Lay anchor, fellas. A win is a win.
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|O. Anunoby34 MIN, 5 PTS, 7 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 1-10 FG, 0-7 3FG, 3-4 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 22 +/-
Had a very nice defensive game on Randle. Offensively, he made a couple nice passes after knifing into the defense, but he was so-so. Ideally, no more 0-for-something games from the 3-point line going forward.
|N. Powell34 MIN, 17 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST, 2 STL, 7-13 FG, 2-7 3FG, 1-1 FT, 1 BLK, 3 TO, 28 +/-
Brought a significant scoring pop to the starting lineup. Pulled willingly from downtown and punched gaps to get to the bucket. A nice return to form for him, hopefully.
|F. VanVleet35 MIN, 25 PTS, 5 REB, 7 AST, 1 STL, 9-19 FG, 4-9 3FG, 3-3 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 21 +/-
Lots of spot-up opportunities to cash in on. Liked his poise in this one a lot. He even made some nice plays in the mid-range. Very encouraging stuff on the offensive end tonight.
|K. Lowry36 MIN, 20 PTS, 7 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL, 6-12 FG, 4-9 3FG, 4-6 FT, 0 BLK, 4 TO, 11 +/-
Kept the team afloat with Norm in the early going. Aggressive in the screen game, played well out of the horns sets, and scrambled well on defense. Pedestrian by his standards, but a really nice game.
|A. Baynes14 MIN, 3 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 1-3 FG, 1-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 0 +/-
Was the Raptors least effective big man tonight. Canned a three to open the game up, but did little else. He’s also still not providing much in the way of rim protection. He’s getting walked under the bucket on the odd occasion.
|C. Boucher24 MIN, 9 PTS, 9 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 3-9 FG, 1-4 3FG, 2-5 FT, 1 BLK, 2 TO, 11 +/-
Really liked his energy in this one. Super aggressive diving to the bucket, and added a vertical threat that the Raptors didn’t otherwise have. He competes every second he’s out there.
|T. Davis16 MIN, 10 PTS, 4 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 4-7 FG, 2-5 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 3 TO, -5 +/-
A very quiet ten points, but he always finds shots for himself. Transition, offensive rebounds, whatever, he slides into open spots. His defense is still very gamble heavy with little payoff, and the on-ball stuff was mistake laden. Production on shot attempts is nothing to scoff at, though.
|S. Johnson12 MIN, 0 PTS, 4 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 0-2 FG, 0-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 0 +/-
He’s an above average defender. He doesn’t bring much of anything to the offensive side of the floor. Both of those were true tonight.
|A. Len12 MIN, 11 PTS, 2 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 3-4 FG, 3-3 3FG, 2-2 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, 8 +/-
By the power of Zeus, he raised the Raptors up in his giant hands at the end of the third quarter. His 3 triples were like a life line. He’s huge defending the rim, which is good. He’s also very slow-footed in the pick n’ roll defensively and gambles with pokes for no reason. Good performance.
|Y. Watanabe9 MIN, 0 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 0-2 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, -8 +/-
Had a clean block stolen away by a bad call. He brings energy defensively and on the glass. Didn’t provide anything of substance offensively, though.
|P. Watson2 MIN, 0 PTS, 1 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-1 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -1 +/-
Too short a stint.
|D. Bembry2 MIN, 0 PTS, 2 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 0-0 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -1 +/-
Too short a stint.
|M. Flynn2 MIN, 0 PTS, 0 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-1 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -1 +/-
Too short a stint. Would like to see meaningful minutes for him.
Very odd rotations in this one, but the game was going to call for that as soon as the Siakam news was announced. In my limited view, I think the lack of any meaningful Flynn minutes is a shame. Can’t complain about too much when there’s a W, though.
Things We Saw
- The Pascal Siakam situation is extremely odd. Either there’s more going on behind the scenes, or the Raptors have decided to abandon their history of leniency and draw a hardline with their max player. For example, Terence Davis cut a hole in his mask to specifically disobey the rules that were set out by the NBA, and the Raptors didn’t lay down any punishment. So, my guess? There’s at least something else going on here. Nurse’s post-game comments should help with clarity.
- The Raptors can’t count on the opposing team shooting 9-percent from deep very often. Their closeouts and rotations were still pretty sloppy in this one, and they were just as capable of going into an offensive drought against this Knicks defense. A win is a win, but questions should still be asked of how they plan to succeed against better teams.
- That game was a fever dream. Incredibly sloppy basketball, played in Tampa, with crowd noise plugged in, and people sparsely populating the stands. Anyway.
Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s
The 34-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion, playing in his first singles tournament on grass for three years, could not handle the ferocious pace of Berrettini as he slid to defeat.
Murray eased past Benoit Paire in his opening match on Tuesday but world number nine Berrettini was too big a step up.
Berrettini’s huge first serve and forehand did most of the damage but the Italian also showed plenty of silky touch on the slick lawns to register his first career win over Murray.
Berrettini, 25, finished the match off with a powerful hold of serve, banging down four massive first serves before sealing victory with a clubbing forehand winner.
