Norm for MVP.
There will be an NBA Bubble MVP.
The league announced that there will be an All-Seeding Games Team and a Player of the Seeding Games, honoring the best performers from the seeding games that started July 30 and will conclude Friday.
The awards will be announced Saturday afternoon, prior to Game 1 of the Western Conference play-in series.
A panel of sportswriters and broadcasters who have been on-site at the Walt Disney World Resort covering the season restart will vote for the award winners. There will be a five-player first team and a five-player second team, with no breakdowns by position.
Top candidates would likely include Phoenix’s Devin Booker, Dallas’ Luka Doncic, Portland’s Damian Lillard, Houston’s James Harden, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Indiana’s T.J. Warren.
Where to Watch
Date: Wednesday, Aug. 12
Time: 6:30 p.m.
TV: TSN Network
Location: The Field House, Orlando, FL
Who plays, who sits?
At this point, the Raptors aren’t playing for much outside of continuity and conditioning.
The East’s No. 2 seed is locked up, the team is as healthy as it’s been all season and the first-round matchup with the Brooklyn Nets is set. In Monday’s win over the Milwaukee Bucks, we saw Serge Ibaka, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet sit to nurse minor injuries.
Could we see a different group of key players sit out this time? A few of the same players rest again?
The question also applies to the Sixers, who will be without All-Star Ben Simmons for the remainder of the season while All-Star Joel Embiid is nursing an ankle injury. Depending on the stakes, Philadelphia might err on the side of caution in what is its
This game could again be similar to what we actually expected from the scrimmages – an exhibition-like game with a focus on development and repetitions for the second unit.
But taken as a whole, the Raptors can realistically look at their own position and the respective positions of the other front-runners and believe they head into the playoff round in better shape than any other team.
This isn’t news to the Raptors who have long believed and said they are a tough team to beat no matter who they are playing .
Nurse still wants his troops to find a little better offensive rhythm and even as good as the defence has been most nights in the bubble, he would like to see things get a little crisper on that end too.
But while their biggest and most feared opponents deal with injury issues and absence issues and cohesiveness issues, Nurse’s biggest issue seems to be finding minutes for all his deserving rotation players.
Through the successful playoff run a year ago Nurse went with primarily an eight-man rotation although there were games he stuck to just seven.
Even with Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green gone, Nurse still finds himself with more realistic options for minutes than he has minutes to spread around.
After a starting five of Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol, Nurse still has Serge Ibaka, Norm Powell and Rondae Hollis Jefferson coming off the bench.
Beyond those eight he has Terence Davis, who played well beyond his rookie status this year, as well as Chris Boucher and Matt Thomas, who were the talk of the bubble after their performances against the Bucks on Monday.
It’s been a summer full of books for Grade 5 students Muhammad, Dawoud and Trusten—thanks to a reading challenge from the Raptors 905.
“Reading is the best way to improve my knowledge,” Muhammad tells CTV News Toronto.
“The book club is very beneficial,” adds his brother, Dawoud. “It’ll help you improve more and it’s kind of fun, too.”
The boys, ages 11 and 10, were among 200 kids in Peel Region selected for the reading challenge put on by the Raptors 905 in partnership with First Book Canada and Penguin Random House.
“They each got five books to read over a series of five weeks,” explains Genadyne Charr of the Raptors 905 organization. “Then, they get to engage with all of the authors on Fridays after finishing the books.”
The challenge, which means reading for a total of 905 minutes, also includes the opportunity to chat with Raptors 905 coach Jama Mahlalela over Zoom.
“We have to write and read,” explains Trusten. “So after we’re done one chapter, we have to write about the chapter.”
“As I’m going, I write notes to help me understand the book for my book report,” Dawoud adds.
The author of each week’s book in the challenge also joins in on the weekly Zoom conversation, Charr said.
“This year, we decided to go with Black authors in the community that students can read, engage with and learn,” he said.
Books featured in the challenge include “Dragons in a Bag,” “No Small Potatoes,” “Clean Getaway,” “What Lane,” and “Locomotion.”
“If you look closely, the main characters of all books are all Black characters, or half-Black and a different ethnicity,” Muhammad explains. “So I really think that that’s really good, especially what’s been happening in the U.S. and also in Canada.”
Boucher’s combination of length and skill make him an intriguing player for Nurse to turn to in bursts because, as evidenced by Monday’s 25-point, 12-rebound explosion, when the 27-year-old Canadian is able to string together a couple good plays and start feeling good about himself, his raw talent certainly looks like the real deal.
The Raptors don’t have many options in the way of big men outside of their one-two punch of Gasol and Ibaka, so Boucher could be a nice option for Nurse as another big to rely on if those two land themselves in foul trouble.
Additionally, Boucher can provide a kind of weak-side rim protection that no other player on the Raptors can, and his versatile skill set to be able to put the ball on the floor and hit the occasional three-pointer at his size also means Toronto’s spacing on offence won’t have to be sacrificed because he’s on the floor.
The downside to utilizing Boucher is that lot of his skills are already covered by the likes of Gasol and Ibaka, and though he’s worked hard to add muscle over the course of the hiatus, he’s still more likely to be boxed out when contesting for boards.
Overall, however, Boucher fits the Swiss Army Knife mold the Raptors like to have on the floor and has real skill to back it all up, making him an attractive option even if only to test what he might be able to provide on any given night.
Toronto’s August seeding game schedule consists of eight games and with Monday’s win, it can finish no worse than 5-3 in the month. The last time the Raptors didn’t finish above-.500 in a calendar month? January 2017, well over three years ago.
Take a step back and think about how impressive an achievement this is: The last time Toronto lost more games than it won in a calendar month, the league looked much different – LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were still with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kevin Durant was midway through his first season with the Golden State Warriors and Zion Williamson was a junior in high school
Even more impressive is that during this streak, the team didn’t even post a month with a .500 record, and there have been months at the beginning and end of the season in which the team only plays a handful of games, making a team more susceptible to posting a losing record.
Isaiah Stewart – PF/C, Freshman (Washington), 6’9”, 19 years old
Isaiah Stewart is an old-school big that possesses a post-up and short midrange game that would make Vin Baker and David West proud. He likes to get the ball on the post, bully his defenders, and finish with either hand. Stewart’s excellent hands allow him to get in scoring positions even if bigger defenders fronted him.
A growing part of Stewart’s game is his ability to switch from the post to a face-up and nail a mid-range jumper. Aside from that, Stewart will compete and try to outwork multiple opponents on the board.
Stewart’s excellent motor allows him to rim-run effortlessly. He plays bigger for his size and should project as a small-ball big. His wingspan and his strength make up for his height.
Defensively, Stewart provides a tall and robust wall against post-ups and should be quick enough to be a help defender. He averaged 2.1 blocks per game, and this is a testament to his effort, reads, quick reaction, and length, as he doesn’t have the elevation to block the ball up high.
Areas of Concern
Stewart’s old-school game is a problem, as the modern NBA game rarely dumps the ball to the post anymore. He’s also got issues in the post — he’s more of a finisher in the post than a playmaker, so Stewart often forces the issue, resulting in turnovers or bad shots.
Stewart’s perimeter shot is not reliable at this point, and his ceiling could be unlocked if he can hit them at a respectable rate. Stewart’s shot mechanics would probably need to be reworked a bit for this improvement to happen.
Stewart is an undersized big with limited athleticism. His standing vertical leap and even his max vertical leap have to be below average, limiting him to a below-the-rim finisher, which is a bit disappointing as he’s got quick hops. Because of this limitation, Stewart won’t be a lob threat unless it’s clean, and would likely not be a big dunker in traffic.
Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris, who the Raptors are going to get an even closer look at now that the two teams will face each other in the first round of the playoffs.
The draw with Harris is rather simple – he’s one of the best shooters in the league.
The 28-year-old led the NBA in 3-point percentage (.474) in 2018-19 and is among the league leaders again this season, having made 42.5 percent of his 3-point attempts to this point of the season. He’s done so in decent volume in both seasons. Whereas he ranked 51st in 3-point attempts last season, Harris ranks 30th this season.
Very few of his 3s come off the dribble, but Harris isn’t just a standstill shooter. Last season, only Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry averaged more points per game than him off of screens. (Anytime you’re in the company of the Splash Brothers, you’re doing something right). This season, he ranks behind only Terrence Ross, JJ Redick and Paul George. He’s been incredibly efficient on those plays, ranking in the 97th percentile last season and the 64th percentile this season in scoring efficiency. He’s also a threat to score off of handoffs.
That makes Harris someone teams have to keep tabs on at all times. There aren’t many players at his position who cover as much ground as he does on offence on a nightly basis and he doesn’t need much space to get his shot off standing at 6-foot-6.