SOT6 Podcast - Episode 42 "We The First"

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Follow Host Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 42

"WE THE FIRST"

Toronto Raptors talk

Toronto Raptors Weekly Review/Preview

  • For the first time in franchise history, the Toronto Raptors head into the All-Star break as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. Not only that, but they have a comfortable lead ahead of the Boston Celtics for the spot as they are ahead by two games. It's hard to find anything wrong or any room for improvement for this squad, thereby making this the absolute best Raptors team that the franchise has ever seen. 
  • However, this does not stop the media from stating that the Cleveland Cavaliers are the "team to beat" in the East, as they have added some significant pieces - as well as rid themselves of some - and are fighting to reclaim that title of top seeded team in the Eastern Conference. How do they match up with the Raptors? Is this new Cleveland team a flash in the pan or is the media justified in calling them the best team in the East?
  • Joining host Adam Corsair is Craig Oliver of Hash Tag Basketball and co-host of the Hash Tag Raptors Podcast. Craig and Adam tackle the Cleveland issue, as well as address other topics such as the general expectations surrounding the team after the All-Star game; Chris Bosh's comments about a possible return to the NBA and if he'd be a fit for the Raptors; JV shooting the three more and if what we have been seeing from him is the real deal; possible Playoff opponents for the Raptors; predicting the upcoming games against Milwaukee and Detroit, and a whole lot more!

It's a conversation on your FIRST PLACE Toronto Raptors that you don't want to miss!

Follow Craig on Twitter: @CraigOliver1997
Subscribe to the Hashtag Raptors Podcast on iTunes
Visit Craig's work HERE


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Possible Playoff Scenarios

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Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


         With the Raptors 2 games up for the No. 1 seed in the East, and all but a lock for the playoffs, it’s time to start looking at who they could potentially matchup with throughout the playoffs. Most people agree that the Raptors will finish in one of the top 3 spots in the conference, with Boston and Cleveland occupying the other two. So, that means that their focus for the rest of the regular season should be to lock down the No. 1 seed, to ensure that they don’t play Boston or Cleveland until the Conference Finals, and play as many games at home as possible.

         It obviously won’t be easy for the Raptors to finish the season as the No. 1 seed in the East, but they do have the benefit of a pretty easy schedule. 12 of their remaining 24 games are against sub-500 teams, and they won’t have to play a single road game against a Western Conference team. Hopefully, the Raptors can take care of business against the non-playoff teams, while beating some good teams along the way, as they try to lock down the top seed. If they do get that top seed, they should hope that they don’t have to play the Miami Heat in the first round. The Raptors have played the Heat twice so far this season, and both games were tough for Toronto. The first matchup saw Miami win 90-89 on a last second layup by Wayne Ellington, and the second one saw the Raptors almost blow a 17-point 4th quarter, but hang one to win, 115-112. Both of these games saw the Heat enforce their defensive intensity on the Raptors in the 4th quarter, while Goran Dragic made some clutch shots down the stretch. I still think the Raptors would beat the Heat in a playoff matchup, but it would probably be a series that features a lot of close games, and doesn’t give the Raptors what they’ve lacked in their past playoff runs, rest between series’

         Once the first round is over, I suspect that the final 4 teams in the Eastern Conference will be the Raptors, the Celtics, the Cavaliers, and the Wizards. If you’re the Raptors, you want to play Washington in the 2nd round, because that likely means that you’re the No. 1 seed and it also means that you don’t have to play Boston or the Cavs yet. A playoff series with the Wizards would be interesting, because there isn’t much to take from their regular season matchups so far this season. Yes, they’ve played 3 times, but John Wall hasn’t played in any of those games, Kyle Lowry was ejected early in the 1st game, and the 3rd game saw the Raptors bench unit have a rare off night, as they didn’t have Fred VanVleet with them. All this means is that I don’t know how these teams would fare against each other in a playoff series, with all of their pieces intact. I suspect that the Raptors would win it in a long series, maybe 6 or 7 games, but I’ll have to see these teams play each other again before I can mark my words on that one.

         If what I’ve predicted so far comes true, the Raptors will find themselves in the Eastern Conference Finals against either the Celtics or the Cavs. I won’t make a prediction on that on yet, because it really all depends on Lebron James. Is he healthy? Are him and the Cavs tired? Did they even get past Boston? All of these questions are yet to be answered, so you’ll have to wait before I make my bold prediction on the Eastern Conference champion.

         With the season approaching the home stretch, the Raptors and their fans can hope that their team will hold on to the No. 1 seed in the East that they currently hold. That will give them the best chance to go deep into the playoffs, if they can play the critical games at home, in front of the best fans in the NBA.


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Game Review: Raptors at Bulls

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Review Written by Adam Garfield (@AdamThe6God)


Jonas Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka carried the load for the Raptors to start the game, combining for 18 points. Toronto struggled defensively trying to guard Justin Holiday, who scored 8 points. Chicago's Zach Lavine scored 5. Bulls' Guard Jerian Grant was picking apart the Toronto defense as he notched 6 assists in the period. The Raptors trailed 27-33.

