Christmas came early for the Toronto Raptors Sunday afternoon.
Down 23 points heading into the final quarter and seemingly out this one, Nick Nurse decided to try one last thing before calling off his main dogs and saving whatever energy was left for Monday’s game in Indianapolis.
Nurse never made that next call.
His full-court press not only changed the momentum, it changed the entire games as the Raptors started turning the visiting Mavericks over at will. About the same time, Kyle Lowry, who was as cold as any other Raptor on a day where no one was even close to luke warm from a shooting standpoint through the first three quarters, suddenly couldn’t miss.
That combination proved to be enough to turn that 23-point deficit into a 110-107 win, the fifth victory in a row for a Toronto team down two starters and its first sub off the bench.
Lowry, who through three quarters had 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting, poured in 20 in the final 12 minutes, going 4-for-6 from distance and 7-for-10 overall to seal the win.
Lowry though was adamant the credit for the comeback go to the four guys around him for that game-changing frame. That none of the four were fellow starters only made the moment that much more special.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Malcolm Miller, Terence Davis and Chris Boucher started the quarter with Lowry and other than Miller, who came out with 1:37 to go for another shooter in Fred VanVleet, or Davis, who came out with a second to go in order to get Serge Ibaka in for just-in-case defensive purposes, all four were right there with Lowry the whole way.
“I didn’t do it,” Lowry said when it sounded like all the credit was headed his way. “We had a great team effort. Malcolm, Terence Davis, Rondae and Chris Boucher. I give them all the credit today. They won that game for us. Malcolm got a few steals, TD hit a couple of big threes. Chris with his deflections and blocked shots. Rondae with his putbacks and hustle effort. Give those guys the credit, man, seriously.”
Lowry isn’t wrong. That four deserve a ton of credit as well but without Lowry hitting shot after shot this comeback story doesn’t have a happy ending for the home side.
For whatever reason Lowry playing with a bench unit has historically been a good mix for the Raptors. Back in the days of the bench mob, the most effective lineups were Lowry with four subs.
Nurse even has a theory about why it’s successful.
“You know how I’m always talking about going through your primary guys first and then those (other) guys have to be opportunity scorers and I think that’s really what it turned into,” Nurse said. “Kyle, make the play, take the shot or find the kick out or find the cutter or whatever. I think that just organizes you. They were all like, do your thing and we’ll chip in where we can and we had just enough cuts and Terence makes a three and Rondae a lay-up here, Chris on a tip-in, just enough plays off of Kyle’s initial actions.”
Hollis Jefferson, who had six points in the turnaround fourth, summed it up a little neater.
“He’s our veteran, our leader so at the end of the day it comes down to do what you do and we going to handle all that other stuff,” Hollis-Jefferson said. “That’s pretty much the way that went.”
The Raptors went into full press mode for the bulk of that fourth quarter and it resulted in seven turnovers and 11 points off those turnovers.
With Lowry calling out the coverage, this rather unique five-man unit pulled together and were operating like attached by a single rope.
At one point in the third quarter the Raptors were down by 30, making this the largest comeback in franchise history, breaking the old mark of 25 set back in 2010 in a game against the Pistons.
According to EliasSports, the comeback was the largest in the NBA since Sacramento rallied from a 30-point deficit to defeat Chicago in December of 2009.
The 47 fourth quarter points by the Raptors were also a franchise record.
The Mavericks took the loss hard, as one would expect with head coach Rick Carlisle pointing the finger directly at himself.
“Very disappointing loss,” Carlisle said. “I take full responsibility for it. We got to a point where we lost our aggression. Give them credit, they did a great job with the trap but we didn’t respond well enough to it, and that’s on me.”
Toronto will not have long to celebrate the greatest comeback in team history. They were on a charter to Indianapolis where they will take on the Pacers tonight before returning home to take on the Boston Celtics in a noon tipoff on Christmas Day.
FULL-COURT PRESS TURNED THE TIDE
The seeds for the Raptors franchise biggest comeback were actually sewn two weeks earlier in a loss the Philadelphia 76ers in Philly.
The Raptors entered the fourth quarter down 18 and seemingly out of the game.
Nick Nurse and his coaching staff decided with about nine minutes to go to make one last effort to press the Sixers full court and see what would happen.
They wound up cutting into the lead and almost stole it, eventually losing by six.
Flash forward to Sunday evening and the Raptors enter the fourth down 23. Again Nurse makes the call for the press as a last ditch effort to pull this one out of the fire before he waves the white flag and saves his bullets for the following night in Indianapolis.
