Kyle Lowry's Recent Struggles

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Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


Over the past 4 games, Kyle Lowry has struggled shooting the ball, and uncoincidentally, the Raptors have struggled over that stretch. Lowry had been playing some of the best basketball of his career up until recently, and considering how much he means to this team, his recent production is concerning.

Lowry sat out the game last Saturday in Cleveland with a back injury. Most people assumed it was as a precaution, because the Cavs aren’t very good, but maybe it was something more than that. In the game prior to him sitting out, as well as the three games following it, Lowry has had some ugly shooting nights. He still leads the NBA in assists per game, with 10.1 per game, but his scoring ability hasn’t been the same since the game in Memphis on November 27th.

Since that win in Memphis, Lowry has put up the following stat-lines: 10 points on 4/14 shooting, 5 points on 1/7 shooting, 7 points on 2/8 shooting, and 3 points on 1/8 shooting. There have also been moments where Lowry has looked passive to shoot the ball because of a cold night from the field. For example, during the last play of the game on Friday night against the Nets, Lowry could’ve shot the ball, but instead he passed it to Fred VanVleet who ended up missing the potential game-winner.

The Raptors usually rest Kawhi Leonard for one of the games in a back-to-back, and they keep saying that he’s getting close to playing in both games. So maybe when that happens, they should rest Lowry in one of the two games. Lowry is 32 years old, so he could probably use a rest day anyway. Especially when you look at his recent struggles, I would definitely give Lowry a few games off in order to rest and regroup.

The Raptors are pretty deep at point guard with Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet both available to start if Lowry were to sit. Lowry’s obviously better than both of them, but I’d be fine with giving one of those guys a start or two if it means Lowry gets more rest over the course of a long season.

Looking at the upcoming schedule for the Raptors, it’s going to be a very tough stretch. They play Milwaukee at home tonight before heading out West to play teams like the Clippers, Warriors, Nuggets, and Trail Blazers. Those will be tough games to win regardless, but they’ll be even harder to win if Kyle Lowry continues to score in the single digits. We know Kawhi will show up to those games, but he’s going to need some help if the Raptors are going to have a successful week coming up.

I think Kyle Lowry will eventually get back to his early season form. I hope it’s just a cold shooting stretch and not a serious injury so that he’ll eventually just get hot and get his confidence back. Like I said earlier, he’s still sharing the ball enough to be an effective point guard, but now he’s got to start scoring himself and hitting the shots that we all know he can consistently make.


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Raptors Suffer Disappointing Loss with Tough Schedule Ahead

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Article Written by Jacob Pacheco (@JacobPacheco6)


The Raptors’ slow struggles continue in Friday night’s loss to the Brooklyn Nets in their attempts to win their second game in a row. After a tough loss to the Denver Nuggets earlier in the week, Toronto was looking to bounce back and keep the winning momentum going forward after a statement win on Wednesday against Philadelphia. But that wasn’t the case.

The Raptors continue to have slow starts out of the gate in the first quarter of games and having trouble shooting the three ball. Friday was a case of both of those issues. A slow start to the game against Brooklyn saw the Nets extend their lead to 14 in the second quarter. After that, Toronto slowly clawed their way back into the game, ultimately tying it up at halftime and keeping it that way until the very end. It came down to a nail-biting finish, but the Nets came out on top to defeat the NBA leading Toronto Raptors in overtime.

It was a game where Kawhi Leonard shined once again and had to put the Raptors on his back late in the 4th quarter and in overtime. Although Jonas Valanciunas put up 24 points and eight rebound in his 26 minutes of playing time, he managed to find his way on the bench for the whole 4th quarter. This meant Leonard had to take over, which he did. Leonard put up 32 points on 10-of-21 shooting in 38 minutes including game tying and go ahead buckets, along with an emphatic eye-opening dunk that surprised many. Despite their efforts, Toronto couldn’t get the job done.

But a few fingers are being pointed to head coach Nick Nurse, indicating that this may be one of his worst coached game of the season. As mentioned, he didn’t play Valanciunas until the overtime period where JV didn’t see playing time for a whole 15 minutes until starting the overtime frame. Fingers are also being pointed at All-Star point guard, “the Bulldog,” Kyle Lowry, and he knows it. After Nurse had rested Kyle Lowry on December 1st against the Cavaliers, Lowry hasn’t been the same. Over the stretch of four games, Lowry has played an average of 35 minutes and only averages 6.3 points, shooting 21.6 percent and 18.5 percent from three, also averaging 3.3 turnovers throughout this four-game stretch. Over the span of three games, Lowry has put up a total of 15 points, 4-of-23 field goals and 3-of-20 from beyond the arc. Lowry is a veteran player in this league, someone who will bounce back. When asked about why he hasn’t been playing up to par lately post-game after the loss to Nets, Lowry said, “no excuses, I just have to play better. I know I’m better.

Although the Raptors maintain the best record in the NBA still to date, their schedule doesn’t get any easier. After taking tough defeats to the Nuggets, and now the Nets this week, Toronto could be handed their 3rd loss of the week in four games and could be handed more later in the week and coming days. It starts on today as the Raptors travel back to Toronto to take on the Milwaukee Bucks at home; the team who handed Toronto their first loss of the season when both teams were undefeated. It gets worse from there. Toronto then heads out on the road for a grueling four game road trip against the Los Angeles Clippers, and then the Golden State Warriors the day after on a back-to-back.

Back-to-backs only mean one thing: Rest. Raptors fans are now used to seeing Kawhi Leonard’s name not shown in the lineup on a second night of back-to-backs, but maybe we don’t have to worry about that much longer. After a strong week’s performance from Leonard where he has averaged 32 points in four games, I would say he is close or possibly even feeling at 100 percent again. After the match-up with the Clippers, the Raptors once again face-off with the defending NBA Champions, The Golden State Warriors. Their previous meeting against the Warriors saw Golden State without Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. Well, they’re back, and you bet they’ll be in the lineup looking for revenge when these two teams meet again in less than a week. Only time will tell if Leonard is fit as he once was to take on back-to-back games again.

But the road trip doesn’t end there. After those two grueling games with the Clippers and Warriors, the Raptors face-off against the Portland Trailblazers and the Denver Nuggets once again. After this stretch of games are complete, the Raptors will have only 16 games out of their remaining 55 regular season games against Western Conference opponents, including two match-ups with former Raptor, DeMar DeRozan.

Being the top team in the NBA isn’t easy. Every night you go out onto that court with a target on your back, knowing that every game won’t be easy, that you have to dig in and get the job done. It’s obvious the Raptors have been struggling, that is no secret. But for Nick Nurse and his team, they all need to better than what they have shown over this past week. These few losses Toronto has been handed to recently can go from bad to worse in just a week’s time.

Things need to turn around, and quick.


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SOT6 Podcast - Episode 86

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Follow Host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 86

"DAD SHOES"

TORONTO RAPTORs talk

Weekly Toronto Raptors Talk!

  • The Raptors are STILL on top of the Eastern Conference, and STILL the best team in the NBA in terms of wins and losses. To put it simply, this is a team that hasn't energized its fanbase before, and it's still just the beginning. With wins over the Memphis Grizzlies on the road, as well as the defending NBA champions in Toronto, the Raptors are cooking and we may be able to set aside our regularly schedule paranoia and put our full faith in this team

  • To discuss these and other topics, host Adam Corsair is joined by Marshall Vic. Marshall and Adam break down the week that was and hit on topics such as:

- Kawhi Leonard signing with New Balance.

- The comeback win in Memphis.

- Defeating the NBA Champions - Golden State Warriors in OT.

- What to do with JV?

- Too Sweet Moment of the Week.

- Predictions.

It's a Raptors podcast that you won't want to miss!

