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Have The Toronto Raptors Adopted A Canadian Identity?

Like a typical Canadian, the Toronto Raptors appear to be deflecting and apologizing in advance of what should be the most successful season in franchise history. This team has never had this much talent or so many good young players fighting for recognition while playing behind proven veterans.

It’s a situation that seems to have Brian Windhorst of ESPN somewhat confused, but Americans have always had a little trouble understanding the Canadian identity.

The Raptors are a big, bad, beast of a team

When it was pointed out to various Raptors that their wing-loaded roster, the presence of a signature star and experienced gritty, defensive-minded All-Star point guard, plus their devotion to shooting 3-pointers, made them a bit of a Houston Rockets-East, they ran from the comparison.

Lowry outright laughed. As did new coach Nick Nurse

It’s one thing to not want to put anything on an opponent’s bulletin board. It’s another to try to demur as a defensive mechanism for later danger.

Windhorst sees the Raptors as shrinking away from the obvious greatness of this new roster because of the past failures in the postseason and the future risks associated with free agency, but no Canadian team would publicly want the comparison to the 65-win first place overall franchise of last year or the previous champion. It’s not how things roll north of the border.

“Oh no, I wouldn’t say that,” Nurse said about the Rockets’ comparison. “We just really like our versatility.”

“We have a long road before we ever think about matching up with the champions like Golden State,” Kawhi Leonard said.

Toronto had the second best overall record in the NBA last season with 59-wins and the additions of Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and (even) Greg Monroe have significantly improved every aspect of their roster and preferred style of play. A prolific three-point shooting team with a top six defense just added two superior three-point threats and All-Defensive team selections to their starting lineup in Leonard and Green while moving out the worst three-point shooter and defender in last year’s starting lineup. (Sorry DeMar, Toronto still loves you)

it doesn’t take much imagination to see the Raptors as a nasty defensive team that flings 3-pointers by the bushel

All sports news and comparisons live in the moment and if the Raptors were to get swept by Boston and Washington in their first back-to-back of the season, ESPN would just as quickly be throwing doubt on new head coach Nick Nurse and be speculating how long it will take for Kawhi to be pushing for a trade. Conversely, if Toronto beats the Celtics and the Wizards in games two and three of the season, Windhorst’s vision of the “big, bad beast of of team” will be the hot topic.

Of course neither result really means all that much at this time of the year.

Sorry.

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

  

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Masai Ujiri

Raptors Masai Ujiri Is Sweating His Big Move

Has anyone in Toronto ever seen the Raptors president Masai Ujiri sweat? Well after returning from Africa this morning and immediately heading down to Scotiabank Arena for a press conference about the big move that sent fan-favorite DeMar DeRozan to the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard, the usually steadfast Ujiri was sweating the details in front of the media.

This wasn’t the first time Ujiri has sent someone he knows well and respects packing, but this time it took a toll. From the apologies to the explanations to admitting maybe he misled DeRozan unintentionally, Ujiri has never bobbed-and-weaved so much in front of the media in Toronto and maybe ever.

“When I met with (DeRozan’s agent) at Summer League maybe my mistake was saying there was nothing imminent at the time. At the time we were fourth on the ranks of trying to get anything done and I didn’t see anywhere the talks were going,” Ujiri explained.

“It’s my job to go to these guys and talk about our team as it is. That’s my job every year.”

Understandably it’d be hard to tell a star player his name had come up in trade talks. Especially if you believed those talks weren’t going anywhere, but as Ujiri later admitted, the he believed Raptors as constructed would be stuck in the same spot they’d been for a while now and that wasn’t good enough anymore.

Ujiri should be sweating over this move. Leonard wasn’t at this press conference that was in essence about him and the best Ujiri could say was his new star would be here “soon” and based on the reporting rules for traded players, soon should have been “today.”

The Raptors got the best player in this trade and added a badly needed veteran wing player in Danny Green, the team got better on paper – a lot better, but Ujiri was still sweating.

Maybe everyone in Toronto should be sweating until Ujiri can put Leonard in front of the media for a photo shoot in his new jersey.

