Tag Archives: 2016 NBA All-Star

You are here: Home / Archive
NBA Orlando Magic Aaron Gordon

Aaron Gordon Was Pure Magic At The NBA Slam Dunk Contest

It’s been said that there are no more dunks left to do, but Magic power forward Aaron Gordon absolutely blew everyone away with what is quite possibly the most difficult and spectacular dunk ever seen at an NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Gordon used Magic mascot Stuff the Magic Dragon with amazing effect several times to illustrate his athletic and creative flair to raise the bar once again at what can be at times the premier event at NBA All-Star weekend.

In the dunk of the night, Gordon jumped over Stuff the Magic Dragon, who is almost as tall as the 6’9 Gordon, in spectacular fashion that defied probability. Completely clearing Stuff with his legs parallel to the floor, Gordon reached beneath his legs to grab the ball out of Stuff’s raised hands and windmill the ball over his own head to complete the impossible sequence with a slam through the hoop. The only disappointment being the judges didn’t give him a score of more than 50.

“Going under both legs. Yeah, so I knew I wanted to do that because it was just different,” Gordon said after the contest. “I knew it hadn’t been done in an NBA Dunk Contest. So I think all four of my initial dunks had never been done in an NBA Dunk Contest before. So I think that was my goal, and I did it.”

Watch the highlights of the dunk contest on the NBA Youtube channel,

The event continued into extra innings as Zach LaVine and Gordon traded scores of 50 until the judges undervalued Gordon’s final dunk as both competitors were forced into displays that they couldn’t have planned on using but remained spectacular.

“Out of my first four dunks, I think potentially I could have won,” Gordon continued. “It could have gone either way. Zach’s an incredible dunker, he went through the legs from the free throw line. That is insane.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50. We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that.”

LaVine earned his scores of 50, by any prior dunk contest standards his dunks were perfect. However, Gordon took things to another level and the judges didn’t have a means to give him the higher scores he deserved.

Watch the entire dunk contest here,

After that display, no one will be suggesting the dunk contest is past it’s prime now, but next year’s crop of participants may have a near impossible standard to match – or will they? Apparently we’ve been writing off this event as “it’s over” far too easily before.

“I kind of did a lot of dunks there, man. I don’t know how many more I’ve got,” Gordon said. “I’ve got a year, yeah. In Charlotte, yeah, if they want me to come back, I probably will. I’ve got a year to get my dunks ready.”

 

 

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 Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue

Did The Cavaliers Get Fat And Lazy Last Summer?

Listen to the Eastern Conference first place Cleveland Cavaliers head coaches (yes that’s coaches plural) and you may have heard a recurring theme. These guys didn’t come into the season in good shape and they still aren’t at the All-Star break. Sure the Cavs knew coming into this season their team could win games on talent alone and they have, but did all that confidence lead to a group that collectively (not individually) got fat and lazy last summer?

The success or failure of this heavily favored team coming into this season isn’t something that should be hung around the neck of general manager David Griffin or owner Dan Gilbert. They spent the money necessary this summer to be great. At $109 million, Cleveland has the highest payroll in the NBA and faces a luxury tax bill of over $60 million. The Golden State Warriors fourth highest $95 million investment in players’ salaries seems like a bargain by comparison with 10 more wins to-date than the Cavs and a pending luxury tax bill of just $18 million.

All that Gilbert’s money has bought him is the fourth best record in the NBA after 52 games and 52 games is plenty long enough to get a really good read on a team.

“I think guys are not in great shape yet, so now we’re saving it for the offensive end and not
competing on the defensive end,” said current Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue at All-Star Weekend in Toronto.

Lue has an 8-3 record as the head coach of the Cavaliers and that’s pretty good, even if it’s losing ground to the Warriors, Spurs, Thunder and more importantly, the Eastern Conference second place Toronto Raptors. However, it would be pretty hard to argue the Cavs are currently doing any better than they would have been doing under Coach Blatt who was fired with a 30-11 record.

“Like I said before, Coach Blatt did a phenomenal job,” Lue said. “It was an unfortunate situation. It’s not like it was a bad locker room when he was there.

“He did a great job. We went to the NBA Finals together, and he’s put us in this position to be number one, close to the All-Star Game.”

Lue wasn’t the first to notice his team is not in great shape. Blatt called them out for it too earlier in the season when they visited Toronto with an 11-3 record and lost.

“I don’t think it was the most physical game that we’ve played in,” Blatt said postgame. “It was a hard played game.

“I thought we got tired for obvious reasons, very short-handed. I thought our guys played hard. I thought we ran out of gas.

“I thought fatigue played a big part of that, I really did.

“Maybe a little of both (mental and physical fatigue).”

