Will the new and improved Toronto Raptors please stand up? | The Star
If you watched Toronto’s 122-103 Game 3 loss to the Wizards, you know the answers to all those questions was a shrug and a nod in the affirmative. You also might be of the belief that much of what happened could be cast aside as a one-off. Everything in this first-round playoff series had been going along swimmingly for the Raptors in Games 1 and 2, wherein they shared the ball with the same kind of all-for-one togetherness that turned them into a 59-win team with the second-best regular-season record in the NBA. But everything changed in Game 3. Sure, it didn’t help that the desperate Wizards got epic performances from all-star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal.
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17 minutes ago
Washington Wizards win Game 3 against Toronto Raptors, led by All-Stars John Wall and Bradley Beal
Wall was determined to come back stronger than ever and lift Washington past that second-round barrier that has stymied this team for so long. But the Wizards treated the regular season like a championship-caliber team that was used to being able to turn it on in the postseason.

The Wizards promptly fell flat on their face in Canada, allowing the Raptors to do things they don't normally do, such as win a Game 1 of a series and take a 2-0 lead.
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17 minutes ago
NBA fines Wizards' Markieff Morris for role in altercation against Raptors | WJLA
Markieff Morris has been fined $25,000 by the NBA on Saturday for attempting to escalate an altercation and pushing an official during a game against Toronto on Friday night. Morris shoved official Ken Mauer aside when Morris and Toronto's OG Anunoby had to be separated after a near-fight that drew other players less than three minutes into the Wizards' 122-103 victory.
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18 minutes ago
Toronto Raptors plan to stick with bench mob despite woes against Washington Wizards - The Globe and Mail
The Raptors rolled to the top seed in the Eastern Conference behind a 59-23 season, in which they used bench players for 44 percent of all available minutes. They say they’ll continue to roll with what got them here. The team’s bench success was no fluke.

“I don’t think confidence slipped,” said Miles. “The playoffs, the biggest thing about it is everything is scouted, everybody is scouted, their tendencies and plays. It’s just about playing basketball, and that’s what the second group does as well as anybody — just play basketball.”
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18 minutes ago
Raptors facing key defensive questions heading into Game 4 - Sportsnet.ca
If you want to draw a line from how the ‘old’ Raptors became the ‘new’ Raptors—at least offensively—you could do worse than starting from that contentious video session in Milwaukee.

What exact form the new-look Raptors offence would take wasn’t clear at the time, but everyone involved new something had to give.

“I mean, before we even got to the point where we changed the offence, for me to come back I knew something was going to change,” said Lowry. “We didn’t know what it was going to be, but we knew it would be different.”
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18 minutes ago
Sunday game preview: Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards | The Star
On paper this ought to favour Toronto. The Raptors, after all, boasted what was arguably the best cadre of backups in the NBA this season. Washington’s reserves ranked 15th on that list. But the absence of Toronto’s most reliable backup, Fred VanVleet, has been a contributing factor to Washington enjoying the reserve advantage in Games 1 through 3. VanVleet, nursing a shoulder injury that has kept him out of all but three minutes of this series, can’t be expected to be the saviour here. The likes of Delon Wright and C.J. Miles need to be more of a factor than they were in Game 3.
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18 minutes ago
Raptors' 'bench mob' being outplayed by Wizards reserves | CBC Sports
"Fred's the type of guy, he's always making plays for us when things get a little stagnant," said Jakob Poeltl. "On defence, he's everywhere. He plugs the gaps. He helps out teammates all over the court. It's a little bit of everything that he does for us.

"[But] we know it's not an excuse. We know we have 12, 13, 14 guys on this team that can come in and contribute."

VanVleet has played less than three minutes in this series after suffering a shoulder injury in the season-finale. Casey said he's still "day to day."
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19 minutes ago
All those turnovers a dagger for Raps in Game 3 loss | Toronto Sun
First credit where credit is due. The Wizards were far more aggressive, far more physical in a Game 3 on their home court than they had been earlier in the series and they forced the Raptors to react perhaps before they were fully ready, leading to a lot of these turnovers.

