Posts Tagged ‘Toronto Raptors’

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse downplayed rumors about him potentially leaving the organization to join the Los Angeles Lakers next season.

“I don’t know where that stuff comes from, and I’m focused on coaching this team,” Nurse said during his end-of-season media availability Monday, according to TSN’s Josh Lewenberg.

Nurse has two years remaining on his contract with the Raptors. He’s also signed up to coach Team Canada through the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Nurse was linked last month to the Lakers’ coaching opening as a leading candidate to replace Frank Vogel.

The 54-year-old has enjoyed tremendous success during his head coaching tenure with the Raptors. He owns a combined 186-122 record across four regular seasons, including the team’s subpar 27-45 campaign while based out of Tampa.

Nurse was also named 2019-20 Coach of the Year and helped capture the franchise’s first championship in 2019 as a rookie head coach.

The Philadelphia 76ers avoided a historic collapse, defeating the Toronto Raptors 132-97 in Game 6 to book their spot in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Philadelphia, who once held a 3-0 series lead, got 33 points, 10 boards, three blocks, and two steals from Joel Embiid as all five starters registered double digits in scoring.

Forwards Chris Boucher and Pascal Siakam led Toronto with 25 and 24 points, respectively.

The 76ers will now take on the top-seeded Miami Heat in the second round, beginning Monday at FTX Arena in South Beach.

Philadelphia broke open a tight game with a dominant third-quarter performance, outscoring Toronto 37-17 in the frame. The 76ers shot 57.9% from the floor – including 60% from deep – during the third quarter, while the Raptors made just 2-of-11 attempts from deep and 26.3% of their field goals overall.

Philadelphia did a great job sharing the rock, racking up 32 assists on 47 made field goals. All-Star guard James Harden had his best performance of this year’s playoffs, posting 22 points and 15 dimes.

The 76ers only coughed up the ball 11 times, negating Toronto’s lethal transition game. Doc Rivers’ squad outscored the Raptors 21-5 in fast-break points.

No NBA team has overcome an 0-3 deficit in a playoff series. Toronto was looking to become the fourth team in league history to force a seventh game after dropping the first three contests.

The Portland Trail Blazers last accomplished the feat in 2003 against the Dallas Mavericks but fell 107-95 in Game 7.

Pascal Siakam scored 23 points, Precious Achiuwa had 17 and the Toronto Raptors forced a return home for Game 6 in their Eastern Conference first-round series against Philadelphia, beating the 76ers 103-88 on Monday night.

Yo, Canada! Once holding a 3-0 series lead, the 76ers are headed back north.

The Raptors have won two straight in the series and jumped all over injured Sixers center Joel Embiid and ineffective James Harden to make Thursday night’s game a necessity.

Embiid had 20 points and 11 rebounds playing with a thumb injury. Harden scored 15 points on 4-of-11 shooting.

Sixers coach Doc Rivers is dragging the weight of ignominious NBA history with him through customs. Rivers, who led Boston to the 2008 championship, is the only coach in NBA history to blow three 3-1 series leads. The Magic lost to Detroit in the 2003 Eastern Conference first round; the 2015 Clippers blew the series to Houston in the Western Conference semifinals; and in 2020, the Clippers lost to Denver in the West semifinals.

The next season, Rivers was in Philly — and the Sixers lost three games at home as the No. 1 seed and were eliminated in the second round.

The nerves in Philly are suddenly as tight as the rims.

The Sixers had a miserable first half. They finished with 10 turnovers and shot 35% from the floor. Philly’s last bucket in the first quarter was one for the blooper reel: Matisse Thybulle’s missed shot bounced off the rim and was accidentally tipped in by Achiuwa.

Whoops.

Maybe it sparked something for the Raptors. They opened the second quarter on a 12-0 run to take control all while the Sixers missed their first nine shots. The Sixers didn’t score until 6:51 was left in the half. Scottie Barnes scored eight points in the quarter and the Raptors took a 54-41 lead at the break.

The 76ers were booed off the court, their play a bleak reminder of some recent postseason flameouts.

“We’ve generated really good shots most of the series,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said before the game. “We haven’t shot very well yet. I told the guys today, today would be a good day to go ahead and start making some of those open shots.”

The Raptors listened, hovering around 50% for most of the game. They also controlled the boards and scored 20 points off turnovers.

Harden could have used the shooting tip.

Harden played the same night the All-Star he was traded for, Ben Simmons, was inactive for Brooklyn. Harden was barely more visible and missed 6 of 8 shots through three quarters, scoring nine points.

Embiid continued to play with a ligament tear in his right thumb. He looked gassed at times in the third quarter as the Raptors kept attacking the MVP finalist for tough buckets, notably Achiuwa’s driving layup that made it 73-60.

TIP-INS

Raptors: All-Star point guard Fred VanVleet sat out with a left hip flexor strain. VanVleet said he was hurt in Game 4 and was unsure if he could play in Game 6.

