Clippers can’t catch Nets in loss — Whittier Daily News

The Clippers’ priorities entering their final three seeding games in the bubble are clear, Coach Doc Rivers said, first comes rhythm and rest, and then comes winning. The rhythm was furious to start Sunday, Kawhi Leonard didn’t get much rest and, in the end, Brooklyn fended off the Clippers and their star, 129-120. The Nets […]

Clippers can’t catch Nets in loss — Whittier Daily News

COLUMBUS 3, TORONTO 0 GAME 5: What the Leafs said.


Q. (Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun): Sheldon, the reasoning behind your lineup changes tonight and do you feel you got everything from your lineup over the course of this series? 

SHELDON KEEFE: I suspect you’re just asking about Johnsson coming in. That was an easy one for me simply because he felt ready and obviously with what’s stake here today, we wanted to have him a part of it. He’s an important player for us and he’s worked really hard to be ready to play. If he didn’t play today he likely would have played had we won and played game one of the next series so we figured we would use him today. In terms of what we got from our group, I think we had good performances from some people and we had a group of others that I didn’t think performed at their best. That’s pretty typical, it’s pretty rare you’d have everybody going. I thought we had enough out of the people that were important, obviously with the exception of the puck going over the line.

Q. (Chris Johnston, Sportsnet): Can you take us through your rationale or what you were you thinking as you kept Matthews, Marner and Tavares together a lot of the game and just balancing wanting to have it all on one line or balancing the lineup? Those kind of decisions?

SHELDON KEEFE: Well, we’ve found it difficult through this series to generate offence and get chances and I thought that our best opportunity to do so would be to have those guys playing together. Also that I liked Will in the middle when we made the change in game four and the fact that really, in games three and four in particular, our second line was getting outplayed pretty badly. All those things combined, I wanted to go with that today. Made the change to go back in the third period to it just to try see if we could tax their defence a little bit more and have some benefit there, but that didn’t seem to work either, so we went back to it.

Q. (Justin Cuthbert, Yahoo Sports): We’ve heard a lot from the players that they knew what to expect from Columbus in this series. After these losses and the reasons why, they’ve pointed out that they knew what Columbus was good at. Over the five game sample, I’m wondering what from Columbus did surprise you in this series? 

SHELDON KEEFE: I would say that probably, and it’s not necessarily in this series, as we really broke down the video in preparing for the series and then watching them in the exhibition game, for myself that was the first time seeing them live, I had never coached against them. The biggest surprise for me I guess would just be their skill level throughout their lineup. There’s a lot of focus on their defence, Jones and Werenski, but they’ve got a really high skill level at forward. Obviously, Dubois is the game breaker for them, but a real high skill level and it doesn’t necessarily show up on the scoresheet for them all the time, but they’re really good in possession. They hold onto the puck, they can make a play, they put it to good spots, they play with good intelligence. Their forwards are really, really good in those areas of the game. And then obviously just seeing first-hand the fact that Werenski and Jones are as good a D pair as there is in the NHL.

Q. (Kevin McGran, Toronto Star): I know this isn’t really your department, more Kyle’s, but how close an eye will you be keeping on the Draft Lottery Phase 2 tomorrow night where you guys have as good a chance as anybody to landing that pick and, with that, perhaps change your mood right now if you got a game-changer like that? 

SHELDON KEEFE: I’m obviously not focused on it one bit, but it’s the next thing on the calendar for us so I’ll be paying attention to it, but I’ll be thinking about this one for quite a while.

Q. (Mark Masters, TSN): Obviously it’s raw right now, but what do you think this young core can take from this experience in this series? What do you want them to learn from it? 

SHELDON KEEFE: Yeah, Mark, it is raw. I think that for any type of question like that I’m sure there’s going to be ample time for me to answer that and probably give you a better answer. A more in-depth and insightful one. Right now, obviously I’m focused on tonight’s game and the disappointment of not getting this done and the series. Happy to answer any questions on that but anything beyond I think we’ll hold that for the next time I see you guys.

Q. (Jonas Siegel, The Athletic): What do you want your group to take from a season like this? Lessons moving forward. 

SHELDON KEEFE: Same thing, Jonas. I’m sure there’s going to be ample time and I’ll answer every question everybody has. I know this whole experience has been difficult on everybody, but the media in particular with being able to get their questions answered and stuff. I’ll make sure that the next time we’re together I can answer all of those questions for where we go from here. Right now, obviously, my focus is on our disappointment of not being able to get this done and hats off to Columbus for the effort they put forth in this series. It’s a good team that doesn’t give you much, they stay absolutely fully committed into what they are as a group. 

