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Morning Coffee – Sat, Dec 22

Raptors Late Surge Sinks Cavs in Canada | Cleveland Cavaliers

Quotable – Coach Larry Drew, on Friday night’s loss in Toronto …

“(The Raptors) were able to break our defense down too many times and get to the basket. They’re a good team and you can’t take anything away from them, they have the best record in the league. I thought our buys put up a good fight for three-and-a-half quarters. I thought we did some really good things, but we couldn’t overcome them.”

Raptors coach Nick Nurse not afraid to change things on the fly | The Star

The other night in Denver was a perfect example, even if the end result wasn’t what the Raptors wanted. With a lineup decimated by injuries — four of the team’s top seven players sat out — Nurse had to find something that worked, something the Nuggets might not have seen or expected.

“The first three pick-and-rolls of the game were Delon (Wright)-Serge (Ibaka), then the next one was Kawhi (Leonard)-Danny (Green) setting, and then the next one was Kawhi-Serge. So we were trying to mix ’em up,” Nurse said.

“A lot of times in these games, I’m quickly trying to see how they’re playing it with the different matchups to see what we can put in our pocket for later or how the coverages look and then make our adjustments from there.”

Game Centre: Kawhi Leonard, Raptors make it look easy against Cavaliers | The Star

Close range: Toronto dominated in the paint, outscoring the Cavaliers 66-48. Leonard made the game look easy, regularly bulldozing the young Cleveland team and rookie point guard Collin Sexton as he drove to the rim. Coach Nick Nurse said he has seen more direct attacks from Leonard as he gets more comfortable with the Raptors’ offence. “He is an extremely strong person … (In practice,) just messing around, bumping into him here and there when he’s going to the basket, it doesn’t take you long to get out of the way.”

Kawhi Leonard’s huge night lifts Raptors over Cavaliers – Sportsnet.ca

Toronto coach Nick Nurse said Leonard, as has been his practice this season with back-to-back games, will not play against the 76ers.

What about the other walking wounded?

“There’s a chance that both Danny and Kyle could play (Saturday),” said Nurse. “But I’m not sure they are great chances.”

Leonard had 15 points in the third quarter and seven in the fourth, repeatedly bodying his way to the basket. It was his ninth 30-point game of the season.

Anunoby had two important buckets in the fourth including a thundering dunk as Toronto scored at least 120 points for the 14th time this season — most in the NBA — while improving to 13-4 at home.

Saturday NBA preview: Toronto Raptors at Philadelphia 76ers | The Star

NEED TO KNOW

J.J. Redick hit the 10,000 career-point mark with a 14-point performance against the Knicks. He is averaging 19 points, two rebounds and 3.5 assists against the Raptors this year … Philadelphia has struggled slightly, going 4-3, since the the Raptors snapped their four-game win streak with a win at Scotiabank Arena on Dec. 5 … On Thursday, Raptors coach Nick Nurse said Lowry (thigh) “probably” wouldn’t be ready to play this weekend … The Raptors are 2-0 against the 76ers this year; the two teams don’t meet again until early February for their final head-to-head of the season.

Raptors Post-Game: Norman Powell – December 21, 2018 – YouTube

Raptors news: Kawhi Leonard won’t play vs. Sixers

Toronto Raptors star small forward Kawhi Leonard hasn’t played in back-to-backs this season, and that trend will continue on Saturday when the team takes on the Philadelphia 76ers.

Kawhi Leonard played 32 minutes on Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers and finished with 37 points and six rebounds in the Raptors’ blowout win at home.

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse told reporters after the game that Leonard won’t play on Saturday versus Jimmy Butler and the Sixers.

Bench depth helps Raptors crush visiting Cavaliers | Toronto Sun

“Just take what the defence is giving me,” Anunoby said. “That’s the main thing.”

That wasn’t close to the whole story of his night.

He was a strong presence on the three-point line, where he hit three of his first five before finishing up thee of seveb. Like rarely before, Anunoby was forcing the Cavaliers to defend him in an attacking mode ,and they had no answer once he got started to the basket.

Anunoby finished with a career-high tying 21 points and also a career-high matching eight rebounds in 22 minutes. His 14 field goal attempts were more than he has taken before in his young NBA career as were his nine makes.

Recap: Raptors cruise to 126-110 victory over the Cavaliers – Raptors HQ

The Raptors deep bench options didn’t extend much further than Lorenzo Brown, given the Cavaliers’ ability to hang around just enough to keep Malachi Richardson and Chris Boucher off the court for anything by the final two minutes of garbage time. It was another aspirational night for Brown though. He had seven points (on a 3-of-6 shooting night) to go with three assists in an active 16 minutes. Coach Nick Nurse was happy with his minutes, but to me Brown’s run was summarized by a backcourt steal and breakaway lay-up that was so casual in its force the Cavaliers were able to chase him down and force a miss. Better luck next time Zo!

As far as the Raptors’ (newest yet) veteran players were concerned, the light work concept definitely fit. For his part, Greg Monroe spent 14 minutes gamely running pick-and-rolls and bullying his way to the rim. He finished with nine points and three rebounds and could have been in a Sunday afternoon pick-up run.

Leonard powers Raptors to 126-110 win over Cavaliers with a season-best 37 points – The Globe and Mail

“It was great to see OG get off to such a hot start,” Nurse said afterwards. “It’s too bad he got into a little foul trouble, could let him really roll out some minutes.

As it was, Anunoby did his damage logging just over 22 minutes while racking up five personal fouls. He also grabbed eight rebounds, second only to Pascal Siakam’s 10.

Toronto took a 99-93 lead into the fourth quarter where the Cavaliers, to their credit, hung in longer than many anticipated.

Anunoby loped in for a thunderous jam that lifted his total to 21 and provided Toronto with a 104-97 advantage.

But it was back-to-back long-distant strikes, the first by Fred VanVleet and the second three by Leonard with just over four minutes left that deflated the Cavaliers, elevating the Toronto lead to 115-102.

“I still believe in the guy,” Nurse said before the game in reference to Anunoby, the second-year British native who entered Friday’s game averaging 7.6 points a game.

Leonard’s 37 gives depleted Raptors easy win over Cavaliers | CBC Sports

On Wednesday, Toronto rallied from a 17-point deficit to edge the Indiana Pacers 99-96 with Fred VanVleet scoring nine of his 11 points in the final quarter to help snap a two-game mini-losing run.

Friday, it was the turn of Kawhi Leonard and OG Anunoby to lead the way.

Leonard matched a season high with 37 points and Anunoby tied a career high with 21 as Toronto improved its NBA-best record to 25-9. Anunoby led the way early before the muscular Leonard took over.

The Raptors play in Philadelphia on Saturday before scattering for the holidays. They return for a game Boxing Day in Miami.

Toronto coach Nick Nurse said Leonard, as has been his practice this season with back-to-back games, will not play against the 76ers.

What about the other walking wounded?

“There’s a chance that both Danny and Kyle could play [Saturday],” said Nurse. “But I’m not sure they are great chances.”

#8. Cabbie on Creating his Niche, Life in Sports Media, Forgettable Moments with the Raptors by Raps unPublished | The Toronto Raptors Podcast | Free Listening on SoundCloud

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