Toronto had one of the best quarters of their season in the 2nd. The Raptors dropped 34 points and held the Bulls to only 16. Pascal Siakam was a force on offense, scoring 8 points from all over the court. Jakob Poeltl added on 6. With about 4.8 seconds left on the lock, DeMar DeRozan posted up Chicago's Justin Holiday from the elbow of the court. DeRozan got Holiday and David Nwaba in the air, and he cut in between them to get his shot off. DeMar banked the shot off of the backboard and it fell right in the basket. His buzzer beater put the Raptors up 61-49 over the Bulls.

Kyle Lowry put on a offensive clinic in the 3rd quarter, dropping a total of 14 points. Ibaka contributed with 8 points of his own. Toronto out-rebounded Chicago 14-12 in the period. OG Anunoby struggled on offense as he missed 4 shots, but he made up for it with his terrific defense. Ibaka had a huge block on Denzel Valentine's three-point shot, which ended the quarter. Toronto was up 95-76.

The Raptors emptied their bench out for the 4th quarter and allowed their reserves to get playing time. Fred VanVleet dropped 8, while Delon Wright and Siakam both dropped 5. Toronto ended up winning the game by 24 points for their 7th straight win. The Raptors defeated the Bulls 122-98.

6ix Best
Kyle Lowry: 20pts, 7 rebounds, 10 assists
Serge Ibaka: 20pts, 7 rebounds
Pascal Siakam: 17pts, 6 rebounds
Jonas Valanciunas: 14pts, 9 rebounds
Jakob Poeltl: 10pts, 7 rebounds
Fred VanVleet: 11pts, 4 assists


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


Vince Carter: Thanks, But No Thanks.

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Article Written by Cory Knibutat (@SuperKnibs)


Air Canada.

If you’re a long-time Raptors fan, you’re not thinking of a plane when you read that, but you are thinking of flight.

Six and a half seasons doesn’t sound like a lot but what Vince Carter accomplished over those years in Toronto were spectacular, jaw-dropping, adjective-inspiring feats of basketball that laid the foundation for a shaky franchise to grow from and inspired several generations of fans to love the Raptors and basketball as they grew up.

Because we loved and idolized Vince so much at the time, it was that much more painful to witness the steady degradation of the relationship between him and the team. Carter’s attitude soured, and in turn a lot of the fans soured on him, not understanding what was happening until he was shipped out.

The divorce was ugly.

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The gross incompetence on behalf of then GM, Rob Babcock, has been well documented – not nearly as much as the narrative of Carter quitting on the team – which most fans have come around on as they learned more about what went on with management.

It was tough to see Carter rejuvenated and playing his best statistical basketball in New Jersey; a sight that was not lost on Raptors’ faithful when Carter ripped our hearts out at least once a season with monster performances against the Raptors. Not to mention a playoff exit at the hands of the Nets in 2007.

I think the pill got easier to swallow for Raptors fans after Carter’s jersey changed a couple more times. It wasn’t such a slap in the face when he came into town with Dwight or Dirk in tow; not to mention the steady decline of his skills and role on opposing teams this past decade.

It made him likeable again. No longer was he perceived as solely responsible for the misery of the perpetually underachieving Raptors franchise. We also happened to be putting the pieces of the franchise together from the ashes of Carter’s exit.

I lived in Alberta at the time and missed ever seeing Carter in person in his athletic prime. After moving to southern Ontario a couple years ago, I was lucky enough to be in the building for what might be Carter’s last trip to the ACC in December as a member of the Sacramento Kings.

Surprisingly, Carter was in the starting lineup that night, and I got to hear his name introduced to the warmest cheers he’s received in over a 14 years in Toronto. He even hit his first shot and I had flashbacks to those mid-season Nets eviscerations, thinking that I might be witness to a hot tub time machine performance for the ages.

Yeah, not so much.

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Carter finished with 4 points, a rebound, and 2 assists on a 2 of 5 shooting in 25 minutes. I understand his role is a mentor and steadying bench veteran but watching him shuffle around with his fossilized knees trying to keep up with his team – let alone ours - was humbling and insightful.

I just enjoyed Carter for what he was: the league’s oldest player, playing for the love of the game on one of the worst teams in the league - a team he chose over contending teams - including the Raptors and Warriors, in favour of playing impactful minutes.

I believe he would still prefer to stay on the Kings for the remainder of this season for that same reason. However, because Toronto is where he started and he’s said many times over the years how much this city means to him, I wouldn’t be shocked if he decided to come back.

I would be surprised if the Raptors invited him.

It’s been a slow build for Masai Ujiri and his staff, building this team around the Terminator-like relentlessness of DeMar DeRozan’s work ethic, brilliantly patient G-League development of draft assets into the new Bench Mob, and carefully timed trades – or lack thereof in Lowry’s case – that have set this team up for the chance at accomplishing something special.

All of that in only five seasons. It really seems longer but as it so often happens in this league, franchises change seemingly out of nowhere. Which is why it would go against all the hard work and years of development to insert the franchise’s most important and divisive player back into the fold, for what feels mostly like a publicity stunt.

Carter is no longer anything to fear; he’s fools gold.

