Category Archives: NBA

What should the Raptors do with the NBA’s Coach of the Year?

Obviously it’s a terrible look to get swept in the second round as the conference’s 1 seed. It’s an even worse look to go 2-12 versus Lebron in the playoffs over the past three years (conference semis in 2016 (4-2), 2017 conference finals (4-0), 2018 conference semis (4-0). All of these tough losses have come in seasons where the Raptors were considered “contenders” because of the strong play of All Stars Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan with a rotating cast of solid role players. As the dust has settled on yet another playoff disappointment this year, while the Raptors core has taken their lumps, coach Dwane Casey and his future with the team has seemingly been pushed to the forefront. Read more

Raptors Second Round Playoff Preview

The Toronto Raptors enter tonight’s second round series opener coming off of a solid showing that saw them dispose of the Washington Wizards in 6 games (4-2). It was a series that included a trio of mini two-game winning streaks that the teams traded back and forth, but the Raptors ultimately did their job as the #1 seed and proved they were too much for the #8 seed to handle. DeMar DeRozan was excellent in the series (26.7 PPG), but the performance of Delon Wright stepping up with Fred VanVleet injured and impacting both ends of the floor was a major positive for the Raptors. Most notably, he added 2.7 points per game and 1.3 steals per game on top of his regular season averages, headlined by an 18 point performance on 6/10 shooting in game 5. Now with VanVleet seemingly back to full health after returning in game 6, the Raptors are back to full strength personnel wise with their demons that swept them a season ago staring them directly in the face in round two.

Tale of the Tape

Toronto Raptors

(#1 East)

Team

Cleveland Cavaliers

(#4 East)

59-23

Record

50-32

113.8 (2nd)

Offensive Rating

(Per 100 Possessions)

112.9 (5th)

105.9 (5th)

Defensive Rating

(Per 100 Possessions)

111.9 (29th)

+7.78 (2nd)

Margin of Victory

+0.94 (14th)

57.5% (4th)

True Shooting Percentage

58.4% (3rd)

Projected Starting Lineups

Kyle Lowry

Point Guard

LeBron James

DeMar DeRozan

Shooting Guard

J.R. Smith

O.G. Anunoby

Small Forward

Kyle Korver

Serge Ibaka

Power Forward

Kevin Love

Jonas Valanciunas

Centre

Tristan Thompson

Offense:

Based on regular season statistics, the Raptors and Cavaliers operate offensively in similar fashions. They average a strikingly similar number of possessions per 48 minutes (Raptors 97.4, Cavaliers 98.0) and they both take a large chunk of their shots from beyond the arc (Raptors 37.7 – 5th in NBA, Cavaliers 37.9 – 4th in NBA).

As for an evaluation of the first round, I have zero clue how the Cavaliers managed to scrape by into the second round (other than because of the LeBron James guy). Here’s a look at how the Cavs measured up in some notable statistics compared to the other 16 playoff teams in first round play:

Stat

Rank (out of 16)
Field Goal Percentage 14th
Three Point Percentage 15th
Free Throw Percentage 10th
Rebounding 14th
Assists 15th
Turnovers 12th
Points Per Game 16th

The Raptors ranked higher is every single one of those. A lot of this can be attributed to the fact that the Cavs supporting cast was awful in the first round. Not surprising, because they are awful. LeBron shot 55.3% and the rest of the Cavs shot 38.8%…if anything like that happens again, the Raptors will smack the Cavs.

Edge: Raptors

Defense:

This area is definitively an edge for the Raptors, there isn’t even really a reason to talk about it. The biggest concern for the Raptors though is obviously the question of “Who will slow down LeBron?”. Well, it appears that man will be 20 year old rookie O.G. Anunoby. ESPN came out with an article today with some interesting numbers. Apparently, when Anunoby is the one guarding LeBron the Cavs are scoring 1.09 points per possession. This isn’t remarkable, but the Cavs season average with LeBron on the court is 1.14. The major difference is that when any other Raptors is guarding “the King” , that points per possession jumps to 1.38. Check out the full article here.

This is a big time and a big stage early in the rookie’s career.

The one concern the Raptors should have defensively is with the Cavs three point shooting. While it wasn’t up to their standards in round one, the Cavs were 6th in the NBA in the regular season (37.2%). The Raptors held their opponents to the 10th lowest three point percentage in the league, so they need to play up to their capabilities in that respect.

Edge: Raptors

Star Power:

Nothing against DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, they are perennial All-Stars, but they are simply not LeBron James. Even though “playoff Lowry” may not be what you think against the Cavs:

The 2017-18 Raptors are all about depth, and the Cavs aside from LeBron are horrible. Yet here they both are in the second round.

Edge: Cavaliers

Bench: If you take away LeBron the Raptors bench probably sweeps the Cavs starters.

Edge: Raptors

I am confident heading into this series that the Raptors will pull this out. I just can’t stress enough how ineffective the supporting cast in Cleveland is and has been. They have rode the back of the GOAT all the way to this point, but I think it ends for them in round two.

