Fred VanVleet has been back to work for just over a week and he can sum up the experience in one word.
“Different,” VanVleet said. “I think that is the word I will keep using. It’s just different from the norm, from what we are used to.”
VanVleet was one of the first Raptors to arrive in Florida for a two week stay in Fort Myers before the Raptors head north to Orlando to enter the NBA campus. If all goes well there, that could amount to another 100 days stay.
For now the Raptors have taken over a hotel they were fortunate enough to find that had been closed and was just re-opening. It means they have the entire compound to themselves which is really the only way anyone would want it in the state of Florida right now.
The Coronavirus remains rampant in the sunny state but it’s also home to Disney where the NBA believes it can do the best job of keeping their players and staffs and employees safest within the campus or bubble inside Walt Disney World.
Obviously there are no guarantees how safe anyone will be and each player had to make his own decision.
For VanVleet it was a matter of deciding to trust both the league and his organization that he would be protected. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t still concerned.
“Pretty concerned,” he said following his daily morning workout. “It sounded good a month or two ago, not so much right before we got ready to leave. I think for the most part I just put the trust in the organization and understand that I don’t think they would put us in extreme risk, trust the NBA. That’s where my trust lies right now. Hopefully they prove me right and not wrong … I’m trying to be optimistic about it. It’s not the most ideal situation but it’s kind of the times we are in. It hasn’t been an ideal for anyone.”
VanVleet fully understands those players that have opted out of the opportunity to resume play this summer. Some have done so for health concerns. Others over the concern that the fight against racial injustice needs their attention now. VanVleet sees that battle as a long term one and one he is fighting even now as he awaits the opening of the NBA campus at Disney in the south of Florida.
“I definitely respect guys that took the stand to sit out for whatever reason,” VanVleet said. “But my choice was to come play. I’m not right and they’re not wrong. It’s just a personal choice for everybody.”
VanVleet is very up front about his reasons for playing. He did not make this decision lightly.
“It sucks,” he said of having to choose between focussing on the racial injustice issue and his career. “It’s terrible timing. But that’s been 2020 for us. We all know the right thing to do is to not play, to take a stand. Morally, yes, that makes sense. But life goes on. We’re all young, black guys. None of us want to give any money back. I don’t think that we should. I think that money can be used in a number of different ways. This is not going to end this summer regardless, or over the next couple of months. This issue, racial injustice, social injustice, police brutality, all these things are not ending anytime soon. Our fight was long term. That was part of my decision. But if the league, or more of my guys would have come together and said we didn’t want to play, I would have sat out as well. I wouldn’t have even fought it. I think most of us decided to play. It’s something we’ll have to live with. I trust that my heart’s in the right place and I’m doing enough to make change.”
His days right now are pretty regimented. Up early for an early morning workout but not before his COVID test and all his vitals are tested. Then the workout and then back to the hotel to eat, take a nap and get treatment. After that the rest of the day is his to do as he pleases. Video games, FaceTime calls with his family or whatever he chooses as long as he stays in the hotel. Freedom is non-existent he half jokes.
Whatever freedom he does have right now will likely be further curtailed when he enters the NBA campus on July 9t but he anticipates that and is fine with it.
“If you want to find a million different little things to be wrong, they will be there for you,” VanVleet said. “And if you want to get through it I think you will be able to get through it. My first thought was ‘What are we going to do for food?’ If they are trying to keep us all enclosed for that long, the food options will become scarce pretty quick or bland after a while of eating the same thing over and over again. But we’ll see. I don’t know. I think there’s a lot of still unanswered questions that a lot of guys have had so we’re just going to have to show up and see.
“My hope is once we start playing we just get back into the flow of what we are used to and you will play and eat and sleep and hang out and then play again and before you know it, it will be over.”
The Raptors head will head into the bubble the No. 2 seed in the East and facing the toughest eight-game seeding schedule of any team in Orlando. VanVleet, nevertheless, likes his team’s chances.
“Everybody I’ve talked to since I’ve been here is just looking forward to getting to Orlando and start practising and gearing up and trying to win another one,” he said. “I think we have a really, really good chance and we’re going to be a tough team to beat four times, for anybody.”
The Raptors re-open the season Aug. 1 against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
MISSING HIS FAMILY
Fred VanVleet has been away from his kids for less than a week and already he misses them.
The plan right now within the VanVleet family is to have the rest of the fam join dad in Orlando for the second round of the playoffs, the first possible time family members can join the NBA players inside the campus at Disney.
But that decision will be based on what VanVleet experiences over that first month and a half before the NBA opens the campus to family members.
