Dwane Casey Returns to Toronto

2000.jpeg

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.


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


The Good, On the Fence, and The Ugly

las110-115-2018-033355-jpg.jpg

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)!


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


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 83

Promotional Banner2.jpg

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

la-sp-lakers-raptors-takeaways-20181105.jpeg

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.


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


The Good, On the Fence, and the Ugly

kawhi-leonard-suffers-jammed-foot-in-raptors-victory-over-suns__93109_.jpg

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

Promotional Banner.jpg

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

fng502508497-jpg.jpg

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.


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


Previewing This Week

PZTDKBBRANELHITYUFSA2QVBAY.jpg

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.


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


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 81

South of the 6ix.jpg

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

14151551_web1_181026-IFD-Raptors-Mavs2.jpg

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)!


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


Raptors Start The Season 5-0

kawhi.png

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! 


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


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 80

South of the 6ix.jpg

Follow host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 80

"LIFE TENDS TO REPEAT"

TORONTO RAPTORs talk

Weekly Toronto Raptors Talk

  • The season is FINALLY underway and the Raptors are off to a bang winning all three of their games this week against Cleveland, Boston, and on the road in Washington. Kawhi looks like he's settling in nicely and will undoubtably have a huge impact on the team's success. Moreover, Kyle Lowry is playing at an unbelievable level so far and is out for blood to win a championship. How far can this team go!?

  • To explore these and other topics, host Adam Corsair shares the Main Event with Peter "HB" Kaye of Life In Repeat. Peter & Adam unpack the happenings that occurred this week - what we liked, what we didn't like, what has us concerned, and what we are encouraged by. We also touch on Nick Nurse's first full week as an NBA coach and the impact he is having in comparison to how Dwane Casey coached. Plus, so so so much more!

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

Follow Peter Kaye on Twitter: @lifeinrepeat

Visit Peter's work HERE

Music:

Drake Stafford - "Casets"

Jim Johnston - "Sexy Boy"


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


Sometimes the Nurse is Better Than the Doctor

BSOK2QLGLRDO7CUKSHLIREMMG4.jpg

Article Written by Rodrigo Albizurez (@rodzyalbizurez)


As a Raptors fanatic, it’s really hard to swallow getting swept by the Cavaliers for the 2nd straight year in the postseason, and it’s even harder to think about what’s next for this team that’s stuck in limbo. As a fan, you're supposed to be excited about the future and what it holds, but for this team, it just seems that they have hit their ceiling and are failing to accept that. This past regular season was something special and one that I will cherish for years to come due to the fact that they played so well and had so much fun playing as a cohesive unit. It had suddenly looked like they're headed to the NBA Finals for the first time, and even ESPN had their passports ready just in case they had to make the trip to Canada for the occasion. Sadly, that was just a dream built with false playoff bricks and it all came crashing down once LeBronto became a realization and was built just as fast a God created the earth. Enter the off-season and the Doctor of the team, Dwane Casey, was fired and his assistant Nick Nurse was promoted to take the reins. Was this the right move for the Raptors to continue on their journey to reach the NBA Finals or was this a move that had arterial motives?

If you take a look at Nick Nurses resume, it speaks for itself. He’s been on 13 different ball clubs throughout his careers, and he’s been a head coach for most of those teams. He even has a Coach of the Year Award under his belt for a team in Europe and his big break was clearly when he signed on with the Toronto Raptors as an assistant coach, leading to now the head coach for the team. He has an offensive mindset and that's exactly what the Toronto Raptors need. Word spread quick that he tried to implement his offensive culture a few years ago but it was predominantly shut down due to Case’s old school defensive “pound the rock” coaching methods. Clearly, that style never paid off in the playoffs and Masai took that into consideration when he dismissed Coach Casey.

Don’t get me wrong, Casey was a good coach but his biggest flaw is Nurses biggest asset and strength. Nurse is known for being able to adjust on the fly and run new sets that are innovative, while Coach Casey kept it simple on the offensive side for the most part. Now that coach Nurse has the reigns, expect him to implement his offensive prowess and innovation onto the court with some unexpected offensive sets and lineups. The preseason is over and you can already tell that the makeup of this team is completely different from previous years.

