OG Anunoby will miss his ninth straight game with a strained calf tonight against the Boston Celtics, but could return on Sunday. Yuta Watanabe is also out again with a sprained ankle, he is also expected to return Sunday.
INJURY REPORT AT 5:39 P.M.
TOR@BOS Boston Celtics Langford, Romeo Out Injury/Illness – Right Wrist; Surgery Rehabilitation Smart, Marcus Out Injury/Illness – Left Calf; Tear Williams III, Robert Out Injury/Illness – Left Hip; Soreness Toronto Raptors Anunoby, OG Questionable Injury/Illness – Left Calf; Strain Flynn, Malachi Out G League – On Assignment Harris, Jalen Out G League – Two-Way McCaw, Patrick Out Injury/Illness – Left Knee; Surgery – rehabilitation Watanabe, Yuta Doubtful Injury/Illness – Left Ankle; Sprain
Q. Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun: How good do you feel for Ilya getting his first tonight? I notice Nik Antropov working with him, have you had some of the other coaches trying to keep his confidence going?
Sheldon Keefe: I feel great for him. First of all, he’s worked extremely hard, not just in our games, and he’s had a ton of chances and he’s really worked, he’s maintained his good defensive play. He’s continued to work at his game in practices and off days, development days. It’s nice to see him get rewarded, for sure. You like to see that.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: John Tavares was talking about the mindset coming out in the third wanting to have your best period of the season. What did you see from the team that allowed them to eventually grab the upper hand against a quality opponent tonight?
Sheldon Keefe: That was our mindset. It was more just really trying to put at the forefront the fact that it’s an important game, one we want to find a way to the right side of, and pushed our guys just to have a real good start to the period. I thought we had played a fine game, but I don’t think we had any real strong pushes and we wanted that. I thought we got it. Just thought we had a little extra jump to start the period.
I thought we caught them on their heels a little bit and we attacked a lot quicker in transition. All those kind of things really helped us there. I thought we were really good defensively as well, even when they got the puck there at the start of the third. We created a lot of turnovers and helped us transition. That was a big part of it. Obviously, Justin Holl’s slapshot had a lot to do with it too.
Q. Josh Clipperton, Canadian Press: Just the way Freddie held you guys in certain points, just talk about his game tonight.
Sheldon Keefe:I thought he was good. Obviously, he wants to have the first shot back. Took him a little bit to get going in the game as it did our team, but he was solid after that. A lot of shots coming from the point and from the walls, a lot of stuff gets thrown in, a lot of the traffic makes it more challenging against this team. At the same time, I think like we’ve been talking about all offseason and all through camp, our job, as a team, is to help Fred out and do the job in front of them. I thought we did that today. There was a lot of things that I’d like to do better so we can control play a little bit better, more like we did at the start of the third period. But again, defensively today, we just didn’t give them much at all.
In fact, I had this as the lowest number of scoring chances we gave up in a game all season. Despite some of the volume I thought our guys did a really good job of protecting the middle of the ice, not giving anything up odd-man. The first goal they got in behind us a little bit right at the start of the game, but that was really it. They never got behind us again off the rush. Those were some of the things we talked about as keys for the game coming in and I thought our players stuck with it. And then Fred was solid for us.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: Sheldon, you mentioned the whole slapshot like what are you thinking when you see that? Do you see that as a sign of a really confident guy? He was telling us he looked off William, he saw him beaver tapping a bit in the corner of his eye but went for it. What do you see when you watch that?
Sheldon Keefe: He and Derms, it’s just kind of a parting of the seas and, in both cases, the defenders and probably the goaltender aren’t expecting them to shoot like that and take them on. Not often you’re going to beat Carey Price with a clean shot like that, but obviously they did. Two great shots to the top of the net and massive goals for us.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: How is the team dealing with these types of games, tighter games but finding a way to get the win?
Frederik Andersen: I think the patience in our game, that confidence that we don’t have to force it and let the plays develop and really stick to our process and system. Just wait and not force anything that’s not there, that patience is really paying off.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: You see these guys in practice all the time, Travis Dermott, Justin Holl, did you know they had shots like that and the confidence to go out there and beat a goalie like Carey Price?