“I will re-evaluate once I’ve been in Orlando for a little while. It it’s something that suits us, then we will do it. If not, then we won’t. But I like having my family around for sure,” he said.0 CommentsShare your thoughtsNBA
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Toronto Raptors : Brissett, Oshae Out G League – Two-Way Gasol, Marc Out Injury/Illness – Left Hamstring; Tightness – Injury management Hernandez, Dewan Out Injury/Illness – Right Ankle; Sprain VanVleet, Fred Out Injury/Illness – Left Shoulder; Soreness Watson, Paul Out G League – Two-Way Utah Jazz : Brantley, Jarrell Out G League – Two-Way Morgan, Juwan Available G League – On Assignment Tucker, Rayjon Available G League – On Assignment Williams-Goss, Nigel Out Injury/Illness – Left Quad; Contusion Wright-Foreman, Justin Out G League – Two-Way
RAPTORS NOTES • The Toronto Raptors complete a five-game Western Conference road trip (Mar. 1-9) Monday night when they visit the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The Raptors have won three in a row vs. Utah. With a victory Monday, Toronto would sweep the season-series with the Jazz for the fifth time in the last seven seasons. Since the start of the 2013-14 season, the Raptors are 11-2 against Utah. • In the first meeting this season (Dec. 1), Pascal Siakam scored 35 points, Fred VanVleet had 21 points and 11 assists, and the Raptors used a record-setting first half to beat the Jazz 130-110. Toronto led 77-37 at the intermission, the biggest halftime lead in franchise history, the biggest in the NBA this season, and tied for the eighth largest in league history. It also marked the biggest halftime deficit in Jazz history. • Norman Powell scored a game-high 31 points Mar. 8 at Sacramento. Powell has now scored 30+ points in consecutive games (Mar. 5-8) for the first time in his career, including a career-high 37 points Thursday at Golden State. He is averaging 37.0 points and is shooting .571 (24-42) from the field, including 50 percent (10-20) from three-point range, over the last two games. Three of Powell’s four career 30-point outings have come this season. • Toronto is currently 9-3 on the road vs. the Western Conference. The Raptors are the only Eastern Conference team to finish with a +.500 record on the road against the west in each of the last five seasons (2015-20). Since the start of the 2015-16 campaign, Toronto is 44-28 (.611) when facing a Western Conference opponent away from Scotiabank Arena. • Pascal Siakam is averaging career highs of 23.6 points and 7.5 rebounds through 52 games played this season. Only two players in Raptors history have finished a season averaging at least 23.0 points and 7.0 rebounds: Chris Bosh in 2009–10 (24.0, 10.8) and Kawhi Leonard in 2018–19 (26.6, 7.3). • OG Anunoby finished 12 points and two rebounds Sunday at Sacramento. Anunoby has now scored in double figures in a career-high six straight games (Feb. 25 – Mar. 8). He is averaging 16.0 points and is shooting .565 (35-62) from the floor, including 52 per cent (13-25) from three-point distance, during this span. Anunoby scored a career-best 32 points Mar. 1 at Denver. • Norman Powell and Kyle Lowry scored 31 and 30 points, respectively, Sunday vs. the Kings. The duo became just the fifth starting backcourt to each score 30 points in a game for Toronto, joining Lowry and DeMar DeRozan (four times), Mike James and Morris Peterson (twice), Vince Carter and Jalen Rose (once) and DeRozan and Cory Joseph (once). Over the last five games (Feb. 28 – Mar. 8), Lowry and Powell have combined to average 52.4 points. • The Raptors have not lost games on consecutive days since Dec. 26–27, 2017 (at Dallas and Oklahoma City). Toronto has played 30 pairs of games on back-to-back days since then (not including the current back-to-back set), sweeping both games 12 times and splitting 18 times. • Toronto’s starting lineup combined for 111 points Sunday against Sacramento. The Raptors starting five shot .544 (37-68) from the field, including .459 (17-37) from beyond the arc.
• Contributed 12 points, two rebounds and one steal in 39 minutes Mar. 8 at Sacramento. • Toronto is 25-7 this season when Anunoby scores 10 or more points. • Shooting .520 (13-for-25) from three-point range over the last six games (Feb. 25 – Mar. 8).
• Finished with 23 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals in 38 minutes Mar. 8 at Sacramento. • Ranks 15th in the NBA in scoring (23.6); averaging 26.0 points against the West Conference this season. • Has scored 30+ points 15 times; had five 30-point performances in 80 games played last season.
• Recorded 15 points, a team-high 10 rebounds, five assists and two blocks in 36 minutes Mar. 8 at Sacramento. • Averaging 17.9 points, 9.0 rebounds and 31.3 minutes in 26 games as a starter this season. • Is the only player in NBA history with 500+ three-point field goals and 1,500+ blocks.
• Led all scorers with 31 points Mar. 8 at Sacramento; added five assists and two rebounds in 43 minutes. • Averaging 19.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 33.3 minutes in 22 start this season. • Has scored 20 or more points in five straight games (Feb. 28 – Mar. 8); averaging 28.0 points during this stretch.
• Totaled 30 points, a game-high eight assists, five rebounds and three steals in 36 minutes Mar. 8 at Sacramento. • Ranks seventh in the NBA in assists per game (7.7); has dished out 10+ assists 14 times. • Has scored 20+ points in four of the last five games (Feb. 28 – Mar. 8); averaging 24.4 points during this span.
TONIGHT’S GAME DETAILS Opponent: Utah Jazz Date: Monday, March 9 Tip-Off: 9 p.m. (ET) Venue: Vivint Smart Home Arena Television: TSN Radio: Sportsnet 590 The FAN
SERIES RECAP VS. UTAH
OVERALL HOME ROAD 2019-20 1-0 1-0 0-0 ALL-TIME 19-27 10-13 9-14 STREAKS Won 3 Won 2 Won 3
LAST WIN: December 1, 2019 (130-110)
LAST ROAD WIN: November 5, 2018 (124-111)
LARGEST MARGIN OF VICTORY: +24, November 9, 2013
LARGEST MARGIN OF DEFEAT: -32, December 7, 2012
LAST TIME VS. UTAH
GAME 19 – DECEMBER 1, 2019 TORONTO 130, UTAH 110
TORONTO — The Utah Jazz scored nine points in the first four minutes of the game … The Toronto Raptors scored 72 points over the next 20 … Pascal Siakam had 35 points, Fred VanVleet had 21 points and 11 assists, and the Raptors beat the Utah Jazz 130-110 with an historic first half … The Raptors led 77-37 through two quarters — the biggest halftime lead in Raptors history, and the largest in the league this season … It’s also tied for the eighth biggest halftime lead in NBA history, and the largest deficit at the break ever for Utah … The Raptors stretched their season-high winning streak to seven games … Norman Powell scored 15 points, Serge Ibaka had 13 in his first game since missing 10 with an ankle injury, Terence Davis had 13, Marc Gasol scored all 11 of his points in the first quarter, and OG Anunoby and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 10 apiece … Mike Conley had 20 points to lead Utah … Toronto took off on a 23-2 run in the first quarter … Utah found its form in the third quarter, shooting 60 per cent and paring Toronto’s lead briefly to 16 … Toronto held Utah to 5-for-25 shooting in the second quarter … The Jazz hit 16 of their first 19 shots in the third … Utah outscored Toronto 49-30 in third, and Toronto took a 107-86 advantage into the fourth.