Blatt was making excuses and LeBron James wasn’t accepting any.

“It’s all mindset,” James said. “It comes from within. I’ve always had it. My upbringing had me like that. It’s either you got it or you don’t.”

Apparently, the Cavs don’t always have “it.”

The very deep Cavaliers were not really short-handed that night and hadn’t played a very onerous schedule. That was their fifth game in 11 days with no back-to-back contests and in the NBA, that’s about as good as it gets for scheduling. Missing Kyrie Irving and Timofey Mozgov might have impacted the result, but Blatt had more than enough available players and went nine deep in his rotation – getting tired shouldn’t have been a factor.

What’s surprising at this point in the season is Lue noticing the same things almost 40 games later. Exactly when are these guys supposed to get in shape now?

 

 

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 Chicago Bulls Jimmy Butler

Bulls Jimmy Butler To Miss All-Star Game With Knee Injury

Bulls All-Star wing Jimmy Butler has missed three of his team’s past four games and will be sidelined for the upcoming 2016 All-Star Game in Toronto the team announced today. Butler has begun rehabbing a strained left knee that is expected to keep him out of action for up to four weeks.

The Bulls are likely to play up to 14 more games without the services of their top scorer and the injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. Chicago was cruising with a 22-12 record on January 7th, but since then injuries to Nikola Mirotic (appendectomy) and Joakim Noah (separated shoulder) have proven to be a challenge and they have lost 12 of 17 games to sit just a game and a half ahead of the ninth place Hornets.

It seems likely that Butler will not return to the lineup until there are less than 20 games left in the season and the once deep Bulls may have piled up just too many injuries to effectively deal with the loss of their All-Star for this long.

Chicago Bulls press release,

Bulls guard/forward Jimmy Butler was re-examined by Bulls Head Team Physician Brian Cole.  Butler is expected to miss the next three to four weeks with a strained left knee.

Butler has begun rehabbing his injury and he will be allowed to engage in all activities as tolerated with the primary goal of maintaining his conditioning over the ensuing weeks.

As a result of this injury, Butler will not play in the NBA All-Star Game this Sunday in Toronto.  Butler was selected as a reserve to the East squad by the Eastern Conference head coaches.  He originally suffered the injury in the second quarter of Friday night’s game at Denver.

NBA Miami Heat Chris Bosh

Ex-Raptors All-Star Chris Bosh Returns To Toronto For Big Night

By Frank McLean

The Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh got the good news Thursday night that he will be making his 11th straight appearance in the NBA All-Star Game in Toronto February 14th. Bosh got the good news in Milwaukee where the Heat had a date with the Bucks.

Since last year’s extravaganza Bosh has had a rollercoaster ride with his health that one would not expect a 31-year-old would have to go through. Not long after the game in Brooklyn he was diagnosed with blood clots on his lung that not only threatened his career but his life.

I had a chance to talk to Bosh last week when the Heat were in Toronto and was hoping the NBA coaches would give him the call to play in the game.

Chris Bosh NBA Toronto Raptors

“I mean it would be cool,” Bosh was saying about coming back and visiting Toronto.

“It’s a trip coming back seeing how the city has changed, seeing how the organization has changed and the fact that the city has gotten an all-star bid. I don’t think anybody would have kind of guessed that back when I first got here. But I think it’s a fantastic thing.”

“To kind of come back where it all started would maybe give me some all-star closure. I don’t know will see.”

Bosh was hoping to get a chance to play with his former Raptor teammate DeMar DeRozan who also won a spot on the Eastern Conference reserve squad.

“Ít would be fun to play with him here,” Bosh told me.

“That was the major thing that I loved about him when he came into this league. He wanted to be a very good basketball player and a great player eventually,” Bosh went on to say talking about DeRozan like he could have been his little brother.

“He worked at it tirelessly. Just to see him be able to control a game, he’s everywhere on the court and he’s doing everything. He’s fun to watch. I am proud of him. I mean, he’s a veteran now and it’s just crazy to see.”

Well Bosh got his wish as he joins his teammate Dwayne Wade in Toronto.

“Just getting back to that point, that was going to be a huge challenge for me,” Bosh said Thursday said in an interview with Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald about becoming an all-star again. “Nobody knows. Not even I knew what I was going to be capable of doing coming back.”

Bosh is back to being the old Bosh. He leads the Heat in scoring averaging 19.2 points game. He is also averaging 7.2 rebounds a game and shooting a decent 37.2 percent behind the three-point-arch.

Heat president Pat Riley confirmed that Bosh has been given an invite to the three-point shooting contest scheduled for the Saturday night skills competition.

Riley was pleased that his big man is going to the All-Star game.