 

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

  

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey

Raptors Dwane Casey Is The Coach Of The Year

Raptors head coach Dwane Casey, who is currently going through his annual roasting by the local Toronto media for not getting past LeBron James and the Cavaliers again this postseason, is about to be recognized as the NBA’s Coach of the Year by the people that actually know something about the job – his peers, according to Mark Stein of The New York Times.

Dwane Casey of the Toronto Raptors has been selected as the National Basketball Coaches Association’s coach of the year for the 2017-18 season, according to two people with knowledge of the voting.

Casey will be formally announced as the winner of the N.B.C.A. trophy — later Wednesday

The N.B.C.A. introduced its own Coach of the Year Award last season, based on a vote of the league’s 30 head coaches.

Casey led the Raptors to a franchise record 59 wins and first place in the Eastern Conference for the first time in franchise history after most pundits predicted his team would finish in the middle of the playoff pack with a mid-40s win season.

President Masai Ujiri had stripped the roster of veterans by sending out DeMarre Carroll and Cory Joseph in trades and permitting Patrick Patterson and P.J. Tucker to walk in free agency. He did this to reboot a “culture change” or, more accurately, to see what his young players like Delon Wright,  Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl and rookie OG Anunoby could do if Casey was forced into playing them significant minutes. Ujiri then filled in the back end of his roster with undrafted prospects to ensure Casey wasn’t tempted to look to veteran help when things got tough.

The unexpected result was one of the best benches in the NBA this past season, something numerous other head coaches acknowledged during trips to Toronto.

Washington Wizards head coach Scott Brooks,

“In my humble opinion, (Casey) is the Coach of the Year.

“Their bench is really good. That unit just moves the scoreboard.”

It would be fair to say expectations for this year’s postseason got ahead of where Casey’s roster was at in their development as the bench was not effective against a far more seasoned Cavaliers rotation, but the NBA’s coaches had no trouble acknowledging the impressive season Casey was able to put together.

The N.B.C.A. Coach of the Year Award is separate from the NBA’s Coach of the Year voted on by members of the news media.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors win no 57

Raptors Crush Pacers To Secure First Place In The East

The Toronto Raptors built an 18-4 lead before the visiting Pacers knew what hit them as they held visitors to 5 points below their previous worst this season of 38 at the half and 10 points below their prior low of 83 for a game this year as Toronto cruised to a new franchise record for wins in a season at 57 and secured first place in the Eastern Conference with the 92-73 win.

The Pacers couldn’t buy a bucket all game as no one in the starting lineup made more than two field goals and Indiana shot a season low 29.9 percent as a team.

“(The Raptors) defense has been solid, there offense has picked up. They have put together a bench that is playing very well,” said Pacers head coach Nate McMillan prior to the game. “They have put themselves into a position to have this kind of success.”

The Raptors defensive-minded power forward Serge Ibaka was red hot from the start, scoring 10 first quarter points and finishing with a season-high 25 points on 10-13 shooting while matching his career best of five made three-pointers. No one else scored more than 12 points on either team.

“(Ibaka) is a weapon,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “He has developed that like a lot of players that go through the league. They develop the offensive end. He is a definite three-point shooter.”

The victory also established a new franchise record for wins at home (33) with one home game remaining against Orlando on Sunday.

DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry played 28 minutes each and finished 12/5/8 and 9/5/9 respectively as Casey didn’t have to rely on his All-Stars to get the job done on this night.

“There is a sense of gratification of watching the growth of the program,” Casey said. “(The) development of the program from scratch and building it to the number one seed in our conference.”

However, Casey is thinking about the start of the playoffs a week from now and, unlike some other coaches, is more worried about keeping his guys ready to play than giving them any significant time off.

“That’s bull crap,” Casey said about resting guys. “We may give a guy some time, but we can’t think rest, we got to think rhythm. If you’ve been around the last couple of years, you’ve seen what shutting guys down a few games does to your body. We may rest a guy maybe a few minutes or a game, but there won’t be anybody who is going to take the rest of these next three games off because we just now in these last couple of games got a sense of rhythm.”

