Morning Coffee

Morning Coffee – Sat, Jan 12

Inside the Green Room: Raptors coach Phil Handy

  • The reception Danny and Kawhi received in San Antonio.
  • What Danny knows about the notorious Uncle Dennis, Kawhi’s closest confidant.
  • Danny expresses his love for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and picks four teammates that best match the four main characters.
  • Why OG Anunoby is such a funny guy without even trying.
  • Danny talks about nearly picking up his third technical foul against the Bucks and what he said to the refs.
  • Coach Handy joins the show to talk about his love for basketball and the stress levels involved with being an NBA coach.
  • Why he decided to take a job with the Raptors.
  • Coach Handy talks about his history with Danny going back to their days in the D-League.
  • What it was like working with LeBron in Cleveland and how they viewed the Raptors.

Four takeaways from Toronto’s convincing home win over Brooklyn |

Aside from an uninspiring stretch in the fourth quarter – when the game looked to be out of reach for the Nets, the Raptors bench put forth a very impressive effort and had a major impact on the game.

Five different reserves finished the night scoring in double figures: OG Anunoby and Norman Powell led the way with 13 points apiece, Delon Wright added 12 points, while Greg Monroe and Fred VanVleet each scored 10 points. VanVleet also added six assists, the most among the reserves, who finished with 13 assists as a unit.

VanVleet (3-for-5), Anunoby (2-for-3) and Wright (1-for-3) combined to shoot 6-for-11 from 3-point range.

Toronto’s bench finished the night outscoring Brooklyn’s second unit 60-51 – a figure that was slightly impacted by the amount of time the Nets reserves spent on the floor after the game had gotten out of hand.

The Raptors’ bench was looked at as a major question mark following the Bucks game last weekend but the unit has responded appropriately since.

10 things from Raptors-Nets (Jan. 11) – The Defeated

  1. Dominant: The Raptors toyed around with the Nets for the first quarter before flipping the switch and controlling the game the rest of the way. Eight Raptors scored in double-digits, no starter logged more than 30 minutes, and the much maligned bench delivered 60 points.

  2. Connection: Kawhi Leonard continues to show improved chemistry with Pascal Siakam. He found Siakam in the third quarter with a lookaway dime for an easy dunk, and followed that up moments later with an instant hit-ahead dime to a streaking Siakam in transition.

  3. Smart: Kyle Lowry only took three shots in 23 minutes but he still managed to contribute in the margins. For example, Lowry is borderline maniacal about quick inbounds, and caught the Nets napping in the third quarter when he threw a bullet cross-court assist to Danny Green for three after just two seconds had ticked off the shot clock.

Raptors’ defence overshadows power of three-ball –

Until Jonas Valanciunas is back in action — he’s still weeks away — those five will be the Raptors’ second unit. Toronto’s coaching staff has been running the group through extra work before and after practices of late and, in games like Friday’s, you can see it paying off. The 60 points the reserves scored against the Nets were only two shy of a season-high.

“It’s taken us 45 games to figure it out,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said. “But it looks like, if we’re healthy, that’s the group. It should be a good group. It really should.”

But back to the three-pointers for a minute. When the NBA adopted the three-point line for the 1979-80 season, teams attempted only 2.8 three-pointers per game. A decade-and-a-half later, in the 1994-95 season, teams suddenly began attempting 15.3 per game — a more-than five shot increase on the season prior — marking the end of the single-digit era.

This season, teams are attempting 31.1 per game, the most ever. It marks the ninth consecutive season in which three-point attempts have increased league-wide. Currently, only two teams are attempting fewer than 25 three-pointers per night. Only five seasons ago, just four teams averaged 25 or more.

And how does Toronto fit in? The Raptors are among the top-10 teams in the league when it comes to three-point attempts (33 per game), but among the bottom-10 when it comes to three-point percentage (they came into Friday’s game converting 34.4 per cent of the time).

The Raptors soundly defeat the Nets, 122-105 – The Brooklyn Game The Raptors soundly defeat the Nets, 122-105 – The Brooklyn Game

To open the game, D’Angelo Russell came out firing and scored 12 points in the first quarter to go along with six rebounds and five assists. He was Brooklyn’s most prominent bright spot in the first quarter. With Russell on the court, the ball moved flawlessly around the perimeter. And when the ball moves, the Nets score at will.

Brooklyn’s defense showed up as well, holding the Raptors to 28 first quarter points  — a significant improvement from Wednesday’s first quarter against the Atlanta Hawks.

Sadly, the second quarter went much differently.

The Toronto offense scored at will from the paint, taking advantage of Brooklyn’s small lineup. Toronto put up 36 points in the second, taking an 11-point halftime lead. The Nets would need to find an answer for Kawhi Leonard, who scored 15 points in the first half.