“I would have broken a few locker-room doors if he had not gotten named,” Riley told the Herald.

“He’s the best big man in the Eastern Conference. I think he’s had the best season of any big man in the East. Maybe you can hit me with another name in the East. But Bosh has been the most efficient, versatile, dependable, and durable big in the East.”

It will be interesting to see what sort of reaction Bosh gets form the Toronto crowd come February 14th.

It’s been a scary 12 months for Bosh. It’s good to see him healthy and playing back at the level he has played his entire career.

His exit from Toronto was ugly to say the least, not wanting to play down the stretch with an injury while the Raptors were still in a playoff race his last season with the club left a bad taste with the fans.

Hopefully bygones will be bygones come All-Star Weekend.

 

 

Frank McLean - small sizeVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry

Toronto Can Relax, Raptors DeMar DeRozan Is An All-Star Again

By Frank McLean

Everyone in Toronto can take a deep breath and relax, DeMar DeRozan made it as a reserve for the Eastern Conference when the NBA All-Star game hits the 416 on Valentine’s Day.

The official announcement came Thursday night just an hour before the Raptors hit the floor at the ACC where they knocked of the New York Knicks for their brand new franchise record 10th win in a row.

DeRozan joins his teammate Kyle Lowry on the All Star squad giving the Raptors two players in the game for only the second time in the 21 year history of the franchise. Vince Carter and Antonio Davis were the other duo to play in the same game.

The reserves are voted by the 30 head coaches in the NBA and there is not one coach in the league who does not like this guy. His play speaks for itself. DeRozan is averaging 23 points a game, which is a new career high, but what everyone admires about him is his work ethic and even after being in the league for seven years he is still trying to get better which is the definition of an all-star player.

This past Sunday when the Los Angeles Clippers were in town to face the Raptors their coach Doc Rivers was glowing about DeRozan.

“He put in the work, though. Being in L.A., a lot of those guys come back to L.A. and work out in our facility and you see him get there early. I love seeing the young guys, they get there first, they get there early, they actually work on their games and then they play in the pickup games afterwards,” Rivers said. “I don’t know him well, but I’m happy for him, because I love guys who work their way into being a great player.”

“He knew that eventually he had to improve his shot and more importantly, improve the distance of his shot,” Rivers went on to say. “I always thought he had a pretty good in-between game, and now he can stretch the floor. Once he gets that down, then, it’s going to be hard to guard him.”

As you can see he has the respect of the other coaches in the league.

Meanwhile his own boss Dwane Casey was as expected just giddy talking about the DeRozan selection like he was his own son not just one of his players.

“He’s a great example of a few guys have bailed,” Casey said without mentioning the names of Raptors stars of the past who left Toronto for what they thought were greener pastures.

(You know who they are… Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady and Chris Bosh.)

“He stuck with it, he’s a loyal young man. He loves the city, loves the organization, loves his teammates. I think this is a testament to that and a reward for that. And most of all a reward for how hard he’s worked, those hot afternoons in Compton,” Casey said.

A very humble DeRozan had this to say after the Knicks game.

“You always think about the tough times, losing records, getting criticized. People saying I can’t do this, I can’t do that,” DeRozan said. “All of the negativity you have to deal with. Definitely, you look back on it and think about it. You really look at it and understand it as hard work. It’s cliché, I know.

“Nothing was ever given to me. I had to work for every single thing I accomplished, individually and team-wise. It was rough, but I think that’s made me into the person and player I am today.”

DeMar DeRozan is an all-star player, but better still, he is an all-star person and there is not one person involved in the NBA that will argue against his inclusion in the All-Star Game.

Kind of fitting that it’s being played on Valentine’s Day.

 

 

Frank McLean - small sizeVeteran journalist Frank McLean has covered nearly every Raptors game in Toronto since their inaugural season at the Skydome back in 1995-96. He has seen it all. The good, the bad and the really bad and he is one of the very few journalists in Toronto that has kept coming back for more.

 

 

 

 

NBA Portland Trail Blazers Damian Lillard and Houston Rockets James Harden

Predicting The 2016 NBA West All-Star Reserves

The seven reserves to be named to the 2016 NBA West All-Star team selected by the league’s head coaches will be announced live on TNT Thursday January 28 at 7 pm ET right before the network features All-Star starter Carmelo Anthony and the 10th place Knicks in Toronto to face All-Star starter Kyle Lowry and the 2nd place Raptors at 8 pm. The coaches will select two guards, three frontcourt players and two additional players at any position.

Already voted in by the fans are guards Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook plus frontcourt players Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard. As a result, the Kobe farewell tour gets a big boost from the fans, but All-Star Weekend is supposed to be for the fans anyway and the league’s leading MVP candidates, Curry and Leonard, were voted in.