But Toronto has not been a team that is turnover prone. They averaged 13.5 a game in the regular season which was seventh-best in the Association. But through three playoff games that number is up to 16.7, the worst of any playoff team, save Portland, who are mired in dead last with 16.7 turnovers in the second season.
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21 minutes ago
Raptors' Anunoby thriving, unfazed by bright lights of the playoffs - Sportsnet.ca
“It sounds crazy, but sometimes we need that,” Gortat said. “It’s definitely not bad. [Morris] set a tone. We were physical from the get-go. And that helped us.”

Anunoby’s interpretation of the events supports this. Asked Saturday what transpired between him and Morris, Anunoby said he hadn’t done anything to send Morris to the floor.

“He pushed me for no reason,” Anunoby said.
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21 minutes ago
NBA Playoffs 2018: After a disastrous Game 3, it’s time to kill the DeRozan plus bench lineup - Raptors HQ
Imagine a team playing great for the first 46 minutes, and then collapsing in the final two before losing. You’d blame the loss on whatever happened in the final two minutes, right? The same can be—and should be—applied here.

How can the Raptors remove this issue until VanVleet returns? In my opinion, Dwane Casey needs to play Lowry with Wright and the bench unit. Lowry is, for comparison sake, the same type of player that VanVleet is in the lineup. Taking the ball out of Wright’s hands and putting it into Lowry’s could help alleviate these insanely bad two to three minute stretches in which Toronto coughs up a lead.
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22 minutes ago
Toronto Raptors know how good they are and one playoff loss won’t shake that belief | National Post
“We’re fine,” Lowry said on Saturday afternoon, after the Raptors practised on the campus of Georgetown University in downtown Washington. “I mean, it’s a loss. We’re not happy at all.”

“But we’ve got to go out there and play again. There’s another game tomorrow at 6 p.m. We got a great practice in, great film in. We’re communicating. And that’s the biggest thing. We have to communicate, all be on the same page and know we have a bigger goal. And every day is a step to our goal.”
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22 minutes ago
10 things I saw from Raptors-Wizards (Game 3) – The Defeated – Medium
Response: The Wizards are nothing if not absurdly prideful and they came out with their best effort. Marcin Gortat and Bradley Beal finally woke up, and the Wizards played with more desperation. The game was manageable through 2–½ quarters before a no-call led to a huge run for the Wizards that sealed it.
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yesterday
Raptors lose to Wizards in Game 3, lead series 2-1 - Sportsnet.ca
"That’s the ball game," a surly Casey said. "Some of it was self-inflicted, making passes that weren’t there, soft passes. But a lot of it was their intensity. We knew they were going to come out in a desperate mode, I thought we met it in the first quarter, but after that we didn’t."

DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points to lead the Raptors on a chippy night, while Kyle Lowry had 19. Jonas Valanciunas finished with 14 and OG Anunoby had 12.

The Raptors, who were swept by Washington on the same court in the opening round of the 2015 playoffs, never led by more nine points, falling behind for good early in the second quarter. And when Ty Lawson drilled a three with less than a second left in the third, it sent the Wizards into the fourth with a 101-82 advantage.
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yesterday
Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors called for five technical fouls in 'chippy' Game 3
Ain't nobody fighting out here," Lowry said. "It got physical, but ain't nobody fighting. I mean ... it was heated. It was a heated moment, but that is the game of basketball. It gets competitive, and we're all grown men. We know what it is."

Teammates, referees and team officials then intervened as players were separated. Technical fouls were assessed to Anunoby and Morris.

"It sounds crazy, but sometimes we need that," Gortat said. "We need that. The crazy part is that it's always [Morris]. It should always be someone else. Personally it should be me. I don't have too many technical fouls. I don't have too many of those situations, but I should, and he did that for us, and he took a big hit today and foul trouble. He sacrificed himself for the team."
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yesterday
It took three minutes for the Wizards and Raptors to get into a Game 3 altercation
It didn't take long for playoff basketball to escalate in the nation's capital.

Less than three minutes to be exact.

On only the fifth possession of Game 3 between the Wizards and Raptors at Capital One Arena, Wizards forward Markieff Morris and Pacers forward OG Anunoby got tangled up and let their emotions out.
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yesterday
Raptors lose chippy Game 3 to Wizards | Toronto Sun
“When they play at that level, they are really good,” Raptors’ point guard Kyle Lowry said of the Wall-Beal tandem. “They are the heads of the snake, and we gotta cut them off.”

