Keeping 17 NBA bodies finely tuned and chiselled is no easy feat at the best of times.
But try doing it without being able to take any of those 17 into the gym, or even see them face to face for what looks like it will be at least a month and probably longer, and the job becomes infinitely tougher.
That is the task that falls to Raptors strength and conditioning coach Jon Lee.
But instead of tough, Lee is finding he has a lot of help from within these days, most of it coming from various veterans on the team.
In fact, Lee’s biggest concern right now is that the condo building floors of Serge Ibaka’s Toronto abode are sufficiently reinforced to withstand all the weights and equipment he’s having sent in.
“He was on the phone to me two days after (the Raptors’) self-isolation period began,” Lee said of the veteran big man. “I was packing up stuff from OVO (the Raptors’ practice facility) and getting it delivered to him. Today, I just had more stuff delivered over to him. I won’t be surprised if I have to send over more stuff in two days.”
It’s to the point now where Lee is only half-joking when he says he is concerned about the building Ibaka lives in, and whether it can take all that weight and equipment without causing some sort of cave-in.
But Ibaka is not the only Raptor pushing himself at home while the rest of us work on those worn-in marks on our collective couches.
Ibaka might be the extreme when it comes to wanting to maintain his fitness level while the world works on overcoming this coronavirus pandemic, but he’s not alone in a desire to stay at or as near as possible playing form.
Lee has another player — he chooses not to name him — who not only updates him daily with his workouts, but sends him screenshots of said workout complete with heart rates at particular intervals of said workout.
“This player is so highly motivated he went out and (purchased and had delivered) his own (equipment),” Lee said. “His own weights, his own bench, a monitoring system … That’s one area I am truly lucky in. We have real professional guys and when it comes down to our veteran guys, I really don’t have to worry.”
Even the young guys, who might not be as diligent in their daily workouts, hear from the veterans. Lee knows because they tell him.
The message is always a variation of the same truth: “We got that championship last year and we’re not happy with that,” Lee says. “We’re getting another one. We’re going to fight until we get the second one. We are in a position this year where we have a great chance.”
All that, of course, is contingent on this season actually being completed. Lee though says the work must go on and he has had absolutely zero pushback when he delivers that message.
“Be ready,” he tells them. “Be ready. We could be starting in one month, we could be starting in two months but you better be ready for us.”
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.
FINAL SCORE: TORONTO RAPTORS 127, INDIANA PACERS 81 DATE: FEBRUARY 23, 2020 ATTENDANCE: 19,800 (Sellout) FINAL SCORE RECORD HIGH POINTS HIGH REBOUNDS HIGH ASSISTS Indiana 81 33-24 Sabonis / A. Holiday – 14 Sabonis – 11 A. Holiday – 6 Toronto 127 42-15 Siakam – 21 Ibaka- 15 Lowry – 11 KEY RUN The Raptors led wire-to-wire … Toronto opened the game on a 15-1 run and led 34-12 after one quarter … Pascal Siakam and Serge Ibaka paced the Raptors with 11 points apiece, and Toronto shot .565 (13-for-23) from the field, in the opening period … The Pacers shot just .174 (4-for-23) in the first quarter. KEY STAT Toronto’s 46-point victory (127-81) over the Pacers was the largest margin of victory in franchise history. RAPTORS NOTES: • With the win, Toronto improves to 42-15 this season and 23-7 at home … The Raptors have won 17 of their last 18 games … Toronto is 7-1 in the month of February … The Raptors continue a four-game homestand (Feb. 21-28) Tuesday night when they welcome the Milwaukee Bucks. • Toronto has won 13 consecutive home games against the Pacers … With tonight’s victory, the Raptors won the season-series (3-1) with Indiana for the sixth straight year (2014-20) … Since the start of the 2014-15 season, Toronto is 16-5 against the Pacers in the regular season. • The Raptors have won nine straight games at Scotiabank Arena, tying their longest home winning streak of the season … Toronto opened the 2019-20 campaign with nine consecutive home victories. • Toronto held the Pacers to an opponent season-low 81 points, including 32 points in the first half. • The Raptors outscored Indiana 33-13 on the fast-break and had a 60-30 advantage in bench scoring. • Toronto shot .511 (47-for-92) from