Although coaches are under no obligation to consider fan voting in their selections (thank goodness), players with the most fan votes that missed cut in the fan vote include:

Frontcourt

  • Zaza Pachulia (768,112 votes)
  • Draymond Green (726,616 votes)
  • Blake Griffin (651,860 votes)
  • Enes Kanter (534,499 votes)
  • Tim Duncan (431,087 votes)

Guards

  • Chris Paul (624,334 votes)
  • Klay Thompson (555,513 votes)
  • James Harden (430,777 votes)
  • Manu Ginobili (226,289 votes)
  • Rajon Rondo (200,518 votes)

Our predictions for the best of the rest not voted onto the All-Star team in the Western Conference are:

Guard James Harden 27.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 7 assists, Rockets 7th place at 24-22

James Harden is the second highest scorer in the NBA and highest scorer not voted to an All-Star team this year. Sure the Rockets had a slow start to the season, but they have started to bounce back and how can the league’s second most prolific scorer not be invited to Toronto?

Harden scores over 30 points in a game with regularity and has five 40+ point games and a 50 point night already this season.

Guard Chris Paul 18.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 2.1 steals, Clippers 4th place at 28-16

At 30, Chris Paul’s stats have slipped slightly, mostly because his minutes are down a bit, but in the point guard heavy West, he’s still tied for second in assists with Westbrook, tied for third in steals with Curry and those are the two point guards that deservedly got voted in ahead of him.

Paul is still a dominate point guard with 20 double-doubles on the season and the league’s coaches respect what he brings to the game despite some heavy competition at his position.

Center DeMarcus Cousins 26.7 points, 11.4 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, Kings 8th place 20-23

DeMarcus Cousins is the best scoring big man in the game today and he’s got the stats to back him up. This year he’s even added a reliable three-point shot to go with that imposing presence in the paint. He’s not a bad defender either. Cousins can defend the rim, get steals and draw charges.

The Kings are just 1-7 without Cousins in the lineup this year. It’s simple in Sacramento, the Kings are a playoff team with Cousins and not much better than the 76ers without him.

Forward Draymond Green 14.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.4 steals, Warriors 1st place 40-4

Draymond Green leads the league with 8 triple-doubles. The do-everything engine that drives the NBA’s top team, Green’s game has been growing in a straight-line since his rookie season.

As if being the energy guy that makes the Warriors deadly small ball work on so many levels wasn’t enough, this year he has improved his pedestrian three-point shooting to better than 40 percent leaving defenders no one they can cheat off of.

Forward LaMarcus Aldridge 15.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists, Spurs 2nd place 38-6

It’s taken a while for this recently prolific scorer to adjust to playing for a much better team, but each month his stats improve and the big man is second in scoring on the Spurs and leads his team in rebounds.

Even if his play is flying beneath the radar on the nightly highlight reels, opposing coaches will recognize the sacrifices this four-time All-Star has made to his own stats for the benefit of the team.

Besides, the Spurs deserve to get a second All-Star.

Two players at any position:

Guard Damian Lillard 24.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 6.9 assists,  Trail Blazers 10th place 20-26

The Portland Trail Blazers lost five of their six top players coming into this season and no one expected the 25-year-old Damian Lillard to transition easily from leading veterans to leading whomever. This season was slated for disaster, but that’s not how things have gone.

Lillard has taken his own game up another level and the Trail Blazers are better than expected. A lot of the credit belongs to him.

Based on the team’s record, there will be arguments to give someone else the nod, but this two-time All-Star is better than last year. Think about that.

Guard Klay Thompson 20.5 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists, Warriors 1st place 40-4

There are a lot of players that should get serious consideration ahead of Klay Thompson this year, but the Warriors are dominating the league and Thompson shooting 42.5 percent on 7.5 three-point attempts per game is frustratingly hard for opposing coaches to overlook.

It’s pretty easy to justify giving Golden State three All-Stars.

Missing the cut

If the Pelicans (16-27) weren’t so badly underachieving, Anthony Davis would be a lock for an All-Star nod. If his team could give the world a reason to watch them, he would likely bump the now bland boring Spurs version of Aldridge out of the game.

Five-time All-Star Blake Griffin picked the worst time to be injured and instead of just being out-of-sight and out-of-mind, he’s being noticed because the Clippers have played better without him. It was getting hard enough to justify selecting a second All-Star player out of Clipperland without the excuse.

Four-time All-Star Rajon Rondo is leading the NBA with 11.6 assists per game, is second with 6 triple-doubles and tied for ninth with 21 double-doubles, but no one is touting him as an All-Star and the Kings are currently sitting in a playoff spot. Should Thompson be worried? Probably not, but not for the right reasons.