The Raptors also came in expecting the Wizards to come out swinging, looking to set the physical tone that the Raptors had owned through the first two games.

The first-quarter shoving match between Markieff Morris and OG Anunoby after Anunoby had already been called for a foul was the start. Both players were given technicals, but that just set the stage for a chippy game.
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yesterday
Washington Wizards gain new life by rolling past Toronto Raptors 122-103 in Game 3 of series | National Post
There was plenty of ugly for the Raptors. Repeated mistakes — Toronto had 19 turnovers — led to Washington baskets in transition, and opened the door for John Wall and Bradley Beal to fill up the stat sheet. Each of them had 28 points. It was exactly the kind of performance a reeling Wizards team needed from their best players, but the Raptors might have survived it if they hadn’t troubled their opponents so little.

Turnovers had not been a particular problem for the Raptors in the first two games at home and they weren’t at the start of Game 3, either. Toronto, thanks to more strong play from their starting unit, built up a nine-point lead in the first 10 minutes on Friday night, leading to much muttering from the Washington crowd.
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yesterday
Raptors disappear in lopsided loss to let Wizards back in series | CBC Sports
Trailing Toronto 2-0 in their the opening-round playoff series, the Washington Wizards came out swinging Friday night. Siakam's lip, with three stitches thanks to what he believed was an errant Kelly Oubre elbow, spoke of just a little bit of the carnage.

"They came out and punched us and we allowed them to," coach Dwane Casey summed it up.

Bradley Beal and John Wall scored 28 points apiece and the Wizards roughed up Toronto 122-103, cutting the Raptors' lead in their first-round playoff series to 2-1.
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yesterday
Bradley Beal bounces back in Wizards’ Game 3 victory - The Washington Post
Brooks, according to Beal, even went so far as to apologize for contributing to some of the off-guard’s shooting woes, underscored by a Game 2 performance in which Beal went 3 for 11 with nine points and a plus/minus rating of negative-34.

By halftime of Friday night’s 122-103 victory at Capital One Arena, Beal — to the delight of a packed house — had reclaimed the smooth shooting stroke that elevated him to 13th in the NBA in scoring and resulted in the sixth-year guard’s first all-star selection.
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yesterday
Raptors lose Game 3 and cool in Washington | The Star
Dwane Casey cautioned his team to prepare for it: “We’ve got to play this game like it’s 0-0,” said the Raptors coach. Kyle Lowry talked about the importance of “staying the course” and “staying cool” when Washington brought its inevitable onslaught.

“The intensity of the playoffs, every single game gets raised,” Lowry had warned on Friday morning. “With them being home, they’re going to be confident. They’re going to come out aggressive and come out swinging.”
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yesterday
Raptors' Fred VanVleet to miss Game 3 with shoulder injury - Sportsnet.ca
Toronto took the second game of the series as well, earning a 130-119 victory over Washington. They’ll look to repeat that performance on Friday, but will once again be without one of their top bench performers, who averaged 8.6 points per game in 2017-18 while shooting 41.4 per cent from three-point range.

With a 2-0 lead in the series going into Friday’s game in Washington, the Raptors are holding VanVleet out to give his shoulder time to heal, head coach Dwane Casey told Sportsnet’s Michael Grange.
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yesterday
Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry took a step back to help his team move forward - SBNation.com
Lowry didn’t have to worry about modernizing his game this season like the rest of his teammates, who added some combination of playmaking, shooting, defense, and slashing. He represented the side of the Raptors’ problems that couldn’t be fixed on a practice court, problems he’s been picking at for years: fatigue and mental fortitude.

His task, then? Fewer minutes, fewer shots, and less time with the ball, a difficult ask of a player who made a career of stretching his body to its upper limit.
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yesterday
Meet the new Dwane Casey: Toronto Raptors coach has evolved to point where he’ll play anyone on the roster | National Post
It’s what we’ve done all year. I trust everybody that’s under contract,” Casey said on Friday morning as his team prepared for Game 3. “I’m willing to use everybody under contract. Because I’ve seen what they’ve done, I see what they do in practice. I saw what they’ve done in training camp. I saw what they did the few games that they played in the G League.”

