Morning Coffee – Tue, Apr 4

Where there's this much smoke, there's fire; rumours on Nurse leaving/fired are red hot rn

O.G. Anunoby is red hot. Raptors need him to keep shooting | The Star

Anunoby left Sunday’s game with what was described by head coach Nick Nurse as a “mild, mild” ankle sprain. Anunoby was getting around like normal before Monday’s practice, he’s likely to be listed as “questionable” on the official injury report but there’s no indication there’s anything seriously wrong with him.

That will be of significant solace to Nurse and the Raptors, who have now assured themselves of a spot in next week’s play-in tournament.

Toronto, Miami, Atlanta and Chicago are fighting for seventh through 10th in the East and the permutations are impossible to predict right now.

What is known is the schedule. According to the NBA’s website, the seventh seed will host No. 8 on Tuesday with the winner of that game getting the seventh overall seed.

The No. 9 team will host No. 10 on Wednesday with the winner playing Friday at the loser of the seventh-eighth game for the final post-season slot.

It’s obvious that finishing seventh or eighth presents are more amenable path to the playoffs, putting huge significance on every game. Miami currently sits seventh, two games up on tied Atlanta and Toronto with Chicago a game further back.

The tiebreaker situation remains unsettled, too. Atlanta owns the advantage over Toronto, Chicago has it on Atlanta and the Raptors would get the nod over Chicago in two-way ties.

Three-way ties would bring conference record into play; a four-way tie would be mind-numbing to figure out.

“I obviously watch the games very closely and see what’s going on but I don’t look ahead to see who they’ve got (left on the schedule),” Nurse said. “I don’t think it matters that much.

“We’ll just play them out. We’ll just take care of our own. If we do that, that’s all we can do.”

The Raptors are also optimistic that Gary Trent Jr. will be able to play either here Tuesday or in one of the games they have in Boston on Wednesday and Friday.

Trent, a full participant in Monday’s post-practice scrimmage, has been out for five games with elbow and back issues. He could use as much game-speed action as possible so he’s fully up to speed for the play-in series.

“I’d really, really like get him out there, even if it’s limited minutes,” Nurse said. “I’d like to get him out there from a rhythm, conditioning standpoint more than anything.”

And if that means pushing through minor discomfort, so be it.

“I’d just say we’re at a stage where being overly cautious doesn’t sit that well with me,” Nurse said.

NBA Power Rankings: Celtics on top; Lakers rise; measuring success for all 30 teams – The Athletic

This Week: 15
Last Week: 13

39-39 | +1.4 net rating

Weekly slate: Win over Heat, Loss at Sixers, Win at Hornets

What makes this season a success? Make the playoffs.

Even though the Raptors made the playoffs a year ago and tried to scare Philadelphia after going down 0-3, Toronto should have a very similar level of success for this season. It’s been a frustrating campaign for the Raptors, but they made it through all the trade rumors, bolstered their team with Jakob Poeltl and have put themselves in a great position to make it through the Play-In Tournament. They should be able to hold it together more than the Hawks or Bulls can. This team is even quite dangerous against Miami if they face the Heat in the first round.

NBA Power Rankings: Anthony Davis powers Lakers into top 10; Kevin Durant’s return boosts Suns; Celtics on top –

This Week: 16
Last Week: 17

The Raptors handily beat the Heat and Hornets this week, with a loss to the 76ers in between. The offense was impressive, putting up 124 points per 100 possessions, led by 25 points per game from Pascal Siakam. Fred VanVleet dished out a franchise-record 20 assists in Sunday’s win over Charlotte, to go along with 20 points.

Ranking the 29 Most Likely First-Round NBA Playoff Series, From Most Compelling to Least – The Ringer

Tier 8: Eastern Conference Walkovers
29. Bucks vs. Bulls (23 percent chance of occurring)

28. Bucks vs. Hawks (22 percent)

27. Celtics vs. Hawks (22 percent)

26. Celtics vs. Bulls (14 percent)

25. Celtics vs. Raptors (22 percent)

24. Bucks vs. Raptors (25 percent)

23. 76ers vs. Nets (96 percent)

Seed nos. 3, 4, 5, and 6 are mostly settled in the East. The only remaining questions are whether the Celtics will catch the Bucks for the no. 1 seed (the Odds Machine says they have an 18 percent chance) and which two members of the Heat-Hawks-Raptors-Bulls quartet will advance out of the play-in tournament—all four of those teams have at least a 97 percent chance to land in the play-in.

Alas, the Bucks and Celtics are so strong that the Bulls, Hawks, and Raptors seem unlikely to truly challenge the conference’s top seeds in a best of seven. Milwaukee dispatched Chicago in a gentleman’s sweep last season, and a similar result would probably reoccur in a rematch. Atlanta has almost no chance against the Bucks or Celtics; ditto the Raptors, even though they’ve played much better since trading for Jakob Poeltl and could at least make the top seeds sweat.

How will the in-season NBA tournament work? – Video – TSN

Bryan Hayes, Jeff O’Neill and Frankie Corrado are joined by ESPN NBA Front Office Insider Bobby Marks to discuss why fans should be interested in the new NBA in-season tournament.

Raptors Share Injury Updates for Gary Trent Jr. & OG Anunoby – Sports Illustrated

The Toronto Raptors are running out of time to play in cautious with injuries these days.

It’s part of the problem the team is dealing with as O.G. Anunoby and Gary Trent Jr. continue to battle through injuries that’ll have them questionable to play Tuesday, Raptors coach Nick Nurse told reporters in Charlotte.

Anunoby left Sunday’s game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury that’s considered “very mild,” Nurse said following the game. It looked quite severe at the time but Anunoby remained in the game until the Raptors had safely put away the Hornets. He then checked out and walked to the locker room for further testing.

Trent’s injury has been a strange one. He had first missed time with right elbow soreness but that has since been changed to back spasms for the last two games. 

“I think Gary is close,” Nurse told reporters. “I’d really like to get him out there even if it’s limited minutes or whatever. I’d like to get him out there from a rhythm (and) conditioning standpoint more than anything.”

Toronto has just four games left this season, three on the road beginning with Charlotte on Tuesday. The team will then head to Boston for a pair against the Celtics before returning home to take on the Milwaukee Bucks in the season finale on Saturday, April 9.

“We’re at a stage where being overly cautious doesn’t sit that well with me,” Nurse added regarding the injuries.

The Hornets are once again expected to be shorthanded, though no injury report has officially been released.

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