the field, including .523 (23-for-44) in the second half … The Raptors are a perfect 17-0 this season when they shoot 50 per cent from the floor. • Kyle Lowry posted his career-high sixth straight double-double, and 13 th of the season, with 16 points, 11 assists in 32 minutes … Lowry is averaging 19.3 points and 10.8 assists over the last six games. • Serge Ibaka posted his team-leading 16th double-double of the season with 15 points and a season high-tying 15 rebounds in 24 minutes of action. • Matt Thomas scored a career-high 17 points (all in the fourth quarter) in 15 minutes off the bench. • The Raptors had six players score double figures – Pascal Siakam (21), Thomas (17), Lowry (16), Ibaka (15), Terence Davis ll (13) and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (12) … Both Davis and HollisJefferson scored in double digits off the bench for the second straight game. PACERS NOTES: • With the loss, Indiana falls to 33-24 on the season and 14-14 on the road … The defeat ends the Pacers’ two-game win streak … Indiana’s next game is Tuesday at home vs. the Charlotte Hornets. • Domantas Sabonis recorded his 43rd double-double of the season (tied for third in the NBA) with 14 points and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes of action. • The Pacers had three players score in double digits – Sabonis (14), Aaron Holiday (14) and Justin Holiday (12) … A. Holiday added a team-high six assists in his 20th start of the season.
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).
GAME #53 – TORONTO RAPTORS (38-14) vs. BROOKLYN NETS (23-27) SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2020 – 7:30 P.M. (ET) – SCOTIABANK ARENA TV: TSN – RADIO: TSN 1050 TORONTO
INJURY REPORT AT 1:30 P.M. SATURDAY
Brooklyn Nets Durant, Kevin Out Injury/Illness – Right Achilles; Rehab Irving, Kyrie Out Injury/Illness – Right Knee; Sprain Martin, Jeremiah Out G League – Two-Way Pinson, Theo Out G League – On Assignment Temple, Garrett Available Injury/Illness – Left Over Eye; Stitches Toronto Raptors Brissett, Oshae Out G League – Two-Way Gasol, Marc Out Injury/Illness – Left Hamstring; Tightness Hernandez, Dewan Out Injury/Illness – Right Ankle; Sprain Lowry, Kyle Questionable Injury/Illness – Neck; Whiplash Powell, Norman Out Injury/Illness – Left Finger; Fourth: fracture – metacarpal
RAPTORS NOTES • The Toronto Raptors host the Brooklyn Nets at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday night. This is the third of four meetings between the two teams this season, with Toronto winning the first two games. The Raptors have won 17 of the last 18 matchups against the Nets, including nine straight games at home. Kyle Lowry is averaging 21.5 points and 5.5 assists in two games vs. Brooklyn this season. The Raptors play at Brooklyn on Wednesday to wrap-up play before the NBA All-Star break. • The Raptors won their franchise record 13th straight game (Jan. 15 – Feb. 7) Friday night at Indiana. Over the last 13 games, the Raptors are averaging 120.2 points and shooting .501 (576-1149) from the field, including .399 (188-471) from three point range. Toronto also has a +70 (178-to-248) turnover differential during this stretch and leads the NBA in points per game off turnovers (23.7). The Raptors’ win streak is the longest in Toronto sports history (NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS and CFL). • Rookie Terence Davis ll led the reserves in scoring for the third consecutive game (Feb. 2-7) with 17 points in 25 minutes Friday night against the Pacers. Davis has scored in double digits each of the last three games, averaging 19.7 points (third on the team) during this span. He is the only Raptor to appear in every game this season and currently ranks second among all rookies with a .420 three-point percentage. • Serge Ibaka led the Raptors with 22 points and 10 rebounds for his team-high 15th double-double of the season Friday night. Ibaka has scored in double figures in nine straight games (Jan. 22 – Feb. 7). He is averaging 20.1 points (second on the team) and shooting .605 (75-for-124) from the field during this stretch. Ibaka is the first player in franchise history to make at least six shots from the field while making at least half of his field-goal attempts in nine consecutive contests. • On Friday night, Kyle Lowry passed Vince Carter (9,420) for third on the Raptors’ all-time scoring list. DeMar DeRozan is the franchise’s all-time leader in points (13,296), followed by Chris Bosh (10,275). • The Raptors have not lost games on consecutive days since Dec. 26–27, 2017 (at Dallas and Oklahoma City). Toronto has