RAPTORS BLOG: Powell’s outstanding season continued as he lit up Brooklyn — Toronto Sun

Toronto made quick work of Brooklyn in the first round for a variety of reasons, but one of them was the best playoff series of Norman Powell’s career. Powell, the second-longest-tenured Raptor after Kyle Lowry, has had a handful of brilliant individual post-season games for the club — some good enough to turn entire series…

RAPTORS BLOG: Powell’s outstanding season continued as he lit up Brooklyn — Toronto Sun

LOWRY HAS SPRAINED ANKLE

LOWRY INJURY UPDATE

The Toronto Raptors announced Monday that guard Kyle Lowry has been diagnosed with a left ankle sprain.

Lowry underwent an MRI on the NBA Campus in Orlando after the injury, which occurred in the first quarter of Sunday evening’s game. His condition will be updated as appropriate.

Lowry averaged 19.4 points, a team-high 7.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 36.2 minutes in 58 games with the Raptors this season. In six games during the NBA restart at Disney, he averaged 16.7 points, 5.7 assists, 6.8 rebounds and 32.9 minutes.

In the first round of the NBA Playoffs vs. Brooklyn, Lowry posted averages of 12.5 points, 4.8 assists and 7.0 rebounds in 29.9 minutes. He scored in double figures three times, including 21 points in Game 2, and had one double-double against the Nets.

Raptors complete the sweep but Lowry injury has everyone a little nervous — Toronto Sun

The first round is in the rearview mirror now for the Raptors, but the path ahead potentially got a little tougher. The Raptors did the expected and handled the undermanned Nets in quick fashion for the first sweep in franchise history, but nine minutes into the Game 4 knockout punch, a 150-122 win, the Raptors’ […]

Raptors complete the sweep but Lowry injury has everyone a little nervous — Toronto Sun

Raptors complete the sweep but Lowry injury has everyone a little nervous

Author of the article:Mike GanterPublishing date:Aug 24, 2020  •  Last Updated 11 hours ago  •  4 minute read

Raptors guard Norman Powell dunks against Jarrett Allen of the Nets during the second half in Game 4 of the first round of the NBA playoffs at The Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. KIM KLEMENT / POOL / Getty Images

The first round is in the rearview mirror now for the Raptors, but the path ahead potentially got a little tougher.

The Raptors did the expected and handled the undermanned Nets in quick fashion for the first sweep in franchise history, but nine minutes into the Game 4 knockout punch, a 150-122 win, the Raptors’ worst fears may have been realized.

Kyle Lowry, on the move, stepped on Chris Chiozza’s foot and turned his left ankle just as he reached the Nets three-point line. Lowry, as is his custom, was up to argue the lack of a foul call on the play but did so limping. He stayed in the game for the next possession but at the first stoppage jogged, again limping, directly to the locker room, not to be seen again.

Without imaging equipment at the arena in Orlando, Lowry was taken off-site (but still in the bubble) to have the ankle looked at. He is scheduled to have an MRI on the arch of his left foot on Monday.

Raptors guard Kyle Lowry battles for the ball against Jarrett Allen of the Nets during the first half in Game 4 of the first round of the NBA playoffs at The Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. KIM KLEMENT / POOL/Getty Images

Head coach Nick Nurse knows exactly what losing Lowry, going into a series with Boston, will mean.

“I won’t be very comfortable without Kyle out there, I will say that. He’s certainly a big engine for us,” Nurse said. “But I would say, I think that we play a system or a style where lots of guys are involved and it’s not like, yeah, we’re going to miss all those great, great things Kyle does if he doesn’t play, but somebody else has got to take shots and play defence and play tough and do the things that he does to make up for it. Or we do it by committee, that’s probably a better way.”

But Nurse was not ready to concede anything to the injury gods just yet.

“It would hurt us a lot,” Nurse said. “All I can say is, you guys know how big a cog he is to this whole thing. He’s our most experienced, toughest leader we got. I don’t want to speculate and answer a million questions on whether he’s playing or not until we know whether he’s playing or not and we’ve got a few days for that.

“But I would imagine this: It’s going to be a hell of an injury to keep him off the floor. It’s not going to be a little thing. He’s going to try to figure it out. He played, I don’t know how many, 14 or 16 straight playoff games last year with a totally messed up left thumb, running through the Finals last year. It’s going to take something pretty serious to keep him out.”

Lowry’s absence for the bulk of Game 4 further complicated things for the Raptors who were already making do without Fred VanVleet, who picked up three quick fouls in the first seven minutes and would not return to the game until the third quarter.
Throw in some early foul trouble for reserve guards Norm Powell and Terence Davis and one might think the Raptors were in a little trouble.

But if this team has shown one consistent trait this year, it is being able to absorb a blow that might dismantle others and find a way to win. Sunday night that trait was in full view.

Powell and Serge Ibaka came off the bench and helped the Raptors put up 77 in that first half, which is a franchise record for a playoff game.

“Breakin’ records.”

First postseason series sweep ☑️ pic.twitter.com/DlKoLZ9Ryd— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) August 24, 2020

Powell finished with a playoff-best 29 points in 24 minutes on 9-of-14 shooting. Right with him was Ibaka, who 27 points and a team-best 15 rebounds in just 20 minutes.
VanVleet returned to the floor to start the second half but wound up playing just 19 minutes.

Playing without key men is nothing new to the Raptors. They’ve done it all season with everyone on the team missing time at some point due to injury with the exception of OG Anunoby and Davis.

“One thing about us, we know we have a lot of guys who can play,” Ibaka said after the game. “We don’t really worry about who’s going to score 30 or 40 every night. We are not that type of team where one guy is going to score 30 or 40. So we just come and try to play basketball: Move the ball, whoever’s hot, we’re going to go with him, and that’s why we are always there, even when we have guys down.”https://www.youtube.com/embed/AhS3CnGZn2k?embed_config={%27relatedChannels%27:%20[],%27autonav%27:true}&autoplay=0&playsinline=1

As good as Powell and Ibaka were, the Raptors bench as a whole deserved a ton of credit in this one. It scored 100 points with contributions and scoring from all eight reserves that took the floor — a Raptors and an NBA record.

The old playoff mark was 86 set by Dallas. The all-time mark for bench points from a team in a game was set by Golden State with 94 in 1977.

The Raptors win sets up the much-anticipated second-round matchup with the Boston Celtics who themselves completed the sweep of the Philadelphia 76ers earlier in the day. The two Atlantic-division foes have never met in the playoffs.

The Celtics lost guard Gordon Hayward with an ankle injury of his own earlier in the playoff round but they still boast a tough lineup with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, and now likely Marcus Smart joining the starting five with Hayward out.

Already this season the two teams have played four highly entertaining games with the Celtics winning three including one since the re-start.

RAPTORS-CELTICS SCHEDULE (Best-of-seven series)

Game 1 – Thursday, August 27

Game 2 – Saturday, August 29

Game 3 – Monday, August 31

Game 4 – Wednesday, September 2

Game 5* – Friday, September 4

Game 6* – Sunday, September 6

Game 7* – Tuesday, September 8

mganter@postmedia.com

WOLSTAT: Ibaka was massive in Raptors sweep of Nets — Toronto Sun

Serge Ibaka didn’t have to start to finish off the Brooklyn Nets. Read More

WOLSTAT: Ibaka was massive in Raptors sweep of Nets — Toronto Sun

Serge Ibaka didn’t have to start to finish off the Brooklyn Nets.

The Raptors big man had his third strong game in the four first-round contests on Sunday, completely dominating the Nets at both ends of the floor.

WOLSTAT: Ibaka was massive in Raptors sweep of Nets

A game after hauling down 13 rebounds off the bench, three behind Bismack Biyombo’s reserve record, Ibaka had 15. He also scored 27 points, which would have been a new franchise scoring mark for a reserve, except Norman Powell bested him with 29 as the team set an NBA bench mark with 100 points from the pine. Ibaka hit each of his three three-point attempts for the second game in a row and Brooklyn had no answers for him.

It was the fourth time Ibaka had scored at least 20 in a non-starting role, extending his Raptors record, and he was the first player with at least 27 and 15 off the bench since Mychal Thompson in 1988.

Ibaka collected his fifth playoff double-double as a Raptor, which tied him with Chris Bosh (who granted did it in far fewer games) and two behind Pascal Siakam, who also posted a double-double on Sunday.

Heading into Game 4, his best of the series, Toronto had already been 27.1 points per 100 possessions better with Ibaka on the floor compared to when he was on the bench against the Nets.

Ibaka even handed out eight assists in the series — many of them quite pretty helpers — against only three turnovers.

Starting centre Marc Gasol was pretty average against Brooklyn for the most part, and much more will be expected out of him in the next round against the Boston Celtics. But it’s unclear if that’s a good matchup, since Boston is small and quick. It’s quite possible that Ibaka will be called on quite a bit in what projects to be a razor-thin series.

Ibaka said post-game that Boston presents many challenges.

“We know they’re a great team. They’re playing one of the best basketball right now, and they have confidence,” he said. “We know it’s not going to be easier. We have to come to play our best basketball against them.”

The Celtics had their way with Toronto earlier this month in Orlando, with Ibaka turning in perhaps his worst game of the year, but the big man was decent-to-excellent in the other three meetings, though Boston won three of the four.

Ibaka will become an unrestricted free agent whenever this season ends, so it’s possible these are his final games as a Raptor. If that’s the case, he will have left quite the legacy with his big playoff moments. Ibaka hit some massive shots and made some huge defensive stands against the likes of Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Golden State. He’ll surely be called on again as these playoffs continue.

SIXERS FALL SHORT

When Kawhi Leonard’s miraculous four-bounce shot fell last year, the Raptors were elated to survive what would end up being their toughest series on the way to the NBA title.

With young superstars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, plus Jimmy Butler, JJ Redick and Tobias Harris, Philadelphia seemed to be on the verge of being a major force for years to come. But much like when the Raptors lost to the Sixers back in 2001 with the future looking so bright for Toronto before it all fell apart, Philadelphia seems poised to be going down that road too.

They meekly bowed out against Boston on Sunday, getting swept. Head coach Brett Brown is expected to be fired. Embiid has once again said he needs to be better and Simmons is trying to get healthy. Oh, and they project to have one of the biggest payrolls in league history next year, despite letting Butler and Redick go and oddly adding big man Al Horford.

Not great, Bob.

Meanwhile, Boston looks great and Jaylen Brown said after the sweep when asked if the Celtics had a better team than last year’s group that fell in five games in Round 2 to Milwaukee: “I think we’re a better team and I think we’ll prove it.”

The Sixers probably think they’re a better team than they showed too, but don’t expect them to get a chance to prove that. There will be changes coming.

LUKA MAGIC

In Sunday’s thrilling overtime win against Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers, young superstar Luka Doncic became only the third player with a 40-point, 15-rebound, 10-assist playoff game. Charles Barkley did it in 1993 for Phoenix, Oscar Robertson in 1963 with Cincinnati.

Doncic also joined Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kawhi and Damian Lillard as the only players to score at least 40 in a post-season game and hit a buzzer-beater, according to Basketball-reference. Only Magic Johnson posted consecutive playoff triple-doubles at a younger age than Doncic.

Oh, and Doncic did it on a severely sprained ankle.

It never made sense that three teams decided to pass on the Slovenian sensation when given the chance and it never will.

AROUND THE RIM

Paul George is not having much of a series against Dallas. He’s averaging just 15.3 points per game on 29% shooting … Toronto improved to 10-7 in potential series closeout games and now only the Los Angeles Clippers and Minnesota Timberwolves have never swept a four-game series … NBA coach of the year Nick Nurse now has a 20-8 playoff record and will tie Dwane Casey for the team record with his next win.