Again the strategy was effective, only this time with a home crowd urging them on and with Kyle Lowry suddenly unable to miss, the comeback gets all the way home in a 110-107 win that will be remembered around these parts for a long time to come.
The fact that the Raptors stayed almost the entire 12 minutes with the same five players — Lowry, Terence Davis, Malcolm Miller, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Chris Boucher made for a very tiring quarter with all five players covering all kinds of distance.
But it was effective. The Raptors turned the Sixers over seven times in the fourth quarter alone leading to 11 points.
“Nick threw us the press and everyone just said, alright let’s do it,” Lowry said of the beginnings of the comeback. “We got in some great spots. First possession, Chris (Boucher) picked a pass off, we got a bucket. We just kept going and going and going. We stayed with it. You don’t have to say much to that group because those guys are a bunch of guys who are fighting, continuing to prove and get better.”
In that final quarter the Mavericks only managed to score 21 points collectively or one more than Lowry had for the Raptors.
Through three quarters the Mavs had been shooting 42% from the field and 39% from behind in the arc.
In the final frame they shot 28% from the field and just 10% from distance.
With 1:37 to go in the game, Nurse finally changed the mix bringing in Fred VanVleet for Malcolm MIller but that group of Lowry and four bench players were basically responsible for the comeback by themselves.
Miller had missed a wide open three and with the Raptors in possession of a lead now in a tight game, adding another money three-point shooter was the right move.
After the game the Mavericks were talking about what they could learn from such a devastating loss. All they had to do was look down the hall at the Raptors who learned plenty in that loss in Philadelphia and wound up using it to pull off the comeback of the season.
Toronto Raptors (20-8) at Indiana Pacers (20-9), Tonight, 7 p.m., Bankers Life Fieldhouse, TV: SNET; AM1050
Somehow without superstar Victor Oladipo who has not played since a serious injury in a game Jan. 23 vs. Toronto, the Pacers are right with the best teams in the Eastern Conference. A big part of the reason is newcomer Malcolm Brogdon, who was deemed expendable by the Milwaukee Bucks much to the Pacers’ delight. Brogdon, a former NBA rookie of the year is averaging career highs in points, assists, rebounds and steals. The Pacers are seventh in the league in defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) at 103.8 and sit 13th in offensive rating just behind the Raptors with 109 points per 100 possessions. The Pacers actually began the season with three consecutive losses. In their past 16 games they are 13-3.
Brogdon has been a real game-changer in Indy. He’s clearly playing with a chip on his shoulder having been cast aside by the Milwaukee Bucks and is looking to prove them wrong. He’s averaging a team best 18.7 points a game as well as a team high 7.5 assists which is seventh in the NBA. Lowry is only coming off his second 30-plus point game of the season as he led that miraculous comeback with 20 fourth quarter points over the Mavericks. The only question is how much energy he’ll have left after playing almost 42 minutes the night before.
DID YOU KNOW
Like the Raptors the Pacers will be playing on the second of consecutive nights. They were in Milwaukee last night to take on the Bucks where Brogdon made his feelings very clear telling reporters before the game he wasn’t valued as highly by the Bucks as he is in Indy … Toronto has won five of the past six meetings between the two clubs … With 13.5 rebounds a night Domantas Sabonis ranks fourth in the NBA … TJ Warrne and Sabonis are right with Brogdon in terms of points per game with both scoring just under 18 a game.
Sportsnet announces broadcast schedule for first two days of MLB playoffs – Sportsnet.ca
The expanded MLB playoff format created a wild race to the finish but now that the dust is settled, the wild card round matchups are now set.
The 2020 season, already unique due to the COVID-19 pandemic delaying the start of play, will feature 16 teams instead of the usual 10 and begin with eight best-of-three series. All three games in each series will be played on consecutive days and be hosted by the team with the higher seed, with one playing eight, two playing seven and so on.
The wild card matchups are as follows:
All games involving the Blue Jays can be seen exclusively on Sportsnet and SN Now. Coverage of Game 1 between the Blue Jays and Rays will begin at 4 p.m. ET/ 1 p.m. PT with a special one-hour Blue Jays Central pre-game show before first pitch at 5 p.m. ET/ 2 p.m. PT. Coverage of Game 2 will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET/ 12:30 p.m. PT with first pitch at 4 p.m. ET/ 1 p.m. PT.
