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Five thoughts recap: Boston Celtics 118, Toronto Raptors 1102 – RaptorsHQ

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The Toronto Raptors finally hosted an NBA game, and for two minutes, it looked like it was going to be a celebratory affair. Unfortunately the Boston Celtics awoke from their post-Christmas slumber and outplayed the Raptors for the final 46!

Yes, it was a disappointing game, but, not a surprising one. The Raptors, after all, are shorthanded, and the Celtics, even though they were down a starter in Marcus Smart, are a damn good team.

That means there isn’t a whole lot to take away from this one, but let’s do the thoughts anyway!

We’ll Always Have 10-0

What a start, right? For those glorious two minutes, it seemed like the Raptors’ magical 2019 had a little bit left to give us. A 10-0 run to start? Were we really gonna run the Celtics out of the building on our first-ever Christmas Day game? Would the Raptors finally dispatch a contending team with ease? Were the Celtics overrated, hung over, or both!?

The crowd sure thought so. It was as loud as a playoff game in there when Kyle Lowry banged home that second three-pointer.

Alas. It wasn’t meant to be. The Raptors were outscored 28-9 the rest of the quarter, and Lowry only hit two more shots all day.

Still, it was a nice moment — like waking up on Christmas Day and seeing all the presents under the tree.

And then finding out all you’re getting is underwear.

Might be Time to Adjust the D

I wrote about this in yesterday’s preview and recap — how the Raptors allow space on the perimeter to dig down in the paint, trusting their defenders to be able to rotate back out to shooters.

That scheme just doesn’t seem to work as well without Pascal Siakam, Norman Powell and Marc Gasol.

With no timetable for any of those players to return, it might make sense for Nick Nurse to tweak a few things, and have the guards stay out on shooters a little more and concede more space inside.

Too Much McCaw

As usual I preface this with the note that I am not an NBA coach and that Nick Nurse knows his personnel better than I do. And of course, the Raptors are shorthanded so players are not being put in optimal situations.

But I just don’t see the value in playing Patrick McCaw for 32.5 minutes, in a game, in his first 25 minutes, he went 0-for-4, didn’t record an assist or steal, and grabbed only one rebound.

I understand that McCaw has value on defense (although that claim seemed dubious last night), and that you don’t need to score to make an impact (like Malcolm Miller in the Dallas comeback). But when the Raptors are missing two of their best scorers, and when a good defensive team like Boston is locking down Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet, the Raptors need to get something from the starting SF spot.

Ah Yes, Noon Starts

It’s been a while since the Raptors have tipped off at noon, but it didn’t take these two teams long to remind us why these early tip-offs can sometimes be… less than entertaining. The two teams combined for 36 turnovers, many of the sloppy, unforced variety.

Ultimately, it’s probably a good thing the Raptors had the noon slot. It probably had the fewest viewers, so as few people as possible saw them play, and as such, we were likely spared a multitude of hot takes about them being frauds or unworthy of the day or whatever (while ignoring that they were missing three of their top seven guys).

Small favours, right?

Game Ops Does it Right (Again)

As with opening night and Kawhi Leonard’s return, the Raptors and Scotiabank Arena brought exactly the right mood to the day. Everything was Christmas-themed, and you really felt like it was a special event — which it was, despite the final score. The giveaway shirts were awesome, the intro video with the players in Santa hats was fun, and having everything gold-tinged fit the theme nicely.

But, as noted by many on Twitter including our own Sean Woodley, the NBA definitely missed an opportunity by forcing the teams into their City Edition jerseys — after all, wouldn’t a red versus green matchup been ideal for the day?

Props to the Celtics for their Christmas plaid warmups though!

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Why no one should count out a Tiger Woods comeback after car crash

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The emotional impact of the events of Tuesday afternoon hit as hard as Tiger Woods himself did in his prime. Reports began to circulate on social media that Woods was in a single-car collision in California, and the feelings went from “This can’t be real” to “Is Tiger alive?”

The good news: Woods is very much alive. Battered, bruised and held together by literal pins and screws – but he’s still here.

The bad news: This very well could be the end of the line for Woods on the PGA Tour.

But, given the severity of the crash, it’s best to focus on that good news.

“It’s very fortunate,” said Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, the first on scene to speak with the legendary golfer, “that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive.”

Woods has always been superhuman on the golf course, but the last few years – the 2019 Masters aside – have shown him to be as human as the rest of us.