Follow Marshall on Twitter: @MarshalVic

Music:

Drake Stafford - "Casets"

Auxl Audio - "Blue Bloods"


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


Raptors Defeat Warriors In What Could Be An NBA Finals Matchup

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Article Written by Jacob Pacheco (@JacobPacheco6)


Going into Thursday night’s most anticipated game between the 18-4 Toronto Raptors and 15-7 Golden State Warriors, it was set to be a high scoring and entertaining battle between two powerhouse teams in their respective conferences.

The defending NBA Champions coming to Toronto is a rare sighting, only happening once a year. Ticket prices sky rocketed for last night’s contest as the cheapest price for tickets were going for as low as $170. But nonetheless, a sold-out crowd in Toronto was in attendance in a jammed-packed Scotiabank Arena to watch their beloved Raptors go up against the Champs.

The Warriors entered the game without the likes of All-Star point guard Stephen Curry and All-Star forward Draymond Green both due to injuries. But there was still a ton of buzz surrounding this game. After all, they are the champs no matter how you put it.

Head coach of the Raptors, Nick Nurse, went with his go-to starting lineup; Lowry, Green, Leonard, Siakam and Ibaka. This is the lineup Nurse has gone with for the most part of the season. As the game tipped-off, it didn’t take long for the fans to get into it as well as the Raptors themselves. The team was playing at a high tempo, pushing the ball up the court, and playing solid defensively. An early 10-0 run by Toronto forced head coach of the Warriors, Steve Kerr, to call a timeout only four minutes into the contest with Toronto shooting 8-of-10 and 4-of-5 from three-point range.

The Raptors continued to apply all the pressure in the first quarter. Leading the way for Toronto after 12 minutes was Kawhi Leonard will 13 points and only missing one shot. The rest of the Raptors were also getting good looks themselves to shoot a combined 72 percent.

The second quarter was a bit more even; a quarter of runs. The Raptors were up by as many as 18 to begin the 2nd quarter. But Golden State battled back and cut that 18-point deficit to just 9 at the half. The Warriors struggled behind the arc, shooting a total 2-of-10 and a combined 47.9 percent from the field, while the Raptors had no problem behind the arc shooting 7-of-17 and a team combined 64 percent. This proved to be a real difference maker as the Raptors led the Warriors 67-58 behind Kawhi Leonard’s 22 points. Pascal Siakam had 15 points to go along with Leonard’s 22, shooting a perfect 3-of-3 from three as he is slowly evolving his skills each and every game and could be making a realistic case for Most Improved Player of the Year. Siakam finished the game with 26 points playing 42 minutes. This kid needs the recognition he deserves.

Coming out of the half with a 9 point lead, the Raptors knew their lead wasn’t safe. The 3rd quarter consisted of the Kevin Durant show. To their credit, though, the Raptors dug deep and still stayed in the game showing a ton of composure, which is a great sign. Golden State won the 3rd quarter by only 1 point; 30-29 to trail the Raptors by 8 heading to the 4th. Durant and Klay Thompson combined for 26 of the Warriors 30 points in the quarter. Thompson had 8 while Durant had 18, including a ridiculous half-court three pointer late in the quarter that shocked all 19,000 inside Scotiabank Arena - including Drake who was sitting courtside in his usual seat.

The Warriors carried that momentum into the 4th where Durant started the quarter on the bench. The bench was getting it done for Golden State, getting key stops and open looks as they cut the Raptors lead to just 4 with 6:50 to get in the final frame. The intensity raised as well as the nerves, and the Scotiabank Arena began to roar as it was starting to feel like Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

As Kevin Durant checked back in with just under seven minutes to go, the Raptors would go on a run which included some breaks with the Warriors missing open shots and the Raptors capitalizing on theirs. Leonard hit a contested shot in Isolation over Thompson, and Danny Green hit a tough heavily contested three-pointer to extend Toronto’s lead to 10 with 4:41 to go as Scotiabank Arena erupted. Without a doubt, the loudest it’s ever been this season - hands down.

But the Warriors didn’t give up just yet. They’re the champs, and Durant was on a mission with 44 points already. With under four minutes to go, that 10-point lead was gone, and it came down to the wire. With the shot clock turned off and a defensive rebound by Durant with the Raptors up three, Toronto just needed a stop to put the game away. It came down to Durant and Leonard in isolation. Durant was cut off by Leonard driving to the rim which forced Durant to go to the left corner to shoot a game-tying three in unbelievable fashion over Leonard. Just like that, the game was tied at 119 heading into overtime .

A nervous Scotiabank Arena looked on, but the Raptors didn’t look nervous at all. Staying calm and composed, they battled to the very end. Leonard and Lowry came up with two clutch steals late, as free throws from Pascal Siakam put the game away for Toronto. They ultimately defeated the defending NBA Champs, 131-128, to improve to an NBA best 19-4.

Although the Warriors were not 100 percent in their lineup, neither was Toronto. Fred VanVleet, CJ Miles, OG Anunoby and Jonas Valanciunas all struggled mightily, only combining for 17 points. It may only just be a “regular season game” as Kyle Lowry stressed to the media before and after the game, but it was certainly entertaining no matter what type of game it was and who was playing. NBA fans would love to see this in the NBA Finals in June later in 2019, as this Raptors team has their eyes on the championship in hand.

The Raptors, Warriors, and NBA fans won’t have to wait until June to see this match-up again, as these two teams will face off in just a few weeks on December 12th.

Round two is coming up shortly, so stay tuned. 


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Possible NBA Finals Preview?

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Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


After a big comeback win in Memphis that extended their win streak to 6 last night, the Raptors will return home for a game with the Golden State Warriors. Toronto still holds the best record in the NBA at 18-4, and now sit 2.5 games ahead for first place in the Eastern Conference.

As Klay Thompson said earlier this week, this could be a preview of what’s to come in June. The Warriors are only 15-7 right now, but they’ve had injuries to key players, and once they’re healthy they should run through the Western Conference. As for the Raptors, they should be the favourite in the East right now. That doesn’t mean they’ll meet in the finals, but it’s definitely a realistic possibility that we see a Golden State vs. Toronto Finals.  

Many people were speculating that Thursday’s game would mark the return of Stephen Curry, who has been out since November 8th with a groin injury. However, Curry isn’t expected to play tonight, and neither is Draymond Green, who’s dealing with an injury of his own.

Those injuries definitely give the Raptors a better shot to win the game, but honestly, I would’ve rather seen the Raptors take on a full-strength Warriors team so that we could really see how they stack up. Golden State is still a well above average team with just Durant and Klay Thompson in the lineup, so it’s not going to be an easy win for the Raptors by any means. But I still would’ve rather seen Curry and Draymond in the lineup tonight, even if it meant a loss for the Raptors.

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Kevin Durant will play tonight though, which sets up one of the best one-on-one matchups of this NBA season; Durant vs. Kawhi. Durant is currently averaging just over 29 points per game, while grabbing 8 rebounds and dishing out 6 assists per game, while Kawhi is averaging 24/8/3. Both of these guys can obviously score at will, either driving to the rim and shooting from anywhere on the floor, but they’re also playing great defensively. Durant is getting a steal and a block per game, and Kawhi is averaging almost 2 steals and 0.5 blocks per game.

As for Klay Thompson, the Raptors will probably guard him with Danny Green, who not only has experience guarding Klay from their rivalry with the Spurs, but is also their second best defender behind Kawhi. With Curry and Draymond out, the Raptors need to make the Warriors depth players like Andre Iguodala and Quinn Cook take more shots and force the ball out of KD and Klay’s hands. If those guys beat you, I’d be very surprised, but you can’t let their stars beat you single-handedly because they have relatively no support behind Durant and Thompson.

One of the best parts about having Kawhi Leonard on your team is that he guards the other team's best player, and tonight we’ll see him on Kevin Durant. I’m looking forward to that back-and-forth throughout the game.