Frederik Andersen: Yeah I think both of them have great shots. It was probably a little more time and space there for Justin’s goal and he just took advantage and said thank you so it was a great shot.
Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: The North Division seems to have all the goal scorers, how tough is it for goalies to know that every team night after night is coming at you?
Frederik Andersen: It’s another part of the job description I guess. I think every team is going to try and limit their time and space and for our players to gain as much space as they can and challenge their goalie. We’ve got a lot of great talent up front too so I don’t think we’re too worried about that just have to keep the confidence that we can score goals too. I think we’ve done a really good job of keeping them to the outside, especially tonight. They like to shoot the puck a lot and everyone kept them far away from the net so helped me out a lot.
Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: Talk about Freddie and what he’s meant to you on nights when maybe you don’t have your best game for a couple of periods to get you going, to keep you in game. What’s he doing that you’ve been liking?
Justin Holl: Totally. He’s making a lot of saves. He’s making critical saves, too. Timely saves when we really need them and he’s allowing us to find our game and he’s allowing us to catch fire at the right time. I really can’t say enough good things about what he’s done for our squad. He’s feeling it, and it’s really great for us.
Q. Luke Fox, Sportsnet: I’m guessing scoring is not on your mind when you start a game but how good does that feel, especially when it’s been a while?
Justin Holl: Yeah, for sure. I think that’s not my number one role but it feels good to contribute offensively and, like you said, it has been a while. It’s actually been a while since I scored on a goalie. I think my last one was an empty-netter and then it was a while previously before that one. It feels good and I’m just happy we were able to get the win.
Q. Luke Fox, Sportsnet: Any joking or chirping about the length of the goal drought?
Justin Holl: Uh, no. Everyone’s been pretty nice about it.
Q. Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun: Obviously, we see tonight the importance of guys picking it up a bit when Auston and Mitch aren’t on the scoresheet but what does it mean to yourself to contribute like this and see Ilya score his first and Dermott get his first in over a year as well?
Justin Holl: Absolutely, I think that’s good for our group because we obviously rely heavily on our star players and they’re bringing it every night but on the odd night that they’re held in check or call it what you want, it’s nice to see some secondary scoring. That’s the mark of really good teams.
Q. Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun: Now that we’ve seen the shot can we expect to see it again sometime?
Justin Holl: Yeah, exactly. I’ve uncorked it now. There’s no turning back.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: Can you take us through the thought process – you’ve got the puck, you have time, you’re staring down Carey Price, what are you seeing as that unfolds?
Justin Holl: Yeah, JT gave me the puck. Really nice pass. I was able to find some space and I wound up and right when I would up I saw Willie out of the corner of my eye beaver-tailing, so as I came down I was like, ‘oh man, Willie’s going to want this biscuit,’ you know? But it went in and all’s well that ends well.
Q. Josh Clipperton, Canadian Press: The team’s relied so much on you and [Marner} for offence this year. I’m wondering what it does for the team and how nice it is to see a lot of guys get their first tonight?
Auston Matthews: I think it’s great. It just builds confidence throughout the lineup. Dermy’s been out for a bit, he comes back, scores a big, big goal for us. Holl as well. Mickey gets his first. I think that’s just all really positive stuff for us. Those guys start feeling it, get confidence, they start rolling. It’s great. It was a huge win for us tonight as well.
Q. Josh Clipperton, Canadian Press: How did you see the game play out in general? It looked a little bit like last game, it took you guys a little bit to get going and then you found your legs in the final period.
Auston Matthews: I thought the first 10, we kind of weathered the storm there. Then we started to get some opportunities and then there was just periods in the game there where they put their foot on the gas and we were back on our heels and vice versa. That’s a good team over there. They’ve got a lot of depth, great goaltending and they play really tight defensively so I think it’s a testament to our game tonight and just sticking with it, couple of big goals by our guys and hanging on there in the end.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: Ilya got his first of the season but we know he’s had his chances. What sort of offensive upside do you see for him?