It would be nice to give Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan or Tony Parker a spot on an All-Star roster. Based on their value to their teams, it would easy to justify. However, whose spot do they take? The West already has a token future Hall of Fame player taking up a roster spot voted onto the team by the fans. Are the coaches supposed to get nostalgic too?

Perhaps the hardest player to leave off the team is two-time All-Star Marc Gasol. The Grizzlies are fifth in the West – still – and Gasol is the team’s leader in scoring, second in rebounds and tied for second in assists. It just seems like things are a little too quiet in Memphis for the younger Gasol brother to garner much attention this time.

 

 

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 Chicago Bulls Jimmy ButlerPredicting The 2016 NBA East All-Star Reserves

Predictions for the best of the rest not voted onto the NBA All-Star team in the Eastern Conference,

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan and Chicago Bulls Jimmy Butler

Predicting The 2016 NBA East All-Star Reserves

The seven reserves to be named to the 2016 NBA East All-Star team selected by the league’s head coaches will be announced live on TNT Thursday January 28 at 7 pm ET right before the network features All-Star starter Carmelo Anthony and the 10th place Knicks in Toronto to face All-Star starter Kyle Lowry and the 2nd place Raptors at 8 pm. The coaches will select two guards, three frontcourt players and two additional players at any position.

Already voted in by the fans are guards Kyle Lowry and Dwyane Wade plus frontcourt players LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. The fans did a pretty good job selecting the best available talent to start in the East this year.

Although coaches are under no obligation to consider fan voting in their selections (thank goodness), players with the most fan votes that missed cut in the fan vote include:

Frontcourt

  • Pau Gasol (566,988 votes)
  • Andre Drummond (515,296 votes)
  • Kristaps Porzingis (473,579 votes)
  • Chris Bosh (351,420 votes)
  • Kevin Love (332,685 votes)

Guards

  • Kyrie Irving (580,651 votes)
  • Jimmy Butler (564,637 votes)
  • DeMar DeRozan (444,868 votes)
  • John Wall (368,686 votes)
  • Derrick Rose (302,389 votes)

Our predictions for the best of the rest not voted onto the All-Star team in the Eastern Conference are:

Guard DeMar DeRozan 23.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists, Raptors 2nd place at 29-15

The third highest scorer in the Eastern Conference and highest scorer not already selected to the East’s All-Star team, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone associated with the NBA or mainstream media that doesn’t have DeRozan on the All-Star team this year.

Raptors are on an 8 game winning streak with DeRozan scoring 30 or more points four times over that span.

Guard Jimmy Butler 22.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists, Bulls 3rd place at 25-18

The fourth highest scorer in the Eastern Conference, Butler scored a career high 53 points against the 76es in January and earlier this season recorded a 42 point game against Toronto and a 43 point game against Detroit.

Butler has picked up where he left off last season as the Bulls go-to-guy and he’s been making a lot of noise in the NBA.

Center Andre Drummond 17.3 points, 15.4 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, Pistons 7th place 23-21

Leading the East in rebounding by a wide margin as well as being top-20 in scoring, it’s hard not to notice Drummond. He routinely makes a lot of noise on the glass and his 37 double-doubles in 44 games played is over 50 percent better than the next big man Pau Gasol.

Drummond has five games of 20 points and 20 rebounds (or better) this season. A can’t miss All-Star reserve this year.

Forward Paul Millsap 18.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.4 blocks, Hawks 4th place 26-19

Millsap is putting together another solid campaign for the Hawks, leading them in scoring, on the glass and third in assists. In the East, he is 11th in double-doubles with 16 on the season.

About to turn 31-years-old in February, Millsap is having a career year in Atlanta and it would be kind of scary for the Hawks if he wasn’t.

Center Pau Gasol 16.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.1 blocks, Bulls 3rd place 25-18

At 35-years-old Pau Gasol has shown everyone why he’s still one of the best big men in the game today. On a recent Saturday in Cleveland, Gasol put up a line of 25 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, a steal and a block as the Bulls embarrassed the Cavs 96-83.

Averaging a double-double and second in blocks in his conference, the big man that gets slagged for being a “skilled” (code for soft) Euro-player, is skilled, but he can still go up against just about any other big man in the game and get his.

The fans almost voted him in and he is very deserving.

Two players at any position:

Guard John Wall 19.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, 9.7 assists, 2.1 steals, Wizards 9th place 20-21

John Wall leads the East in assists, is second in steals to Kyle Lowry and is fourth in double-doubles. It could be argued that he is the most talented point guard in his conference and the only reason they haven’t moved into a playoff spot yet is because Bradley Beal has missed half of the season.