The team looks a lot looser and comfortable than previous years and that has to do with how their training camp was run and the continued continuity that they have been able to keep for the most part. While most of that you can credit to the players, but Coach Nurse and his staff had a big part in that as well. They were able to mellow out the mood but keep the competitive nature high by hosting 1 -on-1 tournaments in which a WWE belt was handed out to the outright winner. That may seem like a minuscule fact but in reality, it drove the players to stay competitive but also have fun with it. Training camp is all about getting the team together in such a short span and trying to create much-needed chemistry for the upcoming season, and it looks like the Raptors players bought into Coach Nurse’s laid-back but competitive nature. With all this being said, Nick Nurse faces a lot of pressure to win this year because he has a championship built roster on the playing board and he needs to figure out a way to play chess while other teams are playing checkers.

If you take a look at this year’s Raptors roster, it’s absolutely stacked and poised to make a big run in the playoffs and that's what every Raptors fan firmly believes as well. Now, as an expert you have the right to criticize the Raptors organization because every year they seem to fail to live up to expectations. This is completely fair because you can't prove someone wrong until you actually take the outside noise and shove it down the rabbit hole. This year is no different and Coach Nurse has a tall task in front of him, yet he doesn't feel worried about that. That is the approach he has chosen to take going into this season. He feels confident, and the Raptors players can sense that. How could he not feel confident? He now has Kawhi Leonard on the roster who is an absolute upgrade from DeMar DeRozan, and the Raptors also brought in the sharpshooting guard from the Spurs, Danny Green. Both of those players are offensive weapons in their own way, but more importantly, they are defensive menaces which are exactly what Nick Nurse needed to solidify this roster as a contender. Now with great power, comes great responsibility and experts have asked whether or not Nurse is up for the task at hand? If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have been given the job or perhaps even be an NBA coach. Masai could have brought in a more experienced coach, but he decided to go with a rookie head coach for a reason, and that’s because Nurse knows his shit. Nurse already knew most of the players that he’s coaching, their tendencies, their spots, and their personality, which proves that he has already acclimated with most of the roster and that pays dividends when it comes to team chemistry.

One of the biggest tasks he had going into preseason was to acclimate himself with the new Raptors on the roster, Leonard and Green, and they are already raving about his coaching style and brilliant mind. You can’t believe everything you read, but if you were following the Raptors during the preseason you could watch the games and interviews and tell that the Raptors have fully bought into the Nick Nurse program. He has already established his offensive mindset into this roster, but he has also bought into the notion that their offense comes from their defense and the players have also bought into that mindset as well. Players like Leonard, Green, and VanVleet have already stated that they know what everyone brings on the offensive side of the game, but this seasons success is going to come down to whether each player buys in defensively and brings the wood every possession. If Nurse can get his players to play lock-down defense all year, the Raptors are poised to do big things during the 2018-2019 season, and possibly collect them some big rings.

Now, if he can't get his players to buy in defensively then he wasn’t the man for the job and he and Ujiri will be heavily criticized throughout the off-season, and rightfully so. They have the right makeup to contend for a title, but whether the Raptors do that or not lies on the shoulders of Coach Nurse and his coaching staff. Yes, the Raptors players are on the court putting in all the physical work but that's only ¾ of the battle. The other part of the battle is being played out in practice, film sessions, or even during in-game timeout huddles. At the end of the day, it's Nurse's job to keep these guys mentally ready for the war and keep them engaged throughout the year for the trials and tribulations that are ahead. The Raptors will only go as far as Coach Nurse can take them, so it’s time to see if Nick and his staff are ready for the grind of the NBA season.


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


What to Expect Ahead of Tonight’s Clash vs the Cavaliers.

toronto-raptors-t2.jpg

Article Written by Jacob Pacheco (@JacobPacheco6)


Basketball is back! The three words everyone loves to hear this time of year. The NBA season is indeed back and we’re not talking about pre-season anymore. This is the real deal. The full 82 game season as the Toronto Raptors face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight in Game 1 of 82 in Toronto at the new Scotiabank Arena.

Call it a rematch if you will, but without LeBron James, this Cavaliers team is what swept the Toronto Raptors in last season’s Conference Semi-Finals. Although they might not be able to accomplish that now without The King, they still have a lot of returning firepower from the team; Tristian Thompson, Kyle Korver, Kevin Love, and J.R Smith (doubtful to play due to injury.). Also, young rookie sensation and 8th overall pick in this year draft; Collin Sexton.

