Al Horford on Matthew Dellavedova: ‘I did think he went at me’

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Matthew Dellavedova fell into Al Horford’s knees, and Horford responded by dropping an elbow on the Cavaliers guard.

That got Horford ejected from the Hawks’ Game 3 loss.

 

 

Tom Withers of the Associated Press:

Horford felt Dellavedova had dived at his legs.

“I did think he went at me but I should have handled it better,” Horford said. “Shouldn’t have gotten caught up in that and it’s something I’ll definitely learn from. The game before I got hit in the knees and it just kind of played over again.”

Horford was one of several Hawks irritated by Dellavedova, who had knocked Hawks guard Kyle Korver out for the postseason with a similar play in Game 2.

“You’re always upset when you lose one of your teammates,” Horford said. “He’s (Dellavedova) a player that plays hard but there’s got to be a line at some point. He’s got to learn. He’s only been in this league for a couple of years but he’s got to learn that at the end of the day, it’s a big brotherhood here. Guys look out for each other and I don’t think it was malicious but he’s got to learn.”

Dellavedova defended his actions, saying he was only trying to get the ball.

“I would obviously disagree with that, I was boxing him out,” Dellavedova said. “You can see from the baseline view that he’s pulling my arm.”

I don’t know whether Dellavedova intentionally went for Horford’s knees or not. Neither does Horford.

But Horford’s overreaction shows he believed Dellavedova did.

That was clearly influenced by Kyle Korver’s injury, which is not fair to Dellavedova. Korver dove for a loose ball, putting his knees directly over the ball:

Dellavedova is not to blame there.

He might have been somewhat reckless on last night’s play, and not that it’s excusable, but a single somewhat reckless play this series does not justify Horford’s actions.

Yes, Dellavedova also baited Taj Gibson into an ejection with a dirty leg lock last round:

Even Dellavedova’s teammate, J.R. Smith, called the play dirty. The NBA eventually gave Dellavedova a technical foul for it.

But these two incidents don’t make a pattern, and trying to shoehorn the Korver play into the discussion doesn’t make one, either. Dellavedova has been on the national stage for only these playoffs, and that’s a pretty small sample. If there’s evidence of him repeatedly playing dirty and/or reckless prior, I haven’t seen it.

Obviously, opponents will – and should – be on high alert with Dellavedova in the future. But Horford jumped the gun with his retaliation.

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.