That sounds harsh, but in strictly basketball context he’s a shadow of what he was and an echo of what you hope him to be.

I wouldn’t be worried about Carter being a locker room distraction or disruptive to chemistry – all insights from Carter’s coaches and teammates from the last few teams he’s been on have lauded him for the steadying force he brings to the team he’s on and the leadership he provides.

That’s exactly what we would need if this were the 2012 Raptors - a team without any clear identity, searching desperately for a way to become relevant again after the Bosh era.

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I love you Vince, but we don’t need you. We want you. My teenage brain wants to witness the head-shaking athleticism I missed out on all those years ago.

My adult brain knows that Air Canada isn’t walking into the ACC ever again and the Raptors don’t need him to.

Toronto is going to be just fine. They have the chance to be great with the pieces carefully in place as is, and have an opportunity to outshine any one star from the past – even it’s brightest  - and inspire many more generations of fans to come.


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Game Review: Raptors vs Heat

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Review Written by Adam Garfield (@AdamThe6God)


Kyle Lowry came smoking out of the gates, recording 7 points and 5 assists in the 1st quarter. OG Anunoby added on 6 points, while C.J. Miles put up 5. Toronto had some difficulty guarding Miami's All-Star Point Guard Goran Dragic, who dropped 7 on them. With 8:58 on the clock, Jonas Valanciunas threw down a monstrous slam from a Lowry alley-oop. Toronto led 28-24.

Heat Shooting Guard, Wayne Ellington, killed the Raptors with his brilliant shooting, scored 9 points off of 3 three-pointers. Serge Ibaka had a solid offensive quarter as he scored 7 points. Lowry was unstoppable in the last 30 seconds of the half. He knocked down a three-pointer with 28.4 seconds on the clock, but he didn't stop there. With less than 5 seconds to go, DeRozan dished the ball to Kyle at the top of the arc. Lowry threw up a shot with a defender right in his face, and drilled the shot as time expired. Toronto led 57-55.

If you Google 'Who owns the 3rd quarter', a picture of DeMar DeRozan should appear. DeRozan dropped 19 points on the Heat, and was absolutely unstoppable. The Raptors also out-rebounded Miami 11-8 in the period. Kyle Lowry added 5 points of his own to add to the Toronto lead. The Raptors dropped 41 points in the period, one of their highest scoring quarters of the season. Toronto led by 17 points, the score set at 98-81 heading into the final quarter.

The Raptors struggled heavily on defense as they were outscored 31-17. Three Miami players dropped more at least 5 points, led by Josh Richardson. Delon Wright helped seal the victory by dropping 8 points, but this win for the Raptors was too close for comfort. With 3.9 seconds left, Miles knocked down a free throw to put the Raptors up by 3 points. Miami missed the last shot of game that would've tied the game up. The Raptors defeated the Heat 115-112.

6ix Best
DeMar DeRozan: 27pts, 4 assists
Kyle Lowry: 22pts, 8 assists, 4 rebounds
Serge Ibaka: 14pts, 10 rebounds
Fred VanVleet: 10pts, 6 assists, 5 rebounds
C.J. Miles: 11pts
Delon Wright: 10pts


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


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 41

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Follow Host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 41

"YOU GOTTA PROVE IT"

Toronto Raptors talk

Toronto Raptors Weekly Review/Preview

  • The Raptors are the Number 1 team in the NBA Eastern Conference. Not the Celtics. Not the Cavaliers. YOUR Toronto Raptors are the owners of the top team in the East. But does this mean that they are the team to beat now? Or, with the recent additions that Cleveland has made, will they suddenly reclaim supremacy and find their way back to the NBA Finals?
  • Host Adam Corsair and guest DeMar Grant examine these and other topics. They talk extensively about the Raptors' rise in the East, We The Bench, what the recent additions at the trade deadline mean for the Cavs, the significance of the Celtics standing pat, whether it's a good idea for Vince Carter to return as well as other waiver candidates, and life as a Toronto fan in New England.

It's a Raptors discussion you do not want to miss!

Follow DeMar on Twitter: @DeMarJGrant
Visit DeMar's work


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Game Review: Raptors at Hornets

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Review Written by Adam Garfield (@AdamThe6God)


The Raptors got destroyed coming out of the gate as the Hornets went on a 10-0 run. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined for 16 points, which ultimately gave Toronto the lead. With 2:11 on the clock, Jakob Poeltl found Serge Ibaka open on the baseline and he threw down a monster slam. The Raptors led 30-26 after one.

Toronto was led by C.J. Miles throughout the 2nd quarter as he dropped 9 points. Charlotte's all-star Point Guard Kemba Walker answered back with 10 points of his own. After making a layup, Fred VanVleet intercepted a pass thrown by Michael Carter-Williams and made another layup with 6:28 remaining. This was an excellent example of why Fred has been getting extended minutes, because of his passion and hard work on the defensive end. With 1:05 left in the half, OG Anunoby had to exit the game after an apparent ankle injury. It was later deemed an ankle sprain. Toronto was ahead 62-55 going into halftime.