The Raptors should not take this Cavs team lightly. However, this new and improved Raptors’ team has something to prove to the world that this is their time and their year to win it all. 110 percent will be given each and every night. Based off of the few pre-season games played for Toronto, fans will be treated to a ton of minutes handed to Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard to carry the Raptors to victory; not only tonight, but all season long. Head Coach Nick Nurse paired them together almost every minute and every chance he had in the pre-season to help them grow and gain chemistry with each other. Also expect a ton of shooting beyond the arc. Adding the sharpshooting ability of Danny Green deepens the threat of more three pointers made alongside with fellow teammate C.J Miles.

That’s not all. You can’t leave out the two big men for the team - Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas. Ibaka has a bit of a chip on his shoulder after his poor performance all throughout last post-season. The veteran big has something to prove this season, who, not to mention can also shoot from beyond the arc. As for Valanciunas, could this be his break out year? We’ve seen Valanciunas have amazing games where the team feeds him the ball early along with great rebounding and defensive abilities. But we’ve never seen that consistently throughout the full 82 game season. Some could say former coach Dwane Casey was holding Valanciunas back by not giving him minutes in the 4th quarter of close games. But with Nick Nurse, this could certainly change.

There’s also OG Anunoby. Just when you thought his defensive skills couldn’t get any better, the team adds two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Kawhi Leonard, who is someone Anunoby can learn from, become better, and grow with this season. OG isn’t all about defense as he can show off a bit of flare from time to time by getting to the rim with authority and showing off his strength. We’re not sure how often we will see these two on the court at the same time this season, but if we do, you know the opposing team won’t score many points on them.

The Bench Mob. Almost no introduction needed, but nobody can forget quite possibly the best bench in the NBA last season. Fred Vanvleet, Delon Wright, Norman Powell, Pascal Siakam and now Greg Monroe. Raptors’ fans will have no shortage of seeing these men coming off the bench adding their flare and versatility to the game from every aspect. Vanvleet and Wright with their three-point shooting and great ball handling. Powell and Siakam with their hustle and slashing ability. Monroe with his grit and rebounding. This team sounds unstoppable.

Lastly, Chris Boucher, Malachi Richardson, Jordan Loyd, Lorenzo Brown - do these names come to mind? These are the third strings for the Raptors this season. You may not see a lot of them on the court, but if an injury ever occurs, you bet you’ll see one of these men step up to the plate when needed. Brown was a G-League MVP last season with the Raptors 905. Loyd, who had tryouts and had a great summer league with the Raptors,’ ultimately made the team. Boucher, possesses a great story behind him and how he got to where he is today is unbelievable. Something that started out as a 10-day contract in the NBA led to signing yearlong contracts. The local Canadian kid out of Montreal deserves it. Richardson is a great role player and always doing what is needed whenever his name is called.

Sounds pretty dominant right? The pressure is on for the Toronto Raptors. They know what is at stake. While nobody knows what the future holds for this team, the ceiling is as high as it can possibly be.

Championship or bust.

Let’s play some basketball, Toronto!


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


4 Key Topics For The Upcoming Raptors Season

brooklyn-nets-v-toronto-raptors-5bc0e9553467ac4a4d00000e.jpg

Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


The beginning of the Raptors’ season is just a day away, with the club playing Cleveland on Wednesday in what should be a great start to the season. Every new season is exciting, but with everything that went down this off-season, this sets up to be a special one for the Raptors. There’s a ton to look forward to, and that’s why I’ve come up with 4 main things to be excited about for this Raptors’ season.

1. Kawhi Leonard is a Raptor

Until I see actually see him on the court on Wednesday, it still won’t set in that the Raptors have Kawhi Leonard. We’ve definitely had good players in Toronto before, but no one that has lived up to Leonard’s caliber. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with all season. Unless the Raptors are playing a team like Golden State or the Lakers, they’ll have the best player on the court with Kawhi and that’s something Raptors have never seen before. Although they’ve always had a deep roster and good role players, and they still have that, but now they also have the a Top-5 player in the league.

2. Breakout for Valanciunas?

The Dwane Casey era in Toronto was highlighted by many things; one being his reluctance to play Jonas Valanciunas at the end of games when it really mattered. He’d always start Valanciunas, but he never trusted him to close games. Now that Casey is gone, I’m interested to see if new head coach Nick Nurse will give Jonas more of a chance to prove himself in big spots. We know for sure that Kawhi and Lowry are the Raptors best two players, but I think that if he’s put in a position to succeed this year, Jonas Valanciunas can be the team’s 3rd best player.

