Morning Coffee – Wed, Oct 22

Raptors host Maccabi Haifa | Managing not way to keep Amir healthy | Ross to make leap this season | If you want Lowry's shoe, now is the time

Maccabi Haifa should offer Raptors a real challenge | Toronto Sun

“It’s a good test for us, because they play a different style than us, mostly four out and one in, really spread the floor a lot (with) four guards out there on the floor,” Casey said. “It’s going to be a challenge for Amir (Johnson) and Tyler (Hansbrough) and our bigs to go out there and guard off the bounce, off the dribble. Getting back on transition, we worked on today. They play fast, up and down moreso than we’re used to.” That versatility and style of play is almost non-existent in the NBA. Almost, that is. “(They run a) tremendous amount of pick-and-rolls, a lot like what San Antonio did with four ball-handlers with the ability to run the pick-and-roll, which is a little different than what you see in the NBA,” Casey said.

Lewenberg: Raptors aim to keep Johnson healthy for stretch run | TSN

The onus, at least to some degree, will be on Casey and the coaching staff to monitor Johnson’s usage and perhaps scale back his minutes, not excessively but sporadically throughout the year, something they implemented last March as the forward battled a series of late-season aches and pains. The team’s added depth and versatility should help Casey ensure that all of his regulars – including Johnson, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry – are kept fresh. Patrick Patterson was one of the league’s premier reserves after last season’s trade and figures to have an expanded role in his first full campaign with the Raptors. Tyler Hansbrough has earned praise in camp, having added a jump shot and improving his spacing and overall court awareness. James Johnson can also shift over to power forward, something Casey has experimented with in camp and feels comfortable deploying when they play small. “We’ll watch his minutes,” said Casey, “but no one’s playing that [many] minutes at the position to be overly taxed energy-wise.”

Beefed-up Ross ready for bigger stage |

In order to move forward, Ross knew that he had to put in a ton of work during the off-season to prepare his body—and mind—for the rigours of another 82-game grind. Thus, for the first time in his career he truly committed to transforming his frame. With the help of Toronto’s trainers, nutritionists and specialists, Ross added 15 pounds of muscle. “It was a lot of eating and a lot of lifting—a combination of both,” he said. “The game is so physically demanding and it take so much out of you that you have to do this just in order to function properly. “My body feels better than it ever has. I just feel that I’ve gotten so much better over the summer that I feel more comfortable to take that right into the season. Hopefully it’ll translate.” Ross spent a lot of his summer working out with teammates in Los Angeles as well. In fact, DeRozan—who is known to prefer working out on his own more often than not—opened his doors to his younger teammate, taking Ross under his wing and going one-on-one with him throughout the off-season.

Five Bold Predictions for the 2014-15 Toronto Raptors | Raptors Cage

The former no.8 overall pick in the 2012 draft is entering his third campaign and barring any unforeseen injury will be inserted into the starting lineup as a small forward. The 23-year-old made notable strides last season averaging 10.9 ppg, 3.1 rebounds and a .395 3P % in 26 minutes per contest. However, he was a bit disappointing in the playoff series against Brooklyn. His usage and minutes will likely stabilize, but now the proverbial training wheels have been removed. Management will conclude by year’s end if he is cut out to be a NBA starter or is destined for the pine. Expect Terrence Ross to set career highs in scoring, assists, rebounding and shooting percentages even in light of the increased depth at wing and forward.  His explosiveness, defensive abilities and outside shooting cannot be overlooked.

NBA Predictions | The Amherst Student

The Raptors will have the best record in the East at the beginning of 2015.’s Top 100 NBA players of 2015 |

In his most demanding role yet, DeRozan swelled to surpass expectations. His All-Star season was a product of incremental gains in most every phase of the game.

Respect Earned: The Raptors’ ESPN NBA Rank Finale | Raptors HQ

DeRozan was projected by Sports Illustrated as the 61st best player in the league. ESPN had him ranked at number 104 last year! Second, let’s reflect on how far DeRozan has come. DeRozan has proven himself to be a hard worker, a disciplined learner, and a straight up tough basketball player. As a kid, he modelled his game after Kobe Bryant. Now here he stands, ranked higher than his idol. Kudos.

Kyle Lowry’s shoe.. | Kijiji

Dude is selling one of Lowry’s game-worn shoes

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