The Raptors don’t want to face another slow start in the first round of the playoffs.

On another note, the Raptors affiliate, Raptors 905, defeated the Erie BayHawks in the G League Eastern Conference Final 118-106 led by two-way contract player Lorenzo Brown with a game-high 28 points. The 905 will head to Austin, Texas to defend their G League Title on Sunday April 8th at 7:00 p.m. Game Two will be at the Hersey Centre in Mississauga on April 10th with Game Three, if necessary, back in Austin on April 13th.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan Gets Some MVP Love From The Western Conference

While the Houston Rockets James Harden is the run-away leader for the NBA’s MVP award this season, Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry singled out the Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan as another worthy candidate. Gentry acknowledges that despite a great season his own star Anthony Davis isn’t even in this race. As it should be, it’s all about winning.

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle quotes Gentry as saying,

“In my opinion, (James Harden) is the MVP of the league,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. “It’s not even close, really, what he’s doing with his team and the numbers he’s putting up.”

“He’s been fantastic. He’s been unbelievable,” Gentry said of Davis. “I think the only difference in him not being heavily, heavily in the conversation is obvious we haven’t had the type of season that a Houston has had or a Toronto has had, you know with (DeMar) DeRozan and those guys.

“We just don’t have the wins that those teams have and I think that’s the difference in where he is on the scale of MVP as opposed to Harden or DeRozan.”

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Raptors Closing In On First Overall In The NBA

On a seemingly ignored 10 game winning streak the Toronto Raptors are on the verge of passing the Golden State Warriors in the overall standings and are just three games back of the Houston Rockets who they have defeated twice this season.

These aren’t your Raptors of the past four years. Yes, those teams set club records with 48, 49, 56 and 51 win seasons and were better than anything fans in Toronto had experienced, but this team is on a pace never before seen north of the border and there is still an element of disbelief around the NBA and even in the local fan base. And that’s despite this winning streak really stretching back to late January at 19-2.

While the blow out wins in February were impressive, what deserves more notice are the recent hard fought wins over desperate teams fighting for playoff position. Games that in past seasons probably would not have ended in the Raptors favor.

Toronto crushed the Pistons hopes of sneaking into the playoffs by blowing them out at the Air Canada Centre at the end of February and a week later broke their hearts in an overtime thriller in Detroit that the Pistons had to win to stay in the playoff race. The Raptors also took wins away from the Wizards in Washington and the Pacers in Indiana in the fourth quarter with both teams fighting for home court in the postseason.

However, the signature win came against the Western Conference’s first place Rockets who came into Toronto on a 17 game winning streak having lost earlier in the season to Toronto in front of their home fans. The Raptors were playing their third game in four nights, but it didn’t matter as they held the NBA’s second highest scoring team to just 105 points.

The Warriors are experiencing injury woes and dropped a couple of road games recently. Currently Stephen Curry (ankle), Klay Thompson (thumb) and Kevin Durant (ribs) are all on the shelf, so there may be a few more losses coming before they get all their superstars back. Passing the Dubs in the overall standings is a very real possibility for the Raptors.

The Rockets, however, may prove to have too big of a lead. Houston has bounced back for three wins in a row after losing in Toronto. The Raptors can see first place overall, but there doesn’t seem to be anything standing in the way of James Harden and company running the table from here.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan Is Player Of The Week For An NBA High Fifth Time

The NBA announced Monday that Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan has been selected as Eastern Conference Player of the Week for games played March 5-11. This marks the second week in a row and the fifth time this season DeRozan has received the honor, the most in the East.

In the West, James Harden has also been selected five times this season, most recently back-to-back in February. Not surprisingly, Rockets and Raptors are in first place in their respective conferences. The Trail Blazers Damian Lillard was selected from the West for this past week.

DeRozan averaged a team-high 24.8 points along with 4.3 assists and 4.5 rebounds as the Raptors won an NBA-best four games last week. He shot .453 (34-for-75) from the field and .833 (25-for-30) at the free throw line.