The coach makes it sound like no big deal when he puts it like that, but one only has to look at his lineup deployment from previous seasons to understand how much of a departure this has been from what Casey himself used to do. In his first visit to the playoffs with the Raptors, in 2014, Casey played DeMar DeRozan for more than 40 minutes per game, and Kyle Lowry just under 39 minutes. Four more players averaged more than 27 minutes.
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yesterday
Bodog: Raps favourite to win the East - Article - TSN
After jumping out to a 2-0 first round series lead over the Washington Wizards, the Raptors odds to win the Eastern Conference on Bodog are 5/4, ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers' odds at 8/5. The Cavs are currently tied 1-1 with the Indiana Pacers in their first round series.

The latest odds mark the first time since LeBron James returned to the Cleveland that the Cavaliers aren't the favourite to win the Eastern Conference.
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yesterday
Raptors' frontcourt winning battle but may face adjustment in Game 3 - Sportsnet.ca
In a matchup with plodding big man Marcin Gortat, Washington’s starting centre, Jonas Valanciunas had an opportunity to thrive — and he has, averaging a double-double (14 points on 70 per cent shooting and 11.5 boards) while helping to hold Gortat to just 12 points and nine rebounds total through two games.

Throw in Serge Ibaka — averaging a double-double himself (16.5 points, 10.5 boards) and tied for third in the NBA with 2.5 blocks per game early in the post-season — along with nitro-boosters Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl, and the Raptors frontcourt was poised to be the difference-maker in Round 1.
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yesterday
Raptors fully aware beating Wizards in Washington will be no easy task | Toronto Sun
The Verizon Center might now be known as Capital One Arena, but it’s the same place where Toronto dropped a pair of games three years ago, to bring what had been a stirring 2014-15 season to an unceremonious close.

“We had some tough experiences out there, especially in the playoffs, right?” recalled Jonas Valanciunas after practice on Thursday before he and his teammates took off for D.C.

Did they ever. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry combined to miss 35 of 51 shot attempts in Game 3, yet the team somehow lost by only six points.
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yesterday
NBA Playoffs 2018: After two playoff games, this is a different DeMar DeRozan - Raptors HQ
DeRozan has always been able to score — Game 2’s 37-point outing reinforced that — and while past playoffs have cast him in a negative light, calling into question his ability to put the ball in the basket is the height of stupidity. In four of the last five seasons, DeMar has finished top-10 in total points scored — fairly cut and dried, I’d say.

So far in these playoffs, DeRozan has shown what a different player he is, compared to past versions that dealt with playoff hiccups. This time out, he’s been the coolest, calmest and most collected player on the court. So much so that there are times I find myself pleading for DeMar to show a little more fire. His demeanour can mislead; drawing some into believing some BS fake news narrative like “He doesn’t leave it all out on the court!” or “He needs to crank up his give a **** meter”, etc.
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yesterday
Raptors’ C.J. Miles getting hot from deep at the right time - The Globe and Mail
“I’m always yelling after making a three, it does something great for my confidence, my team’s confidence, especially in those moments when I’m going into the game because of what they consider my expertise,” Miles said. “Defenders do such a good job of trying to stay with you and keeping you from doing it. So you’ve got to find the creases and take your shot.

“I get a rush from a big three-point shot, like the high flyers get from dunking,” Miles added. “Especially when you can make the other team have to call a timeout.”
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yesterday
Raptors fully aware beating Wizards in Washington will be no easy task | National Post
We had some tough experiences out there, especially in the playoffs, right?” recalled Jonas Valanciunas after practice on Thursday before he and his teammates took off for D.C.

Did they ever. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry combined to miss 35 of 51 shot attempts in Game 3, yet the team somehow lost by only six points.