Former Blue Jays pitcher John Axford joins Sportsnet’s Jamie Campbell and Pat Tabler for the special one-hour Blue Jays Central pre-game show, featuring a musical opening by The Arkells and a video essay from Stephen Brunt that explores the Blue Jays extraordinary 2020 season.
After the wild card round, the playoffs will continue in the traditional format with the best-of-five division series, best-of-seven league championship round and best-of-seven World Series.
The division series will pit the winners of the one/eight matchups against the winners of the four/five matchups and the winners of the two/seven matchups against the winners of the three/six matchups.
MLB is adopting a bubble format for the post-season following the success of the NHL and NBA’s playoffs.
As a result, the American League division series will be played in San Diego and Los Angeles and the championship series will be played in San Diego. The National League division series will be played in Houston and Arlington, Texas. Arlington will also host the NL championship series and the World Series at Globe Life Park, the newly opened home of the Texas Rangers.
Below is the full schedule for the MLB playoffs. All times Eastern.
WILD CARD SERIES (BEST OF THREE)
|Tuesday, Sept. 29||Rays (1) vs. Blue Jays (8), Game 1||5 p.m.||SN|
|Athletics (2) vs. White Sox (7), Game 1||3 p.m.||SN360|
|Twins (3) vs. Astros (6), Game 1||2 p.m.||SN1|
|Indians (4) vs. Yankees (5), Game 1||7 p.m.||SN1|
|Wednesday, Sept. 30||Rays (1) vs. Blue Jays (8), Game 2||4 p.m.||SN|
|Athletics (2) vs. White Sox (7), Game 2||3 p.m.||SN360|
|Twins (3) vs. Astros (6), Game 2||1 p.m.||SN1|
|Indians (4) vs. Yankees (5), Game 2||7 p.m.||SN1|
|Dodgers (1) vs. Brewers (8), Game 1||10 p.m.||SN360|
|Braves (2) vs. Reds (7), Game 1||Noon||SN & SN360|
|Cubs (3) vs. Marlins (6), Game 1||2 p.m.||SN NOW|
|Padres (4) vs. Cardinals (5), Game 1||5 p.m.||SN NOW|
|Thursday, Oct. 1||Rays (1) vs. Blue Jays (8), Game 3||TBD|
|Athletics (2) vs. White Sox (7), Game 3||TBD|
|Twins (3) vs. Astros (6), Game 3||TBD|
|Indians (4) vs. Yankees (5), Game 3||TBD|
|Dodgers (1) vs. Brewers (8), Game 2||TBD|
|Braves (2) vs. Reds (7), Game 2||TBD|
|Cubs (3) vs. Marlins (6), Game 2||TBD|
|Padres (4) vs. Cardinals (5), Game 2||TBD|
|Friday, Oct. 2||Dodgers (1) vs. Brewers (8), Game 3||TBD|
|Braves (2) vs. Reds (7), Game 3||TBD|
|Cubs (3) vs. Marlins (6), Game 3||TBD|
|Padres (4) vs. Cardinals (5), Game 3||TBD|
DIVISION SERIES (BEST OF FIVE)
|Monday, Oct. 5||AL Division Series A||Game 1||San Diego, (1/8 vs. 4/5 winners)|
|AL Division Series B||Game 1||Los Angeles (2/7 vs. 3/6 winners)|
|Tuesday, Oct. 6||AL Division Series A||Game 2||San Diego, (1/8 vs 4/5 winners)|
|AL Division Series B||Game 2||Los Angeles (2/7 vs. 3/6 winners)|
|NL Division Series A||Game 1||Arlington (1/8 vs. 4/5 winners)|
|NL Division Series B||Game 1||Houston (2/7 vs. 3/6 winners)|
|Wednesday, Oct. 7||AL Division Series A||Game 3||San Diego, (1/8 vs 4/5 winners)|
|AL Division Series B||Game 3||Los Angeles (2/7 vs. 3/6 winners)|
|NL Division Series A||Game 2||Arlington (1/8 vs. 4/5 winners)|
|NL Division Series B||Game 2||Houston (2/7 vs. 3/6 winners)|
|Thursday, Oct. 8||AL Division Series A||Game 4||San Diego, (1/8 vs 4/5 winners)|
|AL Division Series B||Game 4||Los Angeles (2/7 vs. 3/6 winners)|
|NL Division Series A||Game 3||Arlington (1/8 vs. 4/5 winners)|
|NL Division Series B||Game 3||Houston (2/7 vs. 3/6 winners)|
|Friday, Oct. 9||AL Division Series A||Game 5||San Diego, (1/8 vs 4/5 winners)|
|AL Division Series B||Game 5||Los Angeles (2/7 vs. 3/6 winners)|
|NL Division Series A||Game 4||Arlington (1/8 vs. 4/5 winners)|
|NL Division Series B||Game 4||Houston (2/7 vs. 3/6 winners)|
|Saturday, Oct. 10||NL Division Series A||Game 5||Arlington (1/8 vs. 4/5 winners)|
|NL Division Series B||Game 5||Houston (2/7 vs. 3/6 winners)|
LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES (BEST OF SEVEN)