Highlighting DeRozan’s week was a 42-point performance during Toronto’s 121-119 overtime victory on March 7th at Detroit. He made a coast-to-coast dunk at the end of regulation and then drove coast-to-coast to assist on Fred VanVleet’s game-winning basket in overtime.  In a battle of first place teams, DeRozan scored 23 points, including the go-ahead basket vs. Houston on March 9th, snapping the Rockets’ 17-game winning streak.

 

NBA Houston Rockets James Harden and Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Raptors A Slight Favorite Over The Rockets

In what has to be viewed as the biggest game of the 2017-18 season to-date, the Eastern Conference’s first-place Toronto Raptors face the Western Conference’s first-place Houston Rockets at the Air Canada Centre tonight.

ESPN affiliate FiveThirtyEight.com gives the home court Raptors a slight 0.5 point advantage and  a 52 percent chance of winning.

Toronto (47-17) clinched a playoff spot this week with their sixth win in a row by beating Detroit 121-119 in overtime and holds a two game lead over second place Boston. The Rockets (51-13) hold a slim half game lead over the Warriors thanks to an impressive 17 game winning streak.

The Raptors defeated the Rockets in Houston 129-113 way back in November and a series sweep would send a strong message to the few remaining doubters about just how good the team north of the border is this season.

The Air Canada Centre has been a tough place for opponents to steal a win. The Raptors have the best home record in the NBA at 27-5 where they pile on the points at 112.8 per game and outscore their opponents by a league best 11.9 points.

However, the Rockets are a league best 26-7 on the road this season, scoring 111.8 points and winning easily by a front-running 8.9 points in their opponents’ buildings.

It’s the NBA’s leading scorer and MVP front runner James Harden vs the Eastern Conference Player of the Week DeMar DeRozan and the NBA’s best bench. This should be a good one.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

Consistent Raptors Get DeRozan Player Of The Month Honors

Sometimes it requires taking a deep breath and looking back over the past month to determine what really went down and with yet another consistently good month under their belts, the Toronto Raptors were able to get All-Star DeMar DeRozan NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors for January.

It wasn’t pretty, but the Raptors went 10-5 in January while the first place Celtics stumbled to a 7-5 record and the third place Cavaliers were an embarrassing 6-8. While fourth place Miami also managed to go 10-5, the Heat have no one putting up numbers comparable to DeRozan.

DeRozan averaged a team-high 25.3 points (second in East), 5.9 assists and 3.7 rebounds in 15 games during the month of January and was the Raptors’ leading scorer seven times. He shot .447 (135-302) from the field, .333 (21-for-63) from three-point range and .846 (88-104) at the free throw line. He put up a career-best 52 points on January 1st in an overtime win over Milwaukee.

This was the third time in his career that DeRozan has been named Eastern Conference Player of the Month.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Masai Ujiri kisses Dwane Casey

Raptors Get A Third All-Star

With the win over the Lakers on Sunday night the Toronto Raptors secured the team’s third representative at the 2018 NBA All-Star Game, head coach Dwane Casey.

The Raptors came close in the previous two 50+ win seasons and it took a franchise record setting first half for the team to land the honor for their coach this year. 

“It’s been three years in a row we’ve had a chance to do it and we finally did it,” exclaimed Raptors four-time All-Star Kyle Lowry. “It’s pretty special for a guy that’s come from where he’s come from and worked so hard. A team that was supposed to blow it up a couple of years ago and now we’re here.”

Casey, ever focused on “the program” and player development deflected the praise to management, ownership and the players, but he should be proud of how far he’s brought a team of predominately young players so far so fast.

“To put a light on our program and (let everyone) see what we are doing is the most important thing,” Casey said. “It’s also for the players. They have done something to this point (in the season.) It’s an honor for the program.”

The Raptors will be in no lower than second place in the East when the decision about who will coach in the All-Star Game is made. Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens (currently one game ahead of the Raptors) coached the All-Star Game last year and is ineligible this season.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry

Raptors Inch Closer To First As Celtics Slump

The Raptors made up ground on the front running Celtics without picking up a ball on Tuesday night as Boston extended their slump to four losses in a row by losing to the Lakers 108-107. Toronto also benefited by a Spurs beat down of a Cavs team in disarray 114-102.

