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



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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Tiger Woods had a tough opening round at The 152nd Open Championship



Tiger Woods encountered difficulties during the opening round of The 152nd Open Championship at Royal Troon, finishing with an 8-over-par 79. Despite a promising beginning, including a birdie on the third hole, Woods struggled to find consistency throughout the round. His iron play and putting were particularly problematic, contributing to a series of bogeys and double bogeys.

Woods’ performance saw him slightly above average off the tee and around the green. However, he lost over two strokes to the field in both approach play and putting, ranking near the bottom in these categories. This marks a significant challenge for the 15-time major champion, especially considering the competitive field and the demanding conditions at Royal Troon.

Reflecting on his round, Woods admitted, “I didn’t do a lot of things right today. I didn’t hit my irons very close, and I didn’t give myself a whole lot of looks today. I need to shoot something in the mid-60s tomorrow to get something going on the weekend.” He emphasized the need for a strong performance on Friday to make the cut and remain in contention.

Woods, 48, has shown determination and resilience, competing in all four majors this year for the first time since his serious car accident in 2021. Despite physical limitations, he believes he can still contend for major titles under the right conditions. His performance on Thursday puts him in a challenging position, requiring a significant turnaround in the second round to stay in the tournament.

As Woods prepares for Friday’s round, his focus remains on improving his game and making the cut. Fans and analysts alike will be watching to see if he can achieve the remarkable recovery needed to advance and compete over the weekend. Woods’ journey at The 152nd Open Championship continues to be a testament to his enduring skill and competitive spirit.

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NBA Returns to Montreal with Raptors vs. Wizards Pre-Season Game



Montreal, QC – The NBA is set to make an exciting return to Montreal. The league announced on Thursday that the Toronto Raptors will face off against the Washington Wizards at the Bell Centre on October 6, marking the 10th edition of the NBA Canada Series.

This annual series has featured 15 teams playing 18 pre-season games across six Canadian cities. Notably, this will be the eighth NBA Canada Series game in Montreal, the highest for any city outside the Raptors’ usual home in Toronto.

Last year, Montreal fans witnessed the Detroit Pistons take on the Oklahoma City Thunder, featuring Canadians Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort. The Raptors’ previous game in Montreal was in 2022.

This year’s game will be particularly special as it will showcase several Canadian players. Montreal natives Chris Boucher and Quincy Guerrier are both on the Raptors’ training camp roster. Additionally, Kelly Olynyk and RJ Barrett, who are set to represent Canada at the upcoming Summer Olympics, are also expected to play for the Raptors.

The Wizards bring their own Canadian connection with Kyshawn George, selected in this year’s NBA Draft. George, born in Switzerland, is the son of Montreal’s Deon George, a former member of Canada’s men’s basketball team.

The October 6 game will cap off the Raptors’ Montreal-based training camp, promising an exciting end to their preparations.

For more updates and coverage on the NBA Canada Series, visit Canada News Media

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Fafa Picault Leads Vancouver Whitecaps to Victory Over Sporting Kansas City



Vancouver, BCFafa Picault emerged as the hero off the bench, scoring in the second half to secure a 2-1 victory for the Vancouver Whitecaps against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.

The Whitecaps (11-7-5) dominated the first half, with two goals being disallowed due to offside calls. Vancouver’s breakthrough came in the 34th minute when Kansas City defender Robert Valoder accidentally scored an own goal, giving the ‘Caps a 1-0 lead.

Sporting Kansas City (6-14-5) showed more vigor in the second half, equalizing in the 69th minute with a goal from Willy Agada. However, Picault’s decisive goal in the 76th minute ensured the Whitecaps extended their unbeaten streak in Major League Soccer (MLS) to five games (4-0-1).

Yohei Takaoka delivered an outstanding performance with 16 saves for Vancouver, while Tim Melia made 12 stops for Kansas City, whose three-game winning streak came to an end.

First Half Dominance

The Whitecaps were aggressive from the start, creating several early scoring opportunities. Brian White nearly scored with a header in the seventh minute, but Valoder cleared it off the goal line.

Ali Ahmed had a notable moment in the 27th minute, maneuvering past defenders to set up White for a goal that was disallowed due to offside. The Whitecaps’ pressure paid off in the 34th minute when Valoder deflected the ball into his own net, attempting to intercept a pass from Ryan Gauld to White.

Ahmed seemed poised to increase Vancouver’s lead eight minutes later, but his goal was also ruled offside. Despite these setbacks, Vancouver outshot Kansas City 9-2 in the first half.

Kansas City’s Resurgence

Sporting Kansas City made three substitutions at halftime, revitalizing their performance. Stefan Afrifa, substituting for Alenis Vargas, struck the crossbar in the 63rd minute, and Daniel Salloi’s follow-up shot was expertly saved by Takaoka.

Kansas City equalized six minutes later when Agada capitalized on a rebound after Takaoka’s save, slotting the ball into an open net.

Picault’s Winning Goal

The Whitecaps regained the lead in the 76th minute through Picault’s sixth goal of the season. Sebastian Berhalter, who replaced Ryan Raposo in the 67th minute, delivered a perfect cross to Picault, who headed it past Melia to make it 2-1.

Kansas City had a chance to level the score in injury time, but Erik Thommy’s free kick went over the bar following a foul by Mathias Laborda.

The victory solidifies the Whitecaps’ position as a formidable team in the MLS, with Picault’s performance highlighting their depth and resilience.

Stay tuned for more updates and coverage on the Vancouver Whitecaps at Canada News Media.

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