|Sunday, Oct. 11||ALCS||Game 1||San Diego|
|Monday, Oct. 12||ALCS||Game 2||San Diego|
|Tuesday, Oct. 13||ALCS||Game 3||San Diego|
|Wednesday, Oct. 14||ALCS||Game 4||San Diego|
|Thursday, Oct. 15||ALCS||Game 5||San Diego|
|Friday, Oct. 16||ALCS||Game 6||San Diego|
|Saturday, Oct. 17||ALCS||Game 7||San Diego|
|Sunday, Oct. 18||NLCS||Game 7||Arlington|
WORLD SERIES (BEST OF SEVEN)
|Tuesday, Oct. 20||World Series||Game 1||Arlington|
|Wednesday, Oct. 21||World Series||Game 2||Arlington|
|Thursday, Oct. 22||OFF DAY|
|Friday, Oct. 23||World Series||Game 3||Arlington|
|Saturday, Oct. 24||World Series||Game 4||Arlington|
|Sunday, Oct. 25||World Series||Game 5||Arlington|
|Monday, Oct. 26||OFF DAY|
|Tuesday, Oct. 27||World Series||Game 6||Arlington|
|Wednesday, Oct. 28||World Series||Game 7||Arlington|
Jeff Van Gundy, Ty Lue Emerge As Early Candidates For Clippers – RealGM.com
Jeff Van Gundy and Ty Lue have emerged as the early favorites to become the next head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers parted ways with Doc Rivers on Monday.
Lue is also a candidate for the Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets and New Orleans Pelicans.
Van Gundy is a candidate for Rockets.
Two Canadian players are in the NBA Finals this year | Offside – Daily Hive
And then there were two.
The NBA Finals matchup is now set, with LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers taking on LeBron’s old team, the Miami Heat. The Finals tips off on Wednesday, and will include a pair of Canadians.
Heat teammates Kelly Olynyk and Kyle Alexander are both looking to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy for the first time. It’s the first time ever that the NBA Finals has featured two Canadians on the same team.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) September 28, 2020
A 29-year-old Kamloops product, Olynyk went to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2017 with Boston, but this is his first trip to the NBA Finals. He has been a role player with the Heat during the playoffs, averaging 6.0 points and 4.1 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per game.
Milton, Ontario’s Kyle Alexander has not played in the playoffs yet and is unlikely to make an appearance as a depth player on the Heat’s roster. He’s in his first NBA season following four years at the University of Tennessee.
This is the 10th year in a row that a Canadian has been a part of a team in the Finals, with Olynyk and Alexander following in the footsteps of Chris Boucher (2019), Tristan Thompson (2015-2018), Cory Joseph (2013-2014), and Joel Anthony (2011-2014).
A Canadian player has reached the NBA Finals for 10 years in a row 🇨🇦👏 pic.twitter.com/mg9eMLcfCb
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) September 28, 2020
A total of six Canadian players have seen playing time during the NBA playoffs this year, most notably from Denver Nuggets star Jamal Murray. The Kitchener product leads the NBA playoffs in total points (504), averaging 26.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per game en route to the Western Conference Finals.
Canadians featured prominently on the Oklahoma City Thunder, as rising star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Toronto) averaged 16.3 points per game during the first round, while teammate Luguentz Dort (Montreal) averaged 12.5 points.
Khem Birch (Montreal) also played regular minutes for the Orlando Magic, while Boucher (Montreal) was used sparingly by the Toronto Raptors.
NBA Finals schedule
- Game 1: Wed, Sep 30, 9 pm ET/6 pm PT
- Game 2: Fri, Oct 2, 9 pm ET/6 pm PT
- Game 3: Sun, Oct 4, 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT
- Game 4: Tue, Oct 6, 9 pm ET/6 pm PT
- Game 5*: Fri, Oct 9, 9 pm ET/6 pm PT
- Game 6*: Sun, Oct 11, 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT
- Game 7*: Tue, Oct 13, 9 pm ET/6 pm PT
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