played 29 pairs of games on back-to-back days since then (not including the current back-to-back set), sweeping both games 11 times and splitting 18 times. • Nick Nurse and his staff will coach Team Giannis at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago. Nurse will become just the third active head coach to coach in the All-Star Game in their first or second year as an NBA head coach, joining Steve Kerr (first year) and Mike Budenholzer (second year) – both in 2015. • Kyle Lowry has been named a reserve for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game. Lowry will participate in his sixth All-Star Game (2015-20), the most in franchise history. He is the first player in NBA history to be selected to at least six All-Star teams after not being picked in any of his first eight seasons. Lowry will join forward Pascal Siakam in Chicago, who was voted a starter. Siakam’s selection extends a streak of six consecutive years that a Raptor has been voted into the starting five – Lowry (2015, 2016), DeMar DeRozan (2017, 2018) and Kawhi Leonard (2019). It also marks the fifth straight year (2016-20) two players will represent Toronto in the All-Star Game.
• Totaled 16 points, three rebounds and a career high-tying five steals in 28 minutes Feb. 7 at Indiana. • Toronto is 20-4 this season when Anunoby scores 10 or more points. • Averaging a career-high 10.2 points and shooting a career-best .492 from the field this season.
F – PASCAL SIAKAM #43
MIN: 34.9 REB: 7.6 AST: 3.4 STL: 1.0 TO: 2.5 BLK: 0.9 PTS: 23.5 • Finished with 15 points, four rebounds and one block in 35 minutes Feb. 7 at Indiana.
• Ranks 15th in the NBA in scoring (23.5) and 12th in +/- rating (+305). • Has scored 30+ points 12 times; had five 30-point performances in 80 games played last season.
• Recorded team highs of 22 points and 10 rebounds in 40 minutes Feb. 7 at Indiana. • Averaging 19.1 points, 9.0 rebounds and 31.8 minutes in 19 games as a starter this season. • Is the only player in NBA history with 500+ three-point field goals and 1,500+ blocks.
• Posted his ninth double-double with 16 points and a game-high 11 assists in 28 minutes Feb. 7 at Indiana before leaving game late in third quarter with whip lash. Listed as questionable at 1:30 p.m. Saturday..
• Passed Vince Carter (9,420) for third on the franchise’s all-time scoring against the Pacers. • Tied for eighth in the NBA in assists per game (7.4); has dished out 10+ assists nine times.
• Totaled 20 points, seven assists, three rebounds and two steals in 41 minutes Feb. 7 at Indiana. • Ranks fourth in the NBA in steals per game (1.95); has registered multiple steals in 21 games. • Has totaled 43 assists, compared to 10 turnovers, over the last five games (Jan. 30 – Feb. 7).
INJURY REPORT Marc Gasol (Left hamstring; tightness) – Out Dewan Hernandez (Right ankle; sprain) – Out Kyle Lowy (Neck: whiplash) – Questionable Norman Powell (Left hand; fourth metacarpal – fracture) – Out
SERIES RECAP VS. BROOKLYN
OVERALL HOME ROAD
2019-20 2-0 1-0 1-0
ALL-TIME 55-40 32-15 23-25
STREAKS Won 5 Won 9 Won 2
LAST WIN: January 4, 2020 (121-102)
LAST HOME WIN: December 14, 2019 (110-102)
LARGEST MARGIN OF VICTORY: +37, November 2, 2007
LARGEST MARGIN OF DEFEAT: -25, January 15, 1996
LAST TIME VS. BROOKLYN
GAME 36 – JANUARY 4, 2020 TORONTO 121, BROOKLYN 102
BROOKLYN — Fred VanVleet had 29 points and 11 assists, Lowry scored 26 points and the Raptors beat the Nets 121-102 … Serge Ibaka finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds … Toronto started slow, but got back into it with a big finish to the first half before their guards — who both hit five three pointers — carried them in the second half for another win in what’s been a one-sided rivalry … Toronto made 13 three pointers and beat Brooklyn for the 17th time in 18 meetings … Spencer Dinwiddie scored 23 points for the Nets, who dropped their fifth straight … They had a 16-point lead in the second quarter, but gave almost all of it away by halftime … Caris LeVert returned after a 24-game absence following right thumb surgery and scored 13 points in 16 minutes off the bench … The Nets shot 61 per cent in the first quarter and were six of 10 from 3-point range to open a 33-24 lead … Toronto scored the final 12 points of the second to trim the Net’s lead to 52-48 … Brooklyn had 16 turnovers in the half, leading to 20 points … VanVleet then scored 14 in the third to keep Toronto ahead until it went into the fourth leading 83-80 … Lowry’s three pointer with 9:08 to play triggered a 15-5 spurt that turned a two-point lead into a 100-88 cushion midway through the period.