1 2 3 4 TOT
UTAH 20 17 49 24 110
TORONTO 37 40 30 23 130
UTAH LAST GAME’S STARTERS (19-20 Averages)
44 BOJAN BOGDANOVIĆ F • 6-8 • 226 • Croatia PPG • 20.5 RPG • 4.2 APG • 2.1 • Posted career-highs in points (18.0), rebounds (4.1), assists (2.0), steals (0.9), field goal percentage (.497) and 3-point percentage (.425) last season with the Indiana Pacers • Ranked 38th in field goal percentage and 10th in 3-point percentage in the league last year
23 ROYCE O’NEALE F • 6-4 • 222 • Baylor PPG • 6.1 RPG • 5.3 APG • 2.6 • Has played internationally in Spain and Germany • Was born in Harker Heights, Texas • Third on the team in field goal percentage in 2018-19 (.475) (min. 200 attempts)
27 RUDY GOBERT C • 7-1 • 258 • Cholet Basket PPG • 15.2 RPG • 13.9 BPG • 2.0 • Two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2018, 2019) • 2016-17 All-NBA Second Team and 2018-19 All-NBA Third Team • First player since Wilt Chamberlain (1966-67) to total over 1,200 points on better than 65 percent shooting and 1,000 rebounds in a single season (2018-19)
45 DONOVAN MITCHELL G • 6-1 • 220 • Louisville PPG • 24.4 RPG • 4.4 APG • 4.3 • Led all NBA sophomores in scoring in 2018-19 (23.8 ppg) • Two-time Western Conference Player of the Week (1/6-1/13 & 2/25-3/3) • Tied career-high scoring 46 points against New Orleans on 1/16/20
10 MIKE CONLEY G • 6-0 • 180 • Ohio State PPG • 13.9 RPG • 3.2 APG • 4.3 • Currently one of only 10 active players to have totaled over 11,000 points, 4,500 assists, 2,000 rebounds and 1,000 steals. • Named to the 2012-13 All-NBA Defensive Second Team. • Named 2019 Twyman-Stokes teammate of the year. 2019.
DONOVAN FROM DEEP Donovan Mitchell has now made 528 three-point field goals in his career. He is fourth all time in the NBA in three pointers made in the first three seasons of his career, trailing Buddy Hield (602), Damian Lillard (599) and Klay Thompson (545).
BOGEY’S EFFICIENCY Bojan Bogdanović is currently one of two players in the NBA averaging over 20 points per game while shooting at least 40 percent from the field and 90 percent from the free throw line, joining the Bucks Khris Middleton.
ROAD DOMINANCE The Jazz this season have put together two road winning streaks of at least six games, the first coming 12/28/19 through 1/14/20 (six games), and the second being the current road win streak beginning on 2/9/20 (currently at six games). Per the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the first time the Jazz have put together two separate road winning streaks of at least six games since the 1994-1995 season.
LAST 5 PLAYERS TO TOTAL 4,500+ PTS, 800+ REBS AND 800+ ASTS WITHIN THEIR FIRST 200 NBA GAMES # PLAYER GP PTS REBS ASTS 1 Donovan Mitchell 200 4,530 802 800 2 LeBron James 200 5,097 1,298 1,299 3 Dwyane Wade 200 4,564 1,005 1,212 4 Allen Iverson 200 4,699 827 1,272 5 Michael Jordan 200 6,351 1,120 1,030 FASTEST ACTIVE PLAYERS TO 1,000 BLOCKS Rank Player Games 1 Serge Ibaka 383 2 Anthony Davis 414 3 Rudy Gobert 462 MOST 20+ PT GAMES THROUGH FIRST 200 GAMES WITH JAZZ # PLAYER GP # 1 Donovan Mitchell 200 134 2 Darrell Griffith 200 121 3 Karl Malone 200 102 4 Deron Williams 200 49 5 Rodney Hood 200 33 MOST 30+ PT GAMES THROUGH FIRST 200 GAMES WITH JAZZ # PLAYER GP # 1 Donovan Mitchell 200 36 2 Darrell Griffith 200 26 3 Karl Malone 200 21 4 Deron Williams 200 7 5 Carlos Boozer 200 3 MOST PTS THROUGH FIRST 200 GAMES WITH JAZZ # PLAYER GP PTS 1 Donovan Mitchell 200 4,530 2 Darrell Griffith 200 4,172 3 Karl Malone 200 3,930 4 Deron Williams 200 2,939 5 Rodney Hood 200 2,518
THREE-POINTERS MADE IN FIRST THREE SEASONS # PLAYER 3PM 1 Buddy Hield 602 2 Damian Lillard 599 3 Klay Thompson 545 4 Donovan Mitchell 528 5 Kyle Korver 491
RUDY’S ALL-AROUND GAME Rudy Gobert is currently the only player in the NBA to be averaging a point-rebound double-double while also shooting greater than 65 percent from the field.
JAZZ JUMP SHOTS The Utah Jazz lead the NBA in three-point percentage (tied with Miami), shooting 38.3 percent from deep this season. The Jazz are also third in the NBA in field goal percentage at 47.6 percent.
46 FOR 45 On 1/16/20 against the New Orleans Pelicans, Donovan Mitchell poured in 46 points on 16 made field goals, including seven three-pointers. The 46 points ties a career-high for Mitchell, which he also scored last season against Milwaukee on 3/2/19.
BEATING THE BUZZER On 2/10 against the Houston, Bojan Bogdanovic buried a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Jazz a 114-113 win over Houston. There have been four buzzer beaters this season, with Bogdanovic hitting two of them. Bojan also helped Jazz defeated the Milwaukee Bucks on 11/8 thanks to a heroic three-pointer at the buzzer, giving him 33 points on the evening.
SUPER SECOND ROUNDER Bojan Bogdanović is currently posting 20.5 points per contest, which makes him tied for the second leading scorer in the league for all active players drafted in the second round just behind Spencer Dinwiddie (20.7).
COLORADO CLARKSON On 1/30/20 against the Denver Nuggets, Jordan Clarkson scored made 13 field goals, including seven made three-pointers, on his way to 37 points. This was a season high in scoring for Clarkson and the second highest scoring game off the bench in the NBA this year, trailing only a 42-point effort from Buddy Hield.
4K MITCHELL After putting in 22 points against Memphis on 12/7, Donovan Mitchell eclipsed the 4,000-point mark in his 179th career game. He becomes just the fourth Jazzman to record at least 4,000 points in less than 200 games, joining Adrian Dantley (135 games), Pete Maravich (165 games) and Darrell Griffith (194 games).
RESILIENT JAZZ By completing a comeback victory over the Wizards on 2/28, the Jazz recorded their 14th win of the season after trailing at halftime. This is the second most wins when trailing at half this year behind only the Denver Nuggets (16).