After tonight, standings in the East are:

  1. Celtics     34-14     – – –
  2. Raptors   31-14   -1.5
  3. Cavaliers 27-19    -6
  4. Heat          27-20   -6.5

It doesn’t get any easier for the Celtics in the short term. They still have three more games on this Western Conference road trip and will face the Clippers on the back-to-back, then a trip to Golden State and finish off in mile-high Denver.

The Cavs had a team meeting before the game that apparently had no impact on anybody. Losers of 10 of their last 13 games, things are looking bad for Cleveland right about now.

It was already a good night in Toronto before the conclusion of these two games. The Raptors Kyle Lowry was announced as an NBA All-Star for the fourth consecutive season. He will be joining fellow four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan at Staples Center February 16-18 in the 67th edition of the NBA All-Star Game.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Jonas Valanciunas and Detroit Pistons Andre Drummond

Raptors Put Pistons In Their Place

Detroit is one of the NBA’s top three-point shooting teams with one of the league’s top rebounders in Andre Drummond, but that didn’t matter when the Pistons rolled into Toronto to face the Eastern Conference’s second place Raptors and center Jonas Valanciunas. The Raptors are one of the best at defending the three-point line and they put the hot shooting Pistons in their place 96-91.

Toronto opened with a 31-18 first quarter as Drummond looked lost and the Pistons couldn’t shoot straight. But, the Pistons fought back only to lose the game to a Raptors 12-2 fourth quarter run that erased a one-point Pistons lead and put the game out of reach.

“Andre put up good good numbers, but,” Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy said. “In that middle 30 minutes, second, third quarter into the fourth, I thought he was good defensively, but he didn’t start the game with a defensive mentality and then he didn’t get up on the two pick-and-rolls late. It’s unfortunate because we had fought really hard to get back in that game and to have two plays like that where you just got to be up and you’re not.

“It’s unfortunate because obviously 25 (points) and 17 (rebounds) is a helluva night against a really good player (Valanciunas) and a really good team.”

Valanciunas had 17 points and 16 rebounds playing 10 fewer minutes than Drummond.

With the centers essentially cancelling each other out on the glass, the Raptors won the battle of the boards 49-42 thanks in part to Toronto’s second best rebounder,  6′ point guard Kyle Lowry, digging out 9 rebounds.

Unfortunately for Detroit, even with Drummond, getting out rebounded is nothing new. Their rebounding differential was a -1.7 heading into the game. The Raptors are a +1.1 rebounds.

However, the most obvious issue for Detroit on this night was shooting 35.7 percent from three to make 10 on 28 attempts.

The Pistons are shooting an NBA third best 38.4 percent from three and feature six players hitting 39.5 percent or better, but not on this night.

The Raptors are holding opponents to the NBA’s fewest number of made threes per game (9.0) at the fifth lowest percentage (34.8). They average 11.2 threes shooting 35.1 percent and hit their averages going 11-31 against the Pistons.

Again, unfortunately, this is nothing new for the Pistons. As well as they shoot the three, they can’t defend it and on the season they are just a +0.4 net on made threes per game.

As if to add insult to injury, even Valanciunas made an uncontested three-pointer for Toronto on this night, improving to 7-20 from three on the season.

The loss leaves the Pistons with a 22-21 record and just a half game from falling to ninth place. There is hope the return of injured players will strengthen the team’s rotation, but as The Detroit News Rod Beard writes, Pistons torn between dealing, riding out storm

Pistons general manager Jeff Bower sat in the stands at Air Canada Centre during Wednesday morning’s shootaround, using his phone.

There’s no time for Words With Friends; he was doing some online shopping — perusing possible deals and making and taking calls about other roster possibilities.

Detroit has what a lot of teams are looking for, good three-point shooters. Maybe Bower can find a play-maker who could up his team’s bottom 10 assist numbers and create more opportunities for all those shot makers he’s accumulated?

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry

Raptors Kyle Lowry Could Be Out For A Week

It looked bad, but the scary injury Kyle Lowry sustained in overtime when the Nets Quincy Acy undercut his legs as the Raptors All-Star point guard was snagging a key rebound has been listed as day-to-day.