And mere mortals are not exempt from horrible accidents like the one Woods was involved in on Tuesday.

Dr. Steven Papp, an orthopedic surgeon at The Ottawa Hospital, told Sportsnet that with Woods’s tibia fracture being “open” (meaning it broke through the skin) there would be concerns about infection – something he said would needed to be monitored over the coming months – along with compartment syndrome in the leg.

However, Dr. Papp says, it sounds as if Woods has had the tibia fracture fixed and cleaned, and already had a compartment release.

“It’s a severe injury that will take a long time to recover from,” said Dr. Papp. “But without any complications, he should be able to walk again, and I think it’s reasonable he could play golf again. It’s not out of the question.

“A reasonable time would be something like 12 months. Six months is possible. To imagine he’s playing golf in three months would be a bit unlikely … but this guy is a special individual.”

At the PGA Tour’s World Golf Championships event in Florida, Canadian Mackenzie Hughes was on the 14th hole of his practice round with fellow Tour winner Lanto Griffin when they heard the news.

“We all immediately felt sick to our stomachs,” Hughes told Sportsnet in a text message. “We were just praying it was not too serious.”

Hughes said his thoughts quickly went to Woods’s children, who were likely pulled out of school (daughter Sam is 13 while son Charlie is 12) to be told about their father.

“It’s not about his (golf) career,” said Hughes, who is a father of two boys. “As a dad myself, that’s what I think about first.”

The question now is less about if Woods can physically come back to play golf again, but if he wants to.

He’s 45, and just went through another back procedure – his fifth – a couple of weeks ago. He was, for all we know, preparing to come back for the Masters in early April. We still don’t know the factors involved in the crash – local authorities say the curve Woods came around is known as a dangerous one – but the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department did confirm Wednesday it would not be pursuing any charges of impairment against Woods.

The vehicle crash was “purely an accident,” said Alex Villaneuva, the L.A. County Sheriff.

Woods was in California for a two-day video shoot with content partner Golf Digest. He did not arrive for the second morning of shooting as the crash occurred just after 7:00 a.m. local time. Woods, as part of the shoot, was supposed to give golf lessons to celebrities including actor David Spade and former basketball star Dwyane Wade.

Wade, on Inside the NBA Tuesday night, said he and Woods talked about their kids during their day together.

That’s fitting, because the last time we saw Woods on the golf course back in December, he was paired with Charlie at the PNC Championship, a parent-child event. There, we saw true joy from Woods, who for almost two decades was stoic, focused and ready to take on any golf course or competitor in his path.

These days Woods appears softer. He loves talking about his children and doing things with them. Charlie stole the show at the PNC Championship with his golf prowess very clearly shining through. Sam, meanwhile, is a star soccer player in Florida. They are trying to be normal kids in an abnormal time.

For better or for worse, Woods owes his life to golf.

His success transcended the game and changed the way people — including this writer — view and play it. His dominance came at a time when golf was at a crossroads. Woods, a multi-racial young star, prioritized working out, and ripped woods made of metal and golf balls with multiple layers through the stratosphere.

Anyone on the driving range at a PGA Tour event will likely say it was Woods who got them motivated to play golf at a high level. Everyone who comes later in golf’s history will always be compared to him. Through the early 2000s, he had no equal, other than history itself.

More recently, Woods has been knocked off the pedestal.

“He’s a human being at the end of the day,” said Rory McIlroy. “And he’s already been through so much. At this stage I think everyone should just be grateful that he’s here, that he’s alive, that his kids haven’t lost their dad. That’s the most important thing.”

An inspiration to millions, a fascinating character and a tragic hero, Woods has always been able to come back – from myriad injuries and surgeries, from a front-page infidelity scandal, and from the loss of his father. So there should be no doubt he can come back to the PGA Tour after this accident.

Will he want to? Perhaps. Should we bet against him, if it’s what he wants? Absolutely not.

Source: – Sportsnet.ca

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New Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme looks calm, cool and confident – Montreal Gazette

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GM Marc Bergevin describes the 47-year-old Joliette native as a “new model of coach” who is a good communicator.

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Dominique Ducharme looked a bit nervous when he sat down for his first video conference Wednesday afternoon in Winnipeg as the Canadiens’ new head coach.

That’s totally understandable.