If I reflect on the series for myself, I think there was lots of positives in the series, there was lots of things that we would like to have done better, lots of things I would have liked to have done better. We really challenged our team coming into this to be better defensively, give ourselves a chance and not beat ourselves. I think when I look at two of our three losses, here tonight and in game one, I think we did a really good job of that and playing a patient game, not beating ourselves, not giving up much. The different in games one and five, obviously are three what I would call somewhat lucky goals and we didn’t get quite the same level of luck around the net. Columbus defended extremely well and didn’t give us a great deal, but we had enough chances to score more goals than we did with the two shutouts that we had. A little more luck and it might have been a different result. I’m not sure where it’s going to finish up, but we ended up shooting at about two percent at 5-on-5. For a team like ours to score on two percent of its chances, I think everybody coming into the series would say it’s pretty unlikely. That’s the way that it went.

Q. (Vipal Monga, Wall Street Journal): What sort of a coaching challenge was the five-game format after such a long layoff? 

SHELDON KEEFE: I’m not sure the five-game format necessarily was the greatest challenge. Five or seven, obviously every game becomes more important and a little more urgency. Once you lose game one, you’re on alert that much quicker than you would be in a game during a seven game series. But I think the greatest challenge, of course, is just being off for so long and then coming together and having a two week training camp and then pretty much getting right into it. You can only focus on so many things in trying to get your game up to speed in so many areas. You’re not as prepared as you’d like to be over the course of an 82 game season. That said, I was grateful to have a chance to have a training camp with our team and I thought in the areas we wanted to get better in, in terms of our defence and our patience and our commitment away from the puck, we saw some really positive signs there. Obviously, not good enough. 


Q. (Lance Hornby, Toronto Sun): For John, what happened to the offence tonight and in this series in general? 

JOHN TAVARES: We know we’re playing a good, structured defensive team. Obviously, two goalies that had really good seasons. We knew it would be a challenge and obviously we have to find a way to break through. We had some good chances, some unfortunate breaks on a couple of chances and they do a good job really clearing the front of the net on second and third opportunities. We weren’t able to find some of those seconds today. I thought we generated good looks at times they pushed back well and they’ve got some quick forwards that can counter. They block a ton of shots but it’s obviously on us to find a way to break through that and come up with the results that we need. 

Q. (Kevin McGran, Toronto Star): Morgan, can you sum up how disappointed you feel and is there any comparison to last year in Boston, that sort of thing? What’s going through your mind in these moments? 

MORGAN RIELLY: It’s hard to put it all into words. It might take some time to digest a little bit, but it’s definitely a bad feeling, bad taste. Comparing to a loss in Boston, this one is different, for sure, for obvious reasons. Whether that makes it worse or easier to deal with, I don’t know, but right now it certainly feels like it’s harder to live with. I can’t really put all my emotions into words, I don’t have the vocabulary to do that. 

Q. (Chris Johnston, Sportsnet): For John, I’m wondering on your chance in particular, the one that hit the post, how that developed in your eyes and what are you trying to do there? 

JOHN TAVARES: Morgan made a great play, Mitch did a good job breaking into the middle, causing some confusion and I just tried to get it off quick, seeing Korpisalo was really sold on Mo shooting at him. He made a great pass, I saw Seth Jones right in front and obviously he’s a big dude, he’s got big feet. I just tried to keep it along the ice, along the short side. My hand slipped just a tad, got it maybe a little bit more on the heel than I wanted to but, in saying that, obviously a great opportunity that I want to finish. Still got good wood on it and unfortunately maybe it was half an inch, quarter of an inch too much to the right and it didn’t hit the post and go in or even just sneak in the right side.

Q. (Mark Masters, TSN): Morgan, wanted to get your perspective on why it was so tough to generate offence against the Jackets in this series? 

MORGAN RIELLY: John just talked about it. Pretty much what he said. It’s the style they play, they’re very defensive and they’re great at it. Their goalies played well, their D did a good job of clogging up the middle. 

Q. (Jonas Siegel, The Athletic): Morgan, what do you think you can take from a season like this given how strange and long and unusual it was?

MORGAN RIELLY: I think it just prepares you for the future. Obviously, we experienced things that we hadn’t before and some good, some bad. Very unusual if you look at the playoff format. I think it’s just experience that we can take with us. Obviously it’s not the end result that we were looking for but I think that we all had an opportunity to learn a lot about ourselves during the break and be able to reflect. It’s just an experience we’re going to have to take with us and learn from. Hopefully in the future we can draw from it at some point.

Q. (Dan Rosen, John, I’m thinking about some of your opportunities. Chris asked you about the one that hit the post, but you had a few others point blank. You look back on those, does it even surprise you a little bit that one or two didn’t get in the back of the net considering those chances and how grade-A they were? 

JOHN TAVARES: Yeah, obviously I want to put them in. You do the best that you can. A couple of them, the one off the post, obviously, like I said, it’s less than an inch probably and it’s in. Just got to find a way to put that in. Had some good looks, goalie played well, but you’ve got to find a way to get through it and get the results you need. 


Q. (Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun): Auston, can you sum up what you’re feeling right now with the disappointment of going home a lot earlier than you guys expected to?