The Raptors don’t get on national television all that much, but tonight they get to show the basketball world that they’re legit, and I’m looking forward to seeing it.


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 85

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Follow Host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 85

"¼ of the Way"

TORONTO RAPTORs talk

Weekly Toronto Raptors Talk!

  • After suffering a devastating loss to Celtics in Boston, the Raptors have bounced back by winning 4 straight games and maintaining supremacy in the Eastern Conference. On top of that, although still a bit rusty, Kawhi has been improving each game and has proven to be a top tier player in the NBA and perhaps the best player in the Eastern Conference.

  • To discuss these and other topics, host Adam Corsair is joined by Jordan Kligman of Hash Tag Basketball and host of the 416 Basketball Podcast. Jordan & Adam touch on a variety of topics that include:

️- The Raptors' lack of successful 3pt shooting compared to their attempts

- Kawhi's lack of passing & if it's a concern

- Do we want any Wizards?

- Our Top 5 Raptors jerseys of All Time!

- Too Sweet Moment of the Week

- Predictions for the games this week.

It's a Raptors podcast that you won't want to miss!

Follow Jordan on Twitter: @416Basketball

Subscribe to the 416 Basketball Podcast on iTunes HERE

Visit Jordan's work HERE

Music:

Drake Stafford - "Casets"

Auxl Audio - "Blue Bloods"


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


What the Raptors Have Been Doing to Win Despite Shortened Lineup

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Article Written by Jacob Pacheco (@JacobPacheco6)


Shortly after a losing week last week where Toronto had lost three in a row to the New Orleans Pelicans, Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics, they’ve bounced back by winning three straight over the Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks.

Throughout this three-game winning streak, the Raptors have been without CJ Miles, OG Anunoby, Norman Powell, and Kawhi Leonard - who has played one of these three games; that being the Magic - but even that wasn’t an easy game for the Raptors to overcome.

The week all started with a rare Saturday night game in Chicago where the Raptors completely steamrolled the Bulls. With Toronto nearly up 40 at one point in the second half, this gave chances for key bench players to get some minutes and playing time. Everybody on the Raptors bench pitched in, making it a team effort in Saturday’s win. Lorenzo Brown saw a career high in minutes with 22 minutes played and ten points. Malachi Richardson, Jordan Loyd and Chris Boucher also saw a career high in NBA minutes in the game. The Raptors defeated the Bulls by 39; 122-83.

Onto Tuesday night in Orlando - the first game of this back-to-back where Kawhi Leonard was back in the lineup after being out of Saturday’s game (rest). Still without Miles, Anunoby and Powell, this game was no walk in the park; sloppy to say the least. It was a night where missed shots were no surprise and scoring wasn’t at a high. The halftime score of the game was 47-37 with the Raptors leading the way. Easy win, right? Wrong. Orlando erased that ten-point deficit and put up 38 points in the third quarter to lead the Raptors by two. In that fourth quarter, the Magic started shooting 0/8 from the field, but the Raptors couldn’t make shots of their own. It thus came down to the wire in Orlando where Raptors fans saw a drawn-up play by Nick Nurse for Danny Green to win the game. With 0.5 on the clock, the Raptors escaped with a slim 93-91 victory.

Less than 24 hours later, the Raptors were in Atlanta to take on the 3-14 Hawks. Although nearly sitting at the bottom of Eastern Conference, this team is not to be taken lightly either. Especially with the likes of Leonard, Miles, Anunoby and Powell once again out of the lineup. Toronto did a much better job of shooting the basketball on Wednesday, shooting a whole ten percent better than on Tuesday night vs Orlando (43%/53.3%). It was a historic night to say the least where both teams ended the game with smiles on their faces.

The Raptors won every quarter to run away with a 124-108 victory. But outside of looking at that score line, a lot more happened than just an easy Raptors’ win. Kyle Lowry controlled the game from beginning to end. The little engine that could, The Bulldog, KLow wasn’t going to let anyone stop him, as he put up his 11th career triple-double in a Raptors’ uniform, putting up 21 points, 17 assists and 12 rebounds. Lowry is now one triple-double shy of tying Jose Calderon with most all-time on the team.

There was a small scare late in the fourth quarter. With the Raptors up 13, Kyle Lowry checked back into the game and caught an elbow from Hawks’ center Dwayne Dedmon that saw Lowry fall onto the court and blood dripping from his nose. Coming out of the timeout and the Raptors still up 13 with five minutes to go, Lowry got his nose patched up and continued to play. The team extended the lead and, finally with just over three minutes left, the job for Lowry and the Raptors was complete.

With just under a minute left and the clock winding down in Atlanta, former Raptor Vince Carter was just three points shy of reaching a career milestone of 25,000 points. Every play up the court was for Vince. Atlanta head coach Lloyd Pierce even called timeout, down 22 with 45 seconds to go just to draw up a play for Vince. That play consisted of Vince getting fouled just inside the three-point line where he made both free throws, needing one more point to achieve the milestone. The next and final trip down the court for Atlanta, with less then 10 seconds left in the game, Carter’s shot from 12-feet out did not fall. But an offensive rebound and cut to the rim from Vince sealed it all. It was only fitting that the future Hall of Famer ices his legacy in the NBA getting 25,000 points on a dunk against his former team where it all started.

Current Raptors players embraced the Vince with hugs and handshakes, showing their respects as well as Carter’s teammates and coaching staff which saw both teams walk off the court with smiles; win or lose.

The Raptors look to continue their winning ways when they close out the week against the Washington Wizards on Friday and Miami Heat on Sunday. 


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


Reviewing The Weekend That Was

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Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


This was quite the eventful weekend for the Raptors. It started with a very intense game at TD Garden against the Boston Celtics, and also featured a game in Chicago Saturday night where the Raptors had a very depleted team. In this article, I’ll break down what happened, and also provide some takeaways from the games.

Way back in the second game of the season, the Raptors beat the Celtics on home court in what was a statement win. The Celtics got their shot at revenge Friday, but it was on their home court this time. The game was pretty back-and-forth through regulation, with Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving carrying their respective teams. Regulation ended with Kawhi missing a shot that would’ve won the game for the Raptors. Then, in overtime, the Celtics pulled away with their entire team pretty much not missing.

This was a very frustrating loss because the Raptors had the win right there in front of them. But looking back now, I see less cause for concern. First of all, OG Anunoby missed the entire second half after he was injured while going up for a layup. That came after the Raptors were already missing Norman Powell and C.J. Miles. Also, with a few minutes left in the game, Danny Green fouled out. Both his 5th and 6th fouls came on pretty soft calls, and they ended up affecting the Raptors in a very negative way. Not only is Green their best 3-point shooter, but he’s also one of the best defenders on the team, and he could’ve guarded Kyrie or Hayward late in the game.

Green’s absence was definitely felt, but then things got even worse for the Raptors when Pascal Siakam also fouled out late into overtime. Now, I don’t like blaming games on officials, but what happened there was a bit sketchy and it pretty much gave the Raptors no chance to succeed late in overtime.

This was still a heartbreaking loss, but when you take into account that by the end of the game the Raptors were missing OG, Powell, Miles, Green, and Siakam, it’s easy to see how this one got away. On a positive note though, Kawhi was incredible in this game. I know he missed the potential game-winner, but he also put up 31 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, while also getting 3 steals. The narrative that he’s not clutch shouldn’t even be brought up, because he hit numerous clutch shots down the stretch that kept the Raptors ahead.  

As for Saturday night, the Raptors had to play a Bulls team that isn’t very good. But with Kawhi, OG, Miles and Powell all out, the Raps had very little wing depth in this one. Despite that, they came out and dominated the Bulls, beating them 122-83. Fred VanVleet bounced back with 18 points in this one after getting shutout in Boston, and Danny Green went a perfect 7/7 from the field, including 3 3-pointers.