3. Another Year for the Bench Mob

One of the biggest stories from last year’s team was the emergence of the Raptor’s bench unit, one that became the best in the league. They lost Jakob Poeltl this off-season, but the rest of the guys can definitely take a step forward this year. Specifically, I really think that Pascal Siakam can become a dynamic player, especially on the defensive end where he could be part of one of the league’s best defensive teams. Delon Wright will also look to a have a big year, since his contract is set to expire at the end of this season.

4. Relatively Weak East

LeBron James is no longer in the East, which means that there will finally be a new team in the Finals out of the conference this year. Boston is probably a bit better than the Raptors, but the latter are definitely close and it’s not that far-fetched to say that we could see the Raptors in the Finals this year. Who knows what will happen - but at least we know that we won’t see the Raptors get swept by LeBron again this year.


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


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 79

South of the 6ix.jpg

Follow host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 79

"SEASON PREVIEW ROUND TABLE"

TORONTO RAPTORs talk

Weekly Toronto Raptors Talk

  • Here we go - the start of the 2018-19 Toronto Raptors regular season has finally arrived. This is, without a doubt, the most anticipated Raptors' season in franchise history. Expectations have never been higher as the team's future will be riding on the success or failure of the team's performance this season. What's more, the reputation and legacy of the team's President, Masai Ujiri, is very much on the line and will be put to the test with this team.

    The stakes have never ever been higher than they are right now.

  • To preview this season, host Adam Corsair is joined by three familiar guests for a special ROUND TABLE discussion! Demar Grant of Tip of the Tower, Jordan Kligman of Hashtag Basketball and host of the 416 Basketball Podcast, and Connor Chambers of Toronto Sports Views all discuss what fans have in store for the Toronto Raptors this upcoming season. Topics include leveling our expectations, what this season means for Masai Ujiri, the landscape of the Eastern Conference, our win total predictions, and much more!

    It's a special Raptors ROUND TABLE show that you will not want to miss!

Follow Jordan on Twitter: @416Basketball

Subscribe to the 416 Basketball Podcast on iTunes HERE

Visit Jordan's work HERE

Follow Connor on Twitter: @TO_SportsViews & @connorchambers

Visit Connor's work HERE

Follow Demar on Twitter: @DemarJGrant 

Visit Demar's work HERE

Music:

Drake Stafford - "Casets"

Auxl Studio - "Blue Bloods"


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


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 78

profile_picture.png

Follow host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 78

"HAPPY THANKSGIVING"

TORONTO RAPTORS talk

Weekly Toronto Raptors Talk

  • With the season fast approaching and preseason well underway, we are finally getting a taste of what this team can look like and the potential it carries. We've finally seen Kawhi Leonard in a Raptors jersey and, although a bit rusty, has shown signs of his MVP-caliber self and should be able to make an immediate impact for the team.

  • To discuss this and other topics, host Adam Corsair is joined by Jordan Kligman of the 416 Basketball Podcast and HashTag Basketball.com. They discuss all the latest preseason action regarding the Raptors, as well as the landscape of the Eastern Conference.

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 Studio - "Blue Bloods"


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


The Good, the On the Fence, and the Ugly!

2018_10_5_4c0dabf6-806b-4f6f-96d6-174a845e81a3_jpg_1920x1080.jpg

Article Written by Rodrigo Albizurez (@Unclerodzy)


Hey Raptors fans, these are my takeaways of what I liked, kinda liked, and didn’t like from Friday’s Raptors game vs. Melbourne United. Enjoy!

The Good

Offensive Rebounding - The Raptors were an absolute beast on the offensive boards Friday at Scotiabank Arena (the name still doesn’t feel right eh?). They have been crashing the boards hard all preseason, which is an absolute positive because offensive rebounds are all about hustle, in my opinion. If they can continue to hit the offensive glass all season, they are going to create a lot of open looks from 3 or easy buckets around the hoop.

Stormin’ Norman’s Shot Selection -  Norman Powell was an absolute delight to watch. I know they played Melbourne United, but Norm played very efficiently. His shot selection was on point, strictly because he didn’t try to force his game; he let it come to him. He passed up an open shot for an emphatic dunk or dished it to a wide open teammate after bringing help defenders his way. An overall dynamic game for the kid from San Diego.