AUSTON MATTHEWS: I don’t know what to really say to that question, honestly. It’s obviously very disappointing, lots of mixed emotions going through all our heads right now, but obviously very frustrating. 

Q. (Kevin McGran, Toronto Star): Mitch, I’m not saying this had anything to do with the outcome, but I’m really curious when you look back how did it feel really to play without any fans? Did it affect the intensity level at all or joy or anything along those lines? 

MITCH MARNER: No. Honestly, I didn’t think I really noticed it or our team noticed when we were playing. 

Q. (Mark Masters, TSN): Mitch, what made it so hard to generate offence 5-on-5 in the series against the Jackets? 

MITCH MARNER: We talked about it from day one, they were doing really well holding the middle. We knew when they get their leads they lock down the neutral zone. I thought we had some chances that just didn’t go in. 

Q. (Jonas Siegel, The Athletic): What do you think you can learn as a group from a season like this? 

AUSTON MATTHEWS: I don’t think anybody’s really played through a season quite like everybody went through with the pause and everything. I think there was a lot of ups and downs and obviously this is more of a frustrating way to end it. I thought at times in the season we showed a lot really good things, a lot of resilience from our group. Tonight obviously it’s a game of inches out there. Like Mitch said, we had some chances, puck didn’t go in the net and it’s a tough pill to swallow. It’s very disappointing.

Q. (Dan Rosen, Auston, admittedly I would understand if this is hard to think about at this time, but when you get into these games that are you win, you move on, you lose, you’re eliminated game sevens or game five in this case, is there any common theme that runs through your team of why it’s just that one little extra step is harder to overcome at this point? 

AUSTON MATTHEWS: I don’t really have an answer for that question, to be honest.

BLUE JACKETS 3, MAPLE LEAFS 0 GAME 5: Postgame notes.





GAME SUMMARY         |           EVENT SUMMARY        |           FACEOFF SUMMARY


  • Frederik Andersen stopped 19 of the 21 shots he faced in the loss.

SHOTS ON GOAL (5-on-5 in brackets)

COLUMBUS7 (6)8 (8)7 (6)22 (20)
TORONTO6 (6)13 (11)14 (10)33 (27)

SHOT ATTEMPTS (5-on-5 in brackets)

COLUMBUS16 (14)18 (17)11 (9)45 (40)
TORONTO14 (14)19 (17)24 (20)57 (51)


  • The Maple Leafs went 2-for-2 on the penalty kill and 0-for-1 on the power play tonight.
  • Toronto’s line of Kyle Clifford, Pierre Engvall and Jason Spezza did not start a 5-on-5 shift in the offensive zone.
  • Auston Matthews was 3-for-5 (60%) on offensive zone faceoffs and 3-for-4 (75%) on defensive zone faceoffs.
  • Morgan Rielly was on the ice for a team-high 31 Toronto shot attempts-for at 5-on-5. He finished the game with a 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage of 62.0 percent (31 for, 19 against). 


Shot Attempt(Matthews, Tavares)
Faceoff Wins9 (Matthews)
Faceoff Win Percentage67% (Kerfoot – 4 won, 2 lost; Hyman – 2 won, 1 lost)
Blocked Shots(Rielly)
TOI28:29 (Rielly)
Power Play TOI1:46 (Marner, Matthews)
Shorthanded TOI2:43 (Holl, Marincin)
Shifts31 (Holl)
5-on-5 Shot Attempt Percentage70.6% (Marner – 24 for, 10 against)

Stats reflect official NHL stats at the time of distribution. Please consult official NHL game sheets (links above) to confirm no statistical changes were made.

Raps lock down second seed in the East with bounceback win over Grizzlies — Toronto Sun

Back on track is probably the best way to sum up the Toronto Raptors after Sunday’s win over a game Memphis Grizzlies squad. Read More

Raps lock down second seed in the East with bounceback win over Grizzlies — Toronto Sun

A month into the bubble, the Lakers are feeling the strain away from home — Press Telegram

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Before the Lakers played the Pacers on Saturday night, Frank Vogel looked back behind his bench to see his 14-year-old daughter Arianna in the crowd. The actual seat was some 2,500 miles away in Los Angeles, but her picture was on the digital screen, over the Lakers’ bench. The Lakers’…

A month into the bubble, the Lakers are feeling the strain away from home — Press Telegram