Looking ahead, the Raptors have another back-to-back this week, against the Magic and Hawks. I assume Kawhi will rest in one of these games, but despite that I think the Raptors should easily win both of those games before coming home to play the Wizards on Friday night.


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 84

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Follow host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 84

"DEEP BREATHS"

TORONTO RAPTORs talk

Weekly Toronto Raptors Talk!

  • The Raptors were on the receiving end of 3 consecutive losses at the hands of the Pelicans, the Pistons, and the Celtics. All three wins were devastating in their own right, as the team's failure to close out games - specifically close ones - has become more prevalent and is now a glaring issue that needs correcting. Can the Raptors rebound from such a blow? Did we set our expectations too high? We got you.

  • Joining host Adam Corsair is first time guest Mike Bossetti of Raptors Rapture & the Raptors Rapture Podcast. Mike & Adam talk about the week that was and examine issues surrounding the team, such as the lack of production from the bench, Fred VanVleet's struggles, Nurse's coaching decisions, and much more. Plus, we offer our Too Sweet Moment of the Week and our predictions for the upcoming games.

It's a Raptors show you won't want to miss!

Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebosports

Visit Connor's work: HERE

Subscribe to the Raptors Rapture Podcast: HERE

Music:

Drake Stafford - "Casets"

Auxl Audio - "Blue Bloods"


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter & InstaGram (@SouthOfThe6ix)


Dwane Casey Returns to Toronto

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Article Written by Jacob Pacheco (@JacobPacheco6)


For the first time in 182 days, Dwane Casey will once again play inside the home of the Toronto Raptors; not as the team’s coach, but that of the opposition.

The former Coach of The Year is set to make his appearance in Toronto for the first time since being fired on May the 11th.  Casey, currently head coaching the Detroit Pistons - a team that sits at an even 6-6 record in the Eastern Conference - have been flooded with some high expectations from fans out of Detroit saying that this is a year that this team could finish top six in the East and could make a decent run into the playoffs.

It’s set to be an emotional night at Scotiabank Arena, but players and management are not trying to get caught up in the emotions, not even the former Coach of The Year. But it’s hard to not think about. In an interview with Casey and CBC on Monday, he said he woke up that morning thinking about this upcoming game against his former team. Not because of his seven-year coaching stint with them, but because the Pistons are fresh off a 10-point loss to the Hornets on Sunday. Casey stated,

“the reason I say I woke up this morning is because we stubbed our toe against Charlotte, and I thought about who we have next and it has to be the Toronto Raptors, and I thought 'Oh my goodness, they're a good team.”

Casey also added how he’d be lying if the feeling of playing against his former team won’t be a bit weird -

"It will be different being on that side of the bench, but I would be disingenuous to say it's not going to feel funny. Any human being worth his salt will say it'll be a different feeling, a funny feeling, but I think once the game starts and they throw it up, it will be one of 82 and I'm sure it's going to be the same for the players from the other side too."

President of the Raptors, Masai Ujiri, who had been with Casey in Toronto from 2013 stated that Casey…

"was really important for me, he was really important for us, he was almost a father figure for our organization with his steadiness and his sense of calm. He was a big reason for the success we’ve had the past five years, and we needed that in this city, a period like that."

Both Ujiri and Casey were a part of this organization when times weren’t the best. But they started from the very bottom and worked their way up together and made this Raptors team what they are today.

Jonas Valanciunas said “it will be strange, being with him, playing for the same team for a long time.” Casey was brought into the head coaching role to Toronto in 2011, the same year Valanciunas was drafted 5th overall. A whole seven season together is a long time, and one word all the players have used in answers to the questions about Casey’s return is “grow.” Kyle Lowry was the main focus at the end of shoot-around due to the fact he was one of the main guys who had been with Casey throughout his coaching tenure.

 “I’m not looking forward to seeing coach tomorrow. It’s weird. It’s going to be different. I’ve had the opportunity to play with him for six years, got to know him really well and got to see him grow as a coach. He got to help me grow to be an All-Star […] through all the success we had, as an organization with him here and individually it’s going to be different but we have to go out there and win the game.”

Without looking up the stats, awards, and endless accomplishments, Casey has broken records throughout his seven-year career with Toronto. Ever since he signed with the Raptors and the team went an abysmal 23-43 in the shortened lockout season in 2011, everything seemed to get progressively better and better. Rebuilding, getting better each and every game, and putting Toronto on the map of the basketball world year after year was a huge task that Casey accomplished. Casey helped the Raptors in their efforts of making the playoffs for five seasons in a row with three Conference Semi-Finals appearances and one Conference Finals. He has grown with the players, management, and the city.

Tonight will be an emotional night with a ton of buzz around this game, where it is set to be a sold-out crowd in Toronto. Raptors fans been just a little short of par as to being the “best fans in the NBA” as of late; not being loud and getting into the game whatsoever, even with the team being 12-2 and undefeated at home prior to Monday night when Toronto suffered their first loss against New Orleans. The fans were not helping out the team at all. Lowry was asked what he expects from Raptors fans once the video tribute of Dwane Casey is played on the big screen during the first commercial break, in which he simply said “standing ovation. Welcome him with open arms.”

Toronto fans will. I have no doubt of that.


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The Good, On the Fence, and The Ugly

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Article Written by Rodrigo Albizurez (@rodzyalbizurez)


Hey Raptors fans! These are my takeaways from what I liked, kind of liked, and didn’t like from the Raptors within the past 5 game stretch against the Lakers, Jazz, Kings, Knicks and the Pelicans (Nov 4th-Nov 12th).

The Good

King of Spice – The spice master was back at it again this past week with some lights out performances. The Raptors were able to go 4-1 during this stretch and Siakam averaged 20ppg, 4.3rbds, and he shot a whopping 72.4% from the field, which is huge for a guy who knew he could put up these stats consistently. He has quickly proven to every other critic that his stats and effort are here to stay. He’s been able to run the offence as a 4 and he’s also been able to take the ball up on a fast break and make a play for himself or for another player. Overall, he’s been real solid on the court and he’s leaving defenders with a mouthful of spicy dust particles each and every time he runs the fast break or hits them with a spin move.

Ma Fuzzy - Serge Ibaka had a monster week. Not only did he shred the Lakers’ defence by shooting 18-20 from the field, but he also put the notion of Javale Mcgee being an elite defender to bed. Ibaka scored a career high 34 points Sunday night and he was not done yet. He managed to put up another stellar performance against the Jazz on the second night of a back-to-back, which is hard for anyone to do. The next 3 games, he was able to stay consistent with his rebounding and ppg, which is the only thing you ask of the chef. As long as he keeps cooking up these performances, he can keep feeding his teammates suspect dishes, because it seems to be working. Now, if Serge goes on one of his signature slumps, then his gitch is going to get stuck on the fence real quick!

On The Fence

The Holstered Sniper, CJ Miles - I know what you’re thinking - “Man CJ’s gitch has been stuck on the fence all year! Pick a side already!” If this is your thought process, you’re not wrong, but I won’t give up on the shooter from Texas. Miles has had a terrible year offensively and if you think otherwise then you’re as blind as a bat. He hasn’t been able to catch some offensive rhythm all year which is making him look like James Wright on the dance floor. Most of you don’t know who James is, but I can guarantee you his dancing is noteworthy and not in a good way. Like CJ, he does try though. There’s one major difference between CJ and James - CJ is a proven shooter and he’s bound to break out of this slump. Now, James on the other hand, he’s stuck with two left feet but he will always have his salsa dancing partner Rudy Albizurez to guide him to the salsa promise land.