Ma Fuzzy’s Grooving Play- Serge Ibaka has been consistent all preseason and he was steady again Friday for the Raptors. Again, it’s just preseason, but it’s great to see him play consistent and not forcing his game. He was able to get some buckets down low in the paint and also knock down some jumpers from outside. Last year, he would go on hot streaks that would knock your socks off but then he would go on cold streaks that felt like a 6 month dry spell. If he’s able bring the same level of consistency that he brought Friday into the regular season, then the Raps are going to be a next level team.

On the Fence

Headband Pascal’s Aggressiveness – Alright, I knew I was going to get some hate on this selection, so hit me up on my mentions on Twitter if you disagree. Let me explain why Pascal is in my “On the Fence” section. P Skills was an absolute menace Friday for the Raptors. From hitting the offensive and defensive glass, hitting open jimmies from the 3 point arc, to slashing to the basket with reckless abandonment. Hell, I’m sure he even helped the water boy out! Yes, his game was on point, but am I absolutely sold on his controlled aggressive play? Not yet. Siakam has a tendency to play a little wild at times, much like he did in Utah. Looking for fouls instead of settling for the easy turnaround in the paint, or stopping to find an open shooter from the outside. I absolutely love that he can take the ball up the court because that opens up so many more plays/sets for Nick Nurse’s offence, but he needs to pick and choose when to be controlled or when to turn on the jets. These are senses that he will develop over the season, and there will be growing pains at first. But the reward will outweigh the pains once he fully kicks those senses into high gear.

Norman’s Performance – Again, I bring up Norman Powell because since last year he’s been part of a story of 2 heads.  On the one hand, his performance Friday was lights out and it brings tears to Raptors’ faithful eyes. Then on the other hand, for the next two games he can go MIA and bring another type of tears to Raptors’ faithful eyes. So am I absolutely sold on Norman’s performance? Yes, but am I sold that he can bring that type of smart shot selection and aggressive play into every game during the regular season? No. I believe that he can bring that type of play into every game he enters, but he needs to prove that early in the season or he will be engulfed into the Raptors bench yet again. It all comes down to getting early season minutes, and honestly just staying healthy through the entire year (knock on wood).

Delontino’s Wit on the court- Delon Wright is a lot of fun to watch when he’s moving and grooving on the court. Friday was a perfect example of how to play the point guard position in the NBA. He was pushing the ball up the court, which led to open jump shots for his companions, and it also led to open shots for young himself due to his teammates drawing help defenders and looking for him from the 3 point arc. Wright was able to knock down his shots because he didn’t hesitate. Last year was a different story because more often than not, he would pass up an open 3 and force his game in the paint. Delon still takes some tough layups in the paint which lead to turnovers or poorly missed lay ups. That’s why I’m on the fence with the young guard. But if he can consistently take open 3’s and limit the tough layups, he’ll get over the fence.

The Ugly

The Amount of Fouls Given – The Raptors are notorious for racking up fouls during games. It was a little different Friday because a lot of their fouls were early in the game and in garbage time which don’t really matter. For the most part, they played great defense during this game which resulted in less fouls called during the ideal times of the game. But if they can clean up their early fouls by setting the defensive tone and less reaching, they will be alright. The only reason I call it ugly is because it was ugly during the Utah game and it was ugly all of last year. It’s going to continue to be ugly until they full commit to playing lockdown defence without relying on last second swipes as the opposing player blows by their lazy run-outs.

Raptors Fans on Twitter- I was able to hit Twitter before the game and see who was starting for the Raptors. I noticed that my sister replied to a fan’s tweet by stating that Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry, CJ miles and Fred Vanfleet weren’t going to play because they were resting. My initial reaction was, “Man that makes a lot of sense”. Other Raptors fans reactions were the complete opposite. They were upset that those guys needed rest and they weren’t going to suit up against a team from Australia.

First off, give your head a shake if you were one of those fans that reacted this way. Second of all, it’s a team from AUSTRALIA! Those guys weren’t needed out there and this game was meant for the guys who needed the reps to get ready for the regular season. If Nick Nurse could have rested his whole roster for this game, then I bet he would have done that. You’ll most likely see the starting unit play more minutes during the Nets preseason game on October 10th because that’ll be a good warmup before the regular season. Don’t worry Raptors fans, you’ll see the guys who rested a lot during the regular season (knock on wood). Don’t be that guy or girl that complains about a preseason game. Sit back and enjoy the young cats out their balling for a spot on the roster!