Don’t 20 point 10 assist point guards get a virtual automatic nod for the All-Star game?

Guard Isaiah Thomas 21.7 points, 3 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 1.2 steals, Celtics 5th place 24-21

Fifth in Eastern Conference scoring and third in assists, Isaiah Thomas is leading the Celtics to the playoffs – again. On a very young team without a veteran leader, Thomas has become a go-to-guy that makes his presence felt on a nightly basis.

Averaging almost 24 points per game in January, Thomas has cracked the 30 point mark three times this month and should be turning the heads of opposing coaches.

Missing the cut

Perennial 10-time All-Star Chris Bosh is averaging 19.1 points and 7.7 rebounds for the fading Heat who are barely clinging to a playoff spot after losing eight of their past 10 games. There just isn’t any justification for Miami sending two players to the All-Star Game, besides, Gasol is playing better.

The Cavs are still in first place, but it would be hard to argue that’s because of what Kevin Love or Kyrie Irving have contributed. Irving has only played in 16 games and is averaging just 15.8 points. Love is averaging just 15.6 points and has become the focus of trade speculation.

Kemba Walker is having a great season averaging 20.5 points and 5 assists on the 11th place Hornets. His team is just two games back of the Heat, so he’d be a worthy addition if one of the guards wasn’t available to play.

Brook Lopez is putting up 19.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocks with the woeful Nets, but Brooklyn (12-23) is just terrible.

If Milwaukee (19-27) was having a better season, Greg Monroe (19 points, 9.8 rebounds) would get a closer look.

 

 

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 David Blatt

Cavs Blatt Firing Opens All-Star Door For Raptors Casey

It hardly seems possible, but the Eastern Conference first place Cavs have fired head coach David Blatt just a week-and-a-half before he would have been honored as the head coach of the East’s All-Star team as reported on NBA.com

The Coach of the Month for November, recent 5-1 road trip and a 30-11 record apparently wasn’t enough to save Blatt’s job as the Cavs promoted associate head coach Tyronn Lue and signed him to a multi-year deal.

However, Lue has exactly zero wins as the Cavs head coach and the All-Star coaches are supposed to be selected based on their team’s record on January 31st. So, now the really big question becomes, what does the NBA do now?

NBA Toronto Raptors Dwane Casey

The second place Toronto Raptors 27-15 have a two game lead on the Atlanta Hawks and will finish out the month on a homestand. If Lue is deemed to be ineligible by the NBA, Dwane Casey could be the surprise bench boss for the East in place of his long time friend Blatt.

“I get upset when they fire college coaches because our profession is so tough,” Casey said. “I don’t know what exactly is going on in Cleveland, it’s none of my business, but from a coaching standpoint – I’ve known David for a long time. The year I got fired in Minnesota I went out and spent a week with him over in Istanbul and watched his practice and learned from him and tried to steal from him and unfortunately he comes into our conference. So, he’s a friend.”

This is a situation without an obvious precedent and even if Casey doesn’t want to dwell on it, it deserves a quick response from the League.

“I have not even thought about it,” Casey said. “I am not even concerned about it. I am concerned about the Miami Heat (tonight’s opponent) and nothing more.”

If the Raptors can hang onto second place in the East for another nine days, the home team could be represented by All-Star starter Kyle Lowry, the assumed very deserving reserve DeMar DeRozan and an unexpected head coach in Dwane Casey – depending on how the NBA decides to handle this unfortunate situation.

A perfect storm could lead to a perfect result for Toronto’s first 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Canada PM Justin Trudeau

Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau Tweets Raptors Kyle Lowry #NBAVote

Canada’s newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is trying to help get Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry to the NBA All-Star Game in Toronto next month and over 10,000 people have already re-tweeted his show of support on Twitter.

 

 

Ujiri & Lowry holding ball

 

 

2016 NBA All-Star Centre Court Clinic

NBA All-Star Skills Clinics For Fans In Toronto

NBA Centre Court is one of the many ways fans can be a part of the excitement.  From Feb. 12 to 14, NBA Centre Court at Enercare Centre (Convention Centre, Toronto) will celebrate the game of basketball and engage fans of all ages by offering activities, skills competitions and programming on more than 40 courts and baskets.

nba centre court logo

Tickets go on sale Tuesday January 12th on NBATickets.com and start at $15 CAD.

At NBA Centre Court, basketball aficionados looking to take their game to the next level can attend all-day, hands-on instructional clinics conducted by current and former NBA, WNBA and NBA Development League players.  NBA mascots, dance teams and dunk squads will entertain fans, and an NBA Fan Combine will give visitors a chance to see if they have what it takes to make it to the NBA by putting their speed, shooting and ballhandling skills to the test.  NBA Centre Court will also include an NBA All-Star Shop offering a wide selection of merchandise.