Jonas Valanciunas dominated the 3rd quarter, scoring 12 points in the period. Toronto had their best defensive quarter as they held the Hornets to 19 points. With 11:09 on the clock, DeRozan flipped the ball over his shoulder to JV, and he knocked down the wide open three-pointer. Centers around the league still aren't respecting JV's jumpshot, and he most certainly proving them wrong as he has been shooting .462% from three. Toronto led the Hornets 90-74.

Miles went off again in the 4th quarter as he put up 12 points. With 7:39 remaining in the game, he converted a four point play after drilling a three-pointer on which he was fouled by Carter-Williams. VanVleet also added on 6 points to the lead as the Raptors cleared their bench for garbage time. The Toronto Raptors won by 20 points, defeating the Charlotte Hornets 123-103. This game was win #300 for Dwane Casey, who is climbing the charts as one of the greatest Raptors coach of all time.

6ix Best:
DeMar DeRozan: 25pts, 8 assists
C.J. Miles: 24pts, 2 steals
Jonas Valanciunas: 21pts, 9 rebounds
Kyle Lowry: 12pts, 7 assists
Serge Ibaka: 10pts, 8 rebounds
Fred VanVleet: 10pts, 4 assists


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


Game Review: Raptors vs Knicks

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Review Written by Adam Garfield (@AdamThe6God)


Jonas Valanciunas led Toronto with 8 points, and Serge Ibaka added on 5. The Raptors were facing a Knicks team that was without Kristaps Porzingis and Enes Kanter, as well as the recently traded (and Raptor Killer) Doug McDermott. With 4:11 remaining in the 1st, Ibaka had a huge block on Michael Beasley, swatting the ball out of the air. Toronto led the Knicks 23-18.

The Raptors' Bench Mob went off in the 2nd quarter as they dropped 18 points. Pascal Siakam had a outing in the quarter, scoring 7 points and 3 rebounds. The player to get it going for New York was Michael Beasley who put up 9 points. Toronto turned the ball over 4 times, but they still outscored New York by 6. The Raptors were up 52-41 going into halftime.

Valanciunas and DeMar DeRozan combined for 11 points coming out of halftime. With 5:30 left in the quarter, Valanciunas hit a wide open three-pointer. Knicks' Center Kyle O'Quinn disrespected JV's jumper, and he proved him wrong. The Raptors tallied 7 assists in the quarter, a statistic that represents the excellent team chemistry that Toronto has. Toronto led by 16 points heading into the last period, the score set at 82-66.

The Bench Mob went wild again in the 4th quarter. Fred VanVleet dropped 8, Delon Wright dropped 7, and C.J. Miles added on 6. New York's Trey Burke went off in the final quarter, putting up an impressive 12 points. The Raptors' Bench Mob outscored the starters by 9 points, putting up 61 points, with five players scoring double digits off the bench. Toronto defeated New York 113-88.

6ix Best:
Jonas Valanciunas: 18pts, 10 rebounds
Serge Ibaka: 13pts, 8 rebounds
Pascal Siakam: 14pts, 5 rebounds, 6 assists
Jakob Poeltl: 13pts, 5 rebounds
C.J. Miles: 11pts, 5 rebounds
Delon Wright: 11pts, 3 rebounds, 3 assists


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


Game Review: Raptors vs the Enemy

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Review Written by Adam Garfield (@AdamThe6God)


Kyle Lowry led the Raptors in the first quarter, dropping 10 points on the #1 seed in the East. The Raptors had a little difficulty in guarding the Boston Guards, but they played excellent defense on their front court. DeMar DeRozan had a rare performance in the quarter, not scoring a single point in the period. Toronto led 22-18.

Free VanVleet and Delon Wright went off during the 2nd quarter. Fred scored 11 points while Delon added on 9. With 8:28 left in the half, Pascal Siakam had a huge block on Semi Ojeleye, spiking the ball out of bounds. Two minutes later, Wright threw an alley-oop to Siakam, who hammered the ball in for a thunderous dunk. The Raptors were ahead 58-37 heading into halftime.

The All-Star backcourt of DeRozan and Lowry combined for 15 points coming out of halftime, absolutely dominating the Celtics' defense. The only thing Boston had going for them was Kyrie Irving, who had 7 points. The Raptors out-rebounded the Celtics 13-12 in the period. Toronto had a lead of 23 points heading into the final quarter, the score set at 83-60.

C.J. Miles went berserk on offense, dropping 15 points in the quarter. 12 of his points came off of three-pointers, while the other 3 came from free throws as he was fouled on a three-point attempt. With 10:57 on the clock, Jakob Poeltl denied Boston's Abdel Nader's dunk attempt, which pumped up the entire arena. The "Bench Mob" for Toronto forced 4 turnovers, which helped seal their victory. The Raptors defeated the Celtics 111-91 in a statement victory over the #1 team in the east.