He faces British number one Dan Evans in the quarter-final after Evans beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
Murray, a five-time winner of the traditional warm-up event but now ranked 124 after long battles with hip injuries including resurfacing surgery in 2019, has been handed a wildcard for the Wimbledon championships.
Apart from a slight groin niggle, Murray said he was reasonably happy with his condition, considering this was only his third Tour-level tournament of the year.
“I think obviously I need to improve,” Murray told reporters. “I actually felt my movement was actually quite good for both of the matches. My tennis today was not very good today. That’s the thing that I’ll need to improve the most.
“I felt like today that that sort of showed my lack of matches.”
Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who won the singles title in 2019 and the doubles alongside Murray, was beaten 6-2 6-3 by Canada‘s Denis Shapovalov.
(Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)
Be Like the King of the North Division and Develop Skills
It’s been a year unlike no other for Canadian hockey teams, with COVID-19 travel restrictions forcing the creation of a new NHL division made up entirely of Canadian teams. The previous generation of NHL hockey was known as the “Dead Puck Era” because referees tolerated slowing down the game with clutching and grabbing.
The leading scorers today score in jaw-dropping fashion and routinely pull off stickhandling dangles that were unimaginable until only recently. The Canadian team that will win the North Division will be the one with the most skill.
Here are the training aids that will help you develop your skills all year long.
Innovators like HockeyShot Canada make “passers” so that players can develop pinpoint accuracy and the soft hands necessary to cradle and control a pass when it lands on your stick. The high-quality rubber bands return the puck with the same force which passed it, so you can give yourself one-timers or work on accuracy.
Whether you’re on a two-on-one, sending a breakout pass from the defensive zone, or holding down the blue line on the power play, every positional player needs to pass accurately.
A player is lucky to get a few shots on net each game, and they can’t let them go to waste. Until recently, players needed to rent ice in the off-season to practice their shots in realistic game-like conditions.
Now, players can use shooting pads at their home that let pucks glide as they do on real ice. Shooting is perhaps the one skill that requires the most repetition because one inch can be the difference between going bar-down and clanking one wide off the post.
Practice your quick release and accuracy and develop an arsenal of shots, including wrist shots, slapshots, one-timers, and more. The more tools in your tool kit, the deadlier a sniper you’ll be.
Having the puck on your stick is a responsibility, and you don’t want to cough it up to the other team and waste a scoring chance or lose possession. The ability to stickhandle helps you bide time until a teammate is open, so you can pass them the puck and continue attacking.
If you’re on a breakaway, you may want to deke the goalie rather than shoot if your hands are silky enough. Develop stickhandling skills, and you’ll keep goalies and opponents guessing – being unpredictable helps make a sniper’s job easier.
Of course, you also need to handle the puck in your own zone without causing a turnover. Stickhandling is a crucial skill in all areas of the ice.
When the coach sends you over the board, you need to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Maybe you’ll get the puck in the slot or somewhere else, but when it’s playoffs, you always need to be ready. The Kings of the North Division have all of the above skills and more, and you can too if you practice all year.
Australia swim trials calendar shift to reap Tokyo rewards
Australia broke with tradition to hold its swimming trials just six weeks before the start of the 2020 Olympics and former world champion Giaan Rooney said the move could reap rich rewards in Tokyo after disappointments at London and Rio.
Australia has typically held its trials up to six months before an Olympics but that gap has been drastically cut this year with swimmers vying for Tokyo spots this week in Adelaide.
Rooney, who won individual world titles at Fukuoka and Montreal and a relay gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, said Australia is gearing up for a much improved Games after its swimmers flopped at Rio and London.
“I think we needed to make it work,” she told Reuters. “The shift started about a year ago to bring the trials into line with the rest of the world and qualify five or six weeks before.
“In sport and swimming, six months is a long time,” Rooney added. “From a coaching perspective, it’s much better to know you have chosen the team in form.”
After winning five gold medals at Sydney 2000 and seven in Athens, the Australian team was rocked by accusations of disruptive behaviour by some of its top sprinters at the 2012 Olympics.
Australia won just one gold medal in the London pool and three in Rio five years ago.
Australia knew something had to be done if it was to close the gap on the powerful Americans and moving the trials is part of the strategy.
“I think it’s to make your swimmers more resilient to change,” Rooney said.
“In the USA they get to race every week regardless of illness or breakups and under all circumstances. Nothing rattles them.
“Australia doesn’t have that racing continuity. This is about making sure you are prepared for anything. I think our swimmers are more resilient than they have been in the past decade, COVID is part of this.”
Rooney said there might even be an “upside” for Australia with the Olympics postponed by a year due to the global health crisis, with the emergence of swimmers like teenager Kaylee McKeown, who broke the women’s 100m backstroke world record on Sunday.
“We are now talking about athletes who are not only going to make the Olympics but are medal chances,” Rooney said.
“We wouldn’t have been talking about her this time last year. She might not have been ready for a position on the team. She is now a legitimate gold medal chance in Tokyo once she gets there.”
For all her confidence about Australia’s performance in Tokyo, Rooney was wary of making predictions about a gold rush for her compatriots.
“I think this will be a more successful Olympics for us than Rio in the pool but individual goal medals will still be difficult to come by,” said the 38-year-old.
“The biggest challenge is to make the jump from minor medals to gold.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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