AUGUST 9, 2020 ▪ 8:00 PM EST



: 14-11-1-4
ALL-TIME at HOME: 6-6-1-3


2019-20: 1-0-1


GAME FOUR – AUGUST 6, 2020: Toronto 4 vs. Columbus 3 OT

GAME SUMMARY        |           EVENT SUMMARY       |           FACEOFF SUMMARY

Toronto Goals: Nylander, Tavares, Hyman, Matthews

Columbus Goals: Atkinson, Gavrikov, Jenner

TOR PP: 1/4; CBJ PP: 0/3

Shots: 53-39 Toronto; Hits: 26-20 Columbus; Faceoff %: 59% Columbus

GAME THREE – AUGUST 6, 2020: Columbus 4 vs. Toronto 3 OT

GAME SUMMARY        |           EVENT SUMMARY       |           FACEOFF SUMMARY

Toronto Goals: Ceci, Nylander, Robertson

Columbus Goals: Dubois (3), Jones

TOR PP: 1/2; CBJ PP: 0/3

Shots: 43-36 Columbus; Hits: 27-19 Columbus; Faceoff %: 51% Toronto

GAME TWO – AUGUST 4, 2020: Toronto 3 vs. Columbus 0

GAME SUMMARY        |           EVENT SUMMARY       |           FACEOFF SUMMARY

Toronto Goals: Matthews, Tavares, Rielly

Columbus Goals: N/A

TOR PP: 0/5; CBJ PP: 0/4

Shots: 39-20 Toronto; Hits: 28-18 Columbus; Faceoff %: 53% Columbus

GAME ONE – AUGUST 2, 2020: Columbus 2 vs. Toronto 0

GAME SUMMARY        |           EVENT SUMMARY       |           FACEOFF SUMMARY

Toronto Goals: N/A

Columbus Goals: Atkinson, Wennberg

TOR PP: 0/1; CBJ PP: 0/2

Shots: 35-28 Columbus; Hits: 37-26 Columbus; Faceoff %: 58% Toronto


GOALS(Matthews, Nylander, Tavares)BLOCKED SHOTS10 (Holl)
ASSISTS4 (Marner, Matthews)TAKEAWAYS7 (Matthews)
POINTS(Matthews)HITS9 (Hyman)
SHOTS21 (Matthews)TOI PER GAME28:20 (Rielly)
FACEOFF WIN%63.6% (Nylander)PP TOI PER GAME4:00 (Matthews)
5-on-5 SHOT ATTEMPT %62.2% (Engvall)SH TOI PER GAME3:36 (Holl)


GAMES: John Tavares (27), Jason Spezza (22), Kyle Clifford (20), Morgan Rielly (20)
POINTS: John Tavares (33), Mitch Marner (12), Jason Spezza (12)

GOALS: John Tavares (14), Mitch Marner (5), Jason Spezza (4)

ASSISTS: John Tavares (19), Morgan Rielly (9), Tyson Barrie (9)

PENALTY MINUTES: Kyle Clifford (23), John Tavares (16), Jake Muzzin (14)


GAMES: Nick Foligno (46), Brandon Dubinsky (32), Gustav Nyquist (27)

POINTS: Brandon Dubinsky (23), Nick Foligno (22), Gustav Nyquist (20)

GOALS: Gustav Nyquist (11), Nick Foligno (10), Brandon Dubinsky (7)

ASSISTS: Brandon Dubinsky (16), Nick Foligno (12), Seth Jones (9), Gustav Nyquist (9)

PENALTY MINUTES: Nick Foligno (38), Brandon Dubinsky (26), Nathan Gerbe (16)


GAMES: Jason Spezza (84), Jake Muzzin (59), Kyle Clifford (59)

POINTS: Jason Spezza (70), John Tavares (30), Jake Muzzin (22)
GOALS: Jason Spezza (25), John Tavares (15), Auston Matthews (12)

ASSISTS: Jason Spezza (45), Jake Muzzin (15), John Tavares (15)
PENALTY MINUTES: Kyle Clifford (62), Jason Spezza (37), Jake Muzzin (22)