6ix Best:
Kyle Lowry: 23pts, 8 rebounds, 4 assists
C.J. Miles: 20pts, 5/7 3PM
DeMar DeRozan: 15pts, 3 rebounds, 6 assists
Delon Wright: 14pts, 3 assists, 3 steals
Fred VanVleet: 10pts, 8 assists,  +/- 17
Pascal Siakam: 6pts, 2 assists


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


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 40

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Follow Host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 40

"STANDING PAT"

Toronto Raptors talk

Weekly Toronto Raptors Review/Preview

  • As the trade deadline approaches, it serves best to see exactly where the Raptors are in terms of their strengths, as well as their weaknesses. The team is seeing welcomed success in the form of Jonas Valanciunas, DeMar DeRozan, and Kyle Lowry; not to mention the fact that the bench unit has been absolutely stellar in their task of keeping the intensity at its maximum level while the starting unit rests. Players like Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, Jakob Poeltl, and Pascal Siakam have been unbelievable and consists of arguably the best bench in the entire NBA. With a small flash from Norman Powell, it seems the team, as a whole, is rounding into form.
  • To explore these and other topics are host Adam Corsair and first-time guest, Craig Oliver of Hash Tag Basketball and the co-host of the Hashtag Raptors Podcast. Craig and Adam break down the Raptors' position in the East, their chances against Boston to close out the season, Cleveland's collapse (ostensibly), a Raptors/Celtics playoff series, Norman Powell, JV, and so much more. Plus, they predict the games for the upcoming week.

It's a Raptors discussion you will not want to miss!

Follow Craig on Twitter: @CraigOliver1997
Subscribe to the Hashtag Raptors Podcast on iTunes HERE
Visit Craig's work HERE


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


Game Review: Raptors vs Grizzlies

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Review Written by Adam Garfield (@AdamThe6God)


OG Anunoby led the Raptors in the 1st with 6 points, while DeMar DeRozan added on 4 points of his own. Toronto had trouble guarding Memphis's Marc Gasol and Dillon Brooks, who combined for 15 points in the quarter. With 17 seconds left in the quarter, Jakob Poeltl had a huge block on Mario Chalmers on his layup attempt. The Raptors led 25-24 after one.

Toronto's Point Guards carried the team in the second quarter. Delon Wright and Kyle Lowry had 11 points between the two. With about 3:33 remaining in the half, Serge Ibaka rejected Grizzlies' Forward James Ennis' shot off the backboard, sparking a fast break. Andrew Harrison and Wayne Selden Jr. both had 5 points for Memphis, but they still trailed by 12 entering halftime. The Raptors led 56-44.

Harrison put up 7 points as he tried to form a comeback for the Grizzlies. JaMychal Green added on 5 points. Jonas Valanciunas and DeRozan combined for 10 points, which was exactly half of all the points the Raptors scored in the 3rd. Toronto forced 3 turnovers, but they allowed Memphis to cut their lead to 2 points. Toronto was ahead 76-74 entering the final period.

Fred VanVleet and Wright combined for 16 points, which was more than Memphis scored in the entire quarter. Pascal Siakam contributed with 6 points of his own. The Raptors played amazing defense, holding the Grizzlies to only 12 points. In addition, Toronto forced 4 turnovers. The Raptors defeated the Grizzlies 101-86.

6ix Best
Fred VanVleet: 13pts, 7 rebounds, 8 assists
Delon Wright: 15pts, 4 rebounds
DeMar DeRozan: 13pts
Jonas Valanciunas: 12pts, 9 rebounds
Kyle Lowry: 11pts, 3 rebounds
Pascal Siakam: 10pts, 3blks


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


Game Review: Raptors vs Blazers

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Review Written by Adam Garfield (@AdamThe6God)


The Raptors went off during the 1st quarter as DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas combined for 25 points. Toronto's only problem was containing Damian Lillard, who scored 12 points for the Trail Blazers. With 10:23 remaining in the 1st quarter, JV knocked down a wide open three-pointer as Portland's Jusuf Nurkic disrespected his shooting. Toronto led 38-17 after the end of one.

Toronto needed an umbrella, because it was raining three's from behind the arc. The team drilled six three-pointers in the quarter. DeRozan dropped 10 points in about 6 minutes of play in the 2nd. Toronto didn't have an answer as to how to guard C.J. McCollum, allowing him to score 11 points in the quarter. The score was 74-52 going into halftime, in favor of Toronto.

Portland's amazing backcourt of Lillard and McCollum combined for 18 points in the 3rd quarter. Serge Ibaka and DeRozan were able to combine for 16 points, but were still outscored by the Blazers in the quarter. With 1:00 remaining in the 3rd, Jakob Poeltl had a huge block on Zach Collins that turned into a fast break bucket on the other end. Toronto led by 21 going into the final quarter of play, sitting at a 101-80 lead.

Norman Powell led the Raptors with 9 points in the 4th quarter, backed up by Pascal Siakam's 7 points. With about 9:25 remaining, Fred VanVleet had a nasty crossover on Lillard, and easily drove in for a layup. VanVleet has been playing excellent now that he has been seeing more playing time. Meyers Leonard dropped 7 points in the quarter for the Blazers as both teams cleared the benches and played their reserves. The Raptors dominated the Trail Blazers, defeating Portland 130-105.

