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Bits and pieces counting down to Game 1

You’ve already seen two giant previews at RR (first, second) and another one’s coming tomorrow. I can’t wait for the previewing to stop and the games to begin. For this post we’ll just cover some miscellaneous stuff/news.

Chris Bosh will be covering the Finals for TSN and at first sight of the news I was surprised. Bosh’s exit wasn’t exactly pleasant though fans for the most part did respect him for pulling an honest shift in his years here. The man obviously never had a real team around him and doesn’t deserve criticism for not trusting Bryan Colangelo to build one. We didn’t so why should he? It’s funny how some choices players made that outraged many at the time look like perfectly normal and logical decisions with the benefit of hindsight. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy obviously because maybe things would have turned out differently if those players had made different decisions, but in Bosh’s case it was 100% the right move on his part. What about Vince Carter leaving the Rob Babcock-era Raptors? I think there was enough critical mass in Vince where if he had stayed it would’ve shifted Eastern alignments enough to make a difference. What I’m saying is Vince is definitely the bigger villain.

OG Anunoby is to return in about 10 days says RR’s lovechild, Blake Murphy. This is around Game 3 or 4. I was talking to this guy at work (shout out Ammar) who is convinced that OG can handle Draymond Green and then some. At first I felt OG was the slighter player and then I looked at the tape: OG is 6’ 8” 232 lbs and Green is 6’ 7” 230 lbs. Of course size isn’t everything but if OG is able to check Green on the outside and stick with him on his drives, it diminishes a significant factor for the Warriors. Even more importantly, I believe switchability is key against the Warriors. With OG the Raptors are able to switch 1-4 more easily than with Ibaka, and they’re able to scale up their transition pace if need be. OG would’ve helped against Milwaukee but against the Warriors he can be a more significant factor. I’d even go as far as saying his impact for the Raptors can be greater than DeMarcus Cousins’ impact for the Warriors.

As expected, Kevin Durant has been ruled out of Game 1 so for at least one game the Raptors, 1) do not necessarily need to double anyone on the Warriors, and 2) Leonard isn’t focused entirely on one player like he was when Giannis was in. This should make sticking with the Warriors easier if the Raptors do those aforementioned perimeter switches effectively.

With Durant’s high post scoring prowess and his passing ability he’s used to picking off options when a decent look doesn’t present itself.  At least that element of their offense is dimmed. There will be more ball movement on the part of the Warriors which means more movement on the part of the Raptors defense, which means that guys like Fred VanVleet and Danny Green cannot afford to get caught on screens because that will give the Warriors the daylight they seek. Leonard could play a free safety role as well by temporarily pressuring and coming back, a role Kyle Lowry often plays with good effect. Not having to worry about Durant gives the Raptors more defensive options which Nick Nurse has to take advantage of.

Skip Bayless is scum of the earth. The pure hate towards Kawhi Leonard is something to behold, if only to see an example of a human being going to great lengths just to seek attention of any kind. I figured when Kevin Spacey was describing the horror that is the world to Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman in Seven, he was picturing Bayless. This is like the InfoWars of the NBA, a take for the sake of it. The more hateful the better, the more vile the more viewers.

Danny Green’s lack of shooting is getting some attention and he’s come out and said that he’s feeling it too, but not getting down. I think Green can play a slightly different role in this series. You’ll recall that he posted up Steph Curry very successfully in the regular season and though it’s not a straight line translation into playoffs, the elements of what could be an easy score or at least attract help from the Warriors are there. If I’m Green for every three I practice I’m also practicing a short leaner and a fade. That’s another thing the Warriors are very good at: hiding their mismatches.  You saw the Sixers make a serious effort of exploiting Kyle Lowry through Jimmy Butler in the block, and if similarly Green is able to get an advantage over Curry, it changes the dynamic.

Green also has admitted that he prefers covering smaller guards where he can afford a little bit of space to prevent the drive. Curry can kill you with that “little” space, but at the same time you can argue that Green might even feel that this is an easier matchup than Khris Middleton. As unreal as that might sound.

Uncle Dennis (what a name) who is like Vince’s mom but much less disruptive spoke about Kawhi Leonard’ decision to leave the Spurs:

“I think it just became a lack of trust. They didn’t believe Kawhi couldn’t play and that caused a lack of trust in us and then us not believing in them. Any time a player says he’s not capable of playing, you should believe him. Why would Kawhi just stop playing all of a sudden? He’s a competitor. Sometimes you get these team doctors telling you what you can and cannot do, and Kawhi was just in too much pain to get out there. This was a serious issue. They didn’t believe him, and after that, the relationship couldn’t recover and we decided we had to move on.”

Man, things must’ve been very bad for anyone to think that Kawhi Leonard was dogging it. The narrative doesn’t match the man’s personality (at least the outward facing one). If Kawhi said he’s injured and can’t play I would be inclined to believe him. This opinion isn’t influenced by his time in Toronto, that’s what it would’ve been last year as well. We’ll probably never hear the full side of the Spurs story unless Greg Popovich has his own version of Uncle Dennis. Which he totally might so there’s always that to look forward to once the playoffs are over.

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