 

 

Rotoworld reports:

Today’s update, including the fact that Lowry’s X-rays came back negative, certainly qualifies as good news.

Lowry is considered day-to-day and could be back in the lineup by the end of this week.

In what seems to be a recurring theme this season when it comes to big games, the timing of this injury couldn’t be worse for NBA fans.

This week the 28-10 Raptors are scheduled to face the 26-14 Cavaliers on Thursday and the 33-8 Warriors on Saturday. So much for trying to get a better read on where the NBA Eastern Conference’s second place team fits among the league’s elite.

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan

DeMar DeRozan Is NBA East’s Player Of The Week For The 3rd Time

The NBA announced on Monday that DeMar DeRozan has been selected as the Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the third time this season. He has now been the East’s Player of the Week for games played Nov. 13-18, Dec. 18-24 and Jan. 1-7. This marks the eighth time DeRozan has earned the honor during his nine seasons in Toronto.

DeRozan averaged an NBA-high 35.7 points, 6.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds during three games last week. He shot .557 (34-for-61) from the field, .550 (11-for-20) from three-point range and .933 (28-for-30) at the free throw line. DeRozan was the leading scorer in two of Toronto’s three victories this past week.

Highlighting DeRozan’s week was a franchise-record 52-point performance Jan. 1 vs. Milwaukee in a 131-127 overtime win. He became the third player in team history to record a 50-point game, joining Vince Carter (Feb. 27, 2000 vs. Phoenix) and Terrence Ross (Jan. 25, 2014 vs. L.A. Clippers). DeRozan also matched a career-high with 17 field goals, including five three-pointers, against the Bucks and shot a perfect 13-for-13 at the free throw line. Two nights later, DeRozan scored 18 of his game-high 35 points in the third quarter to help Toronto pull away in a 124-115 victory Jan. 3 at Chicago.  He capped off the week by scoring 20 points during Toronto’s 129-110 win Jan. 5 at Milwaukee.

DeRozan, a native of Compton, California, currently ranks seventh in the NBA averaging 25.0 points through 37 games.

The three-time NBA All-Star was selected ninth overall by Toronto in the 2009 NBA Draft and is the franchise’s all-time leader in career points (12,381), field goals made (4,390), free throws (3,322) made and games played (632).

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry

Raptors Kyle Lowry Has A Sore Back And A Double Tech

Toronto was set for an easy night when the Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall couldn’t play because of a sprained shoulder, but unfortunately the Raptors All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry ran onto the court with a massive wrap looking suspiciously like an ice-pack on his lower back during the pregame warm-ups and that should have been taken as a clue that the home team’s advantage wasn’t going to be all the big after all.

“He’s had some soreness in his back,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey responded to Pro Bball Report’s query after the game.

Lowry didn’t look right in his 12 minutes of action against the Wizards. He went 0-4 from the field, leaving his layups short, even below the rim and it didn’t take long before he started taking his frustration out on the referees. While he had a bit of a case about non-calls, it did look like he was trying to get thrown out despite the protestations from his head coach.

“I thought it was unfortunate,” Casey said. “People have said worse than that. They’ve said worse, far worse than what he said to the official.”

Casey is probably right that the official should have just walked away, but it looked like Lowry was trying to get ejected and it probably felt that way to the official as well.

Later it was discovered Lowry was using a heating pad rather than ice. It would be safe to assume he was trying to loosen up those stiff sore muscles in his lower back prior to the game.

Unfortunately this isn’t the first time Lowry has suffered through back problems. At the end of the 2014-15 season he missed nine games with back spasms and admitted or not, his back was obviously still bothering him in his very rough first round playoff series with these same Wizards.

A sore back really isn’t anything all that usual in the NBA, but it can become a concern if things don’t improve and it isn’t something that can just be ignored. A sore back hurts and affects your ability to do just about everything, just ask anyone who has ever had one.