CJ is going to break out of this slump, which I can guarantee that - if his latest injury isn’t to serious. Just wait until the mid-season when he’s shooting 47% from 3, it will be magical and timely. For now, Miles will remain on the fence, but looks for him to swing onto the good side in the near future.

Not So Steddy Freddy – Let’s get one thing straight - I love what Vanvleet brings to the Raptors night in and night out. But during this stretch of games, his performances were a little shaky. We usually see Fred take charge of the bench unit by running the sets to perfection and making timely buckets when he finds a match-up he likes. But this past stretch was different. The Raptors’ bench struggled to find rhythm and a lot of it had to do with Fred struggling on the floor. Usually, he’s blowing by defenders like the Tasmanian Devil and finishing layups, finding an open shooter on the wing or a cutter, but these past 4 games he wasn’t doing that. He was either putting up a tough layup or turning the ball over, trying to make an amazing play instead of the smart play.  He’s on the fence because we all know he is better and he will turn things around quickly. Don’t expect him to be on the fence for much longer.

The Ugly

The Deep Ball – The Raptors have been struggling with the 3 ball since the 2nd week of the season and this certain stretch was no different. They are getting good looks but aren’t able to knock down the open 3 balls for some strange reason. They have a bunch of capable shooters, but for some reason they just aren’t falling right now. Most of the shots are great looks but then you have CJ Miles who’s already 0/2 from 3, chucking up a deep ball just to find some rhythm. Those are the shots you want to limit especially if your team can’t find a way to sink them at the moment. Eventually, the 3 pointers should go down because unlike last year, they have the proper militia out there to do work. For now, they are going to stay on the ugly side until they can prove that they’re the long distance shooting team they are capable of being. Usually long distance relationships don’t work, but in the NBA they are a must.

The Suits - The fans at the Scotiabank have been awful as of late and Monday’s game proved that to a tee. The arena might be sold out but it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the right fans in the stands. The enthusiasm from the crowd has been lack-luster and you can blame that on the people who just sit down and text away instead of paying and cheering for the Raptors. These people are there just for show and that’s absolutely pathetic. The ACC was one of the best arenas in the NBA at one point, but if this trend carries on, it’ll be like playing in Library for opposing teams.

These are strictly my opinions and if you have any comments or inquires then hit the comment button or mention me on twitter (@rodzyalbizurez)!


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SOT6 Podcast - Episode 83

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Follow host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 83

"RESERGENCE"

TORONTO RAPTORs talk

Weekly Toronto Raptors Talk!

  • The Raptors are cruising at the top of the Eastern Conference in the NBA. While currently undefeated at home, the Raptors have an overall record of 12-1, winning 9 of their last 10 and succeeding in a West Coast sweep of 4 games for the first time in franchise history. We say it often that this team is different, but they continue to provide us evidence of this with every game played.

  • To unpack the team's recent success, host Adam Corsair is joined by Connor Chambers of Toronto Sports Views to recap the week that was. They touch on topics such as Serge Ibaka's resurgence, Pascal Siakam's improvement, whether or not Jimmy Butler to the Sixers will be impactful, plus our Too Sweet Moment of the Week and Game Predictions.

It's a Raptors show that you won't want to miss!

Follow Connor on Twitter: @TO_SportsViews & @connorchambers

Visit Connor's work HERE

Music:

Drake Stafford - "Casets"

Auxl Audio - "Blue Bloods"


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter & InstaGram (@SouthOfThe6ix)


Ibaka's Resurgence Comes At A Perfect Time

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Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


      Sunday’s dominating win over the Lakers at Staples Centre showed a lot of positive things for the Raptors. But perhaps the most intriguing part of last night’s game was the absolute clinic that was put on by Serge Ibaka.

      Last week, LeBron James referred to Lakers’ centre Javale McGee as “A Defensive Player of the Year Candidate.” Now, McGee is normally a pretty good rim-protecting centre, but Sunday night he was absolutely torched by Ibaka, who scored a career-high 34 points, while going 15/17 from the field. Ibaka also added 10 rebounds to complete what was an utterly ridiculous stat line.

       After a game as good as that from Ibaka, I think a lot of people expected him to miss some more shots the next night in Utah, but quite the opposite happened. Ibaka didn’t start against the Jazz, but he still contributed 14 points and 5 rebounds. Ibaka also didn’t miss a single shot, going 8/8 from the field, which helped the Raptors win their second game in 2 days.

      Now, obviously Ibaka won’t play this well all season. But if he can even come close to this production, he’ll be a very valuable piece down the stretch. For example, if the Raptors find themselves in a playoff series against the Celtics, they’re going to need someone to guard Al Horford, a centre who can shoot threes as well. Jonas Valanciunas doesn’t match up well against Horford because he’s more of a traditional big man who works in the post. But, Ibaka on the other hand, could do a great job on Horford; guarding him well while also scoring.

      Something that I like about what Nick Nurse is doing this year is he’s adjusting his lineup based on that night’s matchup. For example, Valanciunas started last night to match up against Rudy Gobert who’s a big interior presence on the glass. Valanciunas also started against other bigs like DeAndre Ayton and Joel Embiid in order to match up with their size. But when the smaller better shooting centres like Brook Lopez and Al Horford play the Raptors, Ibaka gets the start.

     Serge Ibaka’s contract was a major cause for concern going into this season for Raptors fans. Ibaka was coming off a season where he was wasn’t very effective, especially offensively, and having to pay him over $20 million for the next 2 years didn’t look too appealing. It’s still an overpayment, but at least now Ibaka is making a major contribution to the team, preventing that contract from looking a lot worse.  

    I didn’t at all expect this bounce-back season from Ibaka; I was sold that he would keep declining, but he keeps proving me and many other people wrong with his play. Hopefully he keeps contributing at both ends of the floor, because if he continues to play this well, he’ll be a big weapon for the Raptors in the playoffs.


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The Good, On the Fence, and the Ugly

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Article Written by Rodrigo Albizurez (@rodzyalbizurez)


Hey Raptors fans! These are my takeaways of what I liked, kind of liked, and didn’t like from the Raptors this past week against the Bucks, Sixers and Suns (Oct 28th-Nov 3rd).

The Good

Mr. Double-Double – Kyle Lowry has been so consistent this year and continued to pass the Timbit around this week for easy buckets for his teammates. He’s been able to manage a double-double in points and assists every game this season which is a Raptors franchise record. While breaking that record he’s also been able to stay on top of the assists per game column and we should expect him to stay there this year. He has a lot more offensive weapons around him and he’s been able to find his teammates in their juicy fruit sweet spots and I don’t expect that to change.

King of Spice – Pascal Siakam was absolutely lights out this week, collectively on the offensive and defensive end. The Spice Master was able to average 15.7ppg, 9.3rbds, and 2.7 steals per game which is absolutely ridiculous for a 3rd year player who didn’t start playing basketball until he was 17 years old. Yeah, someone who has that type of talent and utilizes it to the best of their ability deserves to name himself the King of Spice! The scary thing is that he’s not even close to hitting his ceiling yet, because the sky is the limit for the kid from Cameroon. When it’s all said and done, if Siakam is able to keep putting up these lights out numbers, expect him to be in the contention for Most Improved Player in the NBA.

Iblocka Gunna Give it To Ya- The king of blocks was all over the court this week, swatting balls like they were flies in the summertime. He was able to average 2 blocks a game during the week which doesn’t seem like an outstanding number, but in fact it is. He’s been able to get timely blocks that change the momentum of games, like the Phoenix game where he swatted a ball off the backboard and saved a potential run from the Suns. He was able to change shots as well, which is huge because you don’t always need the block to get the ball back. He’s been so consistent this year and that hasn’t changed this week. The icing on the cake is that he was able to average 20 ppg and 7 rebounds a game this week as well. It’s like Kyle Lowry told him to do his fuc*ing job and to fill up the stat sheet (¯\_(ツ)_/¯).

