Dan Feldman

AP Photo/Tony Dejak

Report: Raptors considering pulling DeMarre Carroll, Jonas Valanciunas from starting lineup against Cavaliers


In the Cavaliers’ Game 1 win over the Raptors, Toronto got outscored by eight points in the 12 minutes both teams’ starting lineups were on the floor. The Raptors’ starters ranged from -13 (Kyle Lowry) to -32 (DeMar DeRozan). Cleveland built a 25-point lead before letting up in garbage time.

The outcome screams for Toronto adjustments.

But starting Norman Powell and Jakob Poeltl over DeMarre Carroll and Jonas Valanciunas?

Michael Grange of Sportsnet:

According to sources, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey — desperate to find a way to score enough to keep up with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are averaging 113.4-points points a game through five playoff starts — is giving strong consideration to sitting both Carroll and Valanciunas for Game 2.

In their place would go Powell and rookie Jakob Poeltl. Powell’s role would be to reprise the added ball-handling and shooting that the second-year guard provided the Raptors when he started Games 4-6 against the Milwaukee Bucks while the Austrian rookie would be expected to give Toronto some additional quickness to help on the Cavs pick-and-roll attacks while still maintaining some size to battle the offensive rebounding pressure Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love bring.

“The league is changing,” said Casey at the Raptors practice Tuesday. “The league is changing. You have to change or you get stuck in the mud. It’s more of a scoring league now. You saw what San Antonio had done to them last night [in a 27-point loss to the Houston Rockets the Spurs gave up 22 threes on 50 attempts].

“We have to score points,” said Casey, whose club is averaging just 95.4 points a game in the post-season, worst among active teams and 11.4 points off their regular season average. “We have to manufacture points and not get our dobber down if the other team scores. If they score, boom, hey, next play. Not to say defence isn’t important, because it is. But we can’t get caught up in ‘we gotta stop them.’”

This is a stunning statement by Casey, who has preached defense at every opportunity. It’s fascinating to watch his philosophy change in real time.

Starting Poeltl would be a wild machination. Dahntay Jones harassed Poeltl in Game 1. What would LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson do to the rookie?

I get starting Powell over Carroll. After falling behind 2-1 to the Bucks in the first round, Toronto inserted Powell into the starting lineup (for Valanciunas) then won three straight. With Powell again coming off the bench, the Raptors lost Game 1 to the Cavaliers. Powell brings 3-and-D skills with playmaking that would be particularly helpful against a Cavs defense vulnerable to breakdowns once it gets moving.

But Poeltl? He’s more mobile than Valanciunas, but the 7-foot Poeltl is hardly fleet of foot. The rookie has been in and out of the rotation all year.

Why not start P.J. Tucker over Valanciunas instead, sliding Serge Ibaka to center? The Cavaliers’ floor spacing begs opponents to go small, but then Thompson and Love feast on the offensive glass. Ibaka and Tucker bring small-ball spacing, but they’re tough enough to still compete on the boards. It’s not as if Poeltl has been a strong defensive rebounder, anyway.

The problem with that strategy is guarding backup Cleveland center Channing Frye, a 3-point shooter. If there’s a place for Valanciunas in this series, it’s starting. He can’t handle Frye. Maybe Poeltl can? If Ibaka is playing center with the starters, he can’t also play the position with the backups. He needs rest at some point.

Overall, Casey sounds desperate. But he should be. Have you seen the Cavs?

Isaiah Thomas outduels John Wall in historic playoff scoring battle

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Isaiah Thomas put himself in rarified air.

John Wall helped lift him into another elite class.

Thomas (53 points) and Wall (40 points) became just the 16th opponents each to score 40 in a playoff game, accomplishing in the feat in the Celtics’ Game 2 win over the Wizards last night.

The last pair to do it was Dirk Nowitzki (48 points) and Kevin Durant (40 points) in 2011, when the Mavericks beat the Thunder. By harmonic mean, Allen Iverson (48 points) and Shaquille O’Neal (44 points) had the only higher combination on the list, going head-to-head in the 2001 NBA Finals.

Here’s every playoff game where a player on each team scored 40 points:

Date Winner Loser
5/2/2017 Isaiah Thomas (BOS): 53 John Wall (WAS): 40
5/17/2011 Dirk Nowitzki (DAL): 48 Kevin Durant (OKC): 40
5/11/2009 Dirk Nowitzki (DAL): 44 Carmelo Anthony (DEN): 41
5/18/2008 Paul Pierce (BOS): 41 LeBron James (CLE): 45
5/3/2006 LeBron James (CLE): 45 Gilbert Arenas (WAS): 44
6/6/2001 Allen Iverson (PHI): 48 Shaquille O’Neal (LAL): 44
6/1/2001 Ray Allen (MIL): 41 Allen Iverson (PHI): 46
4/24/2001 Allen Iverson (PHI): 45 Reggie Miller (IND): 41
6/11/1993 Michael Jordan (CHI): 42 Charles Barkley (PHX): 42
4/23/1992 Brad Daugherty (CLE): 40 Drazen Petrovic (NJN): 40
5/8/1991 Chris Mullin (GOS): 41 Magic Johnson (LAL): 44
4/22/1984 Bernard King (NYK): 46 Kelly Tripucka (DET): 40
4/12/1972 Jim McMillian (LAL): 42 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (MIL): 40
3/31/1972 Lou Hudson (ATL): 41 John Havlicek (BOS): 43
4/25/1969 Jerry West (LAL): 41 John Havlicek (BOS): 43
4/10/1963 Sam Jones (BOS): 47 Oscar Robertson (CIN): 43

Isaiah Thomas breaks playoff point guard scoring record

AP Photo/Charles Krupa

John Wall had 40 points, 13 assists, three steals and three blocks – a stat line not achieved since at least the NBA adopted a 16-team playoff in 1984 (as far back as Basketball-Reference records go).

And it barely registers today.

That’s because Isaiah Thomas scored 53 points and led the Celtics to a Game 2 victory over the Wizards. That’s the highest-scoring playoff game ever by a point guard.

Thomas’ box score will put him in the record books, also for having the highest-scoring playoff game since Allen Iverson dropped 55 on the New Orleans Hornets in 2003. (That was so long ago, New Orleans was in the East.) But the circumstances for Thomas – the game coming on his late sister’s birthday, his clutch play – make the performance unforgettable.

Here’s every 50-point playoff game in NBA history:


Marcus Smart beats Bradley Beal to basket with behind-the-back dribble (video)

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Isaiah Thomas is rightfully grabbing most of the headlines from the Celtics Game 2 win over the Wizards last night.

But Marcus Smart had a heck of a play, using a behind-the-back dribble to get past Bradley Beal and then finishing craftily at the rim.

Watch Isaiah Thomas score 29 of his 53 points in fourth quarter and overtime (video)

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Isaiah Thomas scored a more-than-respectable 24 points through the first three quarters against the Wizards last night.

But his Celtics trailed by five entering the fourth quarter.

So, as has become custom, Thomas did more.

The 5-foot-9 point guard scored 29 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, leading the Celtics to a personally meaningful 129-119 Game 2 win.