The Pacers did the Raptors a favour forcing their series to a seventh game, and in turn, wearing down LeBron just that much more.

If you look at that series as a case study, you would see that the Cavs had trouble containing the Pacers guards of Victor Oladipo and Darren Collison. I take DeRozan and Lowry over those two 1000 out of 1000 times. Add that to the fact that the Cavs clearly had trouble with the length and athleticism of the Pacers, and the Raptors have a much more talented group in that regard. That being said, the Pacers were **+40 in a series that they lost** because of one man and one man only. It’s ridiculous how much influence he has on a game, but this really comes down to the question if the Raptors can beat LeBron James. I think they can over the course of a series. I don’t like the odds of the Raptors closing it out on the road in comparison to at home, so that leaves us with 5 or 7 games as possible scenarios. I think LeBron is great enough to get more than one game for his team, so I think this series goes the distance. 

I’m also 1/1 in my predictions so far, so there’s that:

…these Raptors are the better TEAM and possess more depth and defense than the Wizards, which I think will eventually wear the opposition out. Wall and Beal certainly have the ability to win games if/when they take over, which I think they might for a game or two, but I’m confident that the Raptors will come through and advance past the Wizards.

Prediction: Raptors in 6

For this one, I think the Raptors make the most of the home court advantage they’ve never had against LeBron and punch their ticket back to the Conference Finals.

Prediction: Raptors in 7

Schedule:

Tuesday May 1st @ 8pm in Toronto

Thursday May 3rd @ 6pm in Toronto

Saturday May 5th @ 8:30pm in Cleveland

Monday May 7th @ 8:30pm in Cleveland

Wednesday May 9th TBD in Toronto

Friday May 11th TBD in Cleveland

Sunday May 13th TBD in Toronto

What would an NBA Playoff reform look like?

As an avid listener of the BS Podcast, Bill Simmons has been calling for an NBA playoff reform for years. This potential change that’s linked to in the ESPN tweet above has been thrown around for a couple of years now.  The idea is that the NBA would eliminate Conference seedings and determine playoff spots with just the 16 best teams. If we’re being honest I don’t hate the move. Read more

The Cavaliers Wild Trade Deadline

In: Jordan Clarkson, George Hill, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr., “Heavily Protected” 2nd round pick

Out: Jae Crowder, Channing Frye, Derrick Rose, Iman Shumpert, Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, 2018 first-round pick, 2020 second-round pick

That amount of turnover in player personnel would be significant if it were a full offseason’s worth of changes, but it’s actually just what the Cleveland Cavaliers managed to do yesterday in about an hour total prior to the NBA’s trade deadline. It’s kind of ridiculous how one team could steal the deadline so dramatically, but they did, and obviously it was LeBron’s team that was behind it all.

Here’s a quick recap of the deals themselves and the implications that come along with them. In brackets are the times that the deals were first announced by Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.

Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and the Cavaliers 2018 1st round pick in exchange for Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson (12:05pm):

The first WojBomb to drop. The key player (Thomas) the Cavs received in the Kyrie Irving deal is gone after suiting up for just 15 games in a Cavs uniform. Thomas never looked like himself in Cleveland, and he appeared to be one of the main sources behind the infighting with this team.

Channing Frye has had his moments in recent years as a solid off the bench shooter, but he is 34 and not very relevant anymore. Both Thomas and Frye are unrestricted free agents come seasons end.

The Cavs get younger and more athletic in picking up Clarkson and Nance. Both attributes that they hope will help improve their awful, 29th ranked defensive rating.

From a Lakers perspective, this can really be boiled down to them dealing Nance and Clarkson for a 1st round pick and cap space to gun for a superstar(s) in free agency. This is because I can’t see a reason why they’d be interested in re-signing either of Thomas or Frye to an extended deal.

Rodney Hood and George Hill to Cleveland; Joe Johnson, Iman Shumpert and a 2nd round pick (CLE via MIA) to Sacramento; Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose (to be waived) to Utah (12:58pm):

By far the biggest deal of the day. At this point players were being thrown around like ping pong balls at a Friday night beer pong tournament. One of these guys is currently injured and has been basically all season (Shumpert), two will likely – or are – going to being waived (Rose and Johnson) and Jae Crowder simply has a new home. As for the Cavs, they get a veteran point guard in Hill that should help defensively and he is set to make $18 million through 2019-20 (ouch). They also get probably the most impactful player in the trade (not saying much) in the form of Rodney Hood. Hood’s pretty fragile when it comes to injuries, but I guess he can add a decent scoring punch from the wing,. He’ll probably start too.

Dwyane Wade to Miami in exchange for a “heavily protected” 2nd round pick (1:06):

This to me seems like nothing more than an act of goodwill towards Wade from the Cavs front office. Their return was almost non-existent, but they essentially clear a roster spot, clear some cap-space and get a little younger in the process while Wade likely gets to sail off into the sunset with the team he’s built up a Hall of Fame worthy resume with. Definitely the feel good deal of the deadline.

