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Toronto Raptors

Why Toronto had to do the Demar DeRozan-Kawhi Leonard deal

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Yesterday’s deal between the Toronto Raptors and the San Antonio Spurs epitomizes the old cliché of the NBA being just a business. Kawhi Leonard is the league’s biggest malcontent, while Demar DeRozan has been a true example of class and loyalty. As CBS reported, NBA players and former Raptors attacked the Raptors, with Terrence Ross declaring that the Raptors needed to build a statue for DeRozan.

But as loyal as DeRozan was, the fact that he can be described as the greatest player in Toronto’s history is not a good sign. Toronto one week ago was in a fairly weak position as they looked back at running the Kyle Lowry-DeRozan duo for another season. Now things have changed with this trade, and there is practically no way the Raptors can lose no matter how the Kawhi in Toronto era ends. That is why they had to make this trade.

Finals or a Rebuild?

Toronto’s precarious position can be summed up with a single fact: according to Spotrac, the Raptors had the highest team salary in the Eastern Conference and the third most in the league behind Oklahoma City and Golden State. And yet no one thinks they can win a title and few think they can make it to the NBA Finals.

Yes, LeBron is in the West now. But Boston looks as scary as any non-Warriors team with the return of Irving and Hayward as well as the continued development of Brown and Tatum. The Sixers are dangerous, and there are other teams like Milwaukee which could take another step forward.

Toronto has some prospects like OG Anunoby or the just-traded Jakob Poetl. But this team is paying high salaries to players like Lowry, Ibaka, and Valanciunas, bought after conducting a free background check, who are either declining or will not grow much further. And everyone knows the weaknesses of the Lowry-DeRozan combo. Even if LeBron was the one who dealt them the finishing blow over the past three seasons, the Raptors never made things look easy and struggled to put away inferior teams in the playoffs.

Leonard will not fix the fact that Serge Ibaka is no longer a defensive force nor that Valanciunas is too slow to keep up with the modern NBA playstyle. But there are two things he will do. First is the obvious fact that Leonard should be a much better player than DeRozan (though it is possible that he will not be the same, whether due to injury or his mood). Leonard should be able to play alongside Lowry well as a three-point shooter and shot creator, will improve Toronto defensively, and generally brings star power that the Raptors have never had recently.

The second thing is that Leonard improves Toronto’s finances. By trading DeRozan for Leonard, the Raptors have shaved one year off a major contract, as DeRozan will be a free agent in 2020 instead of 2019 for Leonard. If Leonard and Valanciunas, both of whom have player options in 2019, leave, the Raptors would have cap space for a major player.

A more likely scenario in that scenario is that if Leonard leaves, Toronto would be in a solid position to begin a rebuild in 2019. They could trade Lowry for young prospects to a team looking for that one missing piece and look to start over. Would they have been willing to bite that bullet with DeRozan still on the team? Even if they had, blowing things up would have been harder.

In summation, the Raptors before this summer had found themselves in the tough position of paying a lot of money for a team which had little chance of reaching the Finals let alone winning it all. By trading for Leonard, they have increased their variance. Either Leonard clicks (Bleacher Report reports that he is already warming to the idea of being a Raptor) which helps Toronto take another step forward. Or he fails and the Raptors are in a better position for a rebuild. Raptors fans should be depressed about losing a tough, great person like DeRozan, but can know that their team is much better off. At the end of the day, the NBA is a business.

Boston Celtics

NBA Playoff Schedule 2018

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Are you ready for the NBA Playoffs? Well, we have you covered with the full NBA Playoff schedule including game times, TV coverage info, matchups and dates.

Here is how things are breaking down, schedule wise, per NBA.com. NOTE: * = if necessary

Western Conference

No. 1 Houston Rockets vs. No. 8 Minnesota Timberwolves

Game 1: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets: April 15 at 9 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 2: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets: April 18 at 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves: April 21 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 4: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves: April 23 at 8 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets: April 25 at TBD

*Game 6: Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves: April 27 at TBD

*Game 7: Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets: April 29 at TBD

 

No. 2 Golden State Warriors vs. No. 7 San Antonio Spurs

Game 1: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors: April 14 at 3 p.m. ET on ABC

Game 2: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors: April 16 at 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs: April 19 at 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 4: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs: April 22 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC

*Game 5: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors: April 24 at TBD

*Game 6: Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs: April 26 at TBD

*Game 7: San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors: April 28 at TBD

 

No. 3 Portland Trail Blazers vs. No. 6 New Orleans Pelicans

Game 1: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers: April 14 at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 2: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers: April 17 at 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans: April 19 at 9 p.m. ET on NBA TV

Game 4: Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans: April 21 at 5 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers: April 24 at TBD

*Game 6: Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans: April 26 at TBD

*Game 7: New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers: April 28 at TBD

 