Despite Brooklyn’s defensive woes, the Nets struggled mightily on offense. At one point in the second quarter, the Nets went 5:30 without a field goal. The Nets couldn’t get the ball in the basket no matter how hard they tried. Brooklyn made four field goals in the second, scoring just 18 points. The root of their offensive woes began with poor ball movement and terrible shot selection. The Nets would have to change their game plan for the second half.

New Toronto Raptor Patrick McCaw keeping things in perspective | The Star

It was the immediate aftermath of the fall that haunted McCaw — he lost sensation in his legs and initially feared the worst.

“It put everything into perspective about basketball, about life in general,” McCaw told reporters at his introductory scrum before the Raptors hosted the Brooklyn Nets on Friday. “Looking back on it, it was one of the scariest moments of my life. Things could be a lot different for me right now. I’m just so appreciative that things went the right way for me.”

Now, he is working on putting that moment behind him, the same way he’s trying to move on from an agent contract saga earlier this season that left him in limbo until last week, when the Cleveland Cavaliers signed him to an offer sheet the Warriors did not match. The Cavs waived McCaw after just three games, his only three outings of the season, making him an unrestricted free agent.

McCaw said has no hard feelings toward the Warriors, where he spent his first two seasons and won two championships.

“It was just a personal decision for me to move on,” McCaw said. “I loved my time there. The organization, coaches, players all helped me grow and develop as a young man coming in at 21 years old to the NBA. There was no better situation for me to learn and grow. It’s no bad blood, it’s nothing but love for Golden State and what they did for me.”

Raptors’ starters get their work done early in rout of improving Nets | The Star

For a team that was mired in the bottom four of the league in three-point efficiency just over a week ago, it’s a stark turnaround.

“We think we stay with it, you keep giving guys confidence, you look at the shots and you evaluate them pretty closely and they look like they’re pretty good,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said before the game.

“You tell those guys to make ’em and keep taking ’em, let’s make sure we’re taking the right ones and most of ’em are the right ones.”

Double the fun: Eight Raptors scored in double figures, including five reserves: OG Anunoby (on 5-of-6 shooting) and Norm Powell had 13 points, Delon Wright had 12, and Greg Monroe and Fred VanVleet added 10 each,
Nurse is a fan: The Nets were one of the hottest teams in the NBA heading into Friday’s game and had climbed to sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
Nurse appreciates what they’re doing.

“It’s a good team, man, 13-4 in their last 17 (before Friday),” the coach said. “Somebody should talk about that. Everybody should talk about it, 13-4 in their last 17. I’ve been hearing about Boston’s 15-5, Boston’s 15-5; 13-4’s pretty good, too.”

Looking at the recent play of the Toronto Raptors’ Norman Powell – Raptors HQ

In January, Nurse increased Powell’s minutes and offensive load even more, with Norm averaging 22.4 minutes while attempting 9.2 shots per game. The difference, however, was that he was now converting at a much higher clip than December, hitting 47.8 percent from the field and a respectable 37.5 percent from deep.

In 2019, Powell’s been averaging 11 points per game, injecting a spark off the bench on most nights. This past Sunday versus the Pacers he exploded, going 10-of-12 from the field and tallying 23 points.

This current version of Norm is having a similar impact with the Raptors that he delivered two seasons ago. The reason for his recent success is crystal clear – he’s back to playing a much more aggressive game, and doing it with a greater sense of control.

The numbers don’t lie. During the 2017-2018 campaign, almost half of Powell’s shot attempts were from deep, with only 50.3 percent of his shots coming from inside the arc. Of this amount, only 27.8 percent of them came from within three feet from the basket. So a whopping seven out of 10 shots Norm was taking were jumpshots far from the rim.

For the athletic slasher that Powell needs to be to be effective, these percentages were completely out of sync. His shot needs to complement his attacking the basket, not the other way around.

Patrick McCaw hoping to aid Raptors’ athleticism, flexibility –

“It’s a great team, a great organization. They reached out to me and I felt like it was a great fit for me,” McCaw said Friday, after officially joining the Raptors on a rest-of-season deal. “I’ve been watching the team play all year. They get after it on both ends of the floor. They like guys who are long, can defend and play multiple positions, and I think I fit in well.”

McCaw’s 2019 has been an interesting one, if your interests include the minutia of NBA’s collective bargaining agreement and the bureaucratic structures through which the league’s owners control costs.

After earning $1.86-million while filling a complementary yet valuable role on Golden State’s back-to-back title-winning teams the last two seasons, McCaw refused a one-year, $1.71-million qualifying offer as a restricted free agent this past summer, and reportedly declined a two-year, $5.2-million offer from the Warriors in October, beginning a holdout that extended well into the current season.