6ix Best
DeMar DeRozan: 35pts, 3 assists, 6/10 3PM
Jonas Valanciunas: 18pts, 8 rebounds
Kyle Lowry: 15pts, 4 rebounds, 5 assists
Fred VanVleet: 16pts, 5 rebounds
Pascal Siakam: 13pts, 5 rebounds
Norman Powell: 11pts


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


Finding Minutes for Norm

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Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


      Most Raptors fans will remember the great impact that Norman Powell has had for the team over the past two seasons. He burst onto the scene in the 2015-16 season as a rookie, playing in a bench role for the Raptors during their run to the Eastern Conference Finals. His most memorable play was probably in Game 5 of the first round against the Indiana Pacers. After stealing the ball, Powell broke into the open court and threw down a ferocious one-handed slam dunk that blew the roof off of the ACC. Powell also played well last year, averaging 8.4 points per game in 18 minutes per game. But, this year, it seems that he’s the odd man out, and in this article, I’m going to try to explain why.

      With the Raptors having such a good bench this season, you would think that Powell would be a focal point of the bench unit. But, it’s been guys like Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet who have lead the unit, while Powell's contributions have been limited. He’s still averaging 17.3 minutes per game, but a lot of that was when he was part of the starting lineup at the beginning of the season. Now, he’s searching for playing time, while other guys take most of the minutes off the bench. Powell’s numbers are down by a tick in general this year, but he’s still averaging 6.5 points per game, which should give him more minutes than he’s currently getting. It’s a good problem to have if you’re the Raptors, but I think it would be a good idea for Dwane Casey to get Powell in the rotation more. Given the fact that their current starting small forward, OG Anunoby, is playing in his first NBA season, it's safe to assume that he might require some rest down the stretch, thereby opening up some playing time for Powell.

          Like I said earlier, having too much depth is one of the best problems an NBA team can have, and the Raptors definitely have this problem. Norman Powell would be a great 6th man, if not a starter, on most other teams, but he’s struggling to find minutes on the Raptors. I do think Norm will play more as the season progresses, and his performances in the last two games (8 points in each one), will probably help makes Casey’s job difficult in that regard. It’s hard to imagine him playing as much as he did earlier in the year, but I don’t think the Raptors can forget about him, as he’s still a very valuable player and can bring energy and defensive intensity to the floor on any given night.


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Game Review: Raptors at Wizards

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Review Written by Adam Garfield (@AdamThe6God)


Toronto started off strong as Serge Ibaka dropped 10 points within the first 7 minutes of the game. OG Anunoby was on fire from behind the arc, knocking down 3 three-pointers. With 4:44 remaining in the 1st quarter, DeMar DeRozan threw an over-the-shoulder no look pass to Anunoby, who nailed the shot. Washington was led by Marcin Gortat's 6 points. Toronto led 34-27 after one.

Jonas Valanciunas dominated the Wizards by scoring 11 points, while Norman Powell scored 8 off the bench. The Raptors turned the ball over 5 times, which allowed the Wizards to cut the lead. Both teams had relatively good ball movement, combining for 11 assists. The Raptors led 62-55 going into halftime.

Washington's Bradley Beal went off in the 3rd quarter, exploding for 17 points. Otto Porter Jr. added 6 points of his own for Washington. DeRozan answered back with 11 points and Kyle Lowry added on 8. Toronto forced 4 turnovers, but Washington still led at the end of the quarter. With one period left to play, the Raptors trailed 87-88.

Lowry and DeRozan refused to give up, combining for 22 points in the final quarter. Jodie Meeks came off the bench for Washington and dropped 10 points on Toronto. Meeks rarely gets playing time, but he will be seeing an increase with John Wall out for an extended period of time. The Raptors definitely did not game-plan on how to contain Meeks. After going back and forth with the lead in the final 2 minutes, Washington was able to pull away with the higher score. The Raptors were defeated by the Wizards 119-122.

6ix Best
Kyle Lowry: 29pts, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals
DeMar DeRozan: 23pts, 5 rebounds, 6 assists
Jonas Valanciunas: 17pts, 6 rebounds
Serge Ibaka: 16pts
OG Anunoby: 11pts
Norman Powell: 8pts


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


Game Review: Raptors vs Timberwolves

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Review Written by Adam Garfield  (@AdamThe6God)


The Timberwolves exploded out of the gates and outscored the Raptors by 8 points in the 1st quarter. Minnesota's Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, and Gorgui Dieng combined for 18 points. Toronto was led by Serge Ibaka's 8 points and DeMar DeRozan's 4 assists. The Raptors committed 5 fouls which is part of the reason why they were trailing the T'Wolves. Toronto was down 18-27.

Toronto's Point Guards led the way for the Raptors in the 2nd quarter. Kyle Lowry put up 10 points and Fred VanVleet scored 7. Norman Powell had a humongous block on Deng that electrified the crowd. Powell used his 40.5 inch vertical to block Deng's shot, spiking the ball to VanVleet. Butler and Nemanja Bjelica combined for 11 points, which helped the Timberwolves maintain a lead of 6. The Raptors trailed 51-57 heading into halftime.

DeRozan dropped 11 points coming out of the break, while Jonas Valanciunas added 6. With 6:16 left in the quarter, JV delivered a vicious dunk over Andrew Wiggins, posterizing the former Rookie of the Year. Butler picked the Raptors' defense by scoring 8 points. Toronto cut the lead to 2 points, trailing 78-80 entering the 4th quarter.