No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 5 Utah Jazz

Game 1: Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder: April 15 at 6:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 2: Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder: April 18 at 8 p.m. ET on NBA TV

Game 3: Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz: April 21 at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 4: Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz: April 23 at 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder: April 25 at TBD

*Game 6: Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz: April 27 at TBD

*Game 7: Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder: April 29 at TBD

 

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 8 Washington Wizards

Game 1: Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors: April 14 at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 2: Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors: April 17 at 7 p.m. ET on NBA TV

Game 3: Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards: April 20 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2

Game 4: Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards: April 22 at 6 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors: April 25 at TBD

*Game 6: Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards: April 27 at TBD

*Game 7: Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors: April 29 at TBD

 

No. 2 Boston Celtics vs. No. 7 Milwaukee Bucks

Game 1: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics: April 15 at 1 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 2: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics: April 17 at 8 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks: April 20 at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 4: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks: April 22 at 1 p.m. ET on ABC

*Game 5: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics: April 24 at TBD

*Game 6: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks: April 26 at TBD

*Game 7: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics: April 28 at TBD

 

No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers vs. No. 6 Miami Heat

Game 1: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers: April 14 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 2: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers: April 16 at 8 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat: April 19 at 7 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 4: Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat: April 21 at 2:30 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers: April 24 at TBD

*Game 6: Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat: April 26 at TBD

*Game 7: Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers: April 28 at TBD

 

No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 5 Indiana Pacers

Game 1: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers: April 15 at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC

Game 2: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers: April 18 at 7 p.m. ET on TNT

Game 3: Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers: April 20 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN

Game 4: Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers: April 22 at 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT

*Game 5: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers: April 25 at TBD

*Game 6: Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers: April 27 at TBD

*Game 7: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers  April 29 at TBD

 

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Milwaukee Bucks

Milwaukee Bucks Blow Out Toronto Raptors In Game 3

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The Toronto Raptors came out during pre-game introductions to the ‘Barney’ theme song but it was the Milwaukee Bucks who truly embarrassed them.

If it wasn’t for the Chicago Bulls shocking the Boston Celtics right now, the NBA world would be talking about the young Milwaukee Bucks who are showing everyone that their rebuild process is far ahead of schedule.

The Bucks beat down, humiliated and manhandled the Raptors in Game 3, 104-77 and left many wondering if Toronto could rebound from such a devastating loss.

“We got our ass busted” Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry said after the game.

Milwaukee did all of this without a monster game from superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo who scored 19 points and pulled down 8 boards.

The Bucks, thanks in part to Tony Snell’s smothering defense, held DeMar DeRozan to an abysmal 0-8 shooting, making him the first 25-points-per-game scorer to go 0-for-3 or worse in an NBA playoff game in the same season.

Yikes.

“I still think we can win the series,” Lowry said. “It’s a terrible feeling, the way we got our ass beat. It’s a terrible feeling. [But] our confidence is not changed. We’ll be fine.”

Bucks coach Jason Kidd spoke about the team’s experience level in matching up with Toronto.

“I’m a young coach, so I think we all fit with the experience level,” said Kidd.

“The guys on the floor and on the bench support them, and the coaching staff has done everything to prepare them for this moment. It’s up to them to be basketball players, and they’re very comfortable with doing that. We try to keep things simple and have fun with it, and they do all the work.”

Toronto was held to 77 points, it’s lowest playoff score since they scored 63 against the Detroit Pistons in 2002.

“They ambushed us,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “There was no aspect of our game that we executed whatsoever.”

“We’ll make changes … As a staff we have to do a better job of finding ways for openings and space for us to score” Casey said.

The Eastern Conference may have to prepare to be shocked, especially if both the Bulls and the Bucks can pull off the big 1st round upsets.

The NBA has been turned upside down. For the moment at least.

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NBA

Toronto Raptors’ Kyle Lowry Out 4-6 Weeks Due To Wrist Surgery

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After making a flurry of moves leading up to the NBA trade deadline that brought in talent such as Serge Ibaka and Pj Tucker, the Toronto Raptors were dealt a major blow to their promising playoff chances.

The team announced that All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry will undergo right wrist surgery, a procedure that could keep Lowry out around four to six weeks. Toronto is hoping to have Lowry back in time for the NBA Playoffs.

The Raptors (35-24) are currently in 4th place in the Eastern Conference with Lowry averaging a career-high 22.8 points per game with 6.9 assists and 4.7 rebounds this season.

Toronto will likely turn to the free agent pool or waiver wire to see which talent could be available during Lowry’s absence.

One player to keep an eye on is Brandon Jennings who was recently released by the New York Knicks. While Jennings was unable to perform to expectations in the New York he could be a serviceable pick-up due to his experience alone.

The Raptors said that the surgery to remove loose bodies from Lowry’s wrist will take place on Tuesday.

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