BIG MAN BUCKETS Rudy Gobert is second the NBA in field goal percentage this season, shooting 70.1 percent from the field. This mark is the highest shooting percentage of Gobert’s career.
30-POINT DUO During the 109-102 win against the Orlando Magic on 12/17, Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanović became the first Jazz duo to each tally 30-point games in a single contest since Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams did so against the Los Angeles Clippers on March 28, 2008.
FRENCHMEN CAN DUNK Rudy Gobert leads the NBA in dunks this season with 205. Giannis Antetokounmpo (174), Mitchell Robinson (172), Jarrett Allen (160) and Anthony Davis (142) round out the top five in dunks.
2019-20 NBA THREE POINT PERCENTAGE LEADERS # TEAM % T-1 Utah Jazz 0.383 T-1 Miami Heat 0.383 3 New Orleans Pelicans 0.373 T-4 Washington Wizards 0.371 T-4 Toronto Raptors 0.371 2ND ROUNDERS PPG PLAYER PPG 1 Khris Middleton 20.7 T-2 Spencer Dinwiddie 20.5 T-2 Bojan Bogdanovic 20.5 T-2 Nikola Jokic 20.5 FASTEST JAZZMEN TO 4,000 POINTS PLAYER GP 1 Adrian Dantley 135 2 Pete Maravich 165 3 Donovan Mitchell 179 4 Darrell Griffith 194 2019-20 NBA FIELD GOAL PERCENTAGE PLAYER FG% 1 Mitchell Robinson 0.734 2 Rudy Gobert 0.701 3 Jarrett Allen 0.645 4 Clint Capela 0.629 5 Brandon Clarke 0.623 2019-20 NBA DUNK LEADERS PLAYER DUNKS 1 Rudy Gobert 205 2 Giannis Antetokounmpo 174 3 Mitchell Robinson 172 4 Jarrett Allen 160 5
SAN FRANCISCO — Nick Nurse is hopeful. He says there is a chance both Fred VanVleet and Marc Gasol could return to the lineup as early as today in Sacramento. If both somehow do make it back at the same time, it would mark just the third game all season that the Raptors have had […]
Golden State Warriors Bowman, Ky Out Injury/Illness – Right Ankle; Sprain Green, Draymond Out Injury/Illness – Left Knee; Soreness Looney, Kevon Out Injury/Illness – Left Hip; Soreness Smailagic, Alen Out Injury/Illness – Right Quadriceps; Contusion Thompson, Klay Out Injury/Illness – Left Acl; Rehabilitation Toronto Raptors Brissett, Oshae Out G League – Two-Way Gasol, Marc Doubtful Injury/Illness – Left Hamstring; Tightness Hernandez, Dewan Out Injury/Illness – Right Ankle; Sprain Ibaka, Serge Probable Injury/Illness – Right Knee; Soreness VanVleet, Fred Doubtful Injury/Illness – Left Shoulder; Soreness Watson, Paul Out G League – Two-Way
INJURY REPORT 5:30 P.M. THURSDAY
Golden State Warriors Bowman, Ky Out Injury/Illness – Right Ankle; Sprain Game Date Game Time Matchup Team Player Name Current Status Reason Green, Draymond Questionable Injury/Illness – Left Knee; Soreness Looney, Kevon Out Injury/Illness – Left Hip; Soreness Smailagic, Alen Out Injury/Illness – Right Quadriceps; Contusion Thompson, Klay Out Injury/Illness – Left Acl; Rehabilitation Toronto Raptors Brissett, Oshae Out G League – Two-Way Gasol, Marc Questionable Injury/Illness – Left Hamstring; Tightness Hernandez, Dewan Out Injury/Illness – Right Ankle; Sprain Ibaka, Serge Questionable Injury/Illness – Right Knee; Soreness VanVleet, Fred Questionable Injury/Illness – Left Shoulder; Soreness Watson, Paul Out G League – Two-Way
Stephen Curry will return to the Golden State Warriors lineup Thursday night against the NBA champion Toronto Raptors — a rematch of last season’s final — and he expects to be limited to between 24-28 minutes
He has missed 58 games since suffering a broken bone in his left hand against the Phoenix Suns on Oct. 30. The hand required two surgeries.
“It feels like the first day of school all over again, which is exciting,” Curry told reporters in San Francisco at the Warriors shootaround.said. “I feel pretty comfortable and pretty confident with where I’m at physically. I’m excited to get back out there.”
The anticipation ahead of Curry’s return is palpable. After shootaround at the Chase Center.
Meanwhile, the Raptors listed three players as questionable for the game — Marc Gasol (hamstring), Serge Ibaka (knee) and Fred VanVleet (shoulder). Gasol has missed 14 games and Ibaka and VanVleet three each. Ibaka and VanVleet indicated before Tuesday’s win over the Phoenix Suns that they hoped to play Thursday, the third of a five-game Western Conference road trip.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he intends to play Curry in in five- or six-minute bursts while keeping his minute total about 25 on Thursday.
Curry will be trying to end a career-long losing streak at home. When the Warriors lost to the Suns on Oct. 30 after Curry left with a broken hand, it marked the fifth straight loss at home for the Warriors with Curry was in the lineup. The previous worst had been four consecutive losses with the All-Star guard in the lineup.
Curry and the Warriors dropped three consecutive home games at Oracle in the NBA Finals against the Raptors in June, including a 114-110 defeat in Toronto’s title-clinching Game 6 win on June 13. And then the Warriors dropped both of their games at Chase Center with Curry playing in October.
Both teams are coming off victories on Tuesday. The Warriors startled the Nuggets 116-100 at Denver for only their 14th win this season. Toronto won 123-114 at Phoenix.
According to STATS:
Five Raptors (Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka, Norman Powell) are averaging at least 15.0 points this season, making Toronto the only team with five players doing so (min. 40 games).
Golden State has won two of its last three games, allowing 100 points or fewer in each of the two wins. In their first 59 games this season, the Warriors only held opponents to 100 points or fewer 10 times.
Pascal Siakam scored 33 points on 12-of-20 (.600) shooting in Toronto’s Tuesday win over Phoenix. Siakam is averaging 25.2 points with a 48.9 FG% versus teams below .500 compared to 21.2 points with a 41.2 FG% versus teams at .500 or above.
