Raptors News

Shootaround news & notes: James isn’t tired anymore, mental health discussion, and more

We’re changing up the format and are going to keep it more bulleted than usual in the notes today, on account of the conversations being sort of all over the place. There was just a lot of little stuff to hit on rather than one overarching theme like at recent practices. This might actually be a better format for these in general (feedback welcome).

The Toronto Raptors were right to doubt that LeBron James would enter the series as tired as he said he was following Game 7 against Indiana on Sunday. Asked several times about potential fatigue at shootaround Tuesday, James was having none of it.

“I don’t know. It’s never even a thought that comes in my mind, actually,” he said. “I’ll be alright. I’ll be fine…I never mentioned it as an issue.You mentioned it as an issue. It wasn’t an issue. It’s what I had to do to help us get to the second round and we’re worried about the second round now that we’re here.”

The Raptors have said over the last few weeks that while they’ll take any advantage they can get, they’re not banking on James being tired. There are some elements of the gameplan that will look to exhaust him further, though, like pushing the pace off of Cleveland misses and turnovers and making sure whoever he “hides” on at the defensive end doesn’t give him an opportunity to catch his breath.

“Just being active,” C.J. Miles said. “He puts so much pressure on you on the defensive end, you want to make sure you make him work on his defensive end so that he doesn’t have all that energy for offence. He’s a talented player obviously. He’s going to do what he does, but the more we can make him work, the better off we’ll be.”

As far as Cleveland’s own gameplan, it doesn’t sound as if James is going to be pushing 48 minutes initially.

Just gotta be smart about the situation,” Ty Lue said. “I know he wants to play and play a lot, but we’ve got to be smart because we play every other day, so there’s not a lot of time really to recover.”

Mental Health

DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love are both a part of a PSA the NBA released Monday as part of a new mental wellness campaign the league has launched. The specifics of the campaign outside of the 30-second spot that will air during the remainder of the playoffs is unclear, but DeRozan, Love, and others simply speaking openly about how they’ve dealt with mental health issues is a great first step for the mental health – and basketball – community in general.

I’m sorry to just post a wall of text, but Dwane Casey’s perspective on the matter of mental health is really good, and really important:

Well I think it helps the whole league. I think it’s something that our society as a whole. Mental health is something that affects all of us in different ways, different relationships, in all of our families. So I think that initiative is huge by Kevin and by Demar, speaking out, speaking up, and making it real. ‘Cause like I said, we’re all affected by it. But it helps to be able to address it in an open way. I think the league is doing a good job of making it a priority and also making it, I don’t know the word to use, but to make it easy for people to speak up. I think the stereotype is if you speak up about mental health, you’re weak, and it’s not the point. And I think that’s what the league is trying to do is make it easier. Because I’m sure there’s a lot of guys in our league that have those issues that have just not felt free enough to speak up about them.

For being weak and soft. Again, it’s a new day. It’s a new day from that standpoint. I know my philosophy and my thought process has changed. Even back in my days back when I was a player to today, back then when I was in college, if you drink water, you was weak, which is the dumbest thing we could ever do. It’s the same with mental health. That’s not the case. We have to be empathetic with people who we feel like may have issues and understand that there’s more to it than just basketball.

Here’s what a few others had to say.

DeMar DeRozan:

When we get to speak to speak out against something that’s bigger than basketball — something outside of the conversation of basketball — it’s important, man. A lot of people suffer from a lot of things. They’re afraid to share, they’re afraid to bring to the light and be better. It starts very young. It goes a long way. So anything that’s beneficial to [bringing] this to light and being happier that’s what it’s all about.
First of all you have to start with making people feel comfortable. We live in a world where we can’t talk about certain things and push people in the shadows of their own feelings. I think, first and foremost, you’ve gotta make people — kids, grown-ups, everybody — comfortable. It’s not about teasing or making fun of nobody who’s going through something, it’s all about making that person comfortable and understanding that if you come out about it it’ll all relieve a lot of weight instead of putting more weight on your shoulders, so just getting people to understand that at an early age.

LeBron James:

I think it’s more important than everyone that’s going through that particular state that they understand that they’re not alone. It’s no matter if you’re a professional athlete where they feel like we’re invincible or we don’t have problems or things of that nature, I think it sheds a light on that — that we’re a human just like everyone else. Also, like the kids and people that go through it as well, I think it’s helpful to them to know that the people in the limelight and the cameras can have problems as well. So I definitely salute Kev and DeRozan for what they’re going through and being able to use their voice and use their platform to better the state of what they’re in.

Ty Lue:

This is a game of basketball that you love and have a lot of passion for, but outside of basketball people go through a lot of different things. It’s not the biggest thing in your life. People go through a lot of different situations and we just here to be supportive of Kevin and DeRozan and some other people I know going through the same situation. So, very important day.

Personally, it means a lot that so many around the league are speaking out in support of mental wellness awareness. It means a lot and is going to do a world of good for some people out there.

Raptors Notes

  • Here’s Casey when informed the Raptors are the favorite: “It feels good. I don’t know. Who’s got us favored?…The books? Okay. There you go. Okay, alright. Now we’re playing for books…They are. Very smart. That’s the scary party. It’s good. It’s good. It’s a good feeling. You have to go out and still take care of business.”
  • Casey did concede that it’s nice, momentarily, to be getting some respect from the books and pundits around the league, but his message to the team has been that such a standing is dangerous and tenuous: “It’s what you build your program for over the last seven years or whatever. That’s what you build for. But I’ve been around too long to (let that influence us), because tomorrow something happens, and the same people here are going to be coming out, ‘Why didn’t you do this?’ You have to go with that mentality that you have to go out and take care of business. It’s not easy.”
  • Here’s DeMar DeRozan on having a Game 1 at home this time: “We home. We’ve been great all year. We’ve got the utmost confidence here. So it’s definitely important for us to come out here and do what we’ve been doing all year. As long as we have that mind set we’ll be fine.”

Cavaliers Notes

  • Lue, understandably, declined to reveal his starters for Game 1. The Cavaliers used four different starting lineups against Indiana, so who knows?
  • James initially declined to compare this Raptors team to previous Raptors teams, then did so: “I don’t know about previous years and things of that nature. I worry about this present Raptors team that we’re facing and they’re the No. 1 team in the East for a reason. They are well balanced. The head of the snake is DeMar and Kyle but they’re added some pieces this year that has helped this team be more complete. And obviously their bench is extremely well balanced. They come in and play with the same aggression and the same focus and the same confidence as the first unit. So, they’re a more well-balanced team this year and they showed it in their record, they showed it in their ability to win games and they showed why they’re the No. 1 team in the East. So, I don’t know, I’m not comparing, let’s just talk about this year.”
  • Getting a hello and a smile from Jose Calderon is better than coffee.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Neither team has any players listed on their injury report for Game 1. Lue was not sure what kind of minutes restriction George Hill may still be on.
  • I’ll be posting some updates/quotes/T-shirt news/etc regularly on my Instagram story throughout the playoffs. The IG story is mostly just pics of shoes though.
  • Here are the t-shirts for Game 1:

  • Maple Leaf Square will open up at 6 p.m. for the viewing party.
  • The Carter Effect is now up on Canadian Netflix and is worth your time.

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