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Raptors look to stay hot against Casey, ailing Pistons on TSN – TSN



Dwane Casey doesn’t want to use injuries as an excuse. The Detroit Pistons coach expects his team to play at a high level no matter who’s on the court.

That being said, it would sure be helpful if his two best frontcourt players suited up for Wednesday’s home game against the Toronto Raptors.

Watch the game LIVE on TSN1, TSN3, TSN4 and TSN Direct at 7pm ET/4pm PT.

Blake Griffin, the team’s All-Star power forward, missed Monday’s game against the Washington Wizards with a sore left knee. He had surgery on that same knee after last season. A precautionary MRI exam revealed no new issues but he’s only played in 14 of the team’s 27 games.

Andre Drummond missed his second consecutive game due to left eye inflammation, a result of an allergic reaction to eating an avocado during the team’s trip to Mexico City last week.

Both are questionable to play against the Raptors.

Without them, the Wizards shredded the Pistons’ defence and pulled away to a 133-119 win. It was the most points the Pistons had given up in regulation since a 134-94 loss to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1995. Ironically, Casey was a 37-year-old assistant coach for the Sonics that evening.

Detroit defeated the Houston Rockets 115-107 in its previous game on Saturday without Griffin and Drummond playing in the second half.

“We can give every excuse — who’s here, who’s not playing, who’s what,” Casey said. “The same thing happened in Houston, everybody was happy in Mudville then. So, why can’t we come around and have the same disposition, the same attitude or approach. They may not be here Wednesday night. So, are we going to come out with the same ‘Woe is me?’ No, you’ve got to come out with that same attack mentality.”

The Wizards shot 81 per cent in the first quarter (17-for-21) and 77.8 per cent in the fourth (14-for-18) when they scored a combined 80 points. They also diced up the Pistons beyond the arc in the second half, making 11 of 20 attempts.

“We really couldn’t get stops all game,” Pistons power forward Markieff Morris said. “They scored 133 points, so it just wasn’t in the fourth. They figured out how to get their best players involved and Bradley Beal (35 points) had a great game. Our team made some shots late in the fourth, but we just couldn’t figure it out.”

Casey will be coaching against his former team on Wednesday. He was their head coach for seven seasons.

In the first meeting this season, Toronto won at home 125-113 on Oct. 30. Forward Pascal Siakam led the Raptors with 30 points.

Siakam has also reached the 30-point mark in the team’s last two outings, including a 133-113 romp over Cleveland on Monday when he scored 33. The Raptors shot 58.4 per cent from the field and made half of their 32 3-point tries.

“There wasn’t a ton of defence going on either way but that’s OK,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “We shot the ball well, had 31 assists. So a lot of guys with some pretty good nights there. We’ll take a W, that’s for sure, man.”

For sure, shooting guard Norman Powell has also been on a tear. Powell is averaging 24.3 points and shooting 68.3 percent from the field over the last three games.

“He’s in the open floor and he’s being decisive, putting the jets on and going to the rim and he’s finishing,” Nurse said. “A few games ago, he was looking around and trying to figure out where to go and who to throw it to, and wasn’t making the right decisions all the time.”

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Blue Jays pushing Ryu to Game 2 vs. Rays – TSN



The Toronto Blue Jays will start Matt Shoemaker in Game 1 of their playoff series against the Tampa Bay Rays and push ace Hyun-Jin Ryu to Game 2.

Shoemaker will face Rays ace Blake Snell in Game 1 while Ryn will face Tyler Glasnow in Game 2.

If the best-of-three series goes to a Game 3, the Jays will send Taijuan Walker to the mound to take on Charlie Morton.

Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said Ryu did not ask for an extra day’s rest and the delayed start is nothing physical. He said the team’s decision makers view all three games as being equal, and are not placing importance on Ryu being out there for Game 1.

As TSN Blue Jays Reporter Scott Mitchell reported, Ryu has been slightly more dominant with an extra day’s rest this season.

In 12 regular season starts for the Blue Jays this season, Ryu finished with a 5-2 record, 2.69 earned run average, and 72 strikeouts in 67 innings.

Shoemaker meanwhile, made six starts for the Jays this season, finishing with a 0-1 record, 4.71 ERA, and 26 strikeouts in 28.2 innings.

Walker, since being acquired from the Seattle Mariners mid-season, had a 2-1 record, 1.37 ERA, and 25 strikeouts in 26.1 innings.

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The Wreck of the Tampa Bay Rays? – Bluebird Banter



When Alejandro Kirk doubled in two runs with two out in the bottom of the 6th on Thursday to extend the lead over the Yankees to 4-0 in their playoff clincher, I was inspired in the moment to quickly adapt a part of the first verse of Gordon Lightfoot’s indelible ballad The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in tribute. Looking a little further, it struck me that even more of the ensuing verses was readily adaptable or somewhat applicable to Kirk.