Steph Curry will return tonight after missing Golden State’s previous 58 games. Since 2014-15, the Warriors are 297-65 (.820) when Curry plays versus 39-71 (.355) in the games he has missed.
Toronto ranks fourth in the NBA in three-point percentage at 37.2. This is on pace to be Golden State’s first season ranking outside of the top five since 2008-09, the season prior to Steph Curry’s rookie campaign.
(16-36) MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES, 126 VS. (40-14) TORONTO RAPTORS, 137 SCOTIABANK ARENA MONDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2020
TORONTO RAPTORS QUOTES
NICK NURSE (HEAD COACH)
On winning going away … Well, first of all it didn’t feel like a win going away for quite a long time. There was a lot of energy in the game. I think we are getting everybody’s A-plus game. They were really good I thought for a lot of stretches and we just had to try and figure some things out and as you saw we had a lot of unconnected defence for a lot of the game, but the chemistry between those guys that were out there started to build. Our switching got a little bit better, we stopped all the backcutting and miscommunication on some of that stuff for a nice stretch there in the third and fourth quarter, got it under control.
On OG Anunoby … He was really good, I thought his decisions were really, really good tonight. The only questionable decision I thought he made, one time he was open for a corner three and he pump-faked, there was nobody there and he went to left and made it anyway. So it ended up being a good decision as well. He was good defensively, we put him all over the place. We had him on (Karl-Anthony) Towns a lot and he was doing a good job, he had to switch out on (D’Angelo) Russell because of that. He was just making some really good reads. I thought those guys got some hands on some balls. I thought Rondae (Hollis-Jefferson) came up with a couple huge steals as well, but OG had a pretty complete game out there, that’s why we let him run, what was it 15 or 16 straight there through the quarter.
On what you did on D’Angelo Russell in the fourth quarter … We really tried to press up on him and make him drive it. We just sat down, sat back a little too much and he is going to make those no matter where he is. Then we did try and trap him out of the timeouts a lot when we got the right matchup on him and I think we turned him over twice out of time outs for layups, which was huge.
FRED VANVLEET (16 points, seven assists, three steals) Did you think you’d have to play centre tonight? I wasn’t expecting that. When we got here we were a little shocked to hear about Serge, but it happens. At this point we are used to having guys out, unfortunately. Like I said before, next man up. I thought Rondae did an amazing job and I think it helped us in the second half, especially when we were able to switch on the fly. Do you guys take for granted your ability to ability to adapt? Probably, I think we’re used to it at this point. I think we can get a little lackadaisical at times, as you can see, I think that it is a huge tool for us to be able to use in certain situations. I think we realize when we play against other teams how we are able to take advantage on the other end. We probably do take it for granted to answer your question. I think it’s something that keeps developing and it’s something we have in our back pocket when we need to.
How do you execute on both ends when you enter a game knowing there is a significant size differential? Just effort. That’s it. Once we calmed down on our defensive schemes I thought we were in a good position to get most of the boards and obviously we got a few offensive rebounds, so that helps. Give those guys credit in there, Rondae, Chris, Pascal, Kyle, OG. Give these guys credit, they go up and get them and battle with someone like Towns who is a really good offensive rebounder. They have a lot of corner crashers from the wing coming in. I think we did a good job of putting bodies on them and cleaning the glass.
Does the streak help keep the team focus as you approach the break? Yes, it’s fun. I think it’s at a good time. At this time of the season people are looking ahead to the break and it’s one of those weird points in the season where you have to find some inspiration and energy sometimes. I think to be rolling the way we are right now it gives us a little extra boost. For the most part we’ve been coming out engaged. Tonight we weren’t ourselves in the first half. Obviously we cleaned it up in the third quarter and we are trying to keep it going as long as we can. I think it’s in the back of everyone’s mind.
PASCAL SIAKAM (34 points, six rebounds, five assists)
How big of a challenge is it for the team to find out about injuries just before the game? It’s not a good thing, but it feels like another day. Something happening and we’ve got to figure it out. We’ve got guys stepping up. It was a great job by Rondae, OG to be able to guard those guys like Karl-Anthony Towns. It was good for us. It speaks to the character of the team. We’ve got guys ready. They can’t wait to come in and get an opportunity to play. Once they get it they go at it.
Do you feel more prepared for these challenges than you were at the beginning of the year? Probably, I think you can say that. We’ve never had our entire team for a while. We have had to adjust and figure it out. I’m sure guys now know that you have to be ready every day because you don’t know what’s going to happen. Today you might be sitting on the bench and the next day you may be starting. That just has to be the mentality and I think everyone knows that.
Does it feel like you’re on a streak? Yes, I mean obviously I see it every time I’m on Instagram or something. For us it’s about every single day coming in and taking every game one at a time, making sure we come out and execute every single game and have a game plan.
Do you find the confidence of the team is growing in its ability to adapt to different challenges? I think we have a system and we trust that the coaches have a game plan that we are going to execute. If it’s not working we trust that we can adjust on the fly and try something else. I think one thing that we’ve been doing is trying different things out. We have a lot of things we can throw at you. We trust that it’s going to work and if it doesn’t work go to the next thing.
RONDAE HOLLIS-JEFFERSON (20 points, six rebounds, three steals)
How much energy do you get when you find out you’ll be starting? I try to stay with the same mindset and be locked into what I have to do. I know I’m a defender. I know I can bring energy and bring that spark to the guys. I just try to lock into that at the end of the day.
How much different is it as a defender when you’re guarding a big man? It’s definitely different. The battle itself, holding your own ground, but they’ve got five inches on me, four inches on me, 30 pounds on me or so. It’s definitely a battle, but it’s about being mentally tough, having that resiliency. Coming from where I come from I was born with it, inherited it. Chester, PA, thank you. I love a challenge at the end of the day.
(16-36) MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES, 126 VS. (40-14) TORONTO RAPTORS, 137 SCOTIABANK ARENA MONDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2020
MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES QUOTES
RYAN SAUNDERS (HEAD COACH)
What were the Raptors doing down the stretch to make it so difficult? A lot of credit to them, and that organization. There’s a reason they have won 15 games in a row. They play with a sense of urgency and they have a great identity about them. I thought they got physical with us; some things didn’t go our way. They were able to force some turnovers that got them in the open court and kind of broke it open a little bit. I’m really proud of this group and the way these guys did keep fighting back, even that second unit they were the ones who really pulled us into the game late in that third and early in that fourth.