October 4, 2019: Toronto 4 vs. Columbus 1

GAME SUMMARY         |           EVENT SUMMARY        |           FACEOFF SUMMARY

Toronto Goals: Marner (2), Ceci, Matthews

Columbus Goals: Atkinson

October 21, 2019: Columbus 4 vs. Toronto 3 OT

GAME SUMMARY         |           EVENT SUMMARY        |           FACEOFF SUMMARY

Toronto Goals: Kapanen, Matthews, Nylander

Columbus Goals: Nash, Dubois, Wennberg, Nyquist


Postseason Appearances– The 2020 postseason marks the Maple Leafs’ 69th appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Series History– The Maple Leafs have played a total of 114 series in their previous 68 playoff appearances, winning 58 of them.
Playoff Record– Toronto has a record of 264-287-4 in 555 franchise playoff games.
Best of Five– The Toronto franchise (Arenas, St. Pats, Maple Leafs) has played in 15 best-of-five series in its history and have a 7-8 record in that span
Toronto vs. Columbus– This is the first time the Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets have met in a postseason series.
Postseason Experience– Frederik AndersenKasperi KapanenZach HymanAuston MatthewsMitch MarnerWilliam Nylander and Morgan Rielly have appeared in all 23 postseason games contested by the Maple Leafs since the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, per NHL Stats.
In the Atlantic– Toronto finished third in the Atlantic Division and 13th in the NHL standings with a record of 36-25-9 (.569 points percentage).
Team Discipline– The Maple Leafs took the sixth-fewest penalties in the NHL (219) and averaged the third-fewest penalty minutes per game (6.7). 
Faceoffs– The Maple Leafs finished third among NHL teams in faceoff win percentage (52.5%) and tied for second among NHL teams in offensive zone faceoff win percentage (54.0%).
Goals by Strength– The Maple Leafs were third in the NHL in goals scored at 5-on-5 (159).
Power Play– The Maple Leafs have the third fewest power play opportunities (195) among NHL teams that have scored at least 40 power play goals (45).
Penalty Kill– Toronto was shorthanded 193 times this season, which was the eighth-fewest times shorthanded in the NHL.
Scoring First– Toronto had a .774 win percentage when scoring first, which tied for the third highest in the NHL.


Frederik Andersen– Made 36 saves on 39 shots to earn the win in game four.  – Since joining the Maple Leafs in 2016-17, Andersen is 10-13 in 24 Stanley Cup Playoffs appearances. He ranks eighth among Maple Leafs goaltenders in all-time playoff wins.
Tyson Barrie– Averaging 22:08 in ice time and has a 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage of 54.1 in the series thus far.- Has appeared in 25 career playoff games and recorded 14 points (one goal, 13 assists).
Jack Campbell– Could make his Stanley Cup playoff debut this postseason.- Had a 3-2-1 record with a .915 save percentage and a 2.63 goals-against average after being acquired by the Maple Leafs.- Has made two career appearances against the Blue Jackets and is 1-0-1 with a 1.99 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.
Cody Ceci– Scored a shorthanded goal on August 6 vs. Columbus to become the first Maple Leaf defenceman to score a shorthanded goal in the playoffs since Jim McKenny on April 9, 1972 vs. Boston- Has skated in 29 career playoff games, recording a goal and three assists.
Kyle Clifford– Has appeared in 59 career playoff games and is a two-time Stanley Cup Champion (2012, 2014) with the Los Angeles Kings.
Travis Dermott– Has averaged 6:30 per game in overtime TOI during games three and four of the series, which is the third highest average among Toronto skaters.- Has two goals and three assists in 18 career playoff games.
Justin Holl– Has played 12:47 in shorthanded time on ice this series, which is the most among Toronto skaters. – Made his Stanley Cup playoff debut on August 2 vs. Columbus. 
Zach Hyman– Had his first career multi-point game in the playoffs on August 7 vs. Columbus.- Leads Toronto in hits (9) through four games of the series.- Has appeared in 24 career playoff games and recorded 12 points (4-8-12).
Kasperi Kapanen– Ranks second among Maple Leafs in hits (8).- Has drawn a team-high four penalties through four games of the series.- Has appeared in 24 career playoff games and recorded five points (4-3-7).
Alex Kerfoot– Had his first career multi-point and multi-assist playoff game on August 6 vs. Columbus.- Has appeared in 22 career playoff games and recorded eight points (2-6-8).
Mitch Marner– Established a new single-game high for assists in the playoffs (3) in game four against Columbus.  – Averaging a team-high 19.70 shot attempts per 60 minutes of ice time.- Has appeared in 24 career playoff games and recorded 21 career points (5-16-21).
Auston Matthews– Tied for fifth among NHL skaters in points this postseason (2-4-6).- Ranks first among NHL forwards in ice time per game (25:42) through four games of the series.- Has skated in 24 career playoff games and recorded 12 goals and seven assists.- Per NHL Stats, Matthews’ 12 career playoff goals (24 GP) are the second-most among Maple Leafs before the age of 23. He trails Ted Kennedy (20 G in 38 GP).
William Nylander– Tied for the Maple Leafs’ lead in goals (2) and ranks second among Toronto skaters in points (2-2-4).- Averaging 20:47 per game in ice time through four games.- Has recorded four goals goals and nine assists in 23 career playoff games.
Jason Spezza– Leads the Maple Leafs in career playoff games (83), goals (25), assists (45) and points (70).
John Tavares– Ranks second among NHL skaters in faceoff wins (54) through four games.- Has a 5-on-5 shot attempt percentage of 54.2 percent, which is tied for fourth among Toronto forwards.- Has skated in 34 career playoff games and recorded 30 points (15 goals, 15 assists).


Andreas Johnsson (Knee)On injured reserve.
Jake MuzzinLeft Toronto’s game on August 4 and has been ruled out for the remainder of the series.


