Toronto has a legitimate shot at making the second round of the playoffs.
Yes, it’s because they are in the Leastern Conference, but there a .500 team (17-17) can lead the Atlantic Division and host a first-round playoff series. Frankly since the addition-by-subtraction Rudy Gay trade the Raptors (winners of six of their last eight) have been the third best team in the East (as Atlanta lost Al Horford).
With that in mind, the tanking is off north of the border. No more riggin’ for Wiggins.
Which means while just a few weeks ago Kyle Lowry seemed a sure bet to be shipped out before the trade deadline, now it’s unlikely. Marc Stein of ESPN has the details.
For the first time, there are certifiable rumbles emanating from Toronto suggesting that the Raptors might well keep point guard Kyle Lowry for the rest of the season. Word is new GM Masai Ujiri continues to resist locking into any sort of firm position — leaving open the possibility of a Lowry deal if the offers suddenly get sweeter — but team officials appear to be growing increasingly comfortable with the idea that it’s better to go for what would be just Toronto’s third playoff berth in 13 seasons rather than try to do the absolute uber-tanking it would take from here for the 17-17 Raps to get into Andrew Wiggins range now.
As PBT’s on D.J. Foster said before, putting a yellow light up on trades and taking a detour from tanking is the smart move for the Raptors — this is a team fans can get behind. DeMar DeRozan has the freedom now to make his plays and has become a fan favorite.
Toronto is really making this run with defense: In their last 10 games they have given up 95.8 points per 100 possessions, third best in the entire NBA (through their first 20 games this season they surrendered 102.7 points per 100). That’s why this is sustainable — hot shooting can come and go but if you defend every night you are in every game. Coach Dwane Casey got the Raptors to defend his first season as coach, but they regressed heavily last season. This season the defense is back and so are the Raptors.
This opportunity to win a division (they are still 3 games up on suddenly hot Brooklyn) and advance in the playoffs maybe fell into their laps, but it’s there for the taking. Toronto needs to grab it for a season, then get on with the rebuilding next summer.
When you hear player comparisons for Knicks rookie, the most common is Dirk Nowitzki — a European big with ridiculous shooting range and potential to embarrass anyone.
So did he grow up idolizing Dirk? Not so much.
Rather, like many of his generation, he grew up idolizing Kobe Bryant, he told Mike Francesa of WFAN.
“My favorite player growing up was Kobe. The Lakers were my team and I still love him.”
There is an entire generation of NBA players — and just fans — who would say the same thing.
In the interview, Porzingis laments his missed shots and turnovers, he thinks he can be a lot better. That is exactly what you want out of a rookie. It’s a huge adjustment playing at the NBA level, the speed of the game and IQ is a leap from Europe (or college). Recognizing the challenge is part of it.
There’s a lot to like in Porzingis. He could be special (we don’t know yet, we see only the potential). But idolizing Kobe — and if you understand the work he put in, the passion for the game — can be a good start.
(Hat tip NBA reddit)
If you’re looking for a “when are things going to go wrong for the Warriors” moment, we have one for you. But it may not be what you had hoped for.
Warriors’ interim head coach Luke Walton — the guy on the sidelines for the 15 (soon to be 16) game winning streak — had his car stolen during a crime spree, reports NBCBayArea.com.
One of the cars stolen during an Oakland Hills crime spree belongs to Golden State Warriors coach Luke Walton, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said late Monday.
Walton’s Mercedes Benz was stolen Tuesday by two suspects, who police believe are also responsible for a violent attack on a 75-year-old woman outside her home on Thursday. The suspects also took the woman’s car during the attack, according to police.
Yikes. That’s serious.
I’m sure Steve Kerr has like 14 cars, he can loan one to Walton.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Pacers guard George Hill returned to the lineup Tuesday night against Washington after missing three games with an upper respiratory infection.
Hill is averaging 14 points and just under 37 minutes in 10 games this season. He was on the bench in case of emergency in Saturday’s victory over Milwaukee.
Coach Frank Vogel said Tuesday Hill’s infection had improved “to the point where he’s fine to play,” but would keep an eye out for fatigue after an 11-day layoff.
Remember how Adam Silver was preaching that the league didn’t want to change the intentional foul rule — the hack-a-Shaq strategy — because it was really about two players (DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard) and a handful of others now and then. The fact that it’s not basketball didn’t matter.
Well, it’s not just two — Miami’s Hassan Whiteside has gotten the treatment this season. He’s a 53.4 percent free throw shooter this season.
And he says bring it on. From Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post:
“I’m enjoying this,” he said. “Foul me so I can get a double-double and we can win. It’s not working, so keep fouling me.”
He’s even smart at not getting fouled.
Whiteside also is liking that teams are looking at their options against the best defense in the NBA — yes, Miami at 94 points allowed per 100 possessions, is the best defense in the NBA right now — and deciding to attack Whiteside.
“There’s teams that’s out there that say ‘Stay away from Hassan,’ and there’s teams that say, ‘We don’t care if Hassan’s down there. Attack Hassan.’ I love them teams that do that. God bless them coaches. I love them teams.”
Whiteside is not as great a defender as the block totals would indicate — if he doesn’t see a block in it, his rotations can be a bit slow. One scout recently called him a selfish defender to me recently, suggesting he is in it for the numbers, not the sacrifices needed for an elite defense. True or not, the Heat have an elite defense and Whiteside is at the heart of it.
And if the strategy is to try to exploit him, Whiteside plans to make people pay.