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


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


SOT6 Podcast - Episode 77

podcast.png

Follow host Adam Corsair on Twitter (@ACorsair21)


EPISODE 77

"MEDIA DAY REFLECTIONS"

TORONTO RAPTORs talk

Toronto Raptors Talk

  • This past Monday, the Toronto Raptors held their annual Media Day Event to kickstart the 2018-19 NBA Season. Pressers were held as head coach Nick Nurse, Kawhi Leonard/Masai Ujiri/Danny Green, and Kyle Lowry each held their own respective segments. There's a LOT to unpack as to what we saw on Media Day, as well as many questions that have been left on the minds' of Toronto Raptors fans.

  • Joining host Adam Corsair is Connor Chambers of Toronto Sports Views to unpack everything that went down on Media Day. They talk what we should expect from Nick Nurse in comparison to Dwane Casey, the first impressions from Kawhi and Danny Green being introduced to the media, and what we should make of Kyle Lowry and his demeanor. We also touch on the Jimmy Butler trade rumors and why the Raptors wouldn't be a fit.

It's a Raptors centered episode that you WON'T want to miss!

Follow Connor on Twitter: @TO_SportsViews & @connorchambers

Visit Connor's work: HERE

Music:

Drake Stafford - "Casets"

Auxl Studio - "Blue Bloods"


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


Regarding Jimmy Butler

butlerfuture-640x440.jpg

Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)


      4-time NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler seems to be unhappy in Minnesota and is planning to meet with the team to discuss his future soon. It’s not completely known why Butler is upset, but it has something to do with his relationship with Karl-Anthony Towns, the centre on the Timberwolves. With these rumours swirling, many people are putting the idea out there that the Raptors should trade for Butler. In this article, I’ll explain why I don’t think that’s a good idea.

      Before even talking about the Raptors, let’s talk about Jimmy Butler himself. First of all, he’s got 2 years left on his contract, making $18 million this year, and $19 million next year. His free agency year is 2020, and he’ll most likely get to that point without an extension if he remains in Minnesota. As for on the court, Butler has averaged 20 points or more in the last 4 seasons, while grabbing at least 5 rebounds per game in that time as well. He also averaged a career high 2 steals per game last year.

      Now, there have been some vague rumours going on saying that the Raptors “could be” interested in Butler, and that a package going to Minnesota would start with Serge Ibaka in order to even out the money in the deal. These reports aren’t from reputable sources at all, so until I see a real report, I won’t believe that a deal is coming. Even if these “reports” aren’t true - which they probably aren’t - it raises an interesting question; should the Raptors go after another unhappy star and bring him to Toronto, like they did with Kawhi Leonard?

      Something to remember about the Kawhi trade is that the Raptors acquired a guy who’s a top-5 player in the league. Jimmy Butler is very good, don’t get me wrong, but he’s not in that tier. I’d put Butler in the top 15-top-20 category, but he’s not as good as Leonard is.

      One of the things that I really liked about the Kawhi trade is that the Raptors didn’t have to give up OG Anunoby or Pascal Siakam; they had to trade away Jakob Poeltl. OG and Siakam both have higher ceilings than Poeltl. If the Raptors want Jimmy Butler, they’ll likely have to give up one of those two, Ibaka, and a 1st round pick, which would leave them without a 1st rounder for the next 2 seasons.

      The 1st rounder that the Raptors sent to San Antonio likely won’t affect them that much, because if they finish high in the standings - which they should - then the pick will be in the mid-to-high 20’s. But once you start trading picks multiple years down the line, you’re entering a danger zone because you have no idea what will be happening in a few years and you could end being like the Brooklyn Nets; a rebuilding team that has no 1st round picks.

      So, let’s say the Raptors do well this year and end up re-signing Kawhi, then you can trade your picks all you want because you have the assurance that it’ll be a low pick, and that you won’t be missing out on any top talents. But as long as you’re unsure about the future of the team, don’t mortgage anymore of your future. I say, you play this year out, and then if you can convince Kawhi to stay, go ahead and add to this team by trading away draft picks. But for now, hang onto the picks and young guys until you know for sure that Kawhi is staying.

      It would definitely be pretty cool to see the Raptors go out and get another star player. But unless they can do that for a small return, I don’t think it’s a good idea. I’m interested to see where this Jimmy Butler saga goes, because he is a very good player. But as long as Kawhi’s future is unknown, the Raptors should stay away from trading away more assets in my opinion.


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