Observations From Toronto’s Locker Room After Beating Orlando 104-100

Here are 11 observations, notes and quotes from Toronto’s locker room after they beat Orlando 104-100:

  • Lucas Nogueira was in a great mood after the game and borrowed a reporters recorder for a mock interview with Greg Stiemsma. Also worth noting is Nogueira was rocking the purple shirt fans were given at the game last Friday.
  • Dwane Casey: “We can’t be annoyed when teams come out and give us their best shot.”
  • Greivis Vasquez and Terrence Ross appear to be in a battle to see who has the flashiest kicks. Both players had bright neon kicks in their lockers.
  • Speaking of kicks, you probably can’t tell on TV that Vasquez takes a Sharpie to his shoes and writes motivational stuff on ‘em. Pretty cool, though.
  • Vasquez on Toronto’s defence tonight: “I think our focus wasn’t there and that’s on the players. We should have been more focused. It was a test for our character and we got the win, but it wasn’t pretty.”
  • Patrick Patterson wasn’t happy with Toronto’s effort on the defensive end tonight: “For the first half, pretty much the first three quarters, I thought the lack of effort was pretty much shown throughout those time periods. Our inability to communicate meant we couldn’t stop them in transition or from getting easy buckets in the paint and at the perimeter when they were shooting 3’s. We know they are a 3-point shooting team and a transition team, but, with that being said, we were unable to follow the scouting report.”
  • Orlando shot better from beyond the arc (48%) than Toronto did from the field (45.5%). Ouch.
  • Dwane Casey explained what Orlando did to slow down DeMar DeRozan: “They changed up matchups. They were bringing two and a half guys over on him. (Nikola) Vucevic wasn’t really double teaming, but he was meeting DeMar halfway. It made it tough on DeMar. The good thing about it is he found people and he moved the ball. He started passing the ball and then when we got him in some good mid-screen rolls and that really helped us in that situation.”
  • Dwane Casey on the game being too quick for Jonas Valanciunas: “Yeah, when they had (Channing) Frye at the five and (Tobias) Harris at the four, yeah, it was really quick. That’s one of the reasons why he put Patrick Patterson at the five and James (Johnson) at the four and tried to match down to them. That helped us because they came out and were pushing the ball down the floor and they really pushed the tempo on us. That’s one of those things where I thought we had to go to a smaller lineup.”
  • Valanciunas was openly mocked by his teammates for his choice in shirts. Personally, I admire a man who is confident enough to wear a shirt covered with bright pink flowers…
  • Vasquez: “We need to remember we are nobody in this league just yet.”

2015 NBA Championship

The new basketball season is now well and truly under way and based on the games that have been played thus far, the bookies have not changed their outright championship prices much at all. Over at betfair.com, it’s the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers who head the betting for the 2014/15 NBA Championship at odds of 3/1. David Blatt’s side have won three and lost three of their first six games and currently sit in second place in the Central Division behind the Chicago Bulls. The Cavs have invested a lot into this new campaign and the appointment of Blatt was one of the biggest coups of the off-season. Having been named 2014 Euroleague Coach of the Year, David Blatt’s signature was one of the most sought after in the NBA and he is sure to get the Cleveland Cavaliers in shape and make a sustained challenge for the NBA title. The return of LeBron James was another huge positive for the Cavaliers and his presence on the court will undoubtedly give the team a lot more confidence. With other top class players also having joined during the off season, the Cleveland Cavaliers would appear to be worth favourites for the biggest prize in basketball.

Defending champions the San Antonio Spurs are well fancied to make a successful defence of the crown they won last season, and have been put in at odds of 7/2 by the odds compilers at Betfair. Two wins and three defeats have left the Spurs bottom of the South West Division, but there is little between all fives sides in the table at this relatively early stage. Having won their Division title for the last four years the San Antonio Spurs are one of the most consistent teams in the NBA and under Gregg Popovich, have achieved great things. The Spurs made the shock decision to appoint Becky Hammon as an assistant coach at the conclusion of the 2014 WNBA season, and she becomes the first full time female coach in NBA history. It will be interesting to see whether the arrival of Hammon has a big influence on the Spurs over the course of the season.