The Raptors had 17 bench points in the final quarter, proving once again why they are one of the best benches in the league.The Raptors had excellent ball movement, only committing 1 turnover. Powell had a huge steal on Wiggins, punching in a thunderous fast break dunk with authority. DeMar scored 8 points, which was the icing on the cake for Toronto. The Raptors defeated the Timberwolves 109-104.

6ix Best:
DeMar DeRozan: 23pts, 4 rebounds, 8 assists
Jonas Valanciuncas: 18pts, 11 rebounds
Kyle Lowry: 15pts, 9 assists
Serge Ibaka: 15pts, 6 rebounds
Jakob Poeltl: 12pts, 4 rebounds
Fred VanVleet: 10pts


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


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 39

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Follow Host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 39

"A Seamless Transition"

Toronto Raptors Talk

Weekly Toronto Raptors Review/Preview

  • The Raptors are very close to achieving their goal that they set out for this season: attaining the number one seed in the East. As of Monday 1/29, Boston stands just a single game ahead of them, and the time for the Raptors to capitalize is now. In the process of doing so, the news reel has been swirling, providing a boatload of content for Raptors fans to discuss. For instance, what is wrong with Norman Powell and why has he been ghost? The rise of Jonas Valanciunas is being witnessed and it a sight to see! Kyle Lowry has been voted in as an All-Star Reserve and will play on the same team as his everyday teammate, DeMar DeRozan. On the flip side, Dwane Casey has been granted the honors to coach the opposing All-Star team; the first time in his career. The Raptors youth was snubbed of any additions to the Rising Stars Challenge during the All-Star Weekend. And lastly, the mainstream media seems to believe that Celtics/Warriors is a lock for the NBA Finals. Have they forgotten that the Raptors exist?
  • To help unpack these and other topics, host Adam Corsair is joined by guest Peter Kaye of Life In Repeat! Peter and Adam get into the details surrounding the aforementioned topics and unpack them to help generate discussion for their fellow Raptors fans. Plus, they predict the results for the upcoming week!

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

Follow Peter Kaye on Twitter: @LifeInRepeat
Visit Peter's work HERE

Follow host Adam Corsair on Twitter: @ACorsair21
Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter & InstaGram: @SouthOfThe6ix

Music:
Audiobanger - "Pre-Game Warm-Up"
Drake Stafford - "Casets"
Auxl Studio - "Blue Bloods"


Game Review: Raptors vs Lakers

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Review Written by Adam Garfield (@AdamThe6God)


Serge Ibaka led the Raptors with 7 points to start the game, while Kyle Lowry added on 6 points of his own. Toronto hit 4 three-pointers in the 1st quarter. Ibaka also led the team with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. The Raptors led the Lakers 28-21.

Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. combined for 13 points as the Raptors struggled to guard the Lakers' front court. Toronto also committed 7 personal fouls, a very high number for a team that is well coached. Despite the struggles on defense, the Raptors showed up on offense. Fred VanVleet exploded for 12 points as he came of the bench for Toronto. Toronto led by 10 heading into halftime as the score was 59-49.

DeMar DeRozan dropped 17 points coming out of halftime and Jonas Valanciunas contributed with 6 points. With around 2:42 left in the quarter, Lakers' rookie Kyle Kuzma got the ball on the wing, slipped past a defender, and posterized his former college teammate at the University of Utah, Jakob Poeltl. The Raptors led 91-77 going into the final period.

VanVleet and C.J. Miles put on a show while on the offensive end. VanVleet put up 13 points and Miles scored 11. Since Miles has been in Canada for half of a season now, it's time we change his name to C.J. Kilometers. C.J. has been showing out in every game and capitalizes when he is out on the court. Jordan Clarkson led the Lakers with 9 points, but it wasn't enough to bring his team within striking distance. Toronto recorded 7 assists in total throughout the 4th quarter. Toronto defeated Los Angeles 123-111.

6ix Best
Fred VanVleet: *25pts, 4 assists
DeMar DeRozan: 19pts, 7 assists
Kyle Lowry: 14pts, 11 rebounds
Jonas Valanciunas: 13pts, 10 rebounds
Serge Ibaka: 11pts, 9 rebounds
C.J. Miles: 13pts, 3 rebounds

* = Career High


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


Raptors Snubbed for Rising Stars Challenge

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Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


         Yesterday, the NBA released the list of players that will be participating in the 2018 “Rising Stars Game”, as chosen by the league’s assistant coaches. The rosters are highlighted by Joel Embiid and Canadian Jamal Murray on Team World, and Lonzo Ball and Jayson Tatum on Team United States.