GOALS FOR (Rank):237 (2nd)180 (t-28th)
GOALS AGAINST (Rank):     222 (25th)183 (t-3rd)
POWER PLAY [%] (Rank):45/195 [23.8%] (6th)31/189 [16.4%] (27th)
PENALTY KILL [%] (Rank):150/193 [77.7%] (21st)138/169 [81.7%] (12th)
SHOTS (Rank):2302 (4th)2272 (6th)
5-on-5 SHOT ATTEMPTS FOR (Rank):3466 (3rd)3133 (14th)
5-on-5 SHOT ATTEMPT % (Rank):52.0% (6th)49.2% (19th)
FACEOFF % (Rank):52.5% (3rd)48.5% (26th)


GOALS47 (Matthews)
ASSISTS51 (Marner)
POINTS80 (Matthews)
PIMs43 (Holl)
SHOTS290 (Matthews)
FACEOFF WIN%55.3% (Tavares)
5-on-5 SHOT ATTEMPT %54.6% (Nylander)
TAKEAWAYS78 (Matthews)
HITS109 (Muzzin)
TOI PER GAME24:12 (Rielly)
PP TOI PER GAME3:13 (Marner)
SH TOI PER GAME2:50 (Ceci)

Is tanking playing a role in determining the Lakers’ playoff opponent? — Daily News

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — As a season winds down, not even the NBA bubble can keep out talk of tanking. It’s been the talk of the Disney campus as the race for the Western eight seed — also known as the Lakers’ first-round opponent — has been heating up. Their opponents, with playoffs already…

Is tanking playing a role in determining the Lakers’ playoff opponent? — Daily News

Red Sox Notes: Ron Roenicke Explains ‘Tough’ Decision To Pinch Hit For Andrew Benintendi —

Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke made a very interesting decision to pinch hit outfielder Kevin Pillar for Andrew Benintendi in the fourth inning with Boston leading the Toronto Blue Jays by one run and searching for more offense. It was, certainly at the time, a move predicated by offense. But it actually didn’t prove well…

Red Sox Notes: Ron Roenicke Explains ‘Tough’ Decision To Pinch Hit For Andrew Benintendi —

Jayson Tatum Believes Marcus Smart ‘Heart And Soul’ Of Celtics Team —

Marcus Smart made an impact both on the court and on the bench in the Boston Celtics’ 122-100 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night. Smart not only locked down defensively for the Celtics, who were in dire need of a good defense performance, but encouraged teammates to do the same. Celtics forward Jayson…

Jayson Tatum Believes Marcus Smart ‘Heart And Soul’ Of Celtics Team —

Celtics 122, Raptors 100

Celtics send Raptors to first bubble loss in potential playoff preview

Author of the article:Mike GanterPublishing date:Aug 08, 2020  •  Last Updated 39 minutes ago  •  5 minute read

Boston Celtics’ Kemba Walker, and Toronto Raptors’ OG Anunoby compete for the ball last night in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. AP

There’s no question NBA fans are long overdue for a Celtics/Raptors playoff matchup.

Despite the two teams sharing the same conference and each making the playoffs the past five years, a meeting post regular season has never happened.

If it does, the hope is it’s a lot more competitive than the game the two teams played last night.

The Raptors, one of two teams unbeaten in the Bubble since the seeding games began, can no longer make that claim after being thoroughly dominated by a Celtics team that before last night looked to be in a little bit of trouble.

Toronto’s defence, which had been the talk of the NBA campus, seemed to take the night off facing a Celtics team they will very likely see a few weeks from now in the Conference semi-finals barring an upset of either team in the first round.

Toronto’s defence was there in the early going but as soon as it became apparent that the Raptors weren’t having even a mediocre shooting night, the defence fell off precipitously.

A 14-point first quarter by the Raptors seemed to bring every other part of their game down as the Celtics ran away for a 122-100 win.

As for takeaways or learning lessons from this game, head coach Nick Nurse said there was very little, but he did come up with one.

“The only thing I probably did learn is we’ve got to get a couple of our guys playing a little better,” Nurse said stopping short of naming them. “I’m not really concerned about some of the main guys, but there’s a couple guys that need to play a little better since the restart and I’m glad we still have four games to get ’em going and give them that chance. I’m not worried about their work ethic or their conditioning or some of those things, just need to get them a little more confident, have things go their way a little bit more.”

Defensively the Celtics seemed to have more straight-line drives or uncontested gimme’s in this game than the Raptors have given up combined since the re-start.

Norm Powell, who was one of three bench players in double digits did not like what he saw from his team defensively at all.

“That’s us being a step late in the rotation, that’s us not putting in that second effort like we’ve been doing all year,” he said. “That’s something that we can take away from all this and knowing that we let them go where they wanted to go. We weren’t the ones that were being physical into the bodies like the way we were playing the previous three games,” Powell said.

“Each game we’ve been the ones being physical and were bringing that aggressive style and that physicality to them, but they brought it to us and we needed to respond and be a little tougher and stand in there help one another. You know, those straight-line drives and wide-open shots are us in our rotations that we see in film and we can get better at.”

Should these two teams finally meet in the playoffs a few weeks from now, expect a much crisper effort than the one the Raptors put in last night.