The problem, of course, is the song is fundamentally about the tragedy of a great ship sinking in a storm with 29 lives lost. Not exactly the comparison to be conjured up for a promising prospect, especially given the Blue Jays’ history of catchers of the future floundering. With the then-likelihood and now-certain reality of facing their divisional nemesis in the playoffs, it was suggested that instead it could be the Wreck of the Tampa Bay Rays.

And so, I present The (Hopefully Impending) Wreck of the Tampa Bay Rays at the Hands of Alejandro Kirk:

The legend lives on from Rogers Centre on down
Of the backstop they called Alejandro
Captain Kirk, it is said, hammers fastballs dead red
When the games of September might be woe
With a load of fans twenty-six milligrams more
Than Tropicana stadium weighed empty
The good ship Blue Jay was bound to be prey
When the games of October came early

Young Kirk was the pride of the Mexican side
Coming up from the farm in Dunedin
As short ballplayers go, he was bigger than most
With quick hands, a keen eye though not seasoned
Concluding some terms with divisional firms
They left fully loaded for Rays-land
And later that week when “play ball” rang
Could it be the Trop’s ghosts they were feelin’?

Balls lost in the roof fell safely in fair ground
Routine pop-ups clanged right off the catwalk
And everyone knew, as El Capitan did too,
T’was the witch of the Trop come to shock
The throw came in late, offline from the plate
As the Tampa Bay runners came crossin’
When the late innings came it all seemed in vain
In the face of a cursed playing surface

When few outs remained, Captain Kirk came on deck sayin’
Fellas, it’s time for a rally
Seven pitches in, a ball hung over the plate, he said
Fellas, this one’s in the alley
Kevin Cash wired in so many runs comin’ in
His bullpen and bench in a deep daze
And later that night when the last out went outta sight
Came the wreck of the Tampa Bay Rays

Does any one know where the love of God goes
When Dolis turns the minutes to hours?
The statheads all say they shouldn’t have been in the fray
But Manfred put fifteen more teams alongside ‘em
They might have been lucky or they might have collapsed
They may have broke form in close losses
But all that remains is the faces and the names
Of the hitters and pitchers and the coaches

The offence rolls, Teoscar dings
In the confines of revamped Sahlen Field
Pearson’s fastball steams like a young man’s dreams
The change-ups and curves are for Hyun Jin
It happened below Lake Ontario
Just east of Lake Erie for 2020
And the fly balls go though the Mariners won’t know
When the year of corona’s remembered

Stay ahead of the boys in Detroit they prayed,
In the Triple-A players’ cathedral
The foghorn blared till it went twenty-eight times
For each man on the Jays’ playoff roster
The legend lives on from Rogers Centre on down
Of the backstop they called Alejandro
Tropicana, they said, always leaves the Jays dead
But the hosts at the Trop have a new foe

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NBA Finals 2020: Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers become unprecedented NBA Finals opponents – NBA CA



7h ago

Playoffs 2020

The Miami Heat are headed back to the NBA Finals. Making their sixth appearance, and the first since 2014, Miami becomes the third-lowest seeded team to reach the NBA Finals since 1984.

They will be contesting the Los Angeles Lakers, making this the first Finals matchup between two teams who missed the playoffs the previous season. And they eliminated the Boston Celtics, who now join the Rockets in recent ignominy as the co-leaders for most playoff wins (29) without a Finals appearance over the last five seasons.

MORE: NBA Finals preview – Lakers vs. Heat

Also of note: The Heat or Warriors have played in the last 10 NBA Finals. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra becomes only the eighth coach to appear in a fifth Finals.

And 2014 NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala joins an ultra-exclusive (and Boston-heavy) list of players to appear in six consecutive championship rounds; LeBron James and James Jones are the only non-Celtics.

Lowest-seeded teams to reach NBA Finals*

Teams to reach The Finals year after missing playoffs*

• 1976-77 Blazers (Won)
• 2001-02 Nets
• 2007-08 Celtics (Won)
• 2014-15 Cavs
2019-20 Lakers
• 2019-20 Heat

*Since the NBA/ABA merger

Players to reach six consecutive NBA Finals

• Bill Russell; 10
• Sam Jones, Tom Heinsohn; 9
• Frank Ramsey, LeBron James; 8
• Bob Cousy, K.C. Jones, James Jones; 7
• Tom Sanders, Andre Iguodala; 6

Head coaches to appear in at least 5 NBA Finals

• Phil Jackson; 13
• Red Auerbach; 11
• Pat Riley; 9
• Johnny Kundla, Gregg Popovich; 6
• K.C. Jones, Steve Kerr, Erik Spoelstra; 5

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