         The rosters are filled with talented players, but what stood out to me was that none of the “Rising Stars” on the Raptors team made the cut for this game. OG Anunoby, Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet and Jakob Poeltl are each having great seasons for the 2nd place Toronto Raptors. But instead, players like John Collins, Kris Dunn, and Domantas Sabonis were chosen to play in the game. All three of the players I just mentioned play for non-contending teams, and while their individual numbers may be slightly better than those of Wright or Poeltl, I’d argue the assistant coaches who picked the rosters should’ve taken into account the success that this group of young players on the Raptors are having and put at least one of them in this game. It’s unrealistic to say that all four of the aforementioned Raptors’ players should be in the game, but I think that there should’ve been at least one Raptor playing in it (I would’ve gone with OG).

           I don’t think this situation is one where the Raptors were disrespected by other people (like they usually are), but I think this is something where the assistant coaches should’ve looked beyond the individual stats of some of these players and looked at the overall success being generated from the young players on the Raptors. It’s a shame that we won’t be able to watch any of the Raptors play in this game. However, looking on the bright side, not playing in this game will give some of the younger players some much needed rest. This will be especially useful for Anunoby, who is playing in an 82-game season for the first time in his career, so this extra rest will help him get through the stretch run of the season. So, overall, I’m disappointed that there were no Raptors selected for this game, but I think it will be better for them, as they’ll be able to sit back, relax, and get ready to play in the 2nd half of the season.


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


Game Review: Raptors vs Jazz

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Review Written by Adam Garfield (@AdamThe6God)


DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas borh scored 7 points in the 1st quarter, while Utah's Ricky Rubio dropped 7 points. Generally considered a bad scorer, Rubio torched the Raptors defense as they overlooked his ability to put up points. Jazz' Center Rudy Gobert put up 6 points as his team led the Raptors to end the 1st quarter. Toronto trailed Utah 24-30.

JV had a monster second quarter as he scored 10 points and grabbed 6 rebounds. The Raptors played excellent defense, limiting the Jazz to only 15 points. With about 32 seconds left in the half, OG Anunoby had a reverse put back dunk off a missed shot that electrified the crowd. This gave the Raptors the momentum heading into halftime. Toronto led 48-45.

Donovan Mitchell dropped 15 points in the 3rd quarter and absolutely torched their defense. Gobert added 7 points as Toronto had no idea how to defend the Jazz. DeRozan and Valanciunas combined for 11 points, but it wasn't enough to gain control of the lead. The Raptors trailed 69-75 going into the final quarter of play.

With 5:19 left in the game, Kyle Lowry dished the ball to the cutting DeRozan, who slammed the ball in with a tomahawk dunk. Toronto led by 4 with 2:00 remaining. In the final 10 seconds, Donovan Mitchell found Rubio open from three, and he nailed the clutch shot. DeRozan missed a turnaround jumper that would've tied the game up, and Utah got the rebound. The Raptors were defeated by the Jazz 93-97.

6ix Best
Jonas Valanciunas: 28pts, 14 rebounds, 4blks
DeMar DeRozan: 19pts, 6 rebounds, 8 assists
Serge Ibaka: 10pts, 10 rebounds
C.J. Miles: 10pts
Kyle Lowry: 5pts, 7 assists
Delon Wright: 5pts, 6 rebounds


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


Game Review: Raptors at Hawks

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Review Written by Adam Garfield (@AdamThe6God)


Jonas Valanciunas dominated the 1st quarter as he racked up 10 points and 4 rebounds. The Raptors went on a 11-0 run in the middle of the quarter that gave them the lead. JV hyped the Toronto bench up after he dunked over Atalanta's Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Bellineli with about 5:30 left. Toronto led the Hawks 28-16 after one.

Fred VanVleet was the hero of the quarter as he dropped 11 points off of the bench. With 5:18 left in the 1st half, Fred was fouled on a three-pointer that he made, and he converted the and-1. Including this one, Toronto made 6 three-pointers in the quarter. Hawks' guards Dennis Schröder and Kent Bazemore combined for 14 points in the period, but the Raptors were excellent on the defensive end outside of this. The Raptors led 58-40 heading into halftime.

DeMar DeRozan led the charge for the Raptors to start the 2nd half as he scored 9 points, while OG Anunoby put up 8 points. Around the 10:40 mark, Serge Ibaka drove past Ilyasova and dunked over Taurean Prince. Similar to JV's dunk in the 1st quarter, Ibaka sparked the bench with his slam dunk. Toronto's only problem was the same problem they had in the 2nd quarter, containing Schröder and Bazemore. The Hawks' back-court combined for 13 points, which still wasn't enough to cut the lead to single digits. The Raptors led 85-65 going into the final quarter of play.

C.J. Miles put up 6 points and VanVleet scored 5 points in what was a pointless quarter for the Raptors. Toronto led by 20 points heading into the 4th, so they had the bench and the reserves play for the final 12 minutes. The Raptors outscored Atlanta in every quarter except for the 4th, where the Hawks scored 5 more points than them. Toronto never trailed in this game and lead by as much as 32 points. The Raptors defeated the Hawks 108-93.

6ix Best
Fred VanVleet: 19pts, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3blks
Jonas Valanciunas: 16pts, 13 rebounds, 3blks
DeMar DeRozan: 14pts, 4 assists
Serge Ibaka: 12pts
Kyle Lowry: 9pts, 5 rebounds, 4 assists
OG Anunoby: 10pts, 5 rebounds


Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthofThe6ix)