Fred VanVleet’s return to action was a welcome sight for the injury-challenged Toronto Raptors on Friday.
It wasn’t the most convincing victory for the Raptors, who have won four in a row.
They led by as many as 18 points and surrendered 66 second-half points thanks to eight three-point jumpers by the Wizards. But it was an essential win, considering they lost three key players to injury in Detroit on Wednesday. Leading scorer Pascal Siakam (stretched groin), Marc Gasol (left hamstring strain) and Norm Powell (partially separated left shoulder) each are listed as out.
WATCH | Raptors hang on to beat Wizards:
As a result, VanVleet felt the time was right for his return. He was rusty at time, but good enough for 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in 33:38 on the court.
“It was very important,” he said. “I was turning the corner anyway. But to have what three of our top six guys, it’s not very fortunate for our ball club. I tried to get back out there and give our guys a better chance to win. I’d like to think I increased our chances of winning tonight regardless of how ugly it was.
“There’s no magic pill for those guys to get better. We want them to take their time. We have got to band together and do our best given the circumstance.”
WATCH | Lowry, Thomas debut in The Nutcracker:
Kyle Lowry led the Raptors with 26 points, and centre Serge Ibaka certainly stepped up in Gasol’s absence. He checked in with 23 points, 10 rebounds and a pair of monster blocks in the first half. OG Anunoby added 18.
“We came out, and the ball was going in,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “We were flying around pretty good. We had 25 deflections in the first half, which is a huge number.
“But in the second half, we never got into a rhythm at either end.”
Nurse decided to go with a small lineup in the absence of his key players. VanVleet started at point guard, and Patrick McCaw replaced Siakam.
“It’s going to be a work in progress,” Lowry said. “I think guys will continue to get comfortable every game. We have to continue to have guys step up.
“Having Freddy back definitely helped.”
The Raptors jumped out to an early 11-5 advantage, led 40-23 after the first quarter, and were up 68-52 at the half.
The Wizards closed to within 96-85 after three quarters and roared back to tie the game 107-107 with under five minutes to play after Beal, Admiral Schofield and Ish Smith each hit three-point jumpers.
But McCaw and Lowry hit late three-pointers to put Toronto ahead 116-110 and provide some breathing room.
McCaw had the difficult assignment of guarding Beal.
“I know Beal had 37, but Pat was making it tough on him in some stretches during that game,” Nurse said.
The Wizards lost for the ninth time in 11 outings. Smith finished with 26 points.
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
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers out after seven seasons – Sportsnet.ca
The Los Angeles Clippers have mutually parted ways with head coach Doc Rivers, it was announced Monday.
Rivers’ departure comes after the Clippers blew a 3–1 lead against the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the NBA playoffs, a result that stupefied many since Los Angeles had been considered one of the true contenders to win the 2020 championship.
Going all in last off-season by signing Kawhi Leonard in free agency and then trading nearly all of their future assets to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Paul George, the Clippers not only set themselves up as a title favourite on paper, but also as a win-now team with a short window to grab gold.
Both Leonard and George will once again be free agents in 2021, meaning that both this season and the next are vital opportunities for the Clippers. While the duo could certainly re-sign with the club when the time comes, there are also no guarantees in sports, and anything could happen between now and then.
In a rather flippant comment following his team’s ousting from the playoffs, George remarked that “I think internally we’ve always felt this is not a championship-or-bust year for us.”
Evidently and understandably, the Clippers’ front office did not agree.
Rivers (who was hired by the Clippers in 2013) now joins a coaching market that has a few signature names, including Mike D’Antoni (formerly with the Houston Rockets), Brett Brown (formerly with the Philadelphia 76ers), and Nate McMillan (formerly with the Indiana Pacers), and could be considered the best of the bunch. It wouldn’t seem all that likely that he’ll be a free agent for long, and has already been contacted by the New Orleans Pelicans and 76ers, according to The Undefeated‘s Marc Spears.
Known as a prolific motivator and leader, Rivers has had many notable accomplishments both on the floor and off of it throughout his coaching career, including leading the Boston Celtics to a championship in 2008 and acting as a guiding voice during the organization’s eventual removal of former owner Donald Sterling.
Among the options for potential replacements, current Clippers assistant Ty Lue and former Rockets and New York Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy are reportedly being considered.
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