Nick Nurse and the Raptors have put together another initiative that is starting to get some notice around the league.

Much like the reaction the Raptors buses with Black Lives Matter logos covering them when they pulled into the bubble in Orlando, the Raptors’ ‘Because of You’ initiative is turning heads.

The players and their head coach were all decked out pre-game last night in shirts with the likeness of Wayne Embry on them. Embry has been the a senior advisor with the Raptors since 2004 but long before that he broke the colour barrier in the NBA twice. The first time came in 1971 when Embry became the first black general manager in league history with the Milwaukee Bucks. Twenty-three years later he became the first black president in the league with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Fittingly the Raptors chose Embry to be the man they began their ‘Because of You’ campaign.
Nurse explained the origin of the campaign pre-game.

“The phrase ‘because of you’ comes from Barack Obama to John Lewis,” Nurse said of the recently deceased civil rights leader. “John Lewis asked Barack Obama to sign a book, or a piece of paper or something, and Barack Obama wrote ‘because of you, John’ and signed his name. With the passing of John Lewis here recently, one of our members of our leadership team came up with this fantastic idea to honour some living legends that did some historic things. And Wayne Embry, right in our own organization, was one of those, becoming the first African-American general manager, then the first African American team president.”

Embry has been a sounding board and father figure in the organization since he arrived 16 years ago and as current team president Masai Ujiri has made very clear, he will be doing that as long as Ujiri is in his position and as long as Embry wants to remain.

Nurse is hoping other teams will follow the Raptors lead on this one and begin their own initiatives.

The Raptors depth took a bit of a hit Friday when guard Pat McCaw was forced to leave the NBA bubble for medical treatment.

McCaw, whose injury has been kept in house until now, is dealing with the reoccurrence of a benign mass on the back of his left knee.

He’ll leave the NBA campus in Orlando to seek treatment from Dr. Riley Williams at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York to determine his next step.

McCaw previously saw Williams in November for the same condition.

“He’s already had it checked and is scheduled to go have it done, to leave on Monday,” head coach Nick Nurse confirmed pre-game. “I think they checked it and it’s hurting him, but it’s not terribly bad. I think we’ll have to see how the procedure goes Monday, but what the reading was as of last night was that it’s not that bad but it needs to be cleaned up just a little bit. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed that it goes well and it’s not too extensive.

McCaw did not take part in any of the scrimmages or seeding games to date. Pre-pandemic this season he appeared in 37 games averaging 24.5 minutes a game with 4.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

Under NBA rules, the Raptors are not entitled to replace McCaw with another player. The roster now stands at 16 players.

An update on his status will be provided when appropriate according to the team.

Late in Friday’s game, Serge Ibaka was forced to leave after getting poked in the eye.

TORONTO 4, COLUMBUS 3 (OT): What the Leafs said.


Q. (Chris Johnston, Sportsnet): I’m just wondering what will you remember most about that comeback? 

SHELDON KEEFE: Just the resilience of our team and how it just put new life in our group. It was pretty remarkable to be a part of it.

Q. (Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun): For Sunday now, how do you get to a point where you don’t have to play like that in the last five minutes and maybe have some of that push much earlier in the game than in the final stages of the third? 

SHELDON KEEFE: I think we played a good game today. Obviously, we don’t that we got behind early. It’s a much more difficult team to play against when you’re behind than when you’re even or ahead, of course. They’ve clearly established that as part of their identity. It was a tough road for us today, but our guys played really hard. It wasn’t perfect, but our guys played really hard and it was nice to see them get rewarded.

Q. (Josh Clipperton, The Canadian Press): This core has taken its fair share of criticism. What did they show tonight?  

SHELDON KEEFE: Again, just resilience, just that they weren’t going to quit. Once we got one and got a little bit of life, they kept pushing. It was really nice and fitting the way that the goal was scored, the winning goal, Mitch to JT to Auston. But this was a group effort today. There was a lot of contributions. Look at the play of our fourth line today. They were outstanding. Jason Spezza just did not our season to end today and he played with that level of urgency. You see the fight, that’s just playoff hockey. That’s a guy who’s just not wanting to go down literally without a fight. It was great. It would have been so disappointing, of course, for it to end the way it was looking like it was going to. This is a funny game, a funny, funny game. I think there’s been times in this series where we haven’t been rewarded, perhaps, when we should have. A little bit of good fortune today as a result of some of our resilience. I thought we were pretty good in overtime and made good on our power play.

Q. (Luke Fox, Sportsnet): Can you describe what the mood was like in the dressing room during the second intermission and what the message to the guys was at that point? 