The finale was far worse. The Raptors trailed by 14 after a quarter and left the floor heads down, humiliated, after falling by 31 points.
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yesterday
Toronto Raptors stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry talk about their on- and off-court evolution
ESPN: The regular season you guys just put in the books is a pretty big departure for the NBA. Usually if a team hasn't gotten quite where management wants it to go, they rip up the roster. This team, you guys kept the roster and changed the playbook. Now that you've seen that evolution through a season, how do you think it went?
DeMAR DeROZAN: I think you gotta withstand the test of time, you know? You gotta go through them dog days sometimes, to be built even stronger. And I think that's what we did. You gotta give the credit to the front office, believing. And it's a testament to us, sticking to our game. And one that continued to get better.
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yesterday
First quarters are killing the Wizards against the Raptors - The Washington Post
Washington Wizards
The Raptors have owned first quarters against the Wizards. That’s the series.
By Candace Buckner April 19 at 6:06 PM Email the author

Otto Porter Jr. needs to help the Wizards get off to a better start Friday. (John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports)
It hasn’t taken long during this first-round NBA playoff series to see the difference between the top-seeded Toronto Raptors and eighth-seeded Washington Wizards.

The separation starts soon after tip-off with Toronto dismantling Washington’s defense, finding open three-point shooters and getting easy looks under the rim. The Raptors lead two games to none in the best-of-seven series largely because of leads built in the first quarter.

In Saturday’s opener, Washington trailed 10-4 before Coach Scott Brooks used his first timeout. On Tuesday, the Wizards made the first shot to hold a 2-0 lead then didn’t lead the rest of the night. Toronto blitzed defenders from beyond the three-point arc and opened a 22-point advantage en route to scoring 44 points in the first quarter, the most by a Wizards opponent this season.

The Raptors have outscored Washington 72-50 in first quarters. Ahead of Game 3 on Friday night at Capital One Arena, the Wizards are looking to reverse their bad starts.

[If Wizards decide to shake up starting lineup in the playoffs, there is precedent]

“We have to have a better first quarter,” Brooks said after Thursday’s practice. “We need a better start. All five guys need to lock in defensively. They’ve gotten free for a lot of jump shots and give them credit, they made them — seven threes in the first quarter [Tuesday] — but we did a pretty good job other than that, from that standpoint.

“But we got to be a little better,” Brooks repeated. “We got to have a better start. It’s not the only thing but we have to start there.”

Brooks did not reveal a plan to switch up his starting five. In the moments after the Game 2 loss, Brooks showed a bit of irritation and strongly hinted that backup forward Mike Scott could replace Marcin Gortat at center. By Thursday, Brooks had perfected his poker face.
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2 days ago
Raptors want force to be part of J.V.’s nature | The Star
“We’ve got to do a better job of protecting the paint against Wall’s penetration,” Casey said Thursday.

Therein lines a problem that’s been present for some time: The Raptors are better defensively when Valanciunas is on the bench. And that isn’t optimal, considering he’s the team’s fourth-highest-paid player at $15.5 million this season. That truth has been evident in both games against the Wizards. When Washington coach Scott Brooks has gone to a smaller lineup — using, say, hot-shooting reserve big man Mike Scott at the five with starting centre Marcin Gortat struggling — Valanciunas hasn’t been able to stay in the game for long, or at all. Valanciunas has yet to play in the fourth quarter in the series. Lucas Nogueira got big late minutes in Game 1. A smaller Toronto lineup was used down the stretch in Game 2, wherein Scott made four of five shots from three-point range.
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2 days ago
‘Family first’ fuels Raptor DeRozan | The Star
“He’s still here — that’s all that matters,” DeRozan said.

DeRozan, whose mother Diane has long suffered from the autoimmune disease lupus, described Frank DeRozan as “a true definition of a father.”

“My dad was everything, from every angle: supporting, pushing, teaching, providing, everything,” DeRozan said. “My dad put the basketball in my hands. My dad took me to the park. My dad pushed me. My dad was my dad. My dad was the reason I wanted to play sports, just like every other kid that looked up to their dad. That’s what he was to me to this day, and what he is to me forever.”
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2 days ago
Friday Game 3 preview: Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards | The Star
Lowry is 0 for 7 from three-point range on what NBA.com defines as “open” shots, with the closest defender four to six feet away … Teams leading an NBA best-of-seven by a margin of 2-0 have won that series 94 per cent of the time … The Game 3 winning percentage of those teams, mind you, isn’t stellar — about 42 per cent … Allowing the Wizards to shoot 48 per cent from the field through the opening two games certainly hasn’t been ideal for the Raptors. Head coach Dwane Casey has been imploring his team to shore up its defence.
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2 days ago
Patience in new ball-sharing style is paying off for Toronto Raptors | National Post
“It was early in the season, just they hadn’t got a feel for it yet, they hadn’t gotten a real understanding of when they were going to get their shots, when they were going to get their touches so to speak, and how they could help the team win on the offensive end,” Casey said ahead of the team’s trip to Washington.