As part of All-Star’s celebration of basketball, NBA Centre Court will host special programming, including the NBA Cares Special Olympics Unified Sports® Basketball Game and Clinic on Saturday, Feb. 13 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.  The Unified Game will bring together NBA legends, current and former WNBA players and 12 Special Olympics All-Star athletes from across the world in a 40-minute exhibition game.  A clinic with Special Olympics youth athletes will follow the game.

For more information, follow @NBAAllStar on Twitter or visit NBATickets.com.

Fans can also be part of the conversation and share their NBA Centre Court experiences using #NBACentreCourt.

Enercare Centre (Convention Centre) is located at Exhibition Place, 100 Princes’ Blvd #1, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

NBA Centre Court dates and times are as follows.

Friday, Feb. 12            4:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 13        9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 14          9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry

Raptors Kyle Lowry Having An All-Star Season Again

Heading into Friday night’s game, the Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry isn’t just having an All-Star season again this year, he’s clearly the best guard in the Eastern Conference. The stats back up what has become obvious on the court, no guard in the East is having a better start to the season.

“You are talking about two All-Stars (Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan), two guys that put a lot of pressure on you,” Bucks head coach Jason Kidd said. “One of the the things they do well is get to the free throw line. We got to make them make tough shots, which they can do.”

Eastern Conference Stats:

  1. At 507 points and 22 points per game Lowry is third in scoring, first among Eastern Conference guards. (At 493 points and 21.4 points per game, DeMar DeRozan is fourth in Eastern Conference scoring.)

  2. At 165 three-point attempts and 69 made, Lowry is first in both categories. Paul George is tied for first in makes. Only Stephen Curry has more three-point makes in the NBA.

  3. At 128 free throws made, Lowry is third. He is first in free throw percentage at 88.3.

  4. With 58 steals and 2.52 steals per game Lowry is first in overall in both conferences.

  5. With 145 assists, Lowry is third. At 6.3 assists per game, Lowry is fifth best in the East.

“(Lowry) is getting good looks, same looks he got (last year), a lot of the same sets we ran last year,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said. “I don’t know if it’s the weight loss, conditioning, whatever it is, I just hope he keeps it up because he is shooting the ball very well. Catch and shoot, getting it off quickly, no hesitation. They are not forced. They are within the offensive schemes. In the draw and kick scenarios, (he is) catching it and being decisive with it, so he has been playing really well.

“(Lowry) is playing – knock on wood – as well as he’s played since he’s been here. Shooting the ball is one thing he is doing a great job of. I am really happy the way he and DeMar are playing together.

 

Kyle Lowry and Raptor

 

Fan All-Star voting for the 2016 NBA All-Star Game in Toronto has started. Based on how well he has played so far this season, Lowry should be one of the Eastern Conference’s starting guards again 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.

 

 

 

 

How To Vote For Your NBA All-Stars

The NBA tips off NBA All-Star Voting 2016 on Thursday December 10th at 2 p.m. ET. The all-digital program will give fans everywhere the opportunity to vote for their favorite players as starters for NBA All-Star 2016 in Toronto, the first All-Star Game to be held outside of the U.S. in the event’s 65-year history.

NBA fans can cast their daily votes directly through Google Search on their desktop, tablet and mobile devices. They can also vote on NBA.com, through the NBA App (available on Android and iOS), SMS text, and social media networks including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as via Sina Weibo and Tencent Microblogs in China.

All current NBA players are available for selection. Fans can select up to two guards and three frontcourt players from each conference when choosing starters via NBA.com or the NBA App.

How to vote:

1. NBA.com voting page at NBA.com/vote: Fill out one full ballot per day on NBA.com/vote from a desktop or mobile browser.

2. NBA App: Access the ballot and vote through the app, which is available on Android and iOS. Fans can fill out one full ballot per day.

3. Twitter: Tweet, retweet or reply with the player’s first and last name, along with the hashtag #NBAVOTE. Each Tweet may include only one player’s name. Fans can vote 10 unique players each day throughout the All-Star voting period.

4. Facebook: Use player’s first and last name along with the hashtag #NBAVOTE in a post on your personal Facebook account, or comment on another’s Facebook post. Fans can post votes for 10 unique players per day and each vote may contain only one player’s name.

5. Instagram: Post an original photo, with the hashtag #NBAVOTE and the player’s first and last name in the photo caption. Fans can vote for 10 unique players per day, and each vote may contain only one player’s name.