Now that the issue has been brought to light, it is something everyone concerned about the Raptors fortunes should be paying attention to.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry

ESPN Flip Flops On Whether Raptors Will Win 50 Games

In perhaps the most obvious face saving move ESPN could make after their Summer Forecast had the Toronto Raptors going 47-35 next season and ending up in a fourth place tie, they produce a panel that flip flops on that doubtful prediction.

Chris Forsberg, ESPN.com: As long as Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are healthy, the Raptors have a chance for 50 or more wins in an underwhelming East.

Chris Herring, FiveThirtyEight.com: unless injuries get in the way like they did last season — when Lowry missed 22 games and DeRozan missed 12 — it’s hard to see how the Raptors don’t approach, or eclipse, the 50-win mark yet again.

How does a team with two returning 3x All-Stars not win 50 games in the East this year?

Put in a call to Captain Obvious, he’s being paged by ESPN.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors K.J. McDaniels

Raptors Give K.J. McDaniels A Training Camp Invite

Raptors president Masai Ujiri continued to fill out his training camp roster by signing free agent wing K.J. McDaniels to a partially guaranteed deal.

The Raptors took a good look at McDaniels prior to the draft in 2014, but opted for an even rawer talent in Bruno Caboclo with the 20th pick. McDaniels went 32nd overall to the 76ers.

A no step vertical of 33” and a wingspan just shy of 7’, the 6’6 McDaniels averaged 17.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 2.8 blocks as a junior at Clemson. He was even showing some progress on developing a three-point shot, but it was his defense that had the Raptors attention.

“(McDaniels’ athleticism) will absolutely translate,” Raptors director of scouting Tolzman said in June 2014. “He is a dynamic player who it’s hard to see how good he is in this setting because in 5-on-5 with help-side defense that’s where he flourishes. I think with the way the spacing in the NBA is and the rotations and defensive principles are so important, a guy like him, he can fly in from the wing and get blocks – like nothing. That’s what gets guys time in the NBA.

“In his three years at Clemson, (McDaniels) showed progress (offensive improvement was) already happening. He improved as a shooter every year and he got more comfortable as a perimeter shooter. When he first started, he was just a high wire interior type guy and in his last year, he was all over the floor and did all different types of things offensively. I don’t know if he is comfortable enough yet to come in and shoot the NBA three, but that’s definitely the type of thing as he gets more comfortable stretching his range out, he be that type of guy.

“(McDaniels) can get on the floor because of his defense and from there, the sky could be the limit for him because he does have all the athletic tools.”

Tolzman’s predictions were coming true in Philly as McDaniels averaged 9.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 1.3 blocks in 25.4 minutes thru 52 games as a rookie, but the 76ers opted to cash in on the quick progress by trading him to Houston where his development stalled on a team that had no minutes for him.

The Rockets traded him to the Nets this past season and Brooklyn declined to pick up his team option, so the now 24-year-old will be fighting it out with Ujiri’s pack of training camp invites in order to get his NBA career restarted.

McDaniels has played 2,092 minutes thru three NBA seasons on three different teams. He should be well ahead of the rookie prospects hoping to stick with the Raptors after training camp and preseason. If he can hit the three-ball at 35 percent like he did with the NBA G League Vipers two years ago on 85 attempts thru 16 games, his defense and athleticism just might give him the edge over his less experienced competition.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_inside Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.
 

 

 

Raptors preseason schedule

Toronto Raptors Training Camp And Preseason Schedule

The Toronto Raptors have announced their training camp and preseason schedule for the 2017-18 season.

Head coach Dwane Casey and his team will hold training camp in Victoria, British Columbia. This marks the fourth consecutive year the Raptors will hold training camp in British Columbia and fifth time overall in team history.

Following training camp the Raptors will kick off a five-game preseason schedule in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Raptors will practice Tuesday, September 26 through Friday, September 29 at Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities (CARSA) on the University of Victoria campus and the team will hold an open intra-squad game Thursday, September 28.

Practice sessions will be closed to the public. A detailed training camp schedule, along with information for the open intra-squad game will be released at a later date.