But it wasn’t very long into the 35-minute session that the 47-year-old Joliette native started to look calm, cool and confident answering questions from the media.

“I feel prepared,” Ducharme said. “When you’re prepared, you sit down at school, you get your exam, you don’t care what the questions are going to be. You’re ready to answer. You’re pretty nervous when you’re not ready, when you didn’t study. So I feel comfortable. I feel ready. I’m confident in the group, I’m confident in the guys I’m working with and I’m ready to go.”

Ducharme takes over from Claude Julien, who was fired Wednesday morning after the Canadiens went 2-4-2 in their last eight games, dropping to fourth place in the North Division with a 9-5-4 record. Associate coach Kirk Muller was also fired.

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Ducharme has basically been the Canadiens’ head-coach-in-waiting since being hired as an assistant coach before the start of the 2018-19 season.

“If I had written a script, maybe it would have been different today,” he said. “But I’m losing two colleagues and two great people. Claude is a great man and I got to know Kirk. To see them leave, obviously, it’s a mixed feeling. Yes, I’m proud to be here. It was a long road for me. I didn’t take the highway … I went on the side roads. But I’m proud of that and I think it made me grow as a coach and today I feel ready for it.”

Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin informed Ducharme he was the new head coach Wednesday morning in Ottawa, after the Canadiens lost 5-4 to the Senators in a shootout Tuesday night. The Canadiens flew to Winnipeg later in the day and will play the Jets Thursday night (8 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

Ducharme won’t even get a full practice before taking over behind the bench. The Canadiens will have a morning skate Thursday.

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“I want a team that plays the right way and plays fast, that’s for sure,” Ducharme said. “I like offence. For sure, I like offence. But to create offence you need to have the puck, so you need to retrieve it. We want to spend less time in our zone, we want to create more turnovers, we want to counter quick, we want to have solutions when we have the puck. For sure, we want to be going on offence, but we need the puck.

“One thing is creating an offence is not only with the puck carrier,” he added. “Right now we need a lot more support, we need a lot more cohesion on that side, working together and having options. We’ll work at giving the guy with the puck a lot more options.”

Bergevin described Ducharme as a “new model of coach” who is a good communicator. The GM wanted to make it clear that doesn’t mean Julien wasn’t a good communicator, adding sometimes it can be the same message just delivered in a different way with a different voice that is needed. Bergevin said the Canadiens were looking like a team that was lost and missing a sense of direction, adding that happens in pro sports when the same coach has been delivering the message for a long time and it stops getting through. Julien was in his fourth season as head coach.

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Bergevin is “100 per cent confident” Ducharme is the right man to get the players back on the same page, change the team’s vibe and turn things around. While Ducharme was named interim head coach, Bergevin said the job is his to lose now and a decision will be made on his future at the end of the season.

Ducharme is also confident he can get the job done.

“If you prepare for the game and you think tonight we’re going to win, maybe you forget something,” he said. “How are we going to win? Focus on the process. I think we need to go back to those little things and make sure we’re doing them right. For sure, there’s going to be some little adjustments. But I’m confident that we have a good team here. We’ll have success.”

Ducharme was asked what his specific responsibilities were as one of Julien’s assistant coaches up to this point.

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“A lot had to do with the pre-scout, watching the other team,” he said. “Obviously, I had a lot of things to watch for five-on-five. Claude has always been open to my comments. I learned a lot. Talking about the power play with Kirk, with Luke (Richardson) about the PK, so I touched a lot of things and gained experience that way. I think that was great for me.”

Ducharme was going to meet with the players for the first time as head coach Wednesday night.

What was his message going to be?

“I’ll keep that for them,” he said. “I think they deserve that. They care a lot. It was a big day for me, it was a big day for Kirk, for Claude. They’re human and they care. So I’ll talk to them tonight.”

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

  1. Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin watches his team's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs during second period in Montreal on Feb. 10, 2021.

    Stu Cowan: Players forced Canadiens GM’s hand in firing of Julien

  2. New Canadiens assistant coach Dominique Ducharme meets with the media at the team’s Brossard practice facility on April 27, 2018.

    Stu Cowan: Dominique Ducharme a head-coach-in-waiting with Canadiens

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'Dom was my guy,' Bergevin says as Ducharme takes Canadiens' reins – Montreal Gazette

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“I like offence but, to create offence, you need the puck, you need to retrieve it,” Dominique Ducharme says as he assumes control of Habs.