Verdict: The Cavs improved but the American media is still infuriating

Why do we constantly give these talking heads the time of day? They think that in a snap the Cavs are the team to beat again? They can’t be serious. It appears that their main arguments are that “they brought in guys that are comfortable in their roles” and “they got rid of the drama in the locker room”. I’d like to see some results on the court before we get ahead of ourselves. Again, they’re role players, not impact stars. This is not in the same universe as a Kevin Love acquisition. Who’s to know right now what happens with this team?

“But it’s LeBron James’ team, they’re always a threat”. Well I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but he’s been there all year, they haven’t played good basketball and are 6.5 and 7.5 games back of the Raptors and Celtics. Certainly not his fault, but it is a reality. So why are they being vaulted to the top automatically? I honestly don’t have an answer. Sure, I’ll admit that by the looks of things they have improved their roster. But “best in the east”, “100% better” and “Eastern Conference favourites again” is excessive. Never would I have thought guys like Hill, Hood, Nance Jr. and Clarkson could shift the landscape of the NBA. I had to contain my laughter typing that.

I’m a salty Raptors fan right now, I hate how they’re constantly disrespected. Shannon Sharpe actually called them the “baby dinosaurs”. I also hate the Celtics, but they’re still better than the Cavs too. Bottomline, if you’re a Cavs fan just chill out, or get a George Hill jersey so I can laugh at you, because the Raptors are still making the finals with or without Bruno Caboclo. Book it.  

Lob City to Motor City: A Tale of a Couple of Ninth Seeds

The Blake Griffin trade kicked off this Trade Deadline season with a bang. While the insiders have been saying that Griffin trade talks have been swirling for weeks now, the move was an absolute shock to most hoops fans. The Clippers had been rumoured to start selling off their assets, but almost nobody expected LA to move the face of their franchise not even a full season after signing him to a five-year, $173 million contract. Even though the Pistons and Clippers are both in ninth place of their respective conferences, this trade is a franchise defining move for two teams going in different directions. Read more

Battle of the All-Star Games

In light of the month long slog that seems to be a never-ending blog entry on “How to fix the *blank* All-Star Game/Pro Bowl”, I’ve decided fix the All-Star Game/ Pro Bowl. My suggestion is to dissolve the NHL and NBA All-Star games and NFL Pro Bowl to create one big event that would pit the best of each league against eachother. Each team would have to play each other in a mini-tournament where no team would be allowed to play their own sport. We’re talking Giannis Antetokounmpo on skates,  Von Miller running the triangle and Sidney Crosby and PK Subban connecting on the flea flicker. It would be pure chaos and I for one wouldn’t miss a second. Here’s what those matchups would look like:

NFL v NBA in hockey

I googled any combination of “NFL players”, “football players”, “NBA players”, “basketball players”, “Lebron” and “playing hockey and these were the only videos that I could pull up. If none of these football players or basketball players have any skating experience whatsover (which is a fair assumption), then their skating abilities will range somewhere between Bambi on ice

and Luis Mendoza from Mighty Ducks 2.

Either way it would truly be a spectacle to see Joel Embiid lace ’em up opposite of Marshawn Lynch. I would just hope that we don’t immediately regret giving weapons in the form of hockey sticks and skate blades to Aqib Talib and Richie Incognito.

NBA v NHL in football

Here’s your quarterback:

And here are your star receivers:

On the other side of the gridiron, those crazy hockey players from Saskatoon might forget that real football is played with four downs and no “rouges”. The hockey players only have a shot if they keep the ball away from Lebron and co. with well-placed punts and running out the clock, with all of their trick  plays panning out.

NHL v NFL in basketball

Here’s a taste of what you’re getting from the NFL on the court:

And here’s what the NHL brings to the table:

The NHL would be creamed to be sure. Their vanilla-bland personalities and presence of Brad Marchand could make them a bizzaro parallel to the mid-90’s villainous Duke teams with one hundredth of the basketball acumen. I for one would love to see Phil the thrill throw down the patented “hot dog stand windmill slam” under the bright lights of a full basketball stadium.

As fun as this hypothetical sports battle would be, I wouldn’t go anywhere near it if I were the NHL. We’re talking a probable and embarrassing full sweep and possible back-to-back shutouts in both sports. In their defense, hockey (and skating skating in general) is such a niche athletic ability to most non-Canadian North Americans, the NHL players would dominate their non-hockey players in their own sport more than NBA or NFL players would.

NBA Locker Room Fight Index: Who’s the last guy you want to see?

What a week for basketball feuds. Monday afternoon kicked off with Kyle Lowry and Ben Simmons mixing it up on the court and threatening to meet eachother in the tunnels after being ejected.

Then later that night was the whole Rockets-Clippers debacle that took the NBA by storm.

Read more

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