Alfonso McKinnie Talks About Playoff Atmosphere in The Raptors Locker Room
The Toronto Raptors have been here before.
They know all about the pressure that gets attached to a top-tier team entering the playoffs, let alone a one-seed – let alone – the only Canadian franchise that has time and time again been scrutinized for their level of play in the postseason.
“It’s the most important part of the season,” Says Raptors forward Alfonso McKinnie. “Everyone wants to win a championship.”
For the Raptors, a vital part of their overall success has been their team chemistry, something that has not withered at any point in the long season.
“I think it was a great vibe,” exclaims McKinnie. “I think everybody was getting along like they have been all year. Like you said, we ended number one in the East. That was a big accomplishment and everybody worked hard all year to accomplish that. So just overall that was a positive vibe.”
The 25-year old rookie has split time this season between the Raptors and their G League affiliate the 905, helping lead the Mississauga squad to their second straight Finals berth. Now, he will look to help the Raptors in anyway possible as they hope to exercise their playoff demons, but in the process, he will lean on the team’s veteran to learn as much as he can about the professional game.
“Kyle (Lowry), Deebo (DeMar DeRozan), C.J. (Miles). You know those guys,” Explains the 25-year old rookie. “Guys who have been around for a long time. Serge (Ibaka) as well. These guys have been in these situations plenty of times. For guys like us, young guys, they just raise their vocal leadership so we knew what we needed to do. Things weren’t going to be easy, but just stick together through the good and the bad and come out with these wins.”
As a rookie, whether he plays or doesn’t, McKinnie is part of a great system and a great organization in Toronto and the knowledge he will gain through this playoff stretch will be invaluable for his future development. After taking care of the Washington Wizards in six games, it will be up to the Raptors to find a way to finally beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers and McKinnie knows all about the mentality that team will need.
“It is my first year in the league,” Says the Chicago, Illinois native amid the Raptors first round series against the Wizards. “My first year being in the NBA playoffs, so I don’t think it gives guys a fake sense of security from what I’ve seen. Guys come in everyday. 1-0, 2-0, no matter what we’re up, everybody comes in with the same mindset, that every game counts. You got to come into every game like you’re down. So even though we were two up, I think that was still the same vibe going into game 3. Everybody wanted to go into game 3 like we were down. Just play, still with a chip on your shoulder. You still have to win two more games. Everybody was just playing like we were down so guys were going into game 5 playing with the same mindset as they have been all series.”
Bring on the Cavaliers for McKinnie and the rest of the Toronto Raptors will be ready to face the beasts of the East!