win a seven-game playoff series for the first time ever.
"I'm on cloud nine right now," Raptors fanatic Nav Bhatia told CBC Toronto anchor Mike Wise. "This was like a different feeling, you know. It was like a dream."
It's the first time Canada's lone NBA franchise has won a playoff series since the Raptors beat the New York Knicks in a five-game series in 2001.
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However, it wasn't entirely smooth sailing in Toronto's Sunday night Game 7 win over the Indiana Pacers. Toronto's lead was slipping away in the final quarter and moments were tense for all involved.
"I started praying a little bit at that time," Bhatia admitted. "And I'm glad the game ended. I was praying that the game doesn't get extended [into] overtime."
Bhatia has been attending Raptors games since the team's inception in 1995 and has become a well-known figure for fellow fans and players. He says this is the first time he has felt this kind of positive energy in the post-season.
"Going into the second round, you're going to see that we are confident, that we can do it, that we have the monkey off our back now."
Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan made a similar reference to that metaphoric monkey, which has haunted Toronto for years. In 2014, the Dinos lost in seven games of the opening round to the Brooklyn Nets. A year later, they got swept by the Washington Wizards in four straight games.
'They're playing as a team'
Two straight years of losing in the first round of the NBA playoffs made this year a critical one for players and fans alike. Bhatia credits the influx of young talent such as Norman Powell and Cory Joseph for changing the dynamic of the roster.
"I believe the team has a good chemistry to themselves," he said. "They're playing as a team."
And before he left the Air Canada Centre following Toronto's 89-84 victory over Indiana, Bhatia shared a message to all of his fans on Facebook.
"Seeing the energy of the people, of all the fans, was just a different level."
Bhatia hopes that passion continues as the Raptors tip off against the Miami Heat starting Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Toronto.
With files from Mike Wise