Auston Matthews: He’s so fast. I think you see it every night. His ability to get around defenders and get in there on the forecheck first. He’s had plenty of instance this season where he’s just blown by defence and he’s hit crossbars or the boys made good save. It’s definitely frustrating at times for sure. It’s really nice to see him break through tonight. He’s a big part of this team. He’s plays a really solid role for us. It’s always good to see those guys get going and hopefully this leads to more and more goals for him
Q. Kevin McGran, Toronto Star: What does it do for team morale when you get a bunch of goals from guys that haven’t been scoring or are maybe not even counted on to score, when they contribute on nights when your big guys actually are kept off the board?
John Tavares: It’s massive. We’ve got guys all through our lineup that can contribute offensively. I think there’s no doubt about that. It’s great to see Mickey get. He must have had the most chances in the League without one yet so definitely great to see him get rewarded for the way he’s been playing. The pressure he puts on the opponent, just the threat that he is, how hard he is to play against and Dermy with a great shot, Holl with a great shot. Just great contributions, guys jumping into play and being assertive. They’re really good players and can contribute offensively. Just taking advantage of those opportunities, well deserved. It’s always a good feeling on the bench and in the room when those guys contribute.
Q. Mark Masters, TSN: What was your perspective on Justin’s goal? He was joking afterwards in his postgame interview that he maybe looked off William there. What did you see on that sequence?
John Tavares: He just had so much time to come down the middle and take his time. It was just a hell of a shot, the way he was able to tee it up, pick the corner on one of the best goalies in the League. Holler’s just got great instincts. I think he’s shown more and more offence as he’s gotten comfortable for the last couple years. His game continues to grow. Just great. Great job, whatever it was. I just saw it go in, it was a hell of a shot, upper part of the net. Obviously, a big one for us.
RAPTORS NOTES • The Toronto Raptors finish a six-game road trip (Feb. 2-11), their longest in the first half, with the second game of a back-to-back set Thursday night when they visit the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. The Raptors have won five of their last six games and are 4-1 on their current road trip. After starting the 2020-21 campaign with one win in seven games, Toronto has an opportunity against the Celtics to get back to .500 (12-13) for the first time this season. The Raptors play 10-of-15 games on the road in February. • The Raptors announced today that they will finish the 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida. Because of ongoing border restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and mindful of public safety measures in Canada, the team has decided they will continue to play their home games at Amalie Arena. • Norman Powell scored nine of his game-high 28 points in the first quarter last night at Washington. Powell has now scored 20+ points in eight of his last nine games played (Jan. 22 – Feb. 10). He is averaging a team-high 23.4 points, while shooting .507 (74-146) from the field, .475 (29-61) from beyond the arc and .872 (34-39) at the free throw line during this stretch. Since Jan. 22, Powell ranks sixth in the NBA averaging 9.1 points in the first quarter. • The Raptors have tied a franchise record with 120+ points in five straight games (Feb. 2-10). Toronto is averaging 126.4 points and shooting .494 (221-447) from the floor, inlcuding .462 (85-184) from three-point range, over the last five. The Raptors have three players averaging 20+ points during the current streak – Fred VanVleet (27.2), Pascal Siakam (23.6) and Norman Powell (23.6). The last time Toronto scored 120+ points in five consecutive games was Nov. 21-29, 2018. • Chris Boucher posted his career-high third straight double-double (Feb. 6-10), and team high-tying seventh of the season, last night at Washington. Boucher finished with 17 points and a career-best 16 rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench against the Wizards. Over the last three games, he is averaging 19.3 points and 12.0 rebounds. Boucher is just the second player in franchise history to record three consecutive double-doubles as a reserve, joining Donyell Marshall (March 9-13, 2005). • Kyle Lowry needs six rebounds to pass Amir Johnson (2,836) for fourth on the franchise’s career rebounds list and is nine away from passing Antonio Davis (2,839) for third. Lowry ranks first in Raptors history in assists (4,084) and third in scoring (10,126). Only three active players are inside the top-three all-time for a team in scoring, rebounds and assists, but none of those players are currently with that team; LeBron James (Cleveland), Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City) and Marc Gasol (Memphis). • Fred VanVleet (20.4) and Chris Boucher (13.9) rank second and third, respectively, in scoring among undrafted players this season – behind only Christian Wood (22.0). VanVleet’s franchise record 54 points Feb. 2 at Orlando was the most points scored by an undrafted player in NBA history.
The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday that they will finish the 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida. Because of ongoing border restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic and mindful of public safety measures in Canada, the team has decided they will continue to play their home games at Amalie Arena.
“Florida has been really welcoming to us and we’re so grateful for the hospitality we’ve found in Tampa and at Amalie – we’re living in a city of champions, and we intend to carry on the tradition of winning for our new friends and fans here,” Raptors President Masai Ujiri said. “But home is where the heart is, and our hearts are in Toronto. We think often of our fans, of our Scotiabank Arena family, and all those we are missing back home, and we can’t wait until we can all be together again.”
The Raptors initially announced in November that Amalie Arena, in downtown Tampa, would serve as their home court for the first half of the 2020-21 season. A schedule release for the second half of the season is expected in the coming days.
Travis Dermott put the Maple Leafs on the board with a goal at 15:18 of the second period. Dermott’s goal is his first point of the 2020-21 season. He had four goals and seven assists in 56 games during the 2019-20 season.
Justin Holl scored the second Toronto goal of the night at 1:50 of the third period. Holl’s goal is his first of 2020-21. He has six points (1-5-6) in 14 games played this season.
Ilya Mikheyev scored the third Maple Leafs goal of the game at 2:32 of the third period. Mikheyev’s goal is his first of the season. He has points (1-1-2) in two consecutive games. He has registered three points (1-2-3) in seven games on the road this season.
Zach Hyman had the secondary assist on Mikheyev’s third period goal and later scored the fourth Toronto goal into an empty net at 18:56 of the third period. Tonight’s empty net goal is Hyman’s 13th career empty net goal, making him the all-time franchise leader in the category. Hyman has five points (3-3-6) over his last five games played. Tonight’s game is his second multi-point performance of 2020-21. He has a goal and two assists in two games against Montreal this season. In 15 career games against the Canadiens, Hyman has recorded 13 points (5-8-13), his most against any opponent.
Jake Muzzin registered the primary assist on Dermott’s second period goal and later added the secondary assist on Holl’s third period goal before picking up the secondary assist on Hyman’s third period goal. His three assists tie his career-high for assists in a game (Previous: Dec. 11, 2014 Los Angeles at Ottawa) and his career-high for points in a game (3 – 9x). Muzzin has six assists over his last five games played. Tonight’s game is his second multi-assist and multi-point game of the season. He has registered six points (1-5-6) in seven games on the road this season. He has 13 points (4-9-13) in 18 career games against Montreal.
John Tavares had the secondary assist before recording the primary assist on Mikheyev’s third period goal. Tavares has five points (1-4-5) over his last five games. He has seven points (1-6-7) in seven games played on the road in 2020-21. In 37 career games against Montreal, he has recorded 35 points (15 goals, 20 assists).
Alex Kerfoot recorded the primary assist on Mikheyev’s third period goal. Kerfoot has points (1-1-2) in two consecutive games. He has six points (2-4-6) in nine career games against the Canadiens. He has three points (1-2-3) in seven games on the road this season.
Auston Matthews registered the primary assist on Hyman’s third period goal. Matthews has points (9-2-11) in eight consecutive games. He has eight points (5-3-8) in seven games played on the road in 2020-21.
Frederik Andersen stopped 33 shots to earn his ninth win of the season.
The Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns attempts to block a shot by the Clippers’ Serge Ibaka during the first half of Wednesday’s game in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone) The Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard soars to the basket as the Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns defends during the first half of Wednesday’s game in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone) The Timberwolves’ Anthony…