On the Fence

The Ever Changing Bench Mob - Lauren Miles, CJ Miles wife, said it best via a tweet “the Bench Mob is really a thing of the past” and she certainly isn’t wrong for stating that over Twitter. The Raptors bench were average at best this week due to the fact that at times they couldn’t get anything going, especially during the Bucks game and for the first half of the Suns game. You can’t be surprised that they were a little shaky all week because they were missing key players like VanVleet and Anunoby, while Miles was basically a ghost for most of this week. The Bucks’ bench out-played the Mob during Monday’s bout, but the bench was in full force for the Suns game and they showed their full potential during the 3rd and a bit of the 4th quarter. They were able to generate some easy buckets when they got going, so I expect them to keep doing so as long as VanVleet takes the reins and leads the Mob into the nightly NBA grind. The Bench Mob’s gitch is moderately stuck on the fence right now for this week, but it’s leaning more towards the good side.

Danny Green’s Inside Game – Don’t get me wrong, Danny Green has been rejuvenated in a Raptors uniform and I’m absolutely in awe of his play so far, but his inside game had me scratching my head this week. Green looked like CJ Miles driving the ball into the paint and putting up tough contested lay-ups which resulted in transition buckets for the other team. I love that he’s not just settling for the 3, because a lot of guys would fall in love with it. He has the correct mind state because by him driving it into the paint, he attracts other defenders. But instead of finding the open big man, he’s been putting up some wild lay-ups. I also noticed that he was posting up guys, which isn’t a bad idea either, but his turn arounds weren’t falling this week for whatever reason. He has a high basketball IQ so I expect him to read defenses better this upcoming week and he already showed that during the Suns game when he backed down his defender, drew the opposing big man for the double team, and dished it to a cutting Siakam on the baseline. Green’s gitch is stuck on the fence, but he’s so close to the good side that he can touch it with a little jolt of awareness!

The Ugly

Defensive Lapses - This week was an absolute disaster for the Raptors and their late 2nd half defensive lapses. The first game of the week was against the Milwaukee Bucks and they were absolutely atrocious on the defensive end for the entire game. The perimeter defense that game could be compared to a bull fighter’s approach during a bull fight! Instead of guarding, they might as well have been yelling “Ole’” while the Bucks players flew by like an enraged bull. They allowed the Bucks players to blow by them the entire game with simple drives, which opened up the floodgates for a barrage of 3 pointers in the 2nd half due to the drive and kick approach from the Bucks. Things changed during the Sixers game for the most part, mostly because the Raptors played lockdown defence, which had your local retirement home fired up. That quickly changed in the 3rd quarter when the Sixers went on an 8-0 run when Kawhi went to the bench. They were able to take it from a 21 point game down to an 8 point game with 3:30 left in the 4th quarter. Luckily, the Raptors were able to get some key stops and buckets down the stretch to extend that lead into a 17 point win. The Raptors did it again on Friday night and allowed the Suns to make a run in the 4th quarter to take the lead from 17 to only a 9 point win. You probably think I’m overreacting, but I personally don’t think so. The Raptors need to learn how to put the nail in coffin, ride those leads, and not cough them up late in the ball game. It happened twice this week so that’s why their defence is on the ugly side. They have so much potential on the defensive side, and slowly but surely they will figure that out. Don’t get me wrong, for the most part the defensive effort was there. It would just be nice to not see those lapses, especially against teams like Phoenix. For now, their gitch is long gone and they’re on the hunt to get over the fence.

The Dreaded Turnovers - Nope, I am not talking about the apple turnovers from BK - even though they do deserve to be on the ugly portion of any review. The Raptors have been sloppy when it has come to turnovers this year and this week wasn’t any different unfortunately. They averaged 12.7 turnovers per game during the stretch, which isn’t absolutely atrocious! Considering that they forced Ben Simmons to cough up the ball 11 times during Wednesday’s win, it isn’t that bad. Rather, it wasn’t about the amount of turnovers. Instead, it was about the timely turnovers that invigorated runs for the opposing teams during the week. If they can limit their timely turnovers, you’re going to see them excel to a point where teams won’t be able to climb back into games because the Raptors are executing on the offensive and defensive side. Offensive execution doesn’t necessarily have to mean they are getting buckets every time down the court. Instead, it means that they are running their sets and getting good shots while taking care of the ball. For now, the turnovers are on the ugly side, but unlike the BK turnovers they have a real shot of getting over the fence in the near future.

These are strictly my opinions and if you have any comments or inquires, then hit the comment button or mention me on Twitter (@rodzyalbizurez)!


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOThe6ix)


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 82

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Follow host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 82

"West Coast Vibes"

TORONTO RAPTORs talk

Weekly Toronto Raptors Talk

  • The Raptors continue their hot streak as they remain undefeated at home with an overall record of 8-1. Although they received their first loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, they still stand at the top of the Eastern Conference in first place in what is shaping out to be a tough battle for supremacy. Can the team maintain this pace?

  • To tackle these and other topics, host Adam Corsair is joined by South of the 6ix's very own Rodrigo Albizurez. Rodrigo & Adam touch on numerous Raptors' centered topics such as the team resting Kawhi on back-to-backs, CJ Miles' slow start, the state of the Bench Mob, and the state of the Eastern Conference. We also offer our Too Sweet Moments of the Week and predict the games that are happening this week.

It's a Raptors centered show that you won't want to miss!

Follow Rodrigo Albizurez on Twitter: @rodzyalbizurez

Subscribe to the Rodcast HERE

Music:

Drake Stafford - "Casets"

Auxl Audio - "Blue Bloods"


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


Raptors Face Difficult Task Ahead of Four Game Road Trip

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Article Written by Jacob Pacheco (@JacobPacheco6)


With the Raptors soaring out of the gates with a franchise best 7-1 record to start the season, while being tied for first in the Eastern Conference with the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto looks ahead to their 4-game western road trip this week starting tonight.

History would say that the Raptors usually struggle throughout these tough western road games, but all of that can be thrown out the window. This isn’t the same Raptors team we all know from previous years. Yes, there are returning pieces, but there are also new ones. Pieces that will help them overcome these tough games that are ahead. One major piece is Kawhi Leonard; the man who has played in the Western Conference his whole career. If anyone knows about the fast-paced star-studded talent in the west, it’s Kawhi.

With Toronto kicking off the road trip against the 1-6 Phoenix Suns - who are currently sitting at the bottom of the aforementioned Western Conference - it won’t be an easy win for Toronto to say the least. Over the past week, Toronto has been hit with the injury bug in both point guards Delon Wright and Fred Vanvleet. Wright has been battling a left thigh injury to begin the 2018-19 season, but finally looks like he is getting back to his old form. It just takes time. Fred Vanvleet has also felt the effects of the injury bug, battling a lingering left toe injury that could keep him out of Friday’s game vs the Suns as he is listed as questionable. OG Anunoby hasn’t been hit with any injury (which is great news), but has been on a personal leave from the team and has missed the previous three games. Yet, he plans to return to the lineup tonight. The Raptors will have 90 percent of their team back, excluding Fred Vanvleet, but that doesn’t mean tonight will be an easy win.

After game one of the road trip on Friday, Toronto hops on the plane for a short flight over to Los Angeles to square off against “The King” Lebron James and the Lakers. It’ll be Toronto’s first meeting against LeBron since the disappointing playoff series last season, which resulted in the Raptors getting swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers. But this year is different. LeBron is out west, still trying to figure things out with his new team who currently sit at 3-5 on the season. But it’s early and things can change. LeBron has never been shy to having monster games against Toronto where he currently averages 27.6 points, seven rebounds and seven assists; nearly a triple-double. There’s no stopping The King. But one person who may be able to slow him down is Kawhi Leonard. This helps Toronto’s odds for a win on Sunday night when they face off against the Lakers at the Staples Center.