Having made a good start to the 2014/15 season with six victories in total including four on the road, the Chicago Bulls are definitely a leading contender for the NBA Championship. The Bulls were the dominant force in professional basketball during the nineties, but they have been unable to replicate that success in the nighties and beyond. Things have definitely taken a turn for the better as far as the Bulls are concerned over the past few seasons, and they have managed to win two of the last four division titles. Additions to the squad such as Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott will bolster options for Gar Forman and this team should be able to build on their positive start throughout the remainder of the 2014/15 NBA season.

Keep up to date with all the latest NBA Championship price changes at betfair.com.

Podcast: Buckle Up For Another Wild NBA Season

McNeill and Cheel talked about a wild start to the NBA season, Anthony Davis being in beast mode, Carmelo Anthony’s legacy, Ed Davis talking smack to Charles Barkley and rumors of Kevin Love opting out of his contract this summer.

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“Off The Dribble” Pilot

I’m excited to announce that I’m co-hosting a basketball show on Extra Peterborough 90.5 with Jordan Mercier. We recorded the pilot this afternoon and we are hoping to get the green light to make this a weekly show starting next week.

A big thanks to legendary Toronto Raptors beat writer Doug Smith for being our first guest.

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Podcap: Toronto Beats Washington 103-84

Here’s audio from Amir Johnson, Dwane Casey, DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross after Toronto’s 103-84 win over Washington.

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Observations From Toronto’s Locker Room After Beating Washington 103-84

Here are eight observations, notes and quotes from Toronto’s locker room after they beat Washington 103-84:

  • Amir Johnson was limping through the locker room with his injured ankle secured with a tensor bandage, yet he still had a huge smile on his face. it’s amazing what a big win can do for a players emotions. Despite the setback in the second half tonight, after the game Johnson told the media that he’s hopeful of being able to play on Sunday against Philadelphia.
  • DeMar DeRozan was rocking this epic shirt while talking with the media.
  • Actually, speaking of emotions, this was the most jovial the locker room has been all season. Players were ribbing each other and the atmosphere was upbeat. In fact, Terrence Ross had a tough time getting through his media scrum because he was getting ribbed by teammates and even some members of media from across the locker room.
  • Amir Johnson has been using a shuttle board this week to work on his ankle and help with his range of motion.
  • Ross bristled briefly and appeared flustered when he was asked what it was like matching up against Paul Pierce again. His teammates, however, howled as the question was asked. My assumption is Ross took that playoff series against Brooklyn to heart and there’s a chip on his shoulder to prove he can stop Pierce. Mission accomplished tonight as Pierce was held to eight points while going 3-11 from the field.
  • DeMar DeRozan on wearing the purple jersey tonight: “Oh, man. It meant a lot. Especially to me as a kid who was amazed with the jersey.”
  • Derozan wasn’t the only fan of the purple jerseys as Amir Johnson gushed to the media: “I grew up loving those (purple) jerseys so it was an honour to wear ‘em tonight.”
  • Greivis Vasquez doesn’t only dish out assists on the court. After the game, James Johnson recruited Vasquez to give him a hand buttoning up the wrist buttons on his shirt.

Dwane Casey Compares The Toronto Raptors To Seabiscuit

Dwane Casey was in rare form tonight while comparing the Toronto Raptors and their slow starts to Seabiscuit.

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Weekend Warrior Tips From Harrison Barnes

HB_1

Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes recently took to the outdoor courts of Oakland to share some workout tips with The Red Bulletin Magazine that weekend warriors can incorporate into their routines. Together with respected trainer Travelle Gaines, he shares a three-pronged offseason workout that focuses on lower body, and helps him transition from defense to offense.


1. Lunges:
benefits single leg strength and range of motion in toes/ankles
2. Squat to press:
triple extension workout for ankles, knees and hips
3. Around the World 3’s: five shots from six different spots for shooting form/stamina

“My fitness plays a huge part into my success as a basketball player, “ says Harrison Barnes. “Doing things that make your body fire right, to be explosive as you can, to make sure to be as fast as a you can, those are the things that separate great athletes from the good athletes.”

Podcap: Raptors Hold On To Beat Thunder 100-88

Here’s audio from Dwane Casey, Patrick Patterson, Lou Williams and Kyle Lowry after Toronto’s 100-88 win over Oklahoma City.