Even in the loss, you like the energy and effort you saw throughout? Yes, I do. I feel really good about us going home, having a solid day tomorrow and also a good game on Wednesday, and then using the break to recharge and also, evaluate and really dissect what we can do moving forward.
With all the new guys coming together, do you expect the turnovers? We knew that, we kind of said that. Against the Clippers, we did a great job of taking care of the ball, which you almost expect to happen some more turnovers against a team like the Clippers, and then you play a team like Toronto; they’re a good test for us. The one thing that Toronto does such a great job of is your turnovers are as good as twos and threes for them, the way they push the ball and the way they can score in the open court. So I think that’s where it hurt us even more.
On tonight’s game… I thought we played well. We played well throughout the game, obviously, they’ve won 14 games in a row and they’re hot. They made some shots obviously, but I thought we stuck right with them. We showed a lot of toughness. We showed a lot of grit. No matter what the game threw at us, we found ways to get back and stay close, get the lead, or whatever the case may be. They’re a good team and we played hard. We played together and we gritted and grinded, you know, we just didn’t come out with a win tonight. I’m proud of our guys for playing as hard as we did. I think we pushed them to a lot of brinks tonight and we made them earn it.
On playing with D’Angelo Russell… It was a lot of fun… You could see how much we were talking to each other and we were just hyping each other up and everything. That’s my brother, man. I told him that I don’t know if he’ll ever have a teammate that loves him as much as I do and have his back more than I do. I’d die for that man and I know he would do the same for me.
D’ANGELO RUSSELL (22 points, five assists, one steal)
How did it feel playing tonight? It was great. (I’m) super excited about this group. You know what Karl does, what he brings to the table, but just the group in general, the coaching staff, I look forward to this challenge of figuring out what we can do to get better every day.
How long do you think it will take you to learn plays and terminology? There’s no right answer to that. I think just in general our pace of what we want to work at on the offensive end (and) the defensive end … The quicker we get in film and get some games under our belt to be better; I think that’s on our time.
What do you think the biggest challenge is coming into a game like this with a new team? That’s a great team over there. They’re obviously capable of doing great things. Nick Nurse is a great coach, but in general I think we’re worried about us. The more we can get some games under our belt and just dissect the film from being better individually; I think it’ll help our team chemistry as a w
FINAL SCORE: TORONTO RAPTORS 119, BROOKLYN NETS 118
DATE: FEBRUARY 8, 2020 ATTENDANCE: 19,800 (Sellout)
FINAL SCORE RECORD HIGH POINTS HIGH REBOUNDS HIGH ASSISTS Brooklyn 118 23-28 LeVert – 37 Jordan – 14 Dinwiddie – 11
Toronto 119 39-14 VanVleet – 29 Davis ll – 8 VanVleet – 6
Trailing 36-33 early in the second quarter, Toronto went on 14-2 run to lead by nine with 7:15 left in the half … The Raptors never trailed the rest of the way … Pascal Siakam made the game-winning free throw with 22.9 seconds left in the fourth and Caris LeVert missed a pull-up jumper in the final seconds.
Toronto tied a season-low with just seven turnovers and committed none in the fourth quarter … The Raptors have now finished with a plus turnover differential in each of their last 14 games (Jan. 15 – Feb. 8) … Toronto has a +72-turnover differential during this stretch (185-to-257).
• With the win, Toronto improves to 39-14 this season and 20-7 at home … Since the start of the 201516 campaign, the Raptors have won 18-of-19 games vs. the Nets, including the first three meetings this season … Toronto’s next game is Monday night when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves.
• The Raptors won their franchise record 14th straight game tonight (Jan. 15 – Feb. 8) – the second longest win streak in the NBA this season.
• Toronto’s 39-14 record after 53 games is the best in franchise history.
• The Raptors outscored Brooklyn 52-42 in the paint and 25-8 on the fast-break.
• Terence Davis ll scored 20 points in 30 minutes in his second start of the season … Davis has now scored 10+ points in four straight games (Feb. 2-8), averaging 19.8 points during this stretch.
• Matt Thomas scored a career-high 15 points, including 11 in the second quarter, in 22 minutes.
• The Raptors had five players score double figures – Fred VanVleet (29), Pascal Siakam (20), Davis ll (20), Thomas (15) and Serge Ibaka (12).
• With the loss, Brooklyn falls to 23-28 on the season and 8-16 on the road … The Nets have dropped three in a row (Jan. 26 – Feb. 7) on the road … Brooklyn’s next game is Monday night when they visit the Indiana Pacers.
• Caris LeVert scored a career-high 37 points (12-18 FG, 6-7 3PT, 7-7 FT) in 33 minutes … LeVert has scored 20+ points in three straight games (Feb. 3-8), averaging 29.7 during this span.
• Spencer Dinwiddie posted his sixth double-double of the season with 21 points and a game-high 11 assists in 36 minutes.
• DeAndre Jordan recorded his eighth double-double of the season, and sixth as a reserve, with 15 points and a game-high 14 rebounds in 29 minutes.
• The Nets had five players score in double digits – LeVert (37), Dinwiddie (21), Taurean Prince (17), Jordan (15) and Joe Harris (11).
(29-17) PHILADELPHIA 76ERS, 95 VS. (30-14) TORONTO RAPTORS, 107 SCOTIABANK ARENA WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2020
TORONTO RAPTORS QUOTES
NICK NURSE (HEAD COACH)
On the defence helping to establish the pace … Yeah, I think we’re going through a little bit of mid-season things, I think, just a bit. I think this is a couple games where we just don’t quite seem – we just seem to be a half step or a half second slow at the start of a couple of games here lately. I thought they had five totally uncontested threes in the first four minutes …. We did when it mattered, we were really moving and flying and playing physical most of the second half I thought. We just kind of have to play through some of that stuff once and a while, but I am really proud that they dug in and played defence and gave themselves a chance.
On Fred VanVleet’s shooting since he has been back … He is playing good, and I think again the fresh legs thing, we have seen the benefits for just about everybody and he is a really good shooter and let’s hope he keeps up at that pace.