But that’s only half the road trip completed. Toronto will then have zero days rest after the battle with “The King” is over to then have a short (roughly two hour) flight over to Salt Lake City where they will play Utah on Monday in a back-to-back. Many signs point toward Kawhi not playing in that game due to it being a back-to-back. It was talked about yesterday during a shoot around that Toronto will continue to not overwork Leonard in back-to-backs and get him set for the game after with more rest than usual.

The Jazz, who sit at 4-3 on the season, have been a “sleeper” pick for many, saying that they could be a team that has a deep and surprising playoff run. The Jazz have no shortage of star power all throughout the roster, with All-Star rookie Donavan Mitchell, recent Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and sharp shooting veteran Joe Ingles. The one thing that lacks on this talented team’s roster is depth, which is something every team needs. But this does not give a reason to look past them.

48 hours later, after another short two-hour flight and a day off, the Raptors finally close out the grueling 4-game western road trip in Sacramento facing off against a tough Kings. They have surprisingly opened the season at 6-3. This is a game you can expect to see Kawhi Leonard make his way back into the lineup in what could be a high-scoring game. Both teams are scoring a high average of 116 points for per game. It will also still be uncertain if Vanvleet will be available around this time on Wednesday in Sacramento.

It’s a long and tiring road trip for players and the fans. Especially those on the east coast with all four games tipping off at least 9 p.m. Est or later:

11-02: 10 p.m. VS – Phoenix Suns

11-04: 9:30 p.m. VS – Los Angeles Lakers

11-05: 9 p.m. VS – Utah Jazz

11-07: 10 p.m. VS – Sacramento Kings

There will be some long nights where some games will carry into the early morning of the day past midnight

Get your coffee ready Toronto, it should be a fun and interesting road trip.


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Previewing This Week

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Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


After going 3-0 on a home-stand that featured Charlotte, Minnesota and Dallas as opponents, the Raptors will have some much harder tests this upcoming week.

         Monday, the Raptors will play the Milwaukee Bucks, who are the only other undefeated team in the league. Milwaukee was expected to be a 4-6 seed in the East this year, but in my eyes they have the potential to be a top-3 team in the conference, and leapfrog Philadelphia who’s been disappointing so far this year. Speaking of the 76ers, that’s who the Raptors match up with on Tuesday night on the second half of a back-to-back.

          The Milwaukee game will be especially interesting because it features the two best players in the conference; Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo. These two play the same position as well, so we should see a lot of one on one battles between Kawhi and Giannis. I’d still say Kawhi is a bit better than Giannis, based off of his defense and experience in the league, but in a few years, that accolade will be Giannis’.

           Given how good the Raptors have been over the first 6 games of the season, a loss in Milwaukee wouldn’t surprise me at all. You can expect a flat performance at some point, but the same could be said for the Bucks, who haven’t lost either. Ultimately, this game will probably come down to the wire, and a few keys plays will decide which way it goes.

My Prediction: Bucks Win 108-103

            After the tough game in Milwaukee, the Raps will return home for another tough test against the struggling Philadelphia 76ers. Philly is only 3-3 on the year, and a road game in Toronto doesn’t bode well for improving that record. It’ll be interesting to see what the Raptors do defensively in this game, since Ben Simmons is sort of a point-forward. I assume Kawhi guards him, but then you’d probably have to put Lowry on a bigger play which could be problematic.

             Last time the Raptors had a back-to-back, they rested Kawhi Leonard. But, it seems like they won’t do that this time around, which makes it even tougher for Philly to win this one. I think we’ll see Philly struggle again in this one, and it’ll be a big statement by the Raptors that the 76ers aren’t on their level just yet.

My Prediction: Raptors Win 116-101

            After those two big Eastern Conference games, the Raptors will begin their Western Road Trip with a game in Phoenix against the rebuilding Suns. It’s hard to look too much into this game, because it’s not until Friday, but I don’t see the Raptors having any problem picking up the W on the road here.

My Prediction: Raptors Win 121-98

So I think the Raps will go 2-1 this week. They could easily go 3-0, but I feel like at least 1 loss in inevitable, and a road game against an undefeated team seems like a game that could be lost. Other than that though, I think the Raptors should cruise to wins against Philly and Phoenix, and finish the week 2-1, before playing LeBron and the Lakers on Sunday.


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SOT6 Podcast - Episode 81

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Follow host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 81

"THE DIVE"

TORONTO RAPTORs talk

Weekly Toronto Raptors talk!

  • The Raptors have not only broken a franchise record, they're continuously setting one as they have started off the season a franchise best of 6-0. The team is humming right now and playing at such a high level, many Raptors fans are in disbelief. With all that has occurred over the course of the first 6 games, it can be pretty overwhelming. From Lowry's stellar numbers, to Kawhi making unbelievable plays, to Danny Green proving that he was NOT a throw-in from the trade. It's simply a great time to be a Toronto Raptors fan.

  • Joining host Adam Corsair is guest Jay Rosales of Raptors HQ and co-host of the That's A Rap Podcast. Jay and Adam unpack the week that was and tackle of few topics including Kyle Lowry's amazing start and whether or not it is sustainable, Danny Green's veteran presence for the team, the Bench Mob woes, our Too Sweet Moment of the Week, as well as our predictions for the upcoming games this week.

It's a Raptors focused podcast that you WON'T want to miss!

Follow Jay Rosales on Twitter: @Rosalesaurus

Visit Jay’s work HERE

Subscribe to the That's A Rap Podcast HERE

Music:

Drake Stafford - "Casets"

Auxl Audio - "Blue Bloods"


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)


The Good, the On The Fence, & the Ugly

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Article Written by Rodrigo Albizurez (@rodzyalbizurez)


Hey Raptors fans - these are my takeaways of what I liked, kind of liked, and didn’t like from the Raptors this past week (Oct 20th-27th)

The Good

We’re going streaking!

The Raptors have continued their winning ways and everyone in Raptor Land is heading to the quad and into the gymnasium! If you don’t know where that movie reference is from, give your head a shake and take a lap. The Raptors have started the season with a franchise best 6-0 start and it doesn’t look like they’re slowing down. If we are talking honestly, then you have to admit that the Raptors aren’t close to their potential yet and that’s a scary thought. They can clean up their unforced turnovers and their offensive execution in late-game situations, but other than that they’re looking like a team on a mission.

The Klaw, Kawhi Leonard, was a menace in his first week with the Raptors and this week was nothing different. He has averaged 26ppg, 6rbds, and 4.3 assists per game which is MVP type numbers and I still don’t think he’s 100% yet. Kawhi plays with a certain calmness that most players would die for, but also plays with a sense of urgency when it’s needed. He has been able to blow by defenders with his wicked handles and first step explosiveness, which have led to rim rocking dunks or open three pointers for his lock and loaded teammates. Also, let’s not forget about his no look steal because that was absolutely ridiculous, and no Daniel Schreyer, he did not fall. Overall, Expect Kawhi to keep this up, and as Randy Bachman once sang “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”.

The Conductor- Say it with me folks, Kyle “Frickin” Lowry, everyone! This dude had a monster week in which he averaged 16.3 ppg, 14 apg, and 4 rebounds per game. He leads the NBA in assists per game and he is doing it with ease. He has been able to find players in their spots due to the Raptors spacing on the court. Lowry’s not known for being an elite passer but he’s putting those notions to bed. Overall, that stat line is incredible considering everyone had their doubts about him going into the season after his bromigo was traded. The Raptors’ point guard has squashed the doubt and instead is putting the Raptors on his back on the way up to Larry O’Brien Mountain.

