If you had told me the day between Games 5 and 6 would be about a budding feud between Kelly Oubre and Delon Wright, I would have have thought both star backcourts suffered injuries and Serge Ibaka and Markieff Morris had long since been suspended. But on a calm and quiet – and light – practice day between Games 5 and 6, there wasn’t much to be discussed that hadn’t already been tackled in the lead up to the Raptors taking a 3-2 series lead.
And so here we are, asking Wright, on his birthday, about Oubre taking an unprompted crack at him. For context, here’s Oubre’s quote, courtesy of Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.
“The next game is a different story. We’re back at home. Just like Delon doesn’t play well anywhere else, you know, other than at home,” Oubre said Wednesday.
This seems misplaced. To the best of my recollection, Wright and Oubre haven’t gotten into it much at all, and Oubre’s biggest issues in the series have been with Drake and with his 3-point shooting. What’s more, Oubre has struggled at home relative to on the road as well, at least in terms of efficiency. A comparison:
- Wright: 15.7 pts, 2.7 ast, 2.7 stl, 2.0 tov, 79.8 TS% at home / 6.5 pts, 3.5 ast, 1.0 stl, 0.0 tov, 40.9 TS% away
- Oubre: 13 pts, 4.5 rbs, 1.0 stl, 1.0 tov, 65.6 TS% at home / 13.7 pts, 3.8 rbs, 1 stl, 1 tov, 51.7 TS% away
And on the season, Wright as arguably better on the road:
- Wright: 8.5 pts, 3.1 ast, 1.2 stl, 1.1 tov, 56.9 TS% at home / 7.5 pts, 2.7 ast, 0.9 stl, 1.2 tov, 58.0 TS% away
- Oubre: 11.8 pts, 4.9 rbs, 0.9 stl, 1.2 tov, 54.9 TS% at home / 11.7 pts, 4.1 rbs, 1.1 stl, 1.0 tov, 52.0 TS% away
Wright wasn’t taking Oubre’s bait. Yet.
“Yeah, I saw it. That’s his opinion. I didn’t play as good as I did at home there, but he made it seem like I was a total bust. We’ll see in Game 6,” Wright said, before muttering as he walked away that he’d have a quote for us after that game.
So that’ll be something fun to watch for in Game 6. Oubre’s on track to be insulted on Drake’s new album at this rate, even if they do share the A-list in the offseason. Everyone seemed much happier with Wright’s decisiveness shooting the ball in Game 5, by the way, and Wright once again admitted that everyone – including brother Dorell – is on him pretty frequently about shooting more.
Again, there really wasn’t a lot of pertinent talk with the Raptors heading out for Washington quickly after practice, but it was interesting to hear the Raptors’ take on the different workloads the stars have been under in this series.
On the one hand, there’s John Wall, who’s played 87 minutes over the last two games and is sixth in the playoffs in total minutes so far, despite having just returned from knee injury. Wall’s performance doesn’t seem to have suffered too much, though he was a little turnover prone late in the fourth on Wednesday, and the Raptors aren’t really noticing any slow-down from the league’s fastest point guard.
“I mean, naw, you don’t really notice it. I guess during the game you kinda think you’re just playing good defense. He made some god mid-range shots, so I don’t think he was that tired,” Wright said.
“He’s played a lot of minutes in this series,” KYle Lowry said. “A guy that’s coming off that surgery and not playing much, it’s been great for him. He’s done what his team needs him to do. I’m sure he’s feeling it a little bit.”
Bradley Beal ranks in the top 25 in minutes played in the postseason, too, despite fouling out of Game 4 early. The Raptors, meanwhile, have dialed up the minutes for Kyle Lowry but not to the level of Wall – Lowry is averaging 37 minutes, up from 32.2 in the regular season, and he now has hard evidence that playing it cautious with his workload all year is having a benefit.
“I was a little bit nervous to see how I reacted. It’s been fine,” he said. “I think the conservative route we went this year with the minutes overall kind of really helped me. Now I can (make) a testament and say it helped.”
DeMar DeRozan has played the exact number of minutes as Lowry, but his workload has rarely ever been a concern given his relative ironman status. It’s perhaps telling that the Raptors’ defense has been terrific in fourth quarters all year (best in the NBA) and in this series (second only to Philadelphia) – the Raptors seem to have a decent sense of how and when to manage their energy, at least more so than recent years. There are still execution improvements that could be made on the offensive side, something that will always be a work in progress.
- I’ll be posting some updates/quotes/T-shirt news/etc regularly on my Instagram story throughout the playoffs.
- Fred VanVleet worked out at practice today but is still considered day-to-day, and Dwane Casey is getting tired of having to update everyone. “Fred is Fred. I’m sure his shoulder still hurts, but he’s here today and worked out today, so it’s day-to-day. I hear that question in my sleep.” I ask it in my sleep, too, Dwane.
- Otto Porter continues to be slowed by the right leg injury that kept him out of the lineup a bit late in the season. Per Ben Standig, head coach Scott Brooks has expressed uncertainty about his status. Chase Hughes also adds that an MRI is possible. It seems likely that Porter toughs it out – he’s not listed on the injury report as of yet – but that could explain why he’s been less of a factor than maybe anticipated.
- Nihl Lowry is back! An out of context quote: “At this time of year, nothing matters.”
- Don’t believe what you read on SOME Wozzle’s twitter accounts. Lowry declined to call this a Game 7.
- Here’s Casey on why he used Valanciunas when he did and why he hadn’t earlier: “There’s reasons. I don’t want to give my reason away, but there was a huge reason why he was in there in the fourth, and once they made some adjustments, we kept him in. But there are triggers as to why we keep him out. I understand all the numbers. I understand winning with him playing five or more minutes in the fourth quarter. I have every number you know. It’s not like I’m over there asleep. But there are other reasons why we do it and reasons why we don’t. And last night it paid off for us. “
- Game 6 will tip off at 7 on Friday on ESPNN/NBA TV in the U.S. If required, a Game 7 would go Sunday, either at 1 or 8. If the Raptors and Cavaliers were both.