On the team feeding off Serge Ibaka … I think the biggest asset he has is his rim protection and his rebounding. I think it just changes, when he is really aware and there is a drive coming and he is there early, it just changes the whole possession from there on out. Would-be layups turn into high floaters or pull-ups or stopped drives even, and then usually if they throw something up that doesn’t go in, he is the one that is pulling it down as well. I thought he was really solid on offence too. He was patient, he set good screens, he got to the right spots and he made some key buckets. He is really shooting the ball well too, and he has worked really hard on his mechanics as of late. When they come off his hands, he is hitting them right in the middle, a lot of them. So he has put in some good time and he is doing a good job.
On how much easier the offence is when Serge and Marc Gasol are shooting like they are … That’s the tough one when Serge is rolling and the team is kind of rolling and the game has changed and I look and see Marc is sevenfor-seven, what’s he doing sitting over here. I was contemplating going back with both of the bigs, since they were both playing so well, but they were kind of smallish for them, with (Tobias Harris) at the four. That’s a guy that puts it on the deck pretty good and that group was playing too well to mess it with it probably.
NORMAN POWELL (18 points, eight rebounds)
On team’s slow start to games… It was really mainly our defence. I think we were a step slow to start the game – reacting to what they were doing instead of being the ones dictating where they go. Being physical on the defensive end, and we made it a point to put a little more into the game and that’s what we were able to do in the second half.
Do games against teams close on the standings mean more? For me every win means the same to me. We’ve got to get as many wins as we can to get to where we are going for the playoffs. We are trying to set ourselves up for the best possible run, but games like this it’s really a little bit more weight for the outside, what it is being Eastern Conference teams and top teams in the East, so I just think every game is important.
KYLE LOWRY (16 points, four assists)
On the zone changing the game tonight… I think we’ve got to keep Ben (Simmons) out of transition. Once we were able to score and set up, it was good for us. We really communicated in the zone tonight and made sure we knew where everyone was going to go. We just wanted to switch it up and change the flow of the game a little bit and I think that’s what coach wanted to do.
Is the rest he got the reason Marc Gasol has been shooting better? No, we’ve been on him a little bit and I think he’s been on himself to make sure he’s looking for his own shot, but Marc can still play basketball at a high level and he’s proving it.
FRED VANVLEET (22 points, eight assists)
On his success extending his shooting range… I broke my thumb last year and I was out and couldn’t really do much and I was shooting, I was working out and Nurse just kind of mentioned to me why don’t you just, he said he was looking at the numbers on 35 footer uncontested versus toe-to-line contested three, so we had a conversion about it and I started to implement it. He gave me a little freedom to shoot it and I started then and so obviously the Philly series was a chance for me to say okay, if I can’t get my shot off or if I’m getting contested because they do a good job, taking it a step back or a step two back is a viable option for me, especially if I’m going to put the work in to make it a good shot for me.
PHILADELPHIA 76ERS QUOTES
BRETT BROWN (HEAD COACH)
How do you characterize tonight’s game being shorthanded? I thought that we competed. There was a physical difference I felt from them to us as the game started to get going in the fourth period. I give them credit, when you play in June there are lessons that you learn that spill over to the regular season and there was physicality to their game that you felt. You know, we got Matisse (Thybulle), Furk (Fukan Korkmaz) ,Shake (Milton) and Norvel (Pelle) and the young guys that are feeling what it’s like to play against an NBA champion. We will come out of this thing I think more realistic of what it really takes to play as deep into the calendar as we hope to.
On what you thought of Shake Milton… The JRich (Josh Richardson) thing hurt, like he went out quick. You knew that you were going to have to make some threes. They’re physical all over the place, they scramble and so we thought that our best opportunity to steal a win on the road without Jo (Joel Embiid) and JRich was going to be to hunt some threes, and spread the thing around and play fast and share the ball. I thought at the start of the game in the first period we did that quite well. We missed some shots in the second period, I give Toronto credit for really sort of amping up their defence, but Shake was a part of that environment that I just said, and I thought played really quite well.
On did you think your guys wore down… This is what I felt: I felt that the athletes and the physicality, and the downhill attack, you felt all of that for the whole game. And then Fred (VanVleet) does what he does in the fourth period and goes bananas on making tough shots, they made a bunch of threes – I think four, I think they had nine free throws. We corralled our turnovers, I think we had nine turnovers in the first half, zero in the third, and then had a few too many in the fourth. But I felt like the physicality, the athleticism was something we felt. That’s a team that won a NBA championship and got used to playing that style, and winning with that style and you have to if you are going to play in June. I felt that side of it more than anything.
BEN SIMMONS (17 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists)
How do you characterize this game? That’s just how we play. Obviously you don’t want to see guys go down, but that gives opportunities to other guys to step up. I think it was a good learning experience for some of the guys, especially against a great team in Toronto who have been to the championship last year and won it. We know that’s the level we have to play at – that physicality – offensively and defensively.
How did you feel about Toronto’s physicality? It’s Toronto, that’s just the way they are, especially defensively. They get into your body, trying to get you off balance when you’re attacking the rim. They have great hands. They’re always in there with their hands getting deflections and steals.
How do you move on from Josh Richardson’s injury? Somebody has to step up. That’s everybody. One guy goes down, everybody has got to step up. Josh is a big part of this team – defensively and offensively – so we’re going to miss him for however long it is, but it’s an opportunity for guys to step up and fill that role.
On Shake Milton stepping up… I think he was great. He got to spots and knocked down shots and got deflections. He stepped up. He did really good.
SHAKE MILTON (nine points, four rebounds, two assists)
What was your experience after having to step in when Josh Richardson went down? Like Ben said, it’s next man up. You don’t really want to see anyone go down with injury, but when your number is called you’ve got to step up, just try to stay locked in and my teammates kept encouraging me, so it wasn’t that hard.
What were your teammates saying to give you some confidence out there? They told me to just get to my spots and knock down shots and play with confidence. Once you get up the floor a couple of times you get into a groove. It’s just like playing basketball again.
How do you stay fresh and confident when you haven’t been playing as frequently? Just making sure I keep up with the plays and everything they’ve got going on offensively and defensively. Staying in the gym and putting in the work and doing my best to stay locked in every single game.
