‘Our actions speak louder than words’: Anthony Alford worries about himself, but not just himself

As he stood calmly in front of reporters on the second and final day of the Blue Jays’ annual Winter Fest event, Anthony Alford was preparing to answer some of the same old questions. Mostly, he’d probably have to address his offseason progress, his attitude towards the upcoming campaign, and the rather disappointing decline of his prospect stock, all of which seem almost synonymous with him at this point in his career.
He’d been asked these questions before, many, many times, and he’ll undoubtedly be asked them through spring training and well into the 2020 season.
But, before speaking of his own development and progress, he was asked about the evolution of the team’s young core, namely Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio.
“I think they’re talented athletes, but they’re even better kids,” he said with a smile. After thinking for a moment about what he just said, he laughed sheepishly, “I say ‘kids’ like I’m so much older than them.”
In a way, he is significantly older than them, at least in baseball terms. At 25, Alford is …

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Author: Hayden Godfrey / Blue Jays Nation

Five thoughts on three rounds: The Raptors’ road to the NBA Finals

What stood out the most from this Raptors team as they broke through for their first-ever Finals appearance? We have thoughts! The NBA Finals start on Thursday, featuring, for the first time ever, the Toronto Raptors. We’ll have all kinds of awesome previews of the matchup with the Golden State Warriors, and the strategies and rotations both teams will likely deploy, right here on RaptorsHQ in the coming days.
First, though, let’s look back at the first three rounds of the 2019 NBA Playoffs, and see what stood out as the Raptors made their historic journey through the postseason.
All Eyes on D
I don’t think you can talk about this Raptors team, and this postseason run, without talking about the team’s defense. It’s extraordinary. The numbers certainly tell the story: 102.4 defensive rating (second best in the playoffs), opponent field goal percentage of 41.7% (second best), 8 steals per game/14.9 opponent turnovers per game (both fifth), 99.6 points per game allowed (second).
The thing is, those numbers don’t even do justice to what it’s like actually watching this team ratchet things up on D, particularly in the highest-leverage situations. The switching and rotating, the closing out on …

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Author: Josh Kern / Raptors HQ

Five thoughts on last night, Game 2: Raptors 111, Magic 82

The Raptors were all business, and the Magic never stood a chance in Game 2. That was a little more like it. The 2018-29 Toronto Raptors, Playoff Version — the version that we all expected to see on Saturday — made its first appearance on Tuesday night, stomping the Magic into oblivion behind an all-time performance from Kawhi Leonard. Here’s what I thought of the proceedings:
Best Raptors Playoff Performance Ever?
Kawhi Leonard’s 37 points (on 22 shots!), four rebound, four assist and two steal performance was just incredible. It seemed effortless, it seemed like every time he put the ball up it was going in, that there was nothing the Magic could do to slow him down.
It was everything we wanted when we heard the Raptors had acquired him.
I wonder where it fits on the pantheon of all-time great performances though. I don’t think it’s better than Vince Carter’s 50 against Philadelphia in 2001; that was in the second round, so the stakes were higher, and you know, it’s 50 freakin’ points.
Is it ahead of Lowry’s Game 7 against Miami in 2016? Lowry finished that game with 35-7-9-4, on 20 shots, and again, the stakes in that game …

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Author: Josh Kern / Raptors HQ