“It’s an honour to visit a different part of Canada and prepare for our season in the first-class facilities at the University of Victoria,” said Casey. “We are extremely proud being Canada’s only NBA franchise. Our players and staff feel enthusiasm for basketball in every city we have visited. We don’t ever want to take that for granted.”

“We are very excited to partner with the Toronto Raptors on their 2017 preseason training camp,” said Clint Hamilton, Director of Vikes Athletics and Recreation at the University of Victoria. “This will be a great opportunity for our community as we welcome Canada’s NBA team to UVic and our CARSA facility. We look forward to providing a high quality environment for the Raptors players and staff as they begin their journey towards a championship in the 2017-18 season.”

This is the 10th time the Raptors have held a portion of their training camp outside the province of Ontario. Previously the team has trained in Halifax, Treviso and Rome in Italy, Madrid in Spain and Buffalo, New York.

The five-game preseason schedule starts in Honolulu, Hawaii for the first time in franchise history with a pair of games October 1st at 10 pm ET and October 3rd at 1 am ET against the Los Angeles Clippers. Both games will be played at Stan Sheriff Center on the University of Hawaii campus.

The Raptors return to the mainland on October 5th at 10 pm ET to face Portland at Moda Center, returning to Toronto for their lone preseason contest at Air Canada Centre on October 10th at 7 pm versus Detroit. The preseason finale will take place on October 13th at 8 pm ET on the road in Chicago at the United Center.

The 2017-18 NBA season will tip-off Tuesday, October 17.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA G League Mississauga Raptors 905 Lorenzo Brown

Raptors Sign Guard Lorenzo Brown To A Two-Way Contract

The Toronto Raptors announced Tuesday they have signed 26-year-old guard Lorenzo Brown to a two-way contract.

Brown, 6-foot-5, 189 pounds, has averaged 3.3 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 63 career NBA games with Philadelphia (2013-14), Minnesota (2014-15) and Phoenix (2015-16). He has also appeared in 74 career D-League games over four seasons with the Delaware 87ers (2013-14), Springfield Armor (2013-14) and Grand Rapids Drive averaging 18.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 48.6 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from three-point range.

A native of Roswell Georgia, Brown was selected 52nd overall in the 2013 NBA Draft by Minnesota after playing three seasons at North Carolina State. He averaged 11.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists in college.

Brown split last season between the Zhejiang Golden Bulls of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) and the Drive.

He averaged 24.0 points, while shooting .301 (37-for-123) from three-point range during 20 games with Zhejiang. Brown finished the season averaging 23.6 points and 7.7 rebounds while shooting .353 (18-for-51) from three-point territory in 11 appearances for Grand Rapids.

Two-way contracts do not count against the 15-man NBA roster. Teams are restricted to two players on two-way contracts. The Raptors other two-way contract player is Malcolm Miller.

As an older player with international experience, Brown fits with the concept of someone the Raptors might call up from the G League to the NBA as an injury replacement during the regular season.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMarre Carroll Brooklyn Nets

DeMarre Carroll Credits Ujiri For Finding Him A Soft Landing

Former Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll said some things after he left Toronto that created quite the stir about his former club, but now that he’s comfortably landed in Brooklyn, his tone has softened considerably as reported by Brian Lewis in the New York Post.

 “I give credit to Masai: He helped me find a team,’’ Carroll said.

“Masai is a great guy, a great GM, and at end of the day it was a mutual decision. We talked about it at the end of the season and even before the end of the season.”

Carroll also admitted a lot of his own performance issues in Toronto had nothing to do with the style of play. For all practical purposes, he was hurting the entire time he was there.

“The biggest thing last year was I never got the proper strength. My body wasn’t strong enough to sustain 82 games,’’ Carroll said.

In terms of the Raptors playing more “ISO” ball than suites his particular game, DeMarre did know what he was getting into when he went to Toronto.

 “You got two great All-Stars, two great players. That’s how they play. They were playing that way before I came, and they’re going to be playing that way long after I leave. They’re not changing that for me.”

Apparently Carroll is very happy to be back playing for former Hawks lead assistant coach Kenny Atkinson. Hopefully his injury problems are behind him as well.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson