Morning Coffee – Mon, Apr 13

It's the quiet ahead of the storm and to make up for it I've got Patrick Patterson's vicious dunk on Hassan Whiteside embedded in this post.

Wrapping up the Raptors game along with the rest of the weekend mail | Toronto Star

Gang of Three Dwane alluded to it a bit in this morning’s story when he talked about taking advantage of Lou Williams being covered by that over-matched youngster and if there was a game in which all three key guys made big plays down the stretch of a close one, that was it. And the interesting thing is that each of the three honestly don’t care who gets what shot or what play when, as Lou said post-game. “I looked up and Kyle had three or four big rebounds in a row where we got stops. DeMar made some big shots like the and-one we needed it,” was how he put it. “And I made that shot at the end. I think everybody did what they’re supposed to.”

And the NBA awards go to … | Basketball | Sports | Toronto Sun

MVP Really a two-horse race between Stephen Curry and James Harden. Both have been incredible, but Curry is the clear choice. He’s the best player on the best team, an unstoppable offensive force who is playing like Steve Nash did when he won this award two straight years. Golden State’s offence has been pulverizing foes and Curry makes it all go with his all-world shooting and ridiculous passing. He’s been so good that he often sits in the fourth quarter because Golden State wrapped up so many games early. Sure, he has a lot more help than Harden, who leads the league in scoring and gets to the free throw line at will, but the gap between the Warriors and everyone else is massive and Curry deserves the nod for that and many

Raptors still have chance to get 50 wins | Raptors | Sports | Toronto Sun

With two more wins in the season’s final two games, the Raptors can scratch the franchise off of an NBA futility list. Toronto has never had a 50-win season, no other team, save the Charlotte Bobcats (who no longer exist and have won 50 as the Hornets) can say the same. The players would love to do it. “We set a record last year with 48 wins. Now we tied that and have a chance to break that. So that means something,” said DeMar DeRozan after the Raptors equalled the team’s best total by beating the Miami Heat on Saturday night. “That’s a record that we can put up there. These certain group of guys did that. I think that’s big.”

got2b RDP Blog: Our Favourite got2b Products | Toronto Raptors

1.  Alissa : Guardian Angel – “ I use heat products on my hair a lot, especially on game days. Guardian Angel helps keep my hair from getting damaged. “ 2.  Amber : Rockin’ It – “It helps with everything! From volume to cleanliness to extra texture…I rely on it everyday.” 3.  Amen : Guardian Angel – “I love taking my hair from curly to straight and vis versa (depending on my mood). It is nice to have a product like this to prevent any heat damage to my hair.” 4.  Ashley : Rockin’ It – “It’s a life saver when you are in a rush. Not only does it take away the look of greasy flat hair, it adds volume and makes it look clean.”  5.  Cheyenne : Guardian Angel – “It really protects my hair and always leaves it soft and smooth.” 6.  Holly : Rockin’ It – “It really hides oily hair on brunettes.”

Toronto Raptors: On the Verge of the Best Season

It takes a long time to build a winning culture.  This is a universal truth evident in the Raptors’ progression over the last two decades. While the team has had good and bad seasons, their 43% win percentage is indicative of the fact that the rough times have outweighed the good ones. The problem is that the team has been built and rebuilt several times, but the process has never yielded a truly elite roster. Part of this is related to the culture around basketball in Canada. The team has always a hard time getting elite stars to come to Toronto, and an even tougher time getting players who become stars while playing for the Raps to stay. There are numerous examples of franchise players flying south when given the opportunity. From Vince Carter to Chris Bosh, the team has often been forced to find new leaders abruptly. With poor roster consistency, it’s hard to develop any sort of winning culture.

Toronto Raptors’ Patrick Patterson, once a Spelling Bee champion, has spent career listening, learning too | National Post

“He’ll find something wrong,” teammate Chuck Hayes added. “He’ll find a glitch in the system, if there is one. That’s just Pat. He’s always on his P’s and Q’s. … It’s what helped him get this far in the league.” He might not be meeting your eyes, but Patterson is always listening, searching for a blunder. “Spelling Bee champion. Fifth-grade spelling bee champion,” said Patterson, clearly a point of pride. “I was, like, top 10 in my state. I lost on the word murmur — m-u-r-m-u-r. It started back then. It’s stuck with me now. Little things that I see, whether it’s on the scouting report or when people talk, I’m quick to correct them if I feel like they make a mistake.”

Milwaukee Bucks clinch spot in NBA Playoffs | Milwaukee Sun Times

The Bucks have officially clinched a playoff spot with a 96-73 win over the Brooklyn Nets. The Bucks are locked into the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and will take on the Toronto Raptors or Chicago Bulls in the first round. The two teams are currently tied for the third seed, with the Raptors holding the tie-breaker.

Should Drake take heat for his random sports fandom?

He has been seen on the sideline, dressed head to toe in full gear in some cases, and hanging out in sports locker rooms of some of the top sports teams around in the past four or five years. Because of this, he takes a lot of heat on social media. You see a lot of tweets like this one, posted earlier this month after Duke won the NCAA Championship: Drake’s updated favorite sports teams 1. Duke, 2. Patriots, 3. Ohio State Football, 4. SF Giants, 5. LA Kings, 6. Spurs. Those of course are the six current champions of the big four pro sports as well as college football and basketball. But does Drake really deserve this derision from “real” sports fans?

Encouraging signs as Raptors show heart in win over Miami but Valanciunas needs to be much smarter; Clinching homecourt is an achievement | Courtside

 Jonas Valanciunas turned in possibly his worst ever performance. He was dominated by Hassan Whiteside and did not respond well to all of the fouls called against him, which barely allowed him to stay on the court. “He had some silly fouls, grabbing fouls, getting into a ‘rassling match. You can’t do that. And when you get upset with the officials, they’re human and he’s got to learn to keep his emotions under check,” Casey said. “I love his passion, I love his give-a-you-know-what level but he’s got to keep his emotions under control and not let it get him tangled up because a lot of times, he’s getting the short end of the stick.” – The “give-a-(bleep)” reference wasn’t the only tie to the Maple Leafs minutes after the hockey team’s season mercifully ended. Lowry was sporting a Leafs hat and was told he was brave for doing that, given what a joke they have become. “I’ve just got to represent a little bit, Lowry said. “That’s the home team so I’m still representing them.”

RECAP: Spirited but punchless Heat fall short to Raptors – Hot Hot Hoops

It took me a while to get to Hassan Whiteside, but watching him he was absolutely dominant in this one. He finished with 16 points, 18 rebounds (8 offensive), and 6 blocked shots while being the chief cause of Raptors big man Jonas Valanciunas fouling out in only 10 minutes. The glaring blemish on his stat sheet though will be his Shaq-like 4-16 foul shooting (including missing his last eight). I’m more than willing to give Hassan a pass here though, as his right hand is still heavily wrapped from his laceration against Milwaukee. Prior to that injury, Hassan was a foul shooter in the high 50s percentage-wise and even had a serviceable midrange jumper. Now, however, he is simply unable to even take a face up jumper, yet his hook shots and put backs have still shown to be reliable enough to get Miami relief points. An offseason of healing and foul shooting practice are naturally in order, and I expect improvement on that end from Hassan.

Miami Heat Index – ESPN

As much as players from the D-League, like Henry Walker and Tyler Johnson and Whiteside, and from China, like Michael Beasley and, well, Whiteside, were interesting stories and provided pleasant surprises throughout the season, the talent discrepancy was just too much to overcome. Case in point, the backbreaking play from Saturday night’s loss to the Raptors. It was an isolation for sixth-man extraordinaire Lou Williams, who banged in a step-back 3-pointer to extend Toronto’s lead to 102-97 with 31 seconds left. Here’s how Raptors coach Dwane Casey described the play: “We knew they were going to put their best defender [Luol Deng] on DeMar [DeRozan], and then they put their second-best defender [Wade] on Kyle [Lowry]. So that left [Tyler] Johnson covering Lou. And no disrespect to the young man [Johnson], but Lou can score. So we had the right matchup in that situation.”

Game Rap: Raptors 107 Heat 104 | Toronto Raptors

By The Numbers 47 – Rebounds from both teams. With Hassan Whiteside hauling down 18 boards, the Raptors got a huge boost from guards DeRozan and Kyle Lowry who combined for 13 rebounds. Chuck Hayes also contributed seven boards off the bench in 15 minutes. 10 – Jonas Valanciunas fouled out of the game after just 10 minutes. 12 – Just 12 assists for Toronto in this one. Miami didn’t fare much better, recording 14 dimes in the game. 20 – Missed free throws from the Miami Heat. Whiteside was a dismal 4-for-16 as the Heat finished 24-for-44 from the line. 35 – Percent shooting from beyond the arc for Toronto, despite Lowry’s 0-for-8 night from three. Lowry’s conditioning looked good in the second night of a back-to-back, but it’s obvious he’ll need to shake off the rust of a nine-game layoff. 48 – Raptors victories, tying last year’s franchise record with two games remaining in the regular season.

Playoff Preview: Six Key Players for the Toronto Raptors

Who will step up when all the bright lights are on and the pressure is mounting? Let’s take a look at six players who have the potential to contribute for the Raptors in big ways. In formulating the list, we considered past history as a resume. Not all of the following players are stars or even starters. Many are bench guys with specific roles for the team. Sometimes, it’s how effectively those roles are executed that makes all the difference.

Toronto Raptors squeak past Miami Heat 107-104

Offense: B+ A very efficient collective outing by the Raps. The Dinos finished scored 100+ points on 42.2% shooting and in classic Raptors fashion pulverized their opponent from downtown (9-26). Williams outperformed the entire Miami bench and as a whole the Raptors scored 56 compared to the pedestrian 21 mustered by the Heat pine. Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson both had productive outings and were instrumental in the victory.

Raptors Clinch Home Court, Beat Heat 107-104 – Raptors HQ

This one was always going to be tougher than the standings suggested (although with these Raptors, any game is tougher than the standings suggest, but I digress). On the second game of their Florida back to back, the Raptors had to find a way to overcome a Heat squad desperate to sneak into the playoffs. With Kyle Lowry only playing in his second game back from injury, and Amir Johnson still missing, the minutes allocation was bound to be challening for an undermanned squad. The Raptors were under the gun right from the opening tip, as Jonas Valanciunas picked up two fouls within a minute and a half (more on this later). On one hand, what the heck. On the other hand, more Large Professor Chuck Hayes minutes. Pros and cons, folks. The first half was pretty much a blitz between Greivis Vasquez, DeMar DeRozan, Lou Williams and Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic. Lou had 20 at half to lead the Raps to a tie game of 58-58, while Dragic had 12 for Miami.

Double Dribble: Second Round Raptors? – Article – TSN

With The Season Almost Over, Is There Confidence In The Raptors Having Enough To Make It Out of The First Round? Watson: The Raptors have the two best players on the floor, in DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, regardless of whom they face. They may not be as good a team as they were in the beginning of the season, but they are a better team than they have been showing in the second half. The NBA playoffs are whole new season and they have enough experience, will and talent to get through the first round of competition. Strickland: Confidence is not a word one associates with the Raptors currently as they bear in on a potential playoff match-up with worst team in the NBA last season, the Milwaukee Bucks. While ankle injuries to both Amir Johnson and Terrence Ross don’t help Coach Casey’s rotations in the least, Toronto fans can be encouraged that their floor boss Kyle Lowry has returned and DeMar DeRozan is once again playing at an All-Star level.

Raptors rebound to dunk Heat, seal home court | Toronto Star

Still, the Heat had only themselves to blame after missing an astonishing 20 free throws. One came when Luol Deng split two foul shots while down three with 55.1 seconds left, setting up a Williams dagger of a three-pointer that put the Raptors ahead 102-97 with 31.2 seconds remaining. It was simply a matter of the Raptors exposing a mismatch. “We knew they were going to put probably their best defender on DeMar and (Luol) Deng did a good job of muscling him, getting into him, and then . . . their second-best defender, (Dwyane) Wade, at that time was guarding Kyle (Lowry),” said coach Dwane Casey. “Lou had (Tyler) Johnson on him — and no disrespect to the young man, but Lou can score so we had the right matchup in that situation.” The shot propelled Toronto to its 48th win of the season — matching last year’s franchise-best — and the magical 50 mark remains in play with two games left.

Loss to Toronto Raptors, effectively ends Miami Heat NBA playoff hopes – Sun Sentinel

On a wild night that saw Heat center Hassan Whiteside close with 16 points and 18 rebounds, but also shoot 4 of 16 from the foul line, on a night Dwyane Wade scored 30 points and Goran Dragic 22, the misery of late-season collapses continued. It is possible now that Wade, Dragic and  perhaps even Whiteside sit out the season’s final two games, losses to become more valued than wins. “Nobody should feel sorry for us,” Spoelstra said. “This is what you sign up for in this business.” Hope for season salvation came to an end in the closing minutes.