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Dominique Ducharme faces a difficult task as he takes over the head coaching job with the Canadiens, a team that is falling short of its high expectations.

General manager Marc Bergevin pulled the plug on Claude Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller Wednesday, scant hours before the team left Ottawa for Winnipeg, where they will play the Jets on Thursday (8 p.m., TSN2, TSN3, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

Ducharme has been regarded as the Canadiens’ head coach in waiting since he was hired as an assistant coach in 2018, but his progression was hurried along when the Canadiens went into a 2-4-2 slide after a strong start to the COVID-shortened season.

While Ducharme, 47, carries an interim tag on his title, Bergevin said he was the first choice for the job and it is his to lose.

“Quarantine or no quarantine, Dom was my guy from the time I made my decision,” said Bergevin. “He’s a new model of coach, a young coach who came a long way, had success at the junior level, at the world junior level. I feel this team needed a new voice and he’s a good communicator and, from what I saw, that’s what the players are looking for.”

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Ducharme talked to his players as the head coach for the first time Wednesday night and he’ll have to communicate his ideas while navigating a schedule that basically sees the Canadiens playing every other night.

When asked about his coaching style, Ducharme said the best answers will be on the ice and he trotted out clichés about playing the right way and playing fast before saying: “I like offence but, to create offence, you need the puck, you need to retrieve it. We want to spend less time in our zone. We want to create more turnovers, we want to counter quick. For sure, we want to go on offence, but we need the puck.”

Ducharme must patch up the Habs’ special teams, which rank in the bottom third of the NHL. Alex Burrows moved over from the AHL’s Laval Rocket as an assistant coach and will guide the power play, while Luke Richardson will supervise the penalty kill, which has been wildly inconsistent after starting the season with a flood of short-handed goals.

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Ducharme enjoyed success in the junior ranks, winning a Memorial Cup in 2013 with a Halifax Mooseheads lineup that included Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin. He won gold and silver medals as head coach of Team Canada at the world juniors, but the Canadiens gave him his first professional experience.

“I didn’t take the highway,” said Ducharme. “I took the side road, but I’m proud of that. It made me grow as a coach.”‘

Bergevin said he couldn’t pinpoint when he decided to make a change, but he said the team kept repeating the same mistakes.

“Last season, we had two eight-game losing streaks and I know we had injuries. But this year, knock on wood, we’ve been healthy, and I saw a pattern that I didn’t want to wait much longer.”

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Bergevin said he detected a disconnect between the message Julien was sending to the players and their performance on the ice. The final straw came Tuesday night when the Canadiens lost 5-4 in a shootout to the Senators for their third straight loss.

Ducharme might have had time to implement some changes if Bergevin pulled the trigger last week, when the Canadiens had six days between games, but Montreal was coming off a 2-1 win over the Maple Leafs and the general manager said he was giving Julien and Muller a chance to right the ship. The Canadiens proceeded to lose three games after the break.

Ducharme appeared relaxed as he talked to the media during a video conference Wednesday afternoon and he hearkened back to his student days at the University of Vermont, where he was a key member of a powerhouse hockey team alongside future Stanley Cup winners Eric Perrin, Martin St. Louis and Tim Thomas.

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“When you prepare, you sit down at school, get your exam (and) you don’t care what the questions are going to be, you’re ready to answer” said Ducharme. “You’re pretty nervous when you’re not ready, when you didn’t study. I feel comfortable. I’m confident in the group I’m working with and I’m ready to go.”

phickey@postmedia.com

twitter.com/zababes1

  1. Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin watches his team's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs during second period in Montreal on Feb. 10, 2021.

    Stu Cowan: Players forced Canadiens GM’s hand in firing of Julien

  2. Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien looks toward the ice as his team takes on the Ottawa Senators during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021.

    Jack Todd: Canadiens’ sweet start ends in bitter outcome for Julien

  3. Head coach Claude Julien blows a whistle over his mask during Montreal Canadiens practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Jan. 27, 2021.

    What the Puck: Canadiens goalie Price shares blame for Julien’s firing

  4. Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien, right, speaks with associate coach Kirk Muller practice at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Wednesday November 27, 2019.  (John Mahoney} / MONTREAL GAZETTE)  ORG XMIT: POS1911271253161652

    Montreal Canadiens fire Claude Julien and Kirk Muller

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