1 2 3 4 TOT
TORONTO 24 24 35 38 121
BROOKLYN 33 19 28 22 102
NEXT GAME DETAILS Opponent: Minnesota Timberwolves Date: Monday, February 10 Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. (ET) Venue: Scotiabank Arena Television: Sportsnet Radio: TSN 1050 Toronto
SERIES RECAP VS. MINNESOTA
OVERALL HOME ROAD
2019-20 1-0 0-0 1-0
ALL-TIME 32-15 21-3 11-12
STREAKS Won 4 Won 15 Won 2
LAST WIN: January 18, 2020 (122-112)
LAST HOME WIN: October 24, 2018 (112-105)
LARGEST MARGIN OF VICTORY: +23, February 10, 2008
LARGEST MARGIN OF DEFEAT: -32, March 19, 2002
LAST TIME VS. MINNESOTA
GAME 42 – JANUARY 18, 2020 TORONTO 122, MINNESOTA 112
MINNEAPOLIS — Fred VanVleet led Toronto with 29 points as the Raptors beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 122-112 on Saturday night … Kyle Lowry added 28 points and seven assists while Norman Powell scored 20 points off the bench for the Raptors, who have won three straight games … Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins recorded his first career triple-double … He had 18 points, a career-high 11 assists and 10 rebounds … Rookie Jarrett Culver had 26 points for the Timberwolves … VanVleet’s injury sidelined him for five games before Saturday … He was 11 of 16 from the field and 7 of 8 from 3-point range … VanVleet scored 10 points in the fourth quarter … Toronto took a five-point lead into the fourth quarter thanks in large part to Lowry’s efforts in the third … Lowry scored 17 points in the quarter to erase a four-point halftime deficit … The Raptors pushed the lead to as many as 22 in the fourth … Serge Ibaka and Powell each had six points off the bench during a 21-6 stretch to open the period … Minnesota got big first quarters from Wiggins and Culver … Wiggins had 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting and added five assists in the quarter … Culver led Minnesota with 14 points in the first, including 4 of 6 from deep.
1 2 3 4 TOT
TORONTO 32 26 31 33 122
MINNESOTA 39 23 22 28 112
GAME 52 – FEBRUARY 7, 2020 TORONTO 115, INDIANA 106
INDIANAPOLIS — Two days after rallying from a 19-point deficit to extend their franchise-record winning streak, the short-handed Raptors beat Indiana 115-106 for their 13th consecutive victory … Toronto has been winning without Marc Gasol and Norman Powell, two key players who are injured … Kyle Lowry missed the final 14 and a half minutes with a whiplash injury … The Raptors beat the Pacers for the second time in three days and head home with their 10th consecutive road victory … Serge Ibaka scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds … Fred VanVleet added 20 points and seven assists for Toronto, which hasn’t lost since Jan. 15 … Lowry finished with 16 points and 11 assists, his ninth double-double of the season … Domantas Sabonis finished with 19 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Pacers, and Victor Oladipo added 15 points and four assists in his first home start since returning from an injured right knee … Indiana has lost a season-high four in a row … Toronto had a 12-3 run in the third quarter which contributed to an 87-78 lead … When Lowry left with 2:42 to go in the third, the Pacers closed out the quarter with five straight points, cutting the deficit to four … The Pacers got as close as 101-99 with 6:47 left before Terence Davis scored seven points in a 12-4 spurt that gave Toronto a 113-103 lead with 1:48 to go.
