Friday, October 30

Basketball

Defence will be the decider for Raps … Few changes now that the games count … Count on Raps making a social statement
Basketball, NBA, Toronto Raptors

Defence will be the decider for Raps … Few changes now that the games count … Count on Raps making a social statement

Article content continuedThe goal obviously is to be at their peak Aug. 17 when the seeding games and the play-in games have been completed.INEQUALITY STATEMENTWe know the Raptors are planning some kind of pre-game statement. We just don’t know what that will be.“I don’t think we have come to like something we want to do right now, there’s a lot of different things swirling around,” Siakam said Thursday.Rest assured there will be something. The Jazz and New Orleans Pelicans whose game last night was the first seeding game of this restart were reportedly going to all take a knee together around the Black Lives Matter logo printed on the court.CHANGES FOR RE-STARTIn an effort to improve on an already solid set-up for NBA games inside the NBA campus, the league has made a few tweaks.For st...
Reigning champ Raps on collision course to meet Celtics in Orlando bubble
Basketball, NBA, Toronto Raptors

Reigning champ Raps on collision course to meet Celtics in Orlando bubble

Article content continuedMental toughness won’t be an issue with this group, at least with its core players, and nor will coaching.There’s a swagger only championship teams acquire and a belief that no game against any foe can’t be won.In Utah, the Raptors were a plus-19 when it came to controlling the glass, but they also turned the ball 18 times.Siakam and Ibaka posted double-doubles, while Hollis-Jefferson hauled down 10 rebounds.When the season was suspended, only the L.A. Lakers, Toronto’s opponent Saturday when the Raps resume play, and the Milwaukee Bucks had better records.When the season went on pause, the Raptors tied with the L.A. Clippers for third-best in points differential.LeBron’s Lakers, who likely won’t have Anthony Davis on board, Miami, Orlando, Boston, Memphis with ...
STINSON: No sex, please. We’re in a bubble
Basketball, NBA, Toronto Raptors

STINSON: No sex, please. We’re in a bubble

Article content continuedTo be clear, I do not mean to imply that this is some kind of heroic burden that the players are being asked to bear, especially in light of a global pandemic that has caused untold heartbreak and misery. Pandemic aside, many people would look at three months without sex and say, yep, sounds like a typical August-to-October.But a lot of these athletes are young, wealthy, unattached men who are not unfamiliar with the idea of late-night companionship. Some of them are attached men who are still not unfamiliar with seeking other late-night companionship.Will they all behave? A couple of players have already had their quarantines tripped up by a need for takeout food. I can appreciate the desire for hot wings, but the other thing usually brings stronger urges.Perha...
Raptors’ VanVleet puts collision behind him but questions bring his family to Disney
Basketball, NBA, Toronto Raptors

Raptors’ VanVleet puts collision behind him but questions bring his family to Disney

No need to worry about Fred VanVleet.The Raptors’ guard left Sunday’s scrimmage early after knocking knees with Anfernee Simmons but confirmed Monday he is fine.Well, there was that video of his daughter that hit Twitter and gave us all a chuckle. Initially she couldn’t find her dad on the television screen and got a little agitated. Once she found him though she got very excited.While the rest of us laughed, VanVleet said it actually made him cry.It’s one of the mostly unseen price these players are paying in order for the NBA to push the start button again.“That was tough, man,” VanVleet said. “It’s funny ‘cause she’s a character. But yeah, it definitely hits home a little different, you know, not being able to see them.”VanVleet has the option of bringing in his family after t...
Anunoby looks like a new man on offence in Raptors’ win over Portland
Basketball, NBA, Toronto Raptors

Anunoby looks like a new man on offence in Raptors’ win over Portland

If scrimmage No. 1 was the Serge Ibaka show, scrimmage No. 2 was the OG Anunoby reveal.Anunoby is Toronto’s lockdown defender, that goes without saying. But coach Nick Nurse has long been touting Anunoby’s all-around game or at least the potential for more of an all-around game.In the past, Anunoby lacked the kind of flow and smoothness many of his NBA counterparts just seem to have instinctively when they have the ball on offence.Now, Anunoby does not say too much to the media as a general rule and when he does speak it is almost strictly in generalities, but based on last night’s performance he has put in a ton on work on his ball handling and dribbling abilities since we last saw him live and that was easily the most important takeaway from last night’s 110-104 win over Portla...
One scrimmage in, Raps still have some work to do
Basketball, NBA, Toronto Raptors