TOBIAS HARRIS (22 points, six rebounds and four assists)
How do you characterize this loss with the injuries to a few key Sixers players? I thought even with guys out we still had a chance to be in this game and get a win. Give them credit, they did a really good job after the first quarter in defending us. We had a great first quarter, but after that they scored too many points in the paint. I think it was 52 points in the paint. That’s too many. They were the more physical team all throughout after the first.
What was it about how they defended you that gave you some trouble? I think they got up into our stuff. Obviously they presented some zone at times that kind of altered our play a little bit. So some things we have to get better at execution-wise, defensively on our part, we let the wrong guys get off and get shots to fall. There are a few things we have to clean up.
Where will you feel the loss of Josh the most? JRich is a great player. Obviously he brings it at both ends of the floor. Like we’ve had all year, it’s the next man up mentality. Whenever it’s presented, come and be ready to go out there. Shake did a great job tonight coming in and staying ready and giving us that lift. It’s just the next man up.
What happened in the Raptors’ 10-0 run over a three minute stretch in the fourth? I think we turned the ball over in that stretch which led to them to get out in transition. That’s when Siakam got the and-one dunk, I believe. On our part we didn’t have good offensive execution. We didn’t get up good shots and the good looks that we needed. It’s something we have to get better at.
FINAL SCORE: TORONTO RAPTORS 107, PHILADELPHIA 76ERS 95 DATE: JANUARY 22, 2020 ATTENDANCE: 19,800 (Sellout) FINAL SCORE RECORD HIGH POINTS HIGH REBOUNDS HIGH ASSISTS Philadelphia 95 29-17 Harris – 22 Horford/Simmons – 10 Simmons – 8 Toronto 107 30-14 VanVleet – 22 Siakam – 15 VanVleet – 8 KEY RUN Leading 91-88 with five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Toronto scored 10 straight points to extend the lead to 13 with 1:29 remaining … Fred VanVleet capped the run for the Raptors with back-to-back threes. KEY STAT The Raptors shot .465 (40-for-86) from the field, including .394 (13-for-33) from three-point range, while holding Philadelphia to .381 (32-for-84) shooting from the floor … Toronto improved to 11-2 this season when holding their opponent below 40 per cent from the field. RAPTORS NOTES: • With the win, Toronto improves to 30-14 this season and 16-7 at home … The Raptors have won five in a row (Jan. 15-22), including their last two at home, and are now 7-3 in the month of January …Toronto’s next game is Friday night at New York. • The Raptors have won 15 straight regular season games at home vs. Philadelphia … The last time the Sixers won in Toronto was Nov. 10, 2012. • The Raptors outscored Philadelphia 52-18 in the paint, including 12-2 in the fourth quarter. • Fred VanVleet had his third straight 20-point performance (Jan. 18-22) since returning from a right hamstring injury … He finished with team highs of 22 points and eight assists in 42 minutes … VanVleet is averaging 23.7 points and has made 14 three-pointers over the last three games. • Pascal Siakam recorded his 10th double-double of the season with 18 points and a game-high 15 rebounds in 33 minutes of action. • The Raptors had six players score double figures – VanVleet (22), Siakam (18), Norman Powell (18), Marc Gasol (17), Kyle Lowry (16) and Serge Ibaka (16). • Patrick McCaw (facial contusion) left at the 11:07 mark of the second quarter and did not return. SIXERS NOTES: • With the loss, Philadelphia falls to 29-17 on the season and 9-15 on the road … The defeat ends the Sixers’ four game win streak (Jan. 15-20) … Philadelphia is now 6-4 in the month of January … The Sixers return home to host the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday. • Tobias Harris scored nine of his team-high 22 points in the third quarter. • Ben Simmons recorded his 25th double-double of the season with 17 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in 38 minutes. • The Sixers had four players score in double digits – Harris (22), Simmons (17), Furkan Korkmaz (17) and Matisse Thybulle (13).
• Josh Richardson (left hamstring strain) left with 8:08 remaining in the first quarter and did not return.
KEY RUN Leading 89-79 with 7:26 left in the fourth quarter, Toronto put the game out of reach with an 11-2 run to extend the lead to 19 points with just under five minutes to play … The Raptors led by double digits the entire fourth quarter …
Pascal Siakam led all scorers with nine points in the final period. KEY STAT The Raptors shot .523 (45-for-86) from the field, while holding Orlando to .385 (35-for-91) shooting from the floor…
Toronto held its opponent below 40 per cent shooting for the sixth time this season.
• With the victory, Toronto improves to 10-4 this season and a perfect 6-0 at home … The Raptors are one of four teams in the NBA still without a loss at home this season.
• Toronto has now won eight of the past 10 regular-season meetings with Orlando, including the last three contests at Scotiabank Arena.
• The Raptors outscored Orlando 68-40 in the paint.
• Fred VanVleet finished with game highs of 24 points and seven assists in 35 minutes … VanVleet posted his fifth 20-point game of the season; something he did five times in 64 contests last season.
• Pascal Siakam registered his sixth double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds in 35 minutes.
• Terence Davis ll scored a career-high 19 points in 27 minutes off the bench … Davis has now scored in double figures in four of the last six games; averaging 11.7 points during this stretch. • The Raptors had five players score double figures – VanVleet (24), Davis ll (19), Siakam (18), Norman Powell (15) and Chris Boucher (14) … Boucher added 11 rebounds for his second double-double.
• With the loss, Orlando falls to 6-8 on the season and 0-5 on the road … The defeat ends the Magic’s three-game win streak … Orlando and Oklahoma City are the only two teams in the NBA without a victory on the road this season.
• Evan Fournier recorded his third straight 20-point game, and fifth this season, with a team-high 21 points in 28 minutes … Fournier is averaging 24.0 points over the last three games.
• Jonathan Isaac recorded 16 points and tied a career-high 13 rebounds in 34 minutes … Isaac posted his sixth career double-double and third this season.
• The Magic had five players score in double digits – Fournier (21), Isaac (16), Terrence Ross (14), Markelle Fultz (12) and Khem Birch (12) … Birch’s 12 points were one shy of a career high. • Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic both sustained right ankle sprains in the first half and did not play in the second half.