(31-20) INDIANA PACERS, 119 VS. (37-14) TORONTO RAPTORS, 118 SCOTIABANK ARENA WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2020
TORONTO RAPTORS QUOTES
NICK NURSE (HEAD COACH)
On staying with Serge Ibaka after he picked up his fifth foul … At that point in the game, it was kind of on the line – I thought, anyway. I think we might have been down around 10 at the time or something and I just figured you try that for a little bit and see what happens. He was playing really well, and it was like save him for what. Fortunately he was able to last it.
On the guys just going crazy when they are trapping and pressing on defence … We certainly had some energy left at the end the way that we were moving. You are just trying to get them into something that changes the rhythm of the game and they were in great rhythm. They were really carving us to pieces and we got them out of their sets and then as we have seen with that press before, once you get one they look shaky quickly. It is not just them – you have seen us do it, we’ve been pressed and we give one up and all of sudden it turns into three really quick. It takes you out of your offence. The play of the night really was, obviously that last possession, it was like 29 seconds long I think and they had it the whole time until we got out of there, but we had decided to blitz the next (Malcolm) Brogdan pick and roll about 1:50 earlier and we were pre-rotating to (Domantas) Sabonis on that and we remembered to do it. Which after all that stuff that was going on and they did it. Sabonis kind of got stuck right there at the beginning and when Brogdan came off that thing and let go, I was like, perfect, I thought maybe we would steal that but we were there. Then we froze him and kind of got back and (Victor) Oladipo got a pretty good look there at the end, but still we were flying around pretty good.
On a strange game from Pascal Siakam, but coming through at the end … That’s what he did, he stayed in there. He wasn’t getting to really balanced shots in there, he was getting to some great positions, like one where he got to like two feet and shot it about six all the way over the basket to other side. It was like he made a really good move and for some reason his balance was being affected I thought pretty much early in the game and then he just decided to start coming downhill at the. He would go for it once, then slam on the brakes and kick it out once, then go for it. He made great reads again, this is maybe his third, fourth close game we’ve had where he has delivered scoring or passing down the stretch and of course those guys have made the shots which is big.
Do you feel like this team is never out of the game regardless even when you’re down 10, 15 points? We play 48 minutes. That’s how we play. We put a little pressure on them and made some shots, got aggressive and started playing a little bit better defense down the stretch. We played a little faster, more aggressive and Pascal made some great plays. He made some big shots.
Does it give you confidence, knowing you guys have gone to the press late in games with success? It’s not confidence, it’s doing what we have to do to try to win basketball games, no matter what it takes. It’s what we’ve always tried to do and something we build on. We try to get better as a team. Every game is learning a lesson and you continue to get better throughout the season and enjoy this journey.
Is there something you guys have been doing differently during this winning streak? Day-by-day, game-by-game, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute. We don’t think about the streak. … We think about how to win games.
Have you seen an improvement in Serge Ibaka’s passing? Yes, he has made a very conscious effort to make the extra pass. He made a great pass to Pascal on the run tonight. I think he’s getting comfortable doing what he wanted to do and what is needed.
PASCAL SIAKAM (25 points, nine rebounds, five assists)
Do you feel the team is never really out of it regardless of the score? Yes, we just keep playing. We understand that most of the time it’s about us bringing the intensity up and correcting some of the mistakes that we make. We always know that it’s just a matter of time that we are going to get a rhythm to the game and get stops. Anything can happen.
Is there a method to the press late in games? I think we just make it powerful, especially during the whole game they felt like it was easy and got whatever they wanted. We wanted to make sure we made it hard on them. Better pressure, flying around. They made a lot of threes so once we collapsed we had to get out to them.
