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Raptors coach Dwane Casey on Matthew Dellavedova’s Game 1 screens: ‘A lot of them weren’t legal’

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The Raptors lost yet another Game 1, falling 97-83 to the Bucks on Saturday. Toronto’s biggest problem was scoring, especially by its stars. Kyle Lowry (2-for-11, including 0-for-6 on 3-pointers) and DeMar DeRozan (7-for-21, including 0-for-2 on 3-pointers) were, in what has become a concerning playoff trend for those two, lousy.

But Raptors coach Dwane Casey turned attention to another culprit: Matthew Dellavedova‘s screens.

Casey, via Frank Zicarelli of the Toronto Sun:

“He’s not in our minds,’’ began Raptors head coach Dwane Casey on Dellavedova. “I mean, I didn’t go to bed last night worrying about Dellavedova. No, not at all. I was worried about the Milwaukee Bucks, not him.

“But he did set 18 screens and we did talk about them and looked at them and a lot of them weren’t legal. But again, hats off to him. Credit him. Now we’ve got to make sure we counter that and make the officials make a decision. The officials were saying that we’re not hitting him or running into him or whatever. So we have to make sure we have a confrontation and make the officials (see it).

“He’s one of the great screen-setters in the league, just like John Stockton was, so there’s no disrespect in saying that. It’s a respect factor for Dellavedova that he does set hellacious screens.”

“Yeah, they (officials) feel like they are legal, but you look at them in slow time and believe me they are moving, they are grabbing, they are holding. But again, that’s his M.O., and he set a precedent with it and they are not calling it.

“Now we have to make sure we set screens the same way and we show the officials those videos. Again, it’s a credit to him that he sets screens that way and gets away with it and it helps them execute what they want to do.”

Dellavedova, via Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

“All people set illegal screens in the NBA,” Dellavedova said. “If you follow it to the letter of the law, the rule is that your feet have to be inside your shoulders. I mean big men are always kind of setting it wide. That’s just how it is.

“You have to be smart and adjust to what the refs are calling.”

I thought Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker might alleviate Toronto’s years-long postseason funk, but the Raptors are down once again and sound lost. It’s almost comical to hear Casey try to convince everyone – maybe including himself – that he’s not worried about Dellavedova. Everything the coach said after indicates he is.

That said, maybe Casey is just trying to take attention off his struggling stars. Lowry and DeRozan have taken major steps back in the playoffs the last two years, and another poor start only intensifies the pressure. Casey might be trying to protect them.

Either way, I got a kick out of Dellavedova essentially admitting Casey was right. Another fun response came from DeRozan. Lori Ewing of CBC Sports:

DeMar DeRozan laughed when asked about the legality of Dellavedova’s screens.

“If you pay my fine, I’ll answer that question. Will you?” DeRozan asked.

“I probably can’t,” the reporter answered.

“OK, so next question,” said DeRozan.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.