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Nobody is going to cry for the Toronto Raptors.

Think what you want of the Ontario government's handling of COVID-19 and the restrictions the Ford government has put in place to stop the spread of the Omicron variant. Good, bad, or indifferent, they've impacted almost every aspect of life in Ontario for the better part of the past two years. Businesses are shutting down. People have and continue to die. Nothing about this has been easy. 

That's no different for the Raptors who haven't had fans in Scotiabank Arena for nearly a month now following the government's decision to restrict capacity at sports venues.

"It sucks," said Raptors coach Nick Nurse who watched his team fall behind by 34 points Sunday night having come out totally lethargic and disinterested. "We're going to have to try to create this (energy) ourselves and just couldn't do it tonight.

"Whatever your thoughts are, it's just hard. But we've been through a lot of hard stuff so we can't cry about it."

Nurse is right. It sucks not having fans in the arena. It sucks not hearing the roar of the fans when Toronto starts mustering a rally or when someone nails a game-changing three-pointer. It sucks that there are no fans to energize this team from the jump.

But that is not the problem.

The Raptors are used to this by now. They went from the Bubble in Orlando in 2020 to a quasi-bubble away from Raptors fans in Tampa last season, to COVID restrictions in Toronto this year. They've played in more games without fans than any other team in the league.

“It was more normal than not, to be honest with you," said Raptors guard Fred VanVleet back on New Year's Eve when the new restrictions came into place. "I didn’t even think about it until we were just talking about it in the locker room."

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Almost every team that has come to Toronto since the restrictions began has commented on how weird it has been. 

"It’s not easy. I can tell you that," said Jae Crowder whose team snuck out of Toronto with a 99-95 victory.

"It’s one of the weirdest games I’ve ever played in," Suns coach Monty Williams added."This was weird with that big of a venue having played in all the venues that we’ve played in and then to come here and have no fans. It was quiet, cold, it was just weird."

"It’s no fun at all," San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said following a 129-104 loss to Toronto. "You’ve got to have fans. Fans are the lifeblood of everything."

Other teams aren't used to this. American arenas are packed full of fans these days. It's startling to play in Toronto, disorienting to play in such a big arena with so many empty seats.

The Raptors want fans back in the arena, that much is for sure. But it's not creating issues for them any more than any other team.

"You're right," Nurse said. "That is not the issue."

Further Reading

Report: 76ers think Pascal Siakam isn't a 'championship-altering perfect fit' for trade

Raptors continue to be impossible to judge, falling to Lillard-less Trail Blazers

Chauncey Billups says Fred VanVleet is 'maybe the most underrated player in the game'