6. SMS: Text the player’s last name to 6-9-6-2-2 (“MYNBA”) on any wireless device. Fans can vote for 10 different players per day, per phone number, via SMS voting by sending 10 separate SMS messages, each one with a different player’s last name. Message and data rates may apply.

7. Google Search: Search “NBA Vote All-Star” or “NBA Vote Team Name” (ex: NBA Vote Celtics), and use respective team cards to select players. Voters can submit one vote per player per day, with up to 10 total votes per day.

Voting concludes on Monday, Jan. 18, 2016.

Starters will be announced live on TNT on Thursday, Jan. 21, during a special one-hour edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off that will air immediately prior to the L.A. Clippers at the Cleveland Cavaliers game that starts at 8 p.m. ET.

Balloting updates will be available on:
1. Friday, Dec. 25
2. Thursday, Jan. 7
3. Thursday, Jan. 14

 

 

All-Star Jersey presentation

Remembering 2013 Raptors Media Day Madness

The Toronto Raptors Media Day arrives on Monday and there is almost no way it can reach the heights of the 2013 event. Mayor Rob Ford, Commissioner Adam Silver, the Honorable Michael Chan, Larry Tanenbaum, Drake, everyone who associated with the Raptors and way more media than usual was there. Raptors Global Ambassador Drake dominated the early discussion last year.


Here is a look back at the Media Day announcement of the NBA 2016 All-Star Game coming to Toronto and the inherent promises that the Raptors would be a team worthy of note by that time.

 
 

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.

 

 

2016 All-Star Podium

Raptors Get Drake And 2016 NBA All-Star

2016 All-StarThe big announcement wasn’t a big secret, but it was still big thrill to see MLSE President and CEO Tim Leiweke proudly bring the 2016 NBA All-Star game to Toronto and get the local Grammy Award winning artist Drake to become the Raptors Global Ambassador.

Adam Silver at Podium“It is my privilege to announce that the 2016 NBA All-Star game will be hosted here in Toronto Canada,” said NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver .

Larry Tanenbaum at Podium“It was 20 years ago to this day that Toronto was awarded the first NBA franchise outside of the United States and the Raptors were born,” said MLSE Chairman Larry Tanenbaum.  “A dream I had became an NBA reality and today I am blessed that my dream came true and I am part of this great organization.”

Hon. Michael Chan at Podium“(The All-Star game) creates jobs. It drives the economy. It fills hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, perhaps more importantly, it puts smiles on the faces of the fans,” said the Honourable Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

Mayor Rob Ford at Podium“I was really, really thrilled to hear Toronto would be hosting the 2016 NBA All-Star game,” said Mayor Rob Ford.  Friends, the estimated economic impact of hosting the NBA All-Star game is approximately $100 million.  This is an amazing opportunity to drive economic growth while showcasing our vibrant city on the world stage.  For one week in 2016, Toronto will become the basketball capital of the world.”

Tim Leiweke at Podium“We couldn’t be more proud to have the All-Star game here,” Leiweke said.  “We are bringing today a new partner and an Ambassador – Drake.  We have been meeting with Drake for a while now and talking about the involvement they want to have.  This isn’t just about the NBA.  This isn’t just about the 2016 All-Star game.  This is about the Raptors.  It’s a new day.  It’s a new way and under Masai (Ujiri) leadership and vision, there is a reason this club has led the NBA in new season ticket sales.  There is a reason why we are now going to submit to the league a new application for new branding, a new image and new colours.  Not a new name, but new branding and Drake will be an Ambassador and help us forge this new vision, this new buzz, this new excitement.  This is a team and this is a sport that is going to rock this city going forward.”

Masai Ujiri at podium“We now have a responsibility to grow our basketball team so that it meets the momentum of the All-Star game and we promise you in Toronto that we are going to bring the best basketball.  That we are going to do everything we can to play basketball the right way in this city to bring success,” said Raptors President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri.

Drake at Podium“I travel the world performing and everywhere I go, I preach the gospel that is Toronto.  I love this city with all my heart and I just want to let you know that I am extremely excited to finally be a part of a team that I grew up as a fan of,” Drake said.  “I am excited for the new vision.  Basketball in Canada is bigger now than ever before and All-Star 2016 is a phenomenal step, something that I dreamed of as a kid.”

Drake Q&A“I truly believe that with a leader like Tim (Leiweke) anything is possible, the sky is the limit, as well as Masai (Ujiri),” Drake said.  “I really just want excitement for this team.  I want us to be one of the biggest teams in the league.

“I want to be as involved as possible. Anything they need me for I want to be here for.  Anything that can help the Raptors grow in the future.  My goal is to do anything these two gentlemen (Leiweke and Ujiri) ask me to do.”

Ujiri, Drake, Leiweke All-Star Jersey