On Pro Bball Report last week: Dwight Buycks feels Canada is the same as the States, the fight for playoff seeding, Toronto crazy for playoffs, a confident Jared Sullinger, Raptors pregame and post game stories and a lot more.
“There isn’t really too much difference (in Europe), it is just being back home in the States is always better than being overseas,” Buycks said. “(Canada) is pretty much the same, actually I feel like I am in the States. It is a nice city and you get a lot of the food that you eat in the States. Overseas, you know you are overseas by the food, but we have the same stuff (here), so there isn’t really too much of a difference.”
The home stretch for playoff seeding in the NBA Eastern Conference kicks off this week in a big way as no team knows where they will end up and only the top 4 teams have guaranteed themselves a spot in the postseason so far. First place is still up for grabs and thanks to the Hawks run of 6-20, both the Knicks and the Cavaliers are now eyeing the eighth and final playoff spot in the East as attainable over the last 2 weeks of the regular season.
“I feel like the fans are going to be crazy,” Salmons said. “Just walking on the street is going to be crazy, it’s going to be a crazy atmosphere and that’s the fun part.”
“I think it is just being comfortable,” Sullinger said. “I learned a lot from these guys that are in the locker room and a lot from past guys that were in the locker room, just understanding that confidence is everything in this world.”
“(Valanciunas) did a good job offensively,” said Head Coach Dwane Casey. “Vucevic also had 22 (points) and that’s going to be a battle you are going to see for years. Those are two really good young players that are coming up in the league, so you are going to see those guys a lot going at each other.”
Monday night’s game in Miami could be the Toronto Raptors best chance to beat the HEAT since Chris Bosh took his talents to South Beach in the summer of 2010. The HEAT are 3-0 against the Raptors this season and are on a 14 game winning streak over Toronto, but Chris Bosh and company haven’t faced a team this good from north of the border since he went to Miami.
If LeBron James’ back is a little sore, it’s from carrying his teammates to yet another victory over the Toronto Raptors, this time 93-83. James has averaged 31 points per game against Toronto this season and the HEAT needed all of his generous production once again on Monday night in Miami.
Head Coach Dwane Casey is going for his 100th win with the Raptors on Wednesday at home against the Houston Rockets in a scenario no one saw coming after Toronto traded Rudy Gay in December.
“With Kyle not being able to go and then Amir gave what he could the first few minutes of the game, guys stepped up,” said Head Coach Dwane Casey. “The most minutes Greivis (Vasquez) played all year. Patrick (Patterson) coming back from injury played big minutes and guys stepped in and stepped up.”
The Indiana Pacers have been the beasts of the East all season and until the last 10 games, they looked like sure-fire locks for first place, but something is amiss in Indiana and it isn’t on the defensive end of the court. The Raptors have already beaten the Pacers once this season during better times and if the Pacers are not on their game, Toronto could beat them again.
“You got to give credit to the Raptors for playing a heck of a basketball game,” Vogel said. “In particular the three starters that they did have in the lineup, I thought they really really stepped up and all three of those guys DeMar, Terrence and Jonas just played out of their minds. I thought we were still continuing to get back on track, but it wasn’t enough to beat one of the best home teams in the NBA in the second half of the season.”
“The first half, we played like crap,” Casey said. “There are no nice words you can put to it. We talked about it after half-time and after the game. We can’t approach the game that way. It is not acceptable for where we want to go and how we want to do. If we want to be average – fine – I told the guys, but to get where we want to go and be a playoff caliber team, we got to perform better than that.”
- Big stories from last week:
One Atlantic Division crown, two 47 win seasons, five playoff appearances and zero seasons of playing over .500-basketball on the road, it is basically impossible to pretend a team is a real contender until they can win away from the friendly confines of their own building.
“It’s tough,” Fields said. “In the end everybody is a competitor and you want to go out there and produce for your team as best you can, but right now, it’s just not my role – but, you really have to embrace whatever role you get. Whether you like it or not, you have to maintain your professionalism because whether you are playing or not, the guys upstairs are still paying you and still expecting stuff out of you.”
“That’s how the playoffs are,” Hansbrough said. “It’s a slugfest, its physical grind it out tough basketball. You can’t look for a whistle and that’s the way it was tonight. You have to play tough.”