76ers: Embiid was fined $15,000 for criticizing the officiating in Game 4. … John Calipari, who coached 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey at Kentucky, was at the game.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Embiid will have to wait until after the season for thumb surgery.

“There’s no treatment. There really isn’t,” Rivers said. “If there’s one thing I know, it’s not going to get any worse. There’s really no ice, there’s no treatment for that until after the season.”

UP NEXT

The Sixers will play Game 6 without Thybulle. Thybulle, who sat out Games 3 and 4, is barred from entering Canada because he is not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Toronto Raptors will live to fight another day after beating the visiting Philadelphia 76ers 110-102 on Saturday, narrowly avoiding the franchise’s first Round 1 sweep since 2015.

Raptors forward Pascal Siakam tallied a playoff career-high 34 points on 10-of-19 shooting and added eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks, and a steal to pace the underdogs to victory.

Siakam’s huge outing followed the 2020 All-Star’s struggles in Game 3, where he tallied just 12 points on 6-of-16 shooting. The performance helped compensate for the second-quarter exit of All-Star teammate Fred VanVleet due to a hip injury.

Scottie Barnes, who was announced as the Rookie of the Year for the 2021-22 season prior to tipoff, contributed six points on 1-of-6 shooting but had a team-best 11 rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench.

James Harden led the 76ers with 22 points on 5-of-17 shooting and nine assists. MVP finalist Joel Embiid, who was revealed Friday to have suffered a sprain in the thumb on his shooting hand, added 21 points on 7-of-16 shooting and eight boards. However, Philadelphia couldn’t overcome having fewer free throws, fewer offensive rebounds, and more turnovers than its opponent.

Game 5 is slated for Monday, April 25 in Philadelphia with an 8 p.m. ET tipoff.

Thanks to a harried 3-pointer from MVP finalist Joel Embiid in the final 0.8 seconds of overtime, the Philadelphia 76ers pushed the Toronto Raptors to the brink of elimination, overcoming an early 17-point hole to beat Canada’s team 104-101 on its home floor.

When asked postgame about where the clutch bucket ranked in his career, Embiid didn’t have to think long.

“I mean, obviously, that’s the best one,” he told NBA TV’s Nabil Karim. “But the job is not done. We’ve got one more. We’ve got to come back here in two days and try to beat them again.”

Embiid finished with a game-high 33 points on 12-of-20 shooting to make up for Philadelphia’s 22 turnovers and teammate James Harden fouling out in the fourth quarter. Harden finished with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting with 10 assists.

The Raptors were led by 26 points from OG Anunoby, 24 from Gary Trent Jr., and 20 from reserve forward Precious Achiuwa, but the team collectively shot 44.2% from the floor to the 76ers’ 51.4%.

Philadelphia also maintained its advantage on the boards, outrebounding Toronto 46 to 32. Embiid (13 rebounds) and Tobias Harris (12) each finished with double-doubles.

“That’s about as tough a loss as I can remember from my time (here),” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said, according to TSN’s Josh Lewenberg.

Facing a potential sweep, the Raptors should at least receive some reinforcements ahead of Game 4. Nurse indicated that Rookie of the Year finalist Scottie Barnes will be back in the lineup after missing most of Game 2 and all of Wednesday’s game with an ankle sprain.

Game 4 is slated for Saturday, April 23, with a 2 p.m. ET tipoff.

Joel Embiid took a stiff arm moments after tipoff and the 7-footer pushed back. Trying to keep his composure, Embiid absorbed a few more deliberate blows from a Raptors defense clearly trying to bully the big guy.

Coach Doc Rivers gave Embiid a quick message: “No, Jo, you be the dominant guy.”

The NBA MVP finalist quit deferring and started dominating.

Embiid took his lumps and powered his way to 31 points and 11 rebounds, Tyrese Maxey showed he was no one-game postseason wonder and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Toronto Raptors 112-97 on Monday night for a 2-0 lead in the first-round series.

Maxey had 23 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Tobias Harris had 20 points and 10 rebounds. James Harden scored 14.

Game 3 in the Eastern Conference series is Wednesday in Toronto.

The Raptors trailed by 27 points but showed some life in the fourth cutting it to 11 until Maxey, the Game 1 star, buried a 3 that got the Sixers rolling again.

OG Anunoby led the Raptors with 26 points. Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet each had 20.

The Raptors came ready to rumble after coach Nick Nurse accused the officials of letting the Sixers get away with hard fouls in Game 1. Not even 2 minutes into the game, Anunoby shoved Embiid, Embiid shoved back and both teams had to be separated as the crowd erupted. Anunoby and Embiid were both whistled for technical fouls.

The Raptors raced to an 11-2 lead and had the first six fouls to none for the 76ers.

“They wanted to muck the game up and play physical, Rivers said. ”I just told our guys to just play through it.”

