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Raptors outmuscle, out-hustle, and outplay Boston Celtics in dominant victory – Raptors Republic

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Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson famously said, “everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Last night, the Toronto Raptors threw haymakers at the Boston Celtics in a runaway 115-83 win.

The Raptors had carte blanche in their season opener. After a year in Tampa Bay, they were finally back home, and the fans and players were just happy to be in Scotiabank Arena.

This game painted a picture of what Toronto hopes to be this season: a physical team that uses its size and length to control games defensively and on the glass. The Raptors forced 25 turnovers and outrebounded Boston 60-42.

21 of those 60 boards came on the offensive end, resulting in 18 extra shot attempts for the Raptors. On a night where the team shot worst from the floor than in their opening game (42 percent versus 44.4 percent on Wednesday), their ability to set the tone with their physicality went a long way toward securing their first win of the season.

Five Raptors recorded five or more rebounds. The attack on the glass was spearheaded by two newcomers: Precious Achiuwa (15 rebounds) and Scottie Barnes (13 rebounds).

When asked after the game how a team without a traditional center can outrebound their opponent, specifically on the offensive glass, Raptors head coach, Nick Nurse, said it was because his team was able to “miss a lot of shots.”

Nurse has allowed Achiuwa to operate similarly to how he played during his lone season at Memphis. Then, after James Wiseman was suspended, the Nigerian was used as a small-ball center who was allowed to make plays with the ball in his hands and attack in transition.

Celtics center, Robert Williams III (nine points and six rebounds in 28 minutes), had a lot of preseason buzz about potentially making a leap this year; Achiuwa (15 points and 15 rebounds in 25 minutes) thoroughly outplayed him tonight.

However, the biggest takeaway from this game has to be the play of Barnes. After Dalano Banton stole the show in the first game, it was Barnes’ turn to be the rookie in the spotlight.

There was no hiding on defense as he was routinely matched up against one of Boston’s all-star wings. Between him, OG Anunoby, and timely help from others, the Raptors forced Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum to shoot 11-25 combined.

On paper, Tatum’s 8-14 shooting numbers look fine, but Tatum did most of his damage in the second quarter. Speaking to the media postgame, Barnes said of the team limiting Tatum in the second half, specifically the third quarter, “he’s a really good player, so we just want to keep showing our length in gaps to try and influence him not to get in [the lane]. And when he gets real low, we just bring a bunch of guys and try to swarm him and don’t let him get easy looks.”

While the Raptors’ defense and rebounding were present throughout the game, Barnes’ play led the way for the team in the first half. Toronto only held a four-point advantage at halftime, and the fourth overall pick powered the team with 15 points and seven rebounds.

Offensively, he did a little bit of everything. He made an off-the-dribble three, he connected on catch-and-shoot midrange jumpers, he pushed the pace, he finished at the rim, and he made plays for his teammates.

After the game, Barnes attributed his performance to “playing hard throughout the game.” Barnes said, “it just matters about time and the situation. If we miss a couple, we’ve got to get the ball moving, then try to find the right shot, what’s best for us,” and he finished off with “If they leave me open, I’m gonna shoot it, no hesitation.”

It’s only game two, but this game showed a glimpse of what this franchise hopes peak Barnes will look like and why Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster were elated when he was still on the board when Toronto was on the clock in the 2021 NBA Draft.

“What I liked the most was he was at the front of the rim a lot tonight. Putbacks and cuts and drives, and that’s what we like to see–be able to use some of that size and length,” said Nurse after the game.

The Gary Trent Jr. rollercoaster was ascending upward tonight as he pitched in 20 points and helped Toronto extend their lead in the third quarter where they outscored Boston 34-17.

Trent Jr. got the start tonight and it seems like he will remain in the starting lineup going forward. Nurse said starting, “made Gary more comfortable” and that he was able to “feed off the other [starters].”

The big takeaway from yesterday’s performance is that this group is not a pushover. Their shots weren’t falling once again, but they dug deeper defensively and used their effort to create extra opportunities that ultimately led to them producing a double-digit victory.

The shooting struggles remain a concern–particularly from Anunoby who had looked on the way to taking his game to another level during the preseason–and the half-court offense leaves a lot to be desired. Nurse mentioned after the game that the team needs to “clean up spacing issues,” however, the NBA doesn’t award style points, so a win is a win.