The reason for McCaw’s decision is ultimately unknown. Some reports indicate McCaw sought a longer, more-lucrative contract from the Warriors. Others say McCaw felt his development was being hindered by his erratic playing time with Golden State, and that the best thing for his future would be a more consistent, involved role. McCaw will only elaborate so much.

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The secrets behind the meteoric rise of Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam |

Siakam is mostly going to do one of two things on offence. Either he’s going to shoot a corner 3 or he’s going to attack the basket.

And yet, as simple as the scouting report might look on him on paper, he is anything but an easy cover.

For one, Siakam has developed into a capable outside shooter who is splashing 40.4 percent of his corner 3s this season. Basically all of those have been wide open – only one of his made triples has been tightly contested per – but being a threat from the perimeter means defences can’t help off of him as liberally as they have in the past.

Secondly, few players his size are as fluid and crafty with the ball in their hands. That matters because when defenders do close out on him on the 3-point line, Siakam can blow by them and finish strong in the restricted area, where he’s scoring as efficiently as LeBron James this season.

Siakam’s go-to on drives is a spin that has quickly become his signature move. It’s usually too fast for big men to handle and his length makes it almost impossible for smaller defenders to contest his shot even when they keep up with him step-for-step.

There’s no way of knowing who leads the league in points scored off of spin moves, but it wouldn’t be surprising at all if Siakam’s name was at the top of the list.

‘Art of the North’ exhibit puts Raptors global fan art on display

Basketball is no longer just a sport. It has become a global phenomenon because of its ability to intersect with fashion, music and art.

The on-going ‘Art of the North’ exhibit is a celebration of that fact in the most diverse NBA city, Toronto.

The exhibit showcases Raptors-inspired artwork in the form of sculptures, photography, sneakers, graphic art and paintings. Artists tied to the Raptors such as assistant coach Patrick Mutombo and Ajiri Ujiri, brother of team president Masai, also had their worked displayed in the showcase that included over 100 pieces from 40 artists from around the world.

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Art of the North puts Toronto Raptors fan art on display
Vince Chang is the curator of Art Of The North. He founded Conscious Basketball, a brand of artists that express their love for the game by making art and collectively holding exhibitions around the world. Their recent exhibitions have been showcased in San Francisco and Taiwan and the success of those was the catalyst for the one in Toronto.

After doing shows on the Golden State Warriors with some support from the team, the Raptors reached out to do something even bigger.

“This show is different as the city and country is so global and that definitely comes through in how easy it was to get art from around the word,” said Chang, a native New Yorker, earlier this week.

Maddy Rotman is a second year business student and artist attending Wilfrid Laurier University.

“There are hidden messages about the team in my art that wouldn’t make sense unless you know them,” Rotman explains. “When you see it you just know.”

Originally from Toronto, in her spare time she creates basketball art inspired by her passion for the Raptors. Her work first blew up when DeMar DeRozan noticed her cartoon depictions on histogram. Now she gets requests from the players including a piece she did depicting Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan with their kids. She’s made such a name for herself the Raptors have commissioned her to create images including for the 2017 NBA all-star game campaign around Kyle Lowry.

Raptors Are Again Unbeatable at Home and Against the Nets – The New York Times

“We’ve made strides, but we have a long way to go,” Atkinson said. “This is a little bit of a humble pie, going up against an elite team like this.”

Serge Ibaka added 14 points, O G Anunoby and Norman Powell each had 13, Delon Wright had 12 to help Toronto improve to 18-4 at home. They last lost at home Dec. 9 to Milwaukee.

The Raptors have won four straight over all and six of seven. The only loss in that stretch was Jan. 3 at San Antonio. Leonard reached 20 points for the 18th consecutive game, extending his career-best streak.

Toronto set a season high with 105 shots and had 32 assists on 48 baskets. The Raptors are 8-0 when they have 30 or more assists.

“It’s what we’re looking for, a total team effort,” said guard Fred VanVleet, one of five Toronto reserves to score at least 10 points. The Raptors finished with 60 bench points, two shy of a season high.

D’Angelo Russell led the Nets with 24 points. Shabazz Napier added 15 points, and Jarrett Allen had 12 rebounds.

Kawhi leads balanced Raptors attack over visiting Nets | Toronto Sun

The third frame was much the same, with Leonard still getting wherever he wanted to and Ibaka finding the touch from short range.

“I think we started getting back a little bit better,” said head coach Nick Nurse. “Our transition defence started out kind of poor and we started showing a little bit more length and deflections.

“We got a lot of tip-outs and run-outs from primarily playing good defence.”

Point guard Fred VanVleet, a big part of the extremely effective bench group, agreed with his coach.

“Defensive pressure,” he said. “Made some adjustments, started switching, getting a little more aggressive and obviously the same formula we always try to do: Create havoc on the defensive end, get out in transition, get easy points.”

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