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Observations From Raptors’ Locker Room After Beating Thunder 100-88

Here are five observations, notes and quotes from the Toronto Raptors locker room after the team beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 100-88:

  • Amir Johnson was rocking a black OVO jacket that was also Canada Goose. Impressive. Also impressive – and very Canadian – was the lumberjack look Lou Williams was rocking with a red flannel shirt.
  • Lou Williams was struggling to unplug his phone charger from the top shelf in his locker. He had to get Chuck Hayes to give him a hand. #ShortGuyProblems
  • It never fails to amaze me what finely-tuned athletes eat. After the game Patrick Patterson was scarfing down some Pizza Pizza. I shouldn’t judge as I ate some myself before the game… but sat in front of my MacBook pro instead of burning calories while playing 35 minutes.
  • Dwane Casey wasn’t impressed with the defensive effort from his team: “Sometime this year we are going to find some defence from somebody, somewhere. I don’t know when, but we are going to find it.”
  • Kyle Lowry was in an ornery mood after the game and wasn’t too chatty with the media. I kept waiting for him to break into a Rasheed Wallace inspired, “both teams played hard.”

Scott Brooks Tries To Find A Silver Lining With Oklahoma City’s Recent Rash Of Injuries

Losing two all-stars for the first month of an NBA season is never ideal.

However, having Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook miss time due to injuries will allow Oklahoma City Thunder head coach Scott Brooks to give more minutes to Perry Jones, Reggie Jackson, Andre Roberson and Jeremy Lamb. That experience and increased confidence could pay big dividends come playoff time for the Thunder.

Brooks talked about how some of Oklahoma City’s younger players are stepping up early in the season.

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Dwane Casey Explains The Difficulties In Preparing For An Injury-Ravaged Oklahoma City Thunder Team

Dwane Casey talked about how tonight could be a trap game, the danger in playing a team with only eight players suiting up, Serge Ibaka shouldering a larger load and why Oklahoma City’s half-court sets haven’t changed much with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook out.

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NBA Season Preview For SiriusXM

Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day

I joined Norm at Night on SiriusXM to preview the 20-14-15 NBA season. We talked about if the Toronto Raptors can build on last season, if the Cleveland Cavaliers are ready to win a title, why the Charlotte Hornets are a sleeper team and a bunch of other topics.

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Mike Budenholzer Talks About Al Horford’s Impact

Last season the Atlanta Hawks limped into the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference after Al Horford was lost early in the season with a pectoral injury that required surgery.

Mike Budenholzer talked about what Horford’s return means to the Atlanta Hawks, how his all-star big man helps the rest of the team on both ends of the court and the leadership he brings on and off the court.

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Predicting The Pacific Division This Season Won’t Be Tough

For the past two decades, the Pacific Division has been filled with some of the NBA’s top teams.

When Steve Nash was at his peak winning MVP awards, his Phoenix Suns were among the NBA’s elite, regularly winning 50 plus games. The Suns are in the midst of a youth rebuild, so while they may sneak into the playoffs this season, they appear to be at least a year or two away from serious contention.

The Los Angeles Lakers with Kobe Bryant have regularly been championship contenders except for a few years due to injuries and other hiccups. This year the Lakers may be among the worst in the NBA as Bryant attempts to come back from season ending injuries last season and his supporting cast is weak to say the least.

Even the Sacramento Kings have had a few seasons where Chris Webber led them back to prominence. But a core of DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay won’t be enough to lead them back to the playoffs and Rajon Rondo won’t be acquired this season via a trade with the Boston Celtics.

This summer the Golden State Warriors were close to making the jump to become serious contenders but they blinked when the Minnesota Timberwolves asked for Klay Thompson as part of a package for Kevin Love. That hesitation resulted in Golden State needing to offer a huge extension to Thompson a couple of days ago. It’s one thing to build around young players you have drafted and developed, it’s another to pass on one of the top five players in the NBA for a player who has yet – and may never – make an all-star game.

A team with Andrew Bogut, Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Love would have become instant contenders for an NBA Championship. However, now, with Thompson, they are just another strong team in a loaded Western Conference.

The cream of the cop in the division is clearly Los Angeles Clippers who appear poised to move out of Donald Sterling’s shadow and move forward with boisterous new owner Steve Ballmer. The team has an iconic coach in Doc Rivers and two all-stars in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. When you throw DeAndre Jordan’s defensive prowress and Jamaal Crawford’s scoring spark off the bench, the Clipers have a chance to be playing in the NBA Finals this June.