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NHL Rumors: Maple Leafs, Senators, Oilers, Bruins, Kraken – The Hockey Writers

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In today’s NHL rumors rundown, Mitch Marner and Jake Muzzin collided in practice and Marner was not happy about it. Is there any chance he misses game action? The Ottawa Senators are reaching out to teams about a trade, but is that the answer to their woes? Finally, one scribe lists a few potential options for Boston Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk but believes some teams are better fits than others.

Marner Unhappy About Run-in With Muzzin

Sheldon Keefe explained that he doesn’t think Marner will miss any time after colliding with Muzzin in practice. Keefe said Marner would travel with the team and it doesn’t sound like anything too serious in terms of any sort of long-lasting effects from the run-in.

Marner was heated after the hit and Keefe noted, “I was told there was a little bit of an exchange … but, especially those two guys, I don’t worry about that kind of stuff at all. Things happen out there … our team’s really close & that kind of stuff will be shaken off pretty quickly.”

Marner did leave practice early and they called it a precautionary decision.

Senators Talking to Teams About Trade

As per TSN’s Darren Dreger, Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion is likely already talking to teams about potential trades, but also notes that the Senators believe the solution to their recent slide has to come from within. Dreger notes:

“I mean, just by nature of how Dorion goes about his business, he is most definitely looking for some help. I mean, you look at the gaping hole they have up the middle of the ice with the long-term injuries to Colin White and Shane Pinto. This team needs better goaltending and they are weak defensively. You can’t cover all of that up by making a trade or two. But again, Dorion is trying to get something done.

In other Senators’ news, they are the first NHL team to announce a sports sponsorship partnership with a betting site. The team announced on Saturday, their agreement with @Bet99Sportsbook as the home helmet sponsor for 2021-22.

Kraken the Best Fit for DeBrusk?

Eric Duhatschek of The Athletic is a big fan of the idea that DeBrusk should be traded in a one-for-one deal where each team picks up a player that could use a fresh start somewhere else. Suggesting the Seattle Kraken move Mason Appleton, who “hasn’t really found a home in the Kraken lineup, after being part of a very good third line in Winnipeg last year.”, that is a swap the journalist believes makes sense.

Jake DeBrusk, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The scribe also points out that Kraken general manager Ron Francis is part of the Canadian men’s Olympic team hierarchy that also includes Bruins GM Don Sweeney. There will be plenty of opportunities for these two GMs to talk trade. He also thinks the Bruins would like the idea of saving money on the salary cap as Appleton, 25, is at $900,000 in the final year of a contract and then becomes a restricted free agent.

Oilers Not Likely in the Mix

As far as DeBrusk to the Edmonton Oilers goes, Duhatschek isn’t sure the Oilers are the right fit. He writes:

Even though there’d be some symmetry in DeBrusk landing in Edmonton, that doesn’t seem like a natural fit. The Oilers’ greater needs are for a top-six right winger plus a No. 3 center. DeBrusk seems as if he’s only suited to play left wing, and that’s an area that’s well covered with Zach Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

source – ‘Duhatschek notebook: Jake DeBrusk trade scenarios, Evander Kane landing spots and Patrick Roy’s Montreal fit’ – Eric Duhatschek – The Athletic – 12/03/2021

Duhatschek thinks the Oilers would be better served going after someone like Phil Kessel out of Arizona and/or Nick Bonino out of San Jose.

Jim Parsons

Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”

Other content contributions include: NHLtradetalk.com, The Sportster and hosting weekly video casts, THW News and Rumors Rundown, plus Oilers Overtime.

For interview requests or to provide content info, follow Jim on Twitter or his social media accounts. They appear under his photo on articles like this one.

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Soccer-Xavi suffers first loss as Barca manager after Juanmi stunner

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Barcelona were stunned by Juanmi’s late goal for Real Betis that secured a 1-0 win in LaLiga on Saturday and ended home coach Xavi Hernandez’s honeymoon at the club as he suffered his first defeat since coming back to the Camp Nou three weeks ago.

It was Betis’ first win at Barca in more than three years and took them up to third place with 30 points, six points behind leaders Real Madrid who play later on Saturday at Real Sociedad. Barcelona are languishing in seventh on 23 points.

