Jeremy Evans dunks over covered picture, reveals it to be painting of him performing the dunk (VIDEO)

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HOUSTON — Jeremy Evans didn’t win this year’s dunk contest, but it certainly wasn’t due to a lack of creativity or effort on his part.

Terrence Ross took home the trophy as the 2013 Sprite Slam Dunk champion, and was definitely deserving of the honor. But Evans wins at least in terms of creativity, based on the thought, planning, and personal effort he had to put into at least one of his dunks to ensure it came off successfully.

In his first dunk attempt of the final round, Evans brought out an easel that had resting on it a large picture covered in black cloth. It was placed inside the restricted area, and Evans got a running start before leaping over it and throwing down a left-handed windmill jam on his very first try.

Evans then removed the cloth to reveal a painting which, in hindsight, had predicted the future.

The painting was an image of the exact dunk that Evans had just pulled off, showing him in midair readying to dunk over the covered canvas.

Evans said he got the idea for this one from one of his coaches.

“Actually, a player development coach helped me out with that,” he said. “He knew I was a painter, so why not do that?”

I then asked Evans if he painted it himself.

“Yeah, I painted it,” he said. “It took about a week and a half. I tried to rush it.”

The painting wasn’t even finished until the night before the contest. Evans wanted to make sure he knew what the actual ball he was going to use would like like before painting it, so he added it in at the last minute.

This may not have been the best dunk of the night, and as evidenced by the fact that Ross ultimately won as a result of getting 58 percent of the vote from the fans, that must have been the consensus.

But after hearing how long it took Evans to personally paint the picture, not to mention the time he put in practicing the actual dunk itself, it’s hard to argue with the combination of creativity and execution that Evans was able to display.

[Photo credit: Utah Jazz, via Instagram]

Report: Raptors could get OG Anunoby back during Finals

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The Toronto Raptors are headed to the 2019 NBA Finals, and they are going to need every player on their roster if they want a chance at dethroning the Golden State Warriors.

Forward OG Anunoby has been out since early April after needing an emergency appendectomy. He has not played in the playoffs yet this season, but a new report says the Raptors may be hopeful he could return before the end of this final series.

Via Twitter:

Anunoby Is a useful second-year forward who plays hard on both ends of the floor. Toronto is going to have a hard time matching up with the Warriors defensively, whether Kevin Durant plays or not. Having Anunoby available would help Toronto be more switchable and more adept at taking on some of Golden State’s smaller lineups.

We don’t have a timetable for Anunoby’s potential return yet, but the way the Finals are spaced out (Game 1 is on Thursday, Game 2 is next Sunday) it could help get players healthy and ready.

That could be good news for Kawhi Leonard, who sat out several games this year simply to rest. Leonard has looked a little banged up through these playoffs, as has just about everyone else. The bad news for Toronto is that this time between games could also help the Warriors get Durant ready to play.

Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals is on Thursday at 6 p.m. PST in Canada.

Drake gave Nick Nurse another shoulder rub (VIDEO)

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People are already getting tired of Drake being a prominent figure in the storyline of the Toronto Raptors. They will have to just deal with it for now as Toronto is headed to the 2019 NBA Finals after beating the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night.

That said, Drake is actually an ambassador for the Raptors. Some folks seem to forget that.

There was a dust-up during the Eastern Conference Finals about Drake having given Raptors coach Nick Nurse a shoulder rub during Game 4. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer thought that fans shouldn’t be interacting with members of the coaching staff or players, but the Raptors didn’t seem to think it was that big a deal.

After the Raptors won on Saturday, Drake embraced Nurse yet again, playing off of the initial kerfuffle.

Via Twitter:

Get ready to see more Drake than you’ve ever wanted.

Watch Raptors fans celebrate Finals berth in streets of Toronto (VIDEO)

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The Toronto Raptors are headed to their first NBA Finals in franchise history. Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry beat Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night in Game 6 to send them home and push Toronto into the final series of the year against the Golden State Warriors.

Raptors fans, who have been perennially disappointed by teams who were just good enough, naturally found themselves celebrating in the streets of Ontario. Videos of cars honking and people walking through the avenues surfaced on social media, with the whole thing looking like a big party.

Via Twitter:

The Raptors aren’t the most talented team in the Eastern Conference, but they did have the best player in the entire playoffs this season in Leonard. Coach Nick Nurse figured out a way to stop the Bucks by collapsing on Antetokounmpo, and Milwaukee’s shooters went cold at just the wrong time. The rest of the Raptors bench finally gave Leonard some support, and Toronto was able to mount a comeback in the series to push themselves into the NBA finals.

For that, both Toronto and the Raptors fans deserve to be overjoyed with what’s happening right now.

Game 1 of the 2019 NBA Finals will be on Thursday at 6 p.m. PST in Toronto.

Bucks fans greet team, Giannis Antetokounmpo at Milwaukee airport (VIDEO)

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The Milwaukee Bucks season is over. Giannis Antetokounmpo and his supporting cast couldn’t get things done in Game 6 on Saturday night against the Toronto Raptors in Canada. Now it’s Kawhi Leonard who is heading to the 2019 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.

This season was a magical one for Milwaukee, one in which they took the No. 1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference and likely have the league’s MVP in Antetokounmpo.

As you might expect, Bucks fans are happy about that fact, and showed up to the Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport to greet their returning team.

Via Twitter:

It has to be nice for athletes to get this kind of treatment. Although some may want to just go home and languish in their defeat, the unwavering support of fanatics has to take the bite out of the sting, even if just a little bit.