Heat lose to end playoff hope – Sun Sentinel

This is how fast it changes in sports, how quickly the good curdles to bad. Even the Heat became infected with a season that carried them out of the playoffs. They were probably due. They won two titles in making four straight NBA Finals. Still, when you talk about pride and pedigree with the Heat, let’s not overdo it. Down the stretch, they negated some great efforts by blowing fourth-quarter leads of 16 points against Milwaukee and 15 points against Detroit. They then threw back a 19-point halftime lead against Chicago on Thursday. Win any of those games and it’s a different season. Win them all, and they’re moving comfortably into a seventh consecutive post-season. You know how many playoffs the other three pro teams combined for in this period starting in 2009?

Toronto Raptors secure home-court advantage for first round of playoffs with win over Miami Heat | National Post

The teams were tied at 58 at the break, with Williams doing what he does as well as just about anyone — coming off the bench and giving the Raptors a spark. Toronto had 31 points in the second quarter, and Williams had 17 of them. He made five of six shots from the field and all five of his tries from the line in a span of just over 9 minutes. Whiteside and Wade did their part to keep Miami in it, combining for 15 in the quarter. Wade stayed hot in the third, scoring 11 more — highlighted by one stretch where he managed to get a rebound as he was stretched out on the court after a collision, and then a drive not long afterward where he got knocked down again.

Orlando Magic Recap: Orlando Magic 101, Toronto Raptors 99

This game was exactly the type of effort that fans have been looking for from the Magic most of the season. Orlando fought back from an early double-digit deficit and had a lead of four in the fourth quarter. However, that lead did not expand thanks to Orlando’s display of youth. Tobias Harris turned over the ball on a lazy pass to Victor Oladipo (which Lou Williams was sitting on the entire way) and Evan Fournier stepped out of bounds on a play out of a timeout that was specifically designed for him. Oladipo hit a cold-blooded three with his team down two and 13 seconds left to give the Magic a brief lead. However, he made the mistake of leaving Lou Williams and helping Nikola Vucevic corral DeMar DeRozan (who scored 29 points, by the way). Williams drained the 3-pointer in the corner, and it was a play Oladipo was still kicking himself over after the game.

Three things we saw in the Raptors game and a start of the weekend mail | Toronto Star

We all know how impressive DeMar DeRozan’s been since the beginning of March, right? I’d say it’s been the best five or six weeks of his career and I’ve seen the whole thing. The one thing that stands out to me – and after watching the final few minutes last night I’m sure you all noticed it, too – is that he’s always attacking the basket. Remember back in the day? He’d often shy away from contact and would invariably fade away from the rim rather than go to it. Recall a game he won in Orlando last season, I think it was? He was lauded for making a buzzer-beating shot but even that one was a baseline fade going away from everything. Last night – and all this month – he’s been relentlessly going through the paint, inviting fouls and, not surprisingly, he’s getting more than his fair share of calls. A solid improvement that won them a game last night.

Raptors-Miami Heat: Saturday game preview | Toronto Star

Miami suffered a crushing home loss to Chicago on Thursday, blowing a 19-point first-half lead in a defeat that likely ended their slim playoff hopes. Coach Erik Spoelstra called Saturday the biggest game of the season for the Heat . . . Ex-Raptor ChrisBosh’s season is over because of a blod clot on his lung . . . The availability of Kyle Lowry and Amir Johnson for the Raptors is up in the air as both are coming back from injury . . . These two teams have split two games so far this season . . . Miami has won 16 of the last 17 games between the teams, but the bulk of them came when they had LeBron James.

Brooklyn Nets keep steady in playoff race with 117-80 route over Washington – NetsDaily

By Harry Potter terms, the Brooklyn Nets performed “expelliarmus” on the Washington Wizards Friday night, which means to disarm another wizard. They certainly disarmed them of their basketball “magic” with a 117-80 route over Washington, which now keeps them a game ahead of the Indiana Pacers for the eighth seed in the East with only four games remaining. They looked like a team with a legitimate sense of urgency Friday night against the Washington Wizards. Perhaps it was because their Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov looked on for the second straight game? Or maybe because their playoff hopes depended on it. Either way, they got it done and it was all thanks to a huge first half. Despite falling in a 5-0 hole early, the Nets answered with a 31-9 run to end the first quarter — leading 31-14 after one with Brook Lopez leading the way, as per usual. The 14 points is the lowest Brooklyn has allowed in a first quarter all season.

Leave a Comment