On coming up big on both ends late in the game… It was a tough game. At the end of the game, it doesn’t matter what the result is – if I make 20 shots or I miss 20 shots – as long as I continue to be aggressive and you could argue that I could have calls or no calls, whatever the case may be. I think at the end of the day for me I have to stay aggressive. No matter the result, I have to have the same attitude. It was on me to contribute to make sure I go out there and be the best player I can be.
Is there anything that stands out about this winning streak? I think it’s a little bit of everything. We play together, no matter what happens we stay calm and weather the storm and continue to play basketball. We don’t get down on ourselves when we miss shots or have turnovers or be down 20. It’s about us staying together as a team and I think we did a great job of that tonight. Even when it wasn’t going well, we didn’t really have anybody talking down on anybody or anybody pointing fingers. It was about us getting together. Once we turn it on we know we can win any night.
SERGE IBAKA (30 points, seven rebounds, three assists)
What do you think was the biggest key to the comeback? I think we keep our composure during the game. We know we’ve beat them before. We’ve beat them many times before in the position. We just didn’t give up. We try to keep competing to the end.
How did feel when that feel when that 3 dropped at the end? It feels good. I missed a couple open 3s earlier. Coach told me at the timeout, “hey Serge, keep shooting with confidence and push the ball.” He gave me a lot of confidence.
Is that something you’ve been working on? Yes, I’ve been working on it. That’s another reason, too. Once I got the ball I said to myself, “I have to shoot it.” I work on the shot every day and it went in.
It feels like you’re never out of the game, is that how you approach it? Like I said earlier, we’ve been there before, even in the playoffs. It’s a mindset of don’t give up, keep trusting each other, don’t point fingers when things go bad. We stay together. I think that’s what makes us very special.
(31-20) INDIANA PACERS, 118 VS. (37-14) TORONTO RAPTORS, 119 SCOTIABANK ARENA WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2020
INDIANA PACERS QUOTES
NATE MCMILLAN (HEAD COACH)
What went wrong in the last couple of minutes? Turnovers, just not handling the ball, executing down the stretch, 27 points off of turnovers. You just got to take care of the basketball.
What did you see from your team with Victor Oladipo inserted into the starting lineup? We gave ourselves a chance to win tonight. We had this game; we’ve got to finish games when you have a team down. Just poor execution the last five minutes of this game. Defensively, the second half we gave up 71 points. So we’ve got to finish games.
What do you think contributed to the turnovers? Spacing, being careless with the basketball. You’ve just got to execute. We knew they were a team that had a trap, and we didn’t get our spacing, and just didn’t care of the basketball.
VICTOR OLADIPO (13 points, two assists, two rebounds)
On tonight’s game… I think down the stretch (it was) little mistakes. I felt like we were playing to just maintain the lead instead of playing to win the game. That’s just my personal opinion. They executed. We didn’t execute. I felt like they knew exactly what they wanted to do down the stretch and I felt like we didn’t. We weren’t really sure, but again, it’s probably because I haven’t played with them in a long time. But it’s good for us to have these kinds of games now than later in the season or in the playoffs so we know what we need to do better … Something to learn from. Obviously we’ve all got to watch film and get better. We play them again on Friday, so it’s a quick turnaround. We’ve got to be ready to play.
Are you surprised by Toronto’s win streak? No. They’ve been good for a really long time, even before this year and last year. They are well-coached, their players know their roles, they know what they’re supposed to do, and really not supposed to do. They know certain parts of the game, when it’s going to happen, what needs to be executed, they know who’s going to have the ball, who’s not going to have the ball, and they know what they need to do to help their team win. That’s why they’re successful.
MALCOLM BROGDON (24 points, six rebounds, six assists)
On tonight’s ending… We couldn’t get stops at the end. They made some tough buckets. (It) was just sort of a series of things.
Do you guys have an issue with dealing with this kind of pressure down the stretch? No. I mean, it’s happened a few times, but we don’t have a problem with that. We just struggled with it tonight.
What in particular made it difficult tonight? It was on us. We just weren’t organized. It wasn’t a special press. We just weren’t organized in our spots. We didn’t get the ball up the court fast enough. We didn’t attack it. A lot of the time with press breaks, you’ve got to attack it (and) try and get a bucket or layup on the other end. We were really just trying to get it over half court.