SHELDON KEEFE: The second intermission was actually pretty good. The first intermission, I think, was one that we kind of had to perk the guys up a little bit and get them going. First intermission I think just the way the period went, we didn’t get a whole lot and we were down, of course. The second intermission was actually really positive and felt good about the group. I don’t know that that necessarily materialized into anything productive on the ice necessarily and a credit to Columbus for how they played defensively. As I said, it’s crazy the way that it worked out. We’ve got new life here now. We were getting CPR there for a little bit and then we found our way back. Here we go. 

Q. (Mark Masters, TSN): Sheldon, how would you describe what it was like with four minutes left in regulation. Could you sense the push coming? Did you and the coaching staff have to do anything to prod it out? What was your view of that moment? 

SHELDON KEEFE: Columbus was doing a terrific job of really clogging things up in the neutral zone so we didn’t have a lot of life going. As coaches it’s our job to get the right people on the ice. Obviously, we had to pull the goaltender a lot earlier than you would normally want to. We just thought coming out of the TV timeout and the fact that we needed three goals and our best guys were fresh, it just made sense. We found a way to get one in. Suddenly you get the second one and now you’re in a game. It’s pretty remarkable, it’s been a pretty crazy 24 hours, obviously, from what we’ve been through here. What we’ve been through as coaches and players and staff and I’m sure fans, media, everything all the way around. It’s been a very interesting and unprecedented 24 hours. It’s on us to regroup and recover here and be ready to go for Sunday. 

Q. (Kevin McGran, Toronto Star): What’s going through your mind the way the game unfolds through the third period with them going up 3-0? What are you thinking in those moments? You’ve tried every line combination you could think of, it looked like. What are you thinking in those moments? 

SHELDON KEEFE: Once they got the third goal, obviously it’s pretty grim. You’re obviously in very tough. I was thinking about some of the great efforts that we’ve had here over the last number of days that I felt maybe we’re not going to be rewarded for it. I felt bad about that because I think we have had some individuals that have been really, really great through all of this. Then it turns, you get a bounce and it comes and all of a sudden you are rewarded for that and we’ve got new life as I’ve said. We’re really, really excited to play on Sunday. 


Q. (Kristen Shilton, TSN): What’s the moment like for you when you see that goal go in after coming back from a 3-0 deficit? 

AUSTON MATTHEWS: I don’t really know what to really feel in the moment, to be honest. I think your mind just kind of goes blank and I think it’s a credit to every single guy on our team for just sticking with it, battling back and just not quitting down 3-0 with a couple minutes left. I think that’s a testament to each guy in this locker room and I think everybody should be extremely proud of each other. 

Q. (Terry Koshan, Toronto Sun): Jason, you’ve been around this game a hell of a long time. Do you remember anything like that last four minutes? Anything comparable that you’ve been through? 

JASON SPEZZA: No I’ve never been a part of anything like that. With the firepower we have with these guys, the way they can put the puck in the net, we’re never out of it and there’s a great sense of belief in our group and we stuck with it the whole way and got some big goals by some big players. 

Q. (Josh Clipperton, The Canadian Press): This core has taken a lot of criticism the last few years. What did you guys show tonight? 

AUSTON MATTHEWS: I think just resilience. I think you’re going to go through ups and downs here and I think we’ve definitely been through our share of ups and downs. I think that’s just kind of par for the course here. I think you just try to stick with it, focus on what we can control and focus on what we have in the locker and stick together and play as a team. 

Q. (Luke Fox, Sportsnet): Jason, you don’t have very many fights in your career. What were your emotions coming into this game and what made you drop the gloves tonight? 

JASON SPEZZA: Just trying to spark the guys. I think just trying to show some desperation and have some push back. Sometimes without the crowd you don’t have that so just trying to create some emotion and play the role that I’m in and just try to get everyone going. You’re just trying to do what you can do at this time of year.


Q. (Josh Clipperton, The Canadian Press): That moment on the tying goal, I think everybody in the building probably thought Auston was going to shoot it. Can you just take us through it? 

ZACH HYMAN: Yeah, I rolled up the wall, I saw Auston in the middle and then it hit him. I thought he was going to shoot it too and then he came back to me and got it off my skate and just tried to throw it to the net. JT had a great screen and it went in. It was crazy. 

Q. (Justin Cuthbert, Yahoo Sports): I’m curious what the mindset was for you and I guess you can only speak for yourself, but the entire team when it was so late and you guys were down 3-0. Were the negative thoughts, the thoughts about what happens next with you guys and bubble life and so on and so forth, did any of that creep in and how were you able to keep everything in check when it was down to the last few minutes there? 

ZACH HYMAN: I think it’s natural that those thoughts start to creep in when they score the third goal but you just put your foot on the gas, keep going, it’s not over until the time runs out. Once you get that first one you’re only down two and then we got the second one pretty quick after that. The belief starts to grow. It grows, it grows and then you give yourself a chance. You keep putting pucks on the net and then we tied it up with 20 seconds there. Then Matts got the OT winner and we’ve got life. I think it’s an exhilarating win. We’ve got to temper our emotions and get back at it for game five.