With Barca’s decisive Champions League match away to Bayern Munich coming up on Wednesday, Xavi rested three of his most important players – Gerard Pique, Frenkie de Jong and Ousmane Dembele – but the decision backfired.

Betis were dangerous on the counter-attack and Juanmi, who earlier had a goal disallowed by VAR for a close offside call, struck a clean finish past keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen after fine build-up play by Sergio Canales and this one did count.

“They scored when we were playing better, we can’t allow this type of counter-attack to happen,” Xavi told reporters.

“It’s a defeat that hurts. We were at home, playing well in the second half. We need to get better, but I think we deserved more. It was a unfair punishment after playing a good game.”

With Ousmane Dembele on the bench, Barca needed Philippe Coutinho to step up, but it was another disappointing afternoon for the Brazilian, who failed to create any chances.

He came off for Dembele just before the hour mark with boos ringing in his ears from around the stadium.

Betis played better until Frenchman Dembele came on and changed the game. He almost scored on at least four occasions and was leading Barca’s blitz until Betis caught them off guard.

Canales sprinted from the right, with Christian Tello and Juanmi in the middle, three on three against a defence out of position. Canales had the patience to wait until Tello was inside the area and gave him the ball near the penalty spot.

Tello slowly rolled the ball to the left for Juanmi, who scored what proved to be the winner with a precise shot.

Barca had a scare in the first half when Gavi, 17, went off after being hit on the back of the head by a Hector Bellerin shot. “Gavi was taken to hospital following protocol after being dazed during the game by a blow to the head,” the club said.

(Reporting by Fernando Kallas in Madrid; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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FTB: The Maple Leafs are in Minnesota after a scuffle at practice – Pension Plan Puppets

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Ah, the tradition of the annual Toronto Maple Leafs practice scuffle. It appears as reliably at this time of year as that stop-motion Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer movie and the black and white version of A Christmas Carol appear on TV.

Yes, each season this happens, once or twice, and every time it does everyone is shocked, totally SHOCKED by it, and then it spawns all sorts of rumours. “There’s locker room drama!” “Muzzin uses RBC Insurance instead of Intact!” “Mitch used the last razor in the shower!”

And while we don’t know for certain what happened, that last one is obviously false, as clearly one doesn’t need razors and the other doesn’t use them, but it’s still a fun news story that breaks up the doldrums that set in at this point in the NHL season, especially when there’s video of it, though this time it’s less of a scuffle and more just shouting.

Mark Masters has the full story about what really happened, with Rasmus Sandin trying to defuse it by noting that Marner is very intense.

Marner leaves practice as precaution after ‘scary’ collision with Jake Muzzin – TSN
Marner is known for his fun-loving personality but, like many elite athletes, he also has a fiery side. “Practice or a game, he can give you a couple lines there on what you should’ve done on the play or stuff like that,” said Rasmus Sandin.

And former Maple Leaf Peter Holland is in on this joke.

A reminder that today’s Toronto Marlies game is postponed indefinitely. The Marlies will still play the Laval Rocket at the Coliseum tomorrow at 4:00 p.m., and you will probably see Petr Mrázek in this game.

Other News

The New York Rangers may be looking for a goalie.

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It’s been a fast recovery for Jack Eichel, exactly as he explained to the Sabres medical staff it would be when they refused to allow him to have Artificial Disc Replacement, and then stripped him of the captaincy and traded him away for refusing their preferred surgery.

Meanwhile, it appears other players are following in his lead.

Montreal Canadiens Dominique Ducharme head coach – TSN
Jeff Gorton confirmed that Dominique Ducharme will continue as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens for the remainder of the 2021-22 season.

Canada’s Olympic women’s hockey team releases 3 players – CBC
Defender Jamie Bourbonnais and forwards Jessie Eldridge and Julia Gosling have been released from the Canadian Olympic women’s hockey team. [SPECIES: Expert commentary from Nafio on the cuts: “Eldridge was a late add I think mostly because of the injury to Turnbull at the end of Worlds, so she’s not a surprise. Bourbonais was on the Worlds roster but she hasn’t been very noticeable and I don’t think she was getting a ton of ice time, so I also wasn’t surprised there. I thought Gosling was doing well, so I was surprised about her.”]

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