One scrimmage in, Raps still have some work to do

Having finally played someone other than themselves, the Raptors sound content with their progress in this NBA re-start but still focussed on cleaning off some rust that has set in over the long break.Here is what head coach Nick Nurse took from it:“Well, I think it told me that we looked OK,” Nurse began. “I think there’s, again, a lot of the stuff we talked about already. We expected different levels individually of conditioning, we saw that. We expected some inconsistent, out of rhythm play. We saw that. And we saw a lot of really good stuff. The ball moved, we got stops, our defence was pretty darn good. Especially when you look at the numbers after the game. It was .89 points per possession. That’s going to win you damn near every game. A lot of good things.”But for Nurse it...
SIMMONS: The new NHL is a bubble of silence, secrets and Sgt. Schultz
Baseball, Basketball, Hockey, NHL

SIMMONS: The new NHL is a bubble of silence, secrets and Sgt. Schultz

In maybe the greatest personal comeback story in hockey history, Mario Lemieux returned to the Pittsburgh Penguins in March of 1993 after being diagnosed with cancer.He played the final 20 games of that season after undergoing treatments for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He scored 30 goals in those 20 games, 56 points in all. Crazy, crazy numbers. And after carrying the Stanley Cup the previous two seasons, Lemieux was awarded with the Hart and Masterton Trophies in 1993.His chilling story resonates today almost as much as it did 27 years ago, when Sports Illustrated did a cover that read: “Man and Superman.” And the numbers today seem even more remarkable over time — with one giant difference: In today’s NHL, with commissioner Gary Bettman in charge of the hockey politburo, you wouldn’t k...
Plenty to like as Raptors win scrimmage
Basketball, NBA, Toronto Raptors

Plenty to like as Raptors win scrimmage

Exactly 138 days later, the Raptors were back on a basketball court following the stoppage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.It was just a scrimmage, one of three tune-ups each team will be afforded before the games start to count for real, but there was plenty to like from a Raptors standpoint in the 94-83 win.After an initial ­uneven start to the night that included seven first-quarter turnovers, the Raptors settled down and looked very much like that team that won four of five on a west-coast road trip just before the pandemic arrived in force.There was still some rust, as one would expect given the almost four-month hiatus, but the ball movement, the stifling defence courtesy of a roster that is as versatile as any in the league and will switch just about any matchup, and that ...
Raptors GM, president have plenty of work to do while inside bubble
Basketball, NBA, Toronto Raptors

Raptors GM, president have plenty of work to do while inside bubble

It’s not just the NBA players and coaches coping with a drastically altered environment in which to do their jobs.NBA management has had to adapt to a completely different landscape as well.Raptors general manager Bobby Webster has a potentially busy off-season ahead of him with Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol all pending free agents, as well as his head coach Nick Nurse. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Chris Boucher and Malcolm Miller are also without a deal after this season.Webster admits that he, along with team president Masai Ujiri, got a bit of a crash course in navigating a short off-season a year ago with the championship and all the celebrations that followed, but nothing like what they may be facing this coming off-season which could be less than two months long dep...
Healthy Raptors will be a challenge even for Nurse, but a good one
Basketball, NBA, Toronto Raptors

Healthy Raptors will be a challenge even for Nurse, but a good one

Nick Nurse likes a challenge as much as anyone and the Raptors head coach admits he’s looking one in the face right now.For the vast majority of the season that was interrupted by the pandemic, Nurse was turning the rotation over time and again one regular after another went down with injury.Normally that’s a recipe for disaster but for the Raptors it meant opportunity and for each injury, Nurse always seemed to have a solution eagerly waiting in the wings.But with an eight-game run-up to the playoffs in front of him and three quick scrimmages, Nurse finds himself blessed with a fully healthy team for a change and that means some tough decisions ahead. So a challenge?Nurse was smiling about this one before he even answered it.“Yes, a welcome one,” he responded. “I think it’ll be ...
Raps looking to make a lasting impact … Siakam working to peak when his team needs him most  …. Thomas a rookie in name only
Basketball, NBA, Toronto Raptors

Raps looking to make a lasting impact … Siakam working to peak when his team needs him most …. Thomas a rookie in name only

Real change. That is what the NBA and by extension the Toronto Raptors are looking for as they take aim at the social injustices and inequalities around them today.From league management to team ownership to team management and right through the coaching ranks to the players, affecting change and using the platforms a career in the NBA provides them has been the goal since the conversation started in earnest with the death of George Floyd.Raptors head coach Nick Nurse and assistant Jim Sann were no different than any members of the NBA family. They wanted to find their own way to make positive societal change and together they have tackled the issue of absentee voting.Nurse and Sann, with the help of the Raptors and the fine production people who bring you those wildly popular Op...