On the Fence

The Go Daddy Curse - CJ “Sniper” Miles was all over the place this week. It was full of questionable lay up attempts, missed open 3 pointers, and commercials where he is showing off his new PJs for Go Daddy. I love the commercial because it seems like it fits his personality and it wasn’t forced, but let’s get back in-between the lines.

The two things that have stayed consistent throughout the first 2 weeks on the court are his hilarious facial expressions and his defensive effort.  Miles has made an excellent effort of not letting his offensive struggles effect his defensive mind state, which is huge because Coach Nurse recognizes that and will continue to believe in his play whether he is making shots or not. HE’S TRYING, JENNIFER!

It was nice to see Miles knock down some 3 pointers in the win against the Mavericks, and he also had a huge steal after a Raptors’ turnover that resulted in a smooth slam dunk for the father who only wants more juice. Miles is a like a kid who’s gitch is stuck on the fence after running away from some bullies. So hopefully this game helps him break off that fence and into the land of buckets.

The Dreaded Defensive Rebounds - Overall this week the Raptors out-rebounded the Mavericks and the Hornets, and also managed to tie the Wolves as well. You think I would be ecstatic with that stat line but clearly I’m on the fence. The Raptors have given up too many offensive rebounds and second chance points during this 3 game stretch. The Raptors gave up 16 offensive boards to the Wolves which resulted in easy put-backs or open 3 points, and it was the same story against the Hornets in which they gave up 14 offensive rebounds. I know the Raptors have gone with smaller lineups and that’s why I’m on the fence, but also rebounding is an effort stat that starts with proper box-outs and knowing who you’re defensive assignment is. If the Raptors are able to clean up that stat, they can start closing off more defensive possessions and create more transition buckets for easier ones. More buckets = more problems for the opposing team.

The Ugly

Zo needs to stick to the basics. As my friend and music artist, Krayc, once said, Lorenzo needs to “Go back to the basics.” Lorenzo had gotten some more run this week, which is great for him, but overall his performance during the timeframe wasn’t that great. The dude is a defensive threat and he showcased that, but he tried to put his offensive game in the Hall of Fame showcase and it didn’t go so well. He took too many contested buckets early in the shot clock in which he could have dished it out to one his teammates for a better look. He also did a poor job of managing the clock which resulted in too many late clock situations and forced shots for himself or his teammates. He made up for it during the 4th quarter of the Mavericks game with some key steals and by knocking down an open 3 pointer during a key stretch. Overall, he needs to play like a Jose Calderon and manage the game, but at times he played like a poor man’s Mike James. Overall, if Lorenzo Brown is able to stick to his role of just managing the game and not forcing his offense, he will get out of this section.

The MVP chants – Fans at the Scotiabank Arena need to stop the MVP chants for Kawhi Leonard! The MVP chants for Leonard were pretty cool but anymore MVP chants and we are about to become the spouse that becomes too clingy and needy; we all know how that works out. “I gotta get out of here, I got a stage-5 clinger.” Vince Vaughn said it best in the movie Wedding Crashers, and if Kawhi keeps hearing those chants this early into the season, he’s going to dip to LA. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit and being too harsh, but Raptor fans need to chill for a bit on the chants and let them out when it’s game 82 and we are going for our 70th win. If anything, shower Lowry with the MVP chants if he ever gets to the line in the 4th quarter (wink, wink NBA refs) because that dude is the leader of the train. I know it’s hard not to shout MVP, especially when he Is playing like one, but let him get to his peak MVP type of performances in the late season. Don’t worry, they will be there (knocks on wood). We all want Kawhi to sign back with us , but shouting MVP during game 6 of the season isn’t the way to win his love.

These are strictly my opinions and if you have any comments or inquires, then hit the comment button or mention me on Twitter (@rodzyalbizurez)!


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Raptors Start The Season 5-0

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Article Written by Jacob Pacheco (@JacobPacheco6)


The Toronto Raptors Are 5-0 – and here’s why:

 Kawhi Leonard

The two-time Defensive Player of the Year and NBA Champion has made his mark in Toronto over these past five games. Leading the team with 28 points per game throughout the opening week, some would say Kawhi still isn’t 100 percent due to his recent right quadricep injury that occurred last season; an injury that kept Leonard out for a total nine months. But Kawhi has shown that there are no signs of “shaking off the rust.” He has become more and more comfortable as the season has gone on, showing his confidence dribbling and shooting the ball beyond the arc at 47.4% thus far. Kawhi has also been known for his slashing and post scoring ability with his brute strength to back down opponents to get to the basket. Simply put - it has not been any easier for The Klaw.

Kawhi is also second on the team in rebounds and steals per game. His hustle and defensive IQ are off the charts, from grabbing rebounds and going coast to coast with ease, and even stealing passes without even looking. These efforts have caught the attention of Raptors fans each and every home game, awarding Leonard with “MVP” chants at the free throw line in all four of Toronto’s home games thus far.  

Kyle Lowry & Danny Green

Although Kyle Lowry may be the sole reason for the Raptors’ team success in this early part of the season, you can’t leave out Danny Green who rounds it all out. Leonard, Lowry and Green are almost always on the court together with the trio averaging 30 minutes a game thus far. Lowry, and Green are exactly the kind of support Leonard needs. The par have been unstoppable beyond the arc to start this season. Not only is the shooting ability something that stands out, but the chemistry between these three men is outstanding on offense and defense. When Lowry, Green, and Leonard are all on the court together, they always seem to outscore their opponents, leading the team in point differential with Lowry at 13.8, Green at 14.8, and Leonard leading the way with 15.4. This is why the Toronto Raptors average beating opponents thus far this season by a 11.2-point margin or more.

Nick Nurse

Head Coach Nick Nurse is still sitting at a perfect record in his NBA coaching career and he’s been doing a great job of it. Although it may be a bit early, it seems that Nurse has already set his eyes on his go-to starting 5: Lowry, Green, Leonard, Siakam, and Ibaka. Ibaka says playing at the 5 is better for him and the team giving them more opportunities to spread the floor and score more; and rightfully so. Ibaka is off to a great start this season averaging 15.3 points per game with 7.3 rebounds on 53% shooting. This is largely thanks to Nurse knowing when to play Ibaka, matching him up against other three-point shooting big men or up against big men who cannot guard his three-point shooting ability. Nurse has also done a great job of flowing the lineup together and giving everyone minutes.

If you preform, you get minutes, and that is exactly what Nurse is giving to Norman Powell who scored ten points against the Timberwolves in just 13 minutes of action. Nurse says he isn’t finished with finding the right combinations to having the best defensive lineup on the floor at all times. There were some dominant stretches on both ends of the floor but also some errors and mistake the team needs to clean up on going forward.

Fred VanVleet

Fred VanVleet did not play on Wednesday night due to a toe sprain in his right foot. But with Pascal Siakam enrolled in the starting lineup and Jakob Poeltl in San Antonio, the Bench Mob hasn’t been the same this season. But one person holding it all together and who continues to get better is Fred VanVleet, the Floor General of the second unit. Playing 24 minutes a game this season and averaging 11.5 points per game, VanVleet has earned his time away from the second unit and playing more with the likes of Lowry and Leonard. Holding his own with the top unit, he also carries the weight of the second unit when scoring isn’t on the rise. VanVleet has shown his growth with his superior ball handling and explosiveness to the rim with impressive court vision.

He simply continues to grow.

This Toronto Raptors team continues to grow, continues to get better and they’ve only played five games. But Raptors fans can’t help but think about going all the way and this could be the year. It’s still early, but things are looking great for the team and for the city of Toronto. Don’t worry about what the future holds or what next season is going to look like. Enjoy what’s happening now in what might be the best Raptors team in franchise history.

Enjoy it, Toronto! 


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