Dubas speaks, but doesn’t say what we want to hear

Kyle Dubas spoke with the media today, and since he wasn’t announcing the firing of Mike Babcock, a trade for a generational defensive talent that will fix special teams and defense, or a loophole in the CBA that would allow them to spend millions more on the roster, it’s safe to say that he didn’t say what we wanted to hear.

Kyle Dubas, in full, on why he believes Cody Ceci has performed “above expectations” for the #leafs and turned the analytics war upside down: pic.twitter.com/Aiv7Oytp5S
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) November 14, 2019
Probably the most controversial topic that has been shared from the press availability is the vote of confidence given to Cody Ceci. In many ways I think this may be what leads a large portion of Leafs fans to acknowledge that Kyle Dubas isn’t perfect.
On the other hand, this is could also be a GM finding some silver linings on a crappy player and not wanting to publicly throw him under the bus or damage his trade value.
What Dubas said about Ceci’s numbers are correct, he hasn’t been too bad. He’s had clearly bad games, generally …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Three Questions from the Raptors ahead of Game 1 vs. the Golden State Warriors

We spoke with Jannelle Moore of Golden State of Mind to hear the Bay Area take on what’s to come in an exciting Finals matchup. After an elating series versus the Milwaukee Bucks, the Raptors begin their journey to dethrone the Golden State Warriors in the Finals. Jannelle Moore of Golden State of Mind was kind enough to answer three questions about the upcoming series:
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Heading into the Finals, I’d like to hear about the mindset of fans in the Bay Area. Is Kevin Durant’s absence looming over the city, or is the common belief that the Warriors will take the series regardless? What are going to be the key factors in taking down the Raptors sans-Durant?
A little bit of both. KD’s absence is very much a concern. For the most part, Warriors fans want him on the floor in the Finals. No question about that. However, they are also optimistic about their chances. The general consensus is that the Warriors will win in six.
The key factors in taking down the Raptors are being able to adjust when moving the ball and staying aggressive on defense. Toronto will more than likely sell out and …

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Author: Dylan Litman / Raptors HQ

Three Questions from the Raptors ahead of Game 6 vs. the Milwaukee Bucks

After the most important win in franchise history, we spoke to Kyle Carr of Brew Hoop about whether the Bucks can handle pressure, Giannis versus Kawhi, and more. As we have before every game, we spoke to Kyle Carr of Brew Hoop to hear the Milwaukee take on the series, and what to expect moving forward. It’s all on the line today for the Bucks in Game 6.
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Milwaukee led by a considerable margin in the first quarter, yet Toronto clawed their way back in it despite some early foul trouble. Do you think this Bucks team is built to handle adversity despite their collective inexperience? Which Bucks player is most likely to have a huge game under pressure?
I want to believe the Bucks are built to handle adversity as this roster has played in the league long enough and have been in the playoffs multiple years together. Had Milwaukee played better in the second quarter, I think they win this game rather easily. The more this series goes on, the less assured I feel about it. Other than George Hill, nobody else on this roster has experience playing on this stage while with Toronto, they have been there …

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Author: Dylan Litman / Raptors HQ

Three Questions from the Raptors ahead of Game 5 vs. the Milwaukee Bucks

We spoke to Kyle Carr of Brew Hoop to discuss strategy changes and the Bucks’ homecourt advantage ahead of Game 5. After a thorough thrashing in Toronto, the Raptors will face off against a determined Bucks squad in Milwaukee. Once again, we were lucky enough to discuss the series with Kyle Carr of Brew Hoop:
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Kawhi is playing visibly hobbled, while other Raptors are finally stepping up and hitting their threes. Even though Giannis Antetokounmpo mentioned post-game that Milwaukee will continue with the same defensive strategy, what are the pros and cons of shifting the Bucks’ defense to focus more on containing perimeter shooters?
I’m not sure what defense Milwaukee threw out there in Game 4. All season long they played more of a zone drop scheme with a little bit of switching every once in awhile. In Game 4 it was more Jason Kidd-esque in which they were over helping and doubling the post and allowing Toronto to make the one extra pass for an open shot.
While Giannis said Milwaukee will continue with the same defense, I think there will be some adjustments and potentially more switching to prevent open looks for guys like Norman Powell, who I am 100,000 percent …

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Author: Dylan Litman / Raptors HQ

Three Questions from the Raptors ahead of Game 4 vs. the Milwaukee Bucks

After one of the hardest-earned wins in franchise history, we spoke to Kyle Carr of Brew Hoop to hear his thoughts heading into Game 4. The Raptors are fresh off one of the most important wins in Raptors history; now, they must do it again. We spoke to Kyle Carr of Brew Hoop to hear some predictions on what may happen moving forward:
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These past few games have seen big nights from Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard. In your opinion, who has been the best player in the series so far and who do you predict will close stronger?

I think Kawhi has played the better series but Giannis has the biggest impact. Giannis’ help side defending is so crucial for Milwaukee and on offense we saw how stagnant Milwaukee’s offense was. Kawhi has continued his fantastic play but the minutes might start adding up and this injury gives me the feeling Giannis will close stronger.

Norman Powell and Marc Gasol finally saw some offensive success on Sunday. Do either of their emergences change the Bucks’ gameplan?

