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Joel Embiid: Terry Rozier tried to hit me, but he’s too short to reach my face

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Terry Rozier went after Joel Embiid during the 76ers’ Game 5 win over the Celtics last night.

Embiid, via A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports:

“He (Rozier) tried to swing at me twice but he’s too short and couldn’t reach my face,” Embiid said.

Embiid loves to critique opponents’ ability to punch him. The Philadelphia center is so good at agitating opponents, he has a stock response for when they try to hit him.

Sure, Rozier is just 6-foot-2 to Embiid’s 7-foot. But don’t underestimate Rozier’s 6-foot-8 wingspan (or anything about the feisty guard).

Cavaliers’ dominance of Raptors historically condensed

AP Photo/Tony Dejak
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Kyle Lowry wore his hat low and looked down, obscuring his eyes. To his left, DeMar DeRozan tried to explain how the Raptors got eliminated by the Cavaliers for the third straight year.

“Maybe they’ve just got our number,” DeRozan said.

It’d be understandable if everyone in Toronto saw Cleveland as uniquely fixated on tormenting them. The Cavs have swept the Raptors the last two years. The year prior, the Cavaliers beat Toronto in the most lopsided six-game series in NBA history.

But the Raptors aren’t alone in getting shut down by LeBron and the Cavs. Toronto has just had the misfortune of experiencing the misery in three straight years without a break.

Here are the longest playoff-game win streaks between franchises, active streaks in wine and inactive streaks in gold:

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LeBron and Cleveland hold two of the three 12-game winning streaks over other franchises in NBA history. The Cavs are 12-0 all-time against the Hawks (playing in 2009, 2015, 2016) and have won 12 straight against the Pistons (2007, 2009, 2016).

Both those streaks are active. The next-longest active streak? Cavaliers over Raptors at 10 games.

The only other longer streaks – Lakers over SuperSonics (12 games in 1980, 1987, 1989) and Lakers over Nuggets (11 games in 1985, 1987, 2008, 2009) – were spread over much longer periods of time.

Nobody has been beaten down like Toronto in such short order.

The Raptors are 2-12 against the Cavs in the playoffs the last three years. That’s the worst record in a matchup with another team three straight postseasons, tied with two pre-shot clock rivalries when the first round was much shorter:

Cleveland Cavaliers 12, Toronto Raptors 2 (2016-18)

  • 2016 conference finals: Cavaliers 4, Raptors 2
  • 2017 second round: Cavaliers 4, Raptors 0
  • 2018 second round: Cavaliers 4, Raptors 0

Minneapolis Lakers 6, Indianapolis Olympians 1 (1951-53)

  • 1951 division semifinals: Lakers 2, Olympians 1
  • 1952 division semifinals: Lakers 2, Olympians 0
  • 1953 division semifinals: Lakers 2, Olympians 0

Syracuse Nationals 6, Philadelphia Warriors 1 (1950-52)

  • 1950 division semifinals: Nationals 2, Warriors 0
  • 1951 division semifinals: Nationals 2, Warriors 0
  • 1952 division semifinals: Nationals 2, Warriors 1

Why does this keep happening to Toronto? Well, LeBron is really good. He does this to a lot of Eastern Conference teams.

But the Raptors keep giving him a chance. They have the NBA’s longest active playoff streak in the Eastern Conference at five years. They’re good enough to advance in the playoffs – until they run into Cleveland.

And then it’s all downhill.

Report: Cavaliers’ Rodney Hood refused to enter Game 4 win over Raptors

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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Rodney Hood reportedly wanted the Jazz to trade him, and he couldn’t have asked for a better situation. Utah sent him just before the deadline to the Cavaliers, who needed more wings and had the potential for a long playoff run.

But Hood has struggled in the postseason, to the point Cedi Osman replaced him in the Cavs’ rotation for their Game 4 win over the Raptors last night. Then, asked to play garbage time, Hood apparently refused.

Jason Lloyd of The Athletic:

Hood will be a free agent this summer. (Cleveland can make him restricted.) This doesn’t bode well.

That this got out so quickly especially speaks to a problem. Sometimes, teammates and coaches cover for a trusted player who reacted poorly in an unpleasant situation. But multiple people outed Hood to the media just after the game. That indicates what people in the Cavs organization think about him.

Ideally for Hood, he’ll regain his form and help the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals. But after this episode, I’m not sure he’ll get the chance.

Cavaliers eliminate Raptors. Again.

AP Photo/Tony Dejak
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LeBron James has destroyed team after team in the Eastern Conference.

Will the Raptors as we know them be next?

The Cavaliers eliminated Toronto for third straight season with a 128-93 shellacking in Game 4 of their second-round sweep Monday.

LeBron advances to his eighth straight Eastern Conference finals and the 10th of his career. He and the Cavs will face the winner of the Celtics-76ers series, which Boston leads 3-1.

Where the Raptors go from here is anyone’s guess.

Will they fire Dwane Casey? Trade DeMar DeRozan and/or Kyle Lowry? Keep everyone together despite annual playoff flameouts?

Cleveland swept the Raptors last year and beat them in the most lopsided six-game series in NBA history the  year prior. But this season appeared as if it could be different.

Toronto won a franchise-record 59 games and secured the No. 1 seed in the East. The Raptors were better than the Cavs during the regular season in every major facet – offense, defense, starters, bench.

The Cavaliers played awful defense, bickered in the locker room and shuffled the roster at the trade deadline. They needed seven games just to beat the Pacers, the worst first-round showing ever for a LeBron team . By the end of the series, he said he felt “burnt.”

Then, he roasted the Raptors.

LeBron (29 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds) didn’t even appear to expend much energy tonight. He can dominate while coasting – especially when his teammates step up like they did.

Kevin Love (23 points on 13 shots), Kyle Korver (16 points on eight shots), J.R. Smith (15 points on six shots) and George Hill (12 points on eight shots) were all extremely efficient.

Toronto, on the other hand, looked desperate. C.J. Miles and Serge Ibaka started over Fred VanVleet and Jonas Valanciunas to spread the floor, but Cleveland scorched the compromised defense. Lucas Nogueira played his first meaningful minutes in the second quarter, and the Raptors immediately surrendered a 10-0 run with the sub-rotation player in. DeRozan, after getting benched for the fourth quarter of Game 3, got ejected for a flagrant foul in the third quarter:

DeRozan finished with 13 points on 11 shots in 33 minutes. Lowry (five points on 2-of-7 shooting) impacted the game even less as a scorer.

Toronto, especially its stars, aren’t good enough against LeBron. If we didn’t know that already, we sure do now.

What will the Raptors do about it? They’ll have a long offseason to figure it out.

Report: Pistons not making Arn Tellem president of basketball operations

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
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Even before the Pistons fired Stan Van Gundy as president and coach, speculation centered on Arn Tellem as his successor in the front office. The former agent is already working for the Pistons as Vice Chairman, and he completed his main responsibility of overseeing the team’s move into a new downtown arena.

But don’t expect Tellem to replace Van Gundy.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Arn Tellem, who has been on the business side, may have a greater hand overseeing the basketball side now. But he will not be the president of basketball operations, I’m told.

It’s common for teams to hire the opposite of the person they just fired. Van Gundy had no front-office experience prior to Detroit. Now, the Pistons want someone with it

Among those available who’ve run a front office: David Griffin, Sam Hinkie, Rich Cho, John Hammond, Danny Ferry, Billy King, Glen Grunwald and Donnie Walsh.

Ideally, Pistons owner Tom Gores (probably aided by Tellem) will pick a general manager then let that person choose Van Gundy’s replacement as coach.