Embiid, the NBA scoring champion who had only 19 points in Game 1, was fouled hard by Siakam and made a free throw — one of the 11 he made in the quarter on 12 attempts. He matched his Game 1 total with 19 points in the quarter.

Embiid made 12 of 14 free throws and 9 of 16 shots from the floor for the game.

“That’s what we need from the Big Fella,” Maxey said.

Embiid told Nurse in the waning moments of the game that he was going to keep making all the free throws if Toronto continued to foul him.

Nurse’s retort? “You might have to.”

VanVleet scored 17 points in the half and tried to keep the Raptors in the game. Maxey, who had 38 points in Game 1, didn’t score until he hit a floater in the lane with 8:03 left in the second. He followed with an acrobatic layup for a 50-42 lead and suddenly the Sixers had some juice. Harden hit a 3 for an 11-point lead.

The half ended with a tense moment.

Harden tried to split two defenders on a drive down the lane in the final seconds of the half and his knee crashed into Embiid’s left knee. Embiid’s left ankle seemed to buckle and both players went down in a heap. Both stars were sprawled on the backs for several moments: Harden rubbed his neck and head. Embiid limped down the court on the next possession.

Sixers fans held their breath at the half.

Philly’s first bucket of the third quarter? How about Harden-to-Embiid on an alley-oop that settled nerves and rattled the rim.

Embiid scored nine more points in the third and Maxey had seven for a 95-73 lead at the end of the third. Embiid had 28 points and 11 rebounds before he picked up his first foul midway through the fourth.

TIP-INS

Raptors: Gary Trent Jr. was a game-time decision with an illness. He did not score and had four fouls in the first half. He did not return in the second.

76ers: Philly native and two-time South Carolina national championship coach Dawn Staley rang the ceremonial bell.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Raptors forward Scottie Barnes sat out with a sprained left ankle suffered in Game 1. Barnes did not reveal a timetable for his return but said he was “getting better each and every day.”

CRYING FOUL

“There was another open-handed slap to the face. Again, I don’t understand why will not call them. Other than that, at least there wasn’t as many elbows thrown to the face tonight that we had to endure.” — Nurse, on the officiating.

UP NEXT

The Sixers head to Toronto and will play the next two games without defensive ace Matisse Thybulle. Thybulle, who received one third-place vote in the NBA defensive player of the year award voting, is barred from entering Canada because he is not fully vaccinated.

Tyrese Maxey led all scorers with 38 points as the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Toronto Raptors 131-111 on Saturday to snatch a 1-0 advantage in the best-of-seven series.

Maxey’s 38 points are a playoff career high, eclipsing his 16-point performance against the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 of the 2021 Eastern Conference semifinals. He scored 21 of his 38 points in the third quarter alone.

“It was pretty spectacular, really,” teammate Tobias Harris said of Maxey’s offensive outburst, courtesy of Lauren Rosen of Sixers.com. “That third quarter, the shots he was making … it was all coming together. Hats off to him, because he played a heck of a game tonight.”

Harris added 26 points, six rebounds, and six assists for the 76ers, while star guard James Harden registered 22 points and 14 dimes. MVP candidate and center Joel Embiid had 19 points, 15 rebounds, and four assists.

Pascal Siakam scored a team-high 24 points for Toronto on 9-of-18 shooting to go with seven assists, three rebounds, and three blocks in 40 minutes.

“I’m not surprised they were highly motivated and ready to go,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said about Philadelphia, according to TSN’s Josh Lewenberg. The Sixers never trailed after taking a 7-5 lead in the first quarter. “I think there’s a lot of expectations on them.

“They were going to try to bully us right off the floor and deliver a blow to see if we would go away. Now we’re gonna find out if we will or not.”

How the Raptors respond after dropping the series opener on the road may not be their most significant concern from the defeat, however. Star rookie Scottie Barnes suffered a sprained ankle and left for good with 9:06 remaining in the game after Embiid inadvertently stepped on the forward’s foot. X-rays returned negative, but Barnes is set to undergo further imaging and his status for Game 2 on Monday is still unknown.

Toronto also lost forward Thaddeus Young, who departed the contest with 6:27 remaining in the second quarter with a sprained thumb.

Pascal Siakam had 31 points and 13 rebounds, Scottie Barnes added 19 points and 14 rebounds, and the Toronto Raptors clinched a playoff berth by beating the Atlanta Hawks 118-108 on Tuesday night.

Chris Boucher scored 18 points, Gary Trent Jr. had 14, Fred VanVleet 12, and Precious Achiuwa 11. Toronto has won 12 of 16. This victory, coupled with Cleveland’s loss at Orlando, ensured the Raptors (46-33) will finish no lower than sixth in the Eastern Conference.

“We did what we set out to do in the regular season,” VanVleet said. “Now it’s time to go see what we can do.”

Toronto rose to fifth in the East after Chicago lost to Milwaukee. The Bulls hold the tiebreaker over the Raptors.

Sixth place is the last guaranteed postseason spot, with teams finishing in the Nos. 7-10 