I think Norman Powell has been very effective this whole series while Gasol was able to hit some shots. I don’t think …

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Author: Dylan Litman / Raptors HQ

Three Questions from the Raptors ahead of Game 2 vs. the Milwaukee Bucks

We spoke with Kyle Carr of Brew Hoop to hear the Milwaukee take on how the Eastern Conference Finals have gone so far. After a heartbreaking Raptors loss against the Bucks in Game, Kyle Carr of Brew Hoop was kind enough to answer three questions about the series:
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Did the Raptors need to win this game, or was there enough encouraging play to signal a competitive series ahead?

I think this was more of a missed opportunity for Toronto than Milwaukee coming back. The Raptors were out playing Milwaukee for 3.5 quarters and failed to take advantage of the Bucks’ poor shooting. Pascal Siakam looks good and is taking advantage of being guarded by Ersan Ilyasova. I am curious to see how Eric Bledsoe plays considering what Kyle Lowry did last match and he was non-existent in the first half. This is still going to be a competitive series overall but Toronto will wish they had won Game 1.

Should the Bucks make some defensive adjustments on Kyle Lowry, or just dare him to have another game like that?

The Bucks should let him shoot the open threes that were given, but Milwaukee’s defense is OK with allowing above the break …

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Author: Dylan Litman / Raptors HQ

Three Questions from the Raptors ahead of Game 7 vs. the Philadelphia 76ers

For the final time this post-season, we spoke with Sean Kennedy of Liberty Ballers to get a handle on the Raptors and the Sixers as they head into Game 7 tonight. Ah yes, somehow we are here yet again with the Raptors. That’s right, it’s time for another stressful Game 7. Did things have to happen this way? If you’ve been following Toronto for any length of time you’d probably know that, yes, it must always be this way.
To help work us through the day, we spoke with Sean Kennedy at Liberty Ballers to get a sense of what the mood is heading into Game 7 of the Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers series. And to get a feeling for what the fallout will be for each team, depending on who wins.

1. How can we explain the blowout seesaw of this series? Is it just the high variance on three-point shooting, or Joel Embiid’s health, or something else?

I think you hit on the two main culprits. The Raptors not hitting their shots is obviously bad for them from the very obvious fewer points perspective (analysis!), but it also snowballs into allowing the Sixers to kickstart the transition …

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Author: Daniel Reynolds / Raptors HQ

Three Questions from the Raptors ahead of Game 6 vs. the Philadelphia 76ers

We spoke to Sean Kennedy of Liberty Ballers to hear his take on the Raptors’ largest win in franchise playoff history, and to prep for Game 6. After an absolute decimation of the 76ers in Game 5, we asked Liberty Ballers’ Sean Kennedy about what went right for the Raptors, Joel Embiid’s illness and changes of strategy heading into next game.
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Out of all the iterations that could’ve played out in Game 5, a Raptors blowout win was not an outcome I envisioned. When the Raptors are hitting their shots, is there a way the 76ers can combat them?
The Sixers are pretty thin in the rotation and don’t have the defensive bodies to throw at the Raptors beyond what they’re been doing thus far. If Toronto is clicking on all cylinders offensively, the only way the Sixers have a chance is to win in a shootout. To win a shootout, Philadelphia needs a reasonably healthy Joel Embiid, i.e. the version we saw in Game 3.
If Embiid is effective, it creates open shots for JJ Redick in the dribble handoff game; as well as good looks from behind the arc for Tobias Harris, Mike Scott, etc., when the …

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Author: Dylan Litman / Raptors HQ

Three Questions from the Raptors ahead of Game 5 vs. the Philadelphia 76ers

After a potentially season-saving win in Philly, we spoke to David Early of Liberty Ballers before the Raptors head back home for Game 5. The Raptors look to defend home court tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers, and we spoke to David Early of Liberty Ballers to hear his thoughts on how the series may shake out.
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Nick Nurse opted to throw Ibaka and Gasol out there together to combat Philly’s size. How do you foresee Brett Brown countering in Game 5?
Yeah, those lineups really hurt. They did so little of it since acquiring Gasol but were a +11.3 and it appeared to catch Philadelphia off guard a bit. I’m not so sure there are necessarily major adjustments to be made (as a Sixers fan, I’d still much rather face that than Siakam -who looked quite limited — but will have time to recover). I would guess that Brett will continue to use Embiid as a spy when Gasol posts a smaller player and also as rim help when Toronto does high screen-n-rolls. I think the “sword” they’d like to fall on then is the Ibaka deep ball and mid-range game and take their chances. I wouldn’t be surprised …

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Author: Dylan Litman / Raptors HQ

Three Questions from the Raptors ahead of Game 4 vs. the Philadelphia 76ers

On the brink of collapse, we spoke to Sean Kennedy of Liberty Ballers once again to see if the Raptors have any chance of evening the series. After one of the worst losses I’ve ever had to sit through, we asked Sean Kennedy of Liberty Ballers some questions regarding the Raptors’ mindset and game plan heading into Game 4.
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The Raptors have betrayed my confidence yet again, this time getting blown out while showing no signs of life (save for Kawhi Leonard). Do you think the Raptors can muster up the mental energy to split the series in Philly?

I have become incredibly optimistic about this series, but it has more to do with the Sixers finally appearing to perfectly settle into roles within their current group rather than anything Toronto is doing. Ben Simmons has focused on being a defensive stopper, largely concentrating on being a screener and cutter offensively, while Jimmy Butler has assumed the bulk of the ball-handling duties. Joel Embiid is still a focal point and defensive anchor, JJ Redick spaces the floor and works to stay on his man and fight through screens rather than switch, and Tobias Harris has become an elite glue guy. …

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Author: Dylan Litman / Raptors HQ