Morning Coffee – Fri, Mar 18

Raptors represent against potential 1st round opponent | Bloody brilliant Biyombo; he's going to cost to keep | Powell rising

Biyombo’s boards salvage boring night for Raptors | Toronto Star

Biyombo, who had 13 of his rebounds and nine of his points in the first half, provided exactly the kind of complementary play the team has come to expect.
“He’s all we thought he would be and more,” Casey said of Biyombo, who got his second straight start as Jonas Valanciunas sat out another game because of a bruised right hand. “His spirit has been so strong, his ability to talk the defence has helped everybody, it’s contagious to our other bigs.
“His presence and his physicality has really helped us, his screening has helped us. We, in the past, have been a very bad screening team and he’s really brought some of that to us.”

Bismack Biyombo a rebound machine as Raptors best Pacers on road | Toronto Sun

“Our defence won the game for us,’’ said head coach Dwane Casey, whose team forced 56 Pacer misses, including 20 from beyond the arc. “Bismack’s 25 rebounds. We get one more guy to give us rebounds and we’re in good shape, but he did a helluva job on the boards, a man’s job. We couldn’t buy a bucket. We had some open looks, DeMar struggled a little bit, Kyle struggled a little bit, but we found a way.”

Game Rap: Raptors 101, Pacers 94 | Toronto Raptors


Bismack Biyombo had a career-night against the Pacers, scoring a career-high 16 points to go with a career-high and franchise-record 25 rebounds in 41 minutes. He shot 5-for-6 from the floor, 6-for-11 from the free throw line, and added two blocked shots without a turnover. Toronto was a +17 when he was on the floor.

In possible playoff preview, Pacers come up short | Indy Star

The Pacers sorely missed their starting big man if only to box out Bismack Biyombo, who set a Raptors franchise mark with 25 rebounds; that’s the main reason  Toronto outworked Indiana under the glass 57-48.

“We didn’t hit him enough,” Vogel said during his postgame press conference.

Then, Vogel snickered to himself, appearing to have more on his mind but stopping short of making a controversial comment.

“We’ll just leave it at that,” Vogel summed up.

Pacers final score: Raptors escape Pacers 101-94 in OT | Indy Cornrows

Free throws ended up being the story of the night, but rebounding cost Indiana numerous opportunities as well. The Raptors climbed to 36% in overtime after spending much of the game under 33%, but 15 offensive rebounds set up extra opportunities in a game where points were at a premium. Bismack Biyombo piggybacked his way to a staggering 25 on the night as Toronto outboarded Indiana 57-48.

In the end, Toronto’s biggest names in Lowry and DeRozan came up big, with the two of them each reaching 28, hitting crucial shots with the game on the line. The same was far less prolific on the Pacers side of the ball, where 18 point nights were the highs for both Paul George and George Hill. George was 7-24 on the night, just 1-9 from behind the arc on a night Indiana shot 28.6%. George was also 3-6 from the line when a single make could’ve pushed Indiana into the win column.

Raptors win ugly one against Pacers, 101-94 in OT | Raptors HQ

But the real story in this one was the unbelievable play of Bismack Biyombo. The big man, who started in place of the injured Jonas Valanciunas, grabbed 25 rebounds – a franchise record and a career-high. Donyell Marshall previously held the mark of 24 that was set all the way back in February of 2004.

Simply put, the Raps wouldn’t have had a hope in hell of winning this game if it weren’t for the Congo native. Biyombo also poured in 16 points, tying another career-best.

Three things we saw when the Raptors beat the Pacers | Toronto Star

Yes, that was some night on the glass for Mr. Biyombo, a record-setting evening all around as the game story goes into, and good on him because he’s a tireless worker.
But a rebound that he never really actually controlled was one of the most important ones he got all night.
It was a tap-back about 40 seconds into the overtime, a controlled tap that the scorers saw fit to judge as his record-breaking 25th board and it set up a Kyle Lowry three that put the Raptors ahead and they would never trail again.
It was just a pure and simple hustle play – he had a couple of other tapback rebounds in the game as well – and was a case of a guy just not giving up on a play.

Can the Raptors afford to keep Biyombo beyond this season? |

The challenge for the Raptors is unlike with DeRozan, in Biyombo’s case they have no particular advantage over the rest of the league because they don’t have his “Bird rights” — the ability to sign him to a longer or more lucrative deal — and perhaps more crucially, the ability to sign Biyombo to a deal even if the contract amount put the Raptors over the salary cap.

This is a problem, because Biyombo has proven to be a valuable piece for the Raptors and a player who, having just turned 23, still has considerable upside.

In a season in which Jonas Valancuinas has already missed 18 games with injuries — and it could be 19 if his bruised hand causes him to sit out again Thursday night against the Indiana Pacers — the Raptors are 12-7 with Biyombo as a starter.

Between his intelligence anchoring the back line of the Raptors defence, his second-to-none work ethic and his condor-like reach, Biyombo has proven himself as one of the NBA’s best shot blockers, most active rebounders and all-around best defenders, one of the few at his position who can put some pressure on the ball-handler in pick-and-roll situations and still scramble back to the paint to protect the rim.

Congratulations Coach! #WeTheNorth

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Raptors Rim Protector Bismack Biyombo Is Finding His Offense | Pro Bball Report

“I work each and every night, before and after practice I come come back in the gym when no body is around here and get my work in and go home and come back and play the game,” Biyombo said. “The hard work always pays off. I believe in it.”

The hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. Right from the beginning of the season his teammates have been feeding him the ball in the post and for short jumpers, even in situations that made a lot of people cringe. He deserved to get those chances to score because of his defensive effort, but those cringe worthy situations usually didn’t turn out well.

Biyombo was often tentative at the offensive end, but he’s gotten better as the season has progressed. He’s not hesitating when he needs to take a jump shot and he’s stopped bringing the ball down when catching it in the post. His confidence is higher and it shows.

“Trust in myself and have confidence in my shot,” Biyombo explained. “If I shoot it and make it, I make it. If I shoot it and miss it, I miss it. For me it is a reward for myself and I am taking them with confidence. If I make it, I was supposed to make it because I worked for it. For me it is being able to play with confidence, being able to focus on myself and not get distracted with wanting to do so many things at the same time. Do one thing at a time. Know what I know how to do and get out there and have fun with it and obviously it is paying off.”

P☘tterson sealing the game with authority. #WeTheNorth

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Here’s four players for Raptors fans to watch in the NCAA Tournament | Raptors HQ

In his draft update in December, our Michael Hoad had California’s Ivan Rabb on his to-watch list and it’s safe to keep him in that discussion. The position of need for the Raptors is obviously power forward, with Luis Scola’s mileage running out and Patrick Patterson unable to hold down the fort alone. The 19-year-old Rabb is still slight, though he’s talked about getting bigger, and is still a project when it comes to jump shooting. That said, he’s got solid touch in the post, runs the floor, and defends well with a 7’1″ wingspan.

Playing next to top five projected Jaylen Brown, Rabb is a secondary option for the Golden Bears. When watching Cal, though, teams will be waiting to see if Rabb shows signs of development in his offensive repertoire.

Happy St. Patrick’s day

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The Raptors Report: Playoff Roulette | TSN

With the Eastern Conference standings in limbo, Josh and Ryan debate the pros and cons of potential playoff match ups and discuss which would be the most preferable scenario for the Raptors

Toronto Raptors: Can Their Offense Last In The Playoffs? | Hoops Habit

While it’s been impressive, there’s been a growing concern on whether the Raptors’ offensive style is built to last in the postseason.

Although other factors such as injuries played a factor, the team’s disappointing exit from the playoffs last year hasn’t helped to diminish those growing concerns.

So what is it specifically about the Raptors’ offensive style that could face some difficulty come playoff time?

For one, a big factor behind the Raptors’ offensive success is the team’s high free throw rate (33.2 percent), which ranks as the third highest in the league, just behind the Houston Rockets and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Secondly, the team’s methodical pace (95.3) ranks as the third-slowest in the league, just ahead of the Utah Jazz and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Although there’s obviously more to it the Raptors’ success this year, it’s clear that the Raptors’ offensive blueprint works throughout the regular season.  But again, will those key elements hold up when the postseason rolls around?

The team’s pace likely won’t be much of a problem as it matches close to the average pace from last year’s playoffs (94.4, per

Stackhouse proving a quick study as Raptors assistant coach |

“One thing I’ve learned that’s great with our coaching staff is there is more than one way to do things,” Stackhouse said. “Just because you’ve done it that way for a long time and have had success and it’s kind of part of your DNA and what you believe is part of a winning team, somebody can come and offer someone else and make you say, ‘OK, that works.’

“I may not do it that way if I were the top decision maker. But that’s not to say that it doesn’t work. That’s the rapport that we have as a coaching staff. Case gives us a little latitude to be able to speak on things and give our opinions. It’s his final decision. But in any given game, he can take your suggestion and roll with it or go in a different direction.”

It has been electrifying for Stackhouse, for example, when Casey turns to him to seek out some advice near the end of a game he did the majority of the prep work for. (Assistant coaches split the prep for the 82 games, with Stackhouse and player development coach Jama Mahlalela, both in their first year on the job, taking a slightly lighter load with 14 games apiece.) Still, he is not sure where his post-playing career will lead him.

Raptors’ Norman Powell should play every day | Raptors Rapture

His defense isn’t the only reason why he should be playing every day. His offense is just beginning to fit in. In his last 9 games played, he is shooting nearly 36% from three-point range. His touches come in the flow of the game and his teammates are beginning to trust him more and more. Also, he is money these days from the left corner. When he penetrates, he doesn’t force the issue at the rim, but rather kicks it out to open shooters in the corners with perfect passes on the run, a skill he was tasked with improving in Mississauga. If Powell can continue to improve his in between game while continually improving his three-point jump shots, watch out.

Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors: Friday game preview | Toronto Star

Key matchup: Avery Bradley vs. DeMar DeRozan. Bradley is widely considered one of the better individual defenders in the league and can give DeRozan fits; the Raptors all-star, averaging 23.8 points per game, will have to be at his most aggressive to have a big night.

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