“I implored them to, ‘Let’s give it a chance, let’s continue to buy in’ … their leadership, their belief in it, not just going through the motions. And they did. Their leadership and their buy-in was huge in letting us change an offensive system that was statistically successful last year. That was something that was huge for those guys.”

Casey was asked: Did one of them buy in more than the other?

“No. It was a twins moment,” the coach said.
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2 days ago
For the Raptors, silence could be golden - The Globe and Mail
DeMar DeRozan is the tip of that spear. There was a point in Game 1 where it felt like he was tipping over sideways, going in for another one of his two-for-whatever playoff shooting games. But DeRozan continued to distribute the ball and eventually found his space. He was as good as he’s ever been in Game 2.

Throughout the season, DeRozan has been flying back and forth to his home in Los Angeles to visit his father, who is gravely ill. Casey said that the elder DeRozan recently sent the team an encouraging video from his hospital bed.

“It brought tears to my eyes,” Casey said. If he is not yet willing to endorse the whole unreservedly, Casey’s not shy about praising the most important part.
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2 days ago
Why the Raptors remind Grant Hill of the 2009-10 Suns | theScore.com
NBA TV analyst Grant Hill knows about playing on a deep squad. He was a member of the Phoenix Suns during their 2009-10 season when the team made a surprising run to the Western Conference finals. Hill sees similarities between that Suns team and this Raptors one.

“Dwane (Casey) has gotten guys to embrace in using the bench all season,” Hill told theScore. “It looks like the guys don’t really care who scores. It’s just about the Raptors scoring as a team. We had closers in (Steve) Nash and (Amar’e) Stoudemire, and they have that in Kyle (Lowry) and DeMar (DeRozan). The depth, though, can be a huge weapon in the postseason.”
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2 days ago
Drake, Kelly Oubre Jr., John Wall spice up Wizards-Raptors series - The Washington Post
Canadian rapper and Toronto Raptors global ambassador Drake was at it again Tuesday night, chirping at Wizards players in an attempt to get in their heads, or maybe just be seen, from his floor-level seats at Air Canada Centre. After C.J. Miles hit a three-pointer during the fourth quarter of Washington’s eventual 130-119 loss, cameras caught Drake standing up and shouting “You’re a bum” at Kelly Oubre Jr. as the Wizards’ forward made his way back down the court.
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2 days ago
Raptors' DeRozan nominated for NBA's Dunk of the Year - Sportsnet.ca
DeMar DeRozan may not have the hops he did when he first came into the NBA almost nine years ago, but that doesn’t mean the Toronto Raptors all-star can’t still throw down.
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2 days ago
Wizards coach hints he might replace Gortat in starting lineup for Game 3 against Raptors | The Star
On Tuesday, Scott finished with a bench-high 20 points, making 7 of 10 from the floor, including four three-pointers. After Game 2, when Brooks was asked if Scott as the backup centre could be a sustainable option for the rest of the series, he agreed then strongly hinted at a change.

“Who knows?” Brooks said. “He might be a starting five (option).”

Scott replacing Gortat in the starting lineup would signify a massive shift in Brooks’ philosophy. During his two seasons in Washington, the coach has staunchly trusted his top five (John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris and Gortat), only swapping out starters for injury purposes. But trailing two games to none against a Raptors team that has stretched his defence thin, the Wizards coach’s best counter could be the unconventional path.
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2 days ago
S02E27 - Angsty lack of angst by Raptors Reasonablists | Free Listening on SoundCloud
Blake Murphy and Eric Koreen aren't sure what to do about a 2-0 series lead for the Raptors.
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2 days ago
NBA Playoffs 2018 Game 2 Turning Point: Miles delivers a dagger to thwart Washington’s late-game comeback - Raptors HQ
The Wizards chipped away an 18-point third-quarter deficit until they found themselves down just five points at the eight-minute mark of the final frame. The Air Canada Centre was frenetic. Panic washed over every Raptor fan, accompanied by the familiar sense of dread — but it wasn’t long before faith was restored.

Because these aren’t the same old Raptors.
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2 days ago
Raptors’ VanVleet knows two-day break will be huge for his recovery | Toronto Sun
“I took a hit so I’m just trying to get back right from that and I thought I’d have a chance to go out and do that tonight but it just wasn’t quite right and I think the coaching staff, medical staff made a decision to get me out of there, so, you’ve got to respect it,” VanVleet said after the game.

“From their standpoint, knowing what they know, they just made the call to get me out of there … It’s going to be a process. I’m a warrior. I want to be out there with the guys and fighting, but obviously I’ve got to try to be the best version of myself, however long that takes and (it’s a) minor setback, but just going to take some time, the next couple of days to get right for Friday.”
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2 days ago
View from Washington: Wizards might be too chill for their own good | The Star
The Washington Wizards know they can come back. They know because they trailed a playoff series 2-0 to Boston just last year, returned home and experienced a revival.

They also know because they’re dangerously cool, a team limited by its modest concern over flaws and patterns of lackluster behavior that would be intolerable for most others.

Their audacity makes them capable of another rally, but let’s add an important caveat: While belief is a powerful weapon, the Wizards must be careful not to mistake it for denial. I’m not certain this team is fully aware of the predicament it has created this time. This is not 2017. The Wizards are not the team they were a year ago. The Toronto Raptors are not the Boston Celtics; they are playing at a higher level. And unlike that second-round series last year, these first two losses have not been games that the Wizards controlled most of the way and should have won.
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2 days ago
DeRozan’s evolution on display early in Raptors playoff series - Article - TSN
“We needed every point,” Dwane Casey said after DeRozan poured in 37 of them, tying a playoff career-high in Toronto’s 130-119 Game 2 victory on Tuesday. “He showed offensive toughness. They were into him, they were doing a lot of switching. We figured that’s what they were probably gonna do and he did a good job of attacking it, attacking the blitzes early in the game, just all-around reading. That's just through his maturity. He’s grown a lot from that standpoint. Two years ago, I don’t know what he would have done. He did an excellent job of reading what the defence was doing to him and making ’em pay.”
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2 days ago
The Wizards might be too chill for their own good - The Washington Post
In the locker room afterward, the players were disappointed, but they didn’t seem hurt. Now, in fairness, you have to be mindful that teams aim to stay composed and minimize their frustration early in a best-of-seven series. Once you go off and start acting too tense, there’s no turning back. But even when evaluating the Wizards in that context, they were surprisingly mellow after playing a humiliating and unacceptable first half Tuesday.

It would be understandable if they had reason to brush off the game as an aberration, if they were a team that didn’t have recurring problems with focus and transferring preparation onto the court. But that is part of their enigmatic identity. You needed the reassurance of feeling their emotions and sensing their urgency. You will have to trust them, however. Good luck.

Coach Scott Brooks was a little pointed in his postgame remarks, at least.

“We have to come out and play,” he said. “We can’t have two different units out there competing. We’ve got to have both units out there competing. We have to do a much better job.”

Later, he added: “We can’t put our head down and give them everything they want, and that’s how they jumped out to a 23-point lead.”
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3 days ago
The Raptors Put The Wizards In The Trash, Where They Belong
Here is how basically every possession went: A Raptor made a simple pass to a teammate left wide open on the three-point arc by the Wizards’ trash-ass flat-footed defense; whichever idiot Wizard happened to be nearest panicked and flew by on an out-of-control closeout; the Raptor with the ball took one dribble inside the arc, then kicked the ball to yet another wide-open teammate, who either repeated the process, or, out of pity for the blue-clad crap-bags standing around with glazed eyes and fingers jammed up their noses or throwing themselves into the stands in empty performance of “defense,” could rise for an open jumpshot. Whereupon Bradley Beal would foul him in the act of shooting.
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3 days ago
‘A NATIONAL CRISIS’: Beer spilled on court during Raptors game | Toronto Sun
“You can drop popcorn, you can drop soda-pop, water, c’mon…” Armstrong said, putting on a show for the TV audience.

“Get some tissue for Jack, he’s crying right now,” play-by-play announcer Matt Devlin added, wiping Armstrong’s face.

Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan had seats just a few feet from the scene of the crime.
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3 days ago
Raptors' Valanciunas continues to develop into modern centre - Sportsnet.ca
Miles had three of them (he finished 4-of-6, and is now 8-of-13 in the series) and was making a point about how much that shooting opens up the floor, particularly when the offence flows through the hands of aggressive ball-handlers off the dribble, such as Raptors guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.

“It’s as big as anything in the game on the offensive end,” Miles was saying. “The more space we can give them, the tougher they are to cover. Because, now, you’ve got Serge [Ibaka] making a couple threes. OG [Anunoby’s] made a couple threes…”

Suddenly, from across the room, an interruption.

“Hey!” hollered Jonas Valanciunas, observing from afar as he fastened the cufflinks of his trim white button up. “I made one, too!”
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4 days ago
NBA Playoffs 2018: Raptors beat the Wizards in Game 2, 130-119 - Raptors HQ
The truth is, as has often been the case this season, it’s impossible to separate the components of this Raptors win and highlight a single thing. Toronto has stars — again, DeRozan and Lowry definitely qualified tonight — but the team really is at its best when it’s even greater than the sum of its parts. And watching these different Raptors add (multiply?) together to put the Wizards away with — relative — ease was, if you’ve been watching the Raps for some time, a delicious and delightful sight.

I stress the word “relative” there though because, in typical old school Raptors fashion, it was a bit stressful. Despite leading for all but the first minute of the game, and putting up 44 points in the first quarter (a post-season franchise record), Toronto let the Wizards comeback in the second half. Toronto’s torrid three-point shooting cooled (from 50 to 15 percent) and the combination of John Wall, Mike Scott, and (who knew) Ty Lawson, decided to power Washington back into it. Toronto’s lead, which had gotten as big as 23 in the first half, was gradually chiselled away to five before the midway point of the fourth. Naturally, the rollicking atmosphere inside the ACC dissipated, and we all got a bit tight.
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4 days ago
Wizards showed lack of pride in easy Raptors win | Toronto Sun
Why should the Wizards have brought more focus? If it wasn’t enough that Toronto was the East’s top seed and the NBA’s second-deepest squad, you could also factor in the math. NBA teams that have built 2-0 leads at home have gone on to win the series 94% of the time, per whowins.com.

On his 61st birthday, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey had the correct attitude.

“We can’t get relaxed and start believing the hype. We’re playing against a very non-traditional eighth seed, a very talented eighth seed, a well-coached team,” he had said.
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4 days ago
Raptors making believers as they win first two playoff games for the first time | The Star
Unless, of course, you learn to sail. The Raptors played a Game 2 without the weight of a Game 1 loss on their shoulders Tuesday night, and they were mercilessly, joyfully good. A 44-point first quarter, an 18-point lead at the half. The Washington Wizards were bickering. The Raptors looked free.

And when the inevitable run came, it was … fine. Wizards point guard John Wall led a charge, and the lead was down to 108-103 with 7:52 to go. This is where previous Toronto teams might buckle; this is where previous teams might fall.
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4 days ago
Teamwork and timing on Raptors’ side in Game 2 win | The Star
All-star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan had announced in the lead-up to the series that they’d be treating Game 1 “like a Game 7,” never mind that Game 1s lack even the distant spectre of elimination. Come Tuesday’s followup win — a 130-119 result that produced Toronto’s first 2-0 playoff-series advantage in franchise history — Lowry and DeRozan had convinced other members of the squad that the approach was a worthy one.

Said Pascal Siakam, the second-year forward: “Game 2 is Game 7, too.”
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4 days ago
The Raptors shellacked the Wizards in Game 2, and this is how good they are - SBNation.com
oronto has a familiar problem: nobody will trust them until they prove it. We’ve all been scared away before. But Dwane Casey and Masai Ujiri have helped build a masterful team here, one that has thrived even without (probably) a top-15 player. Hell, Casey broke out the 13-man rotation on Tuesday, and it wasn’t even due to last-minute garbage time subs. (There were some ulterior factors, though, like Fred VanVleet being not quite healthy enough.)

The Raptors won’t prove anything in the first round, sure. They know that. But they also know that they can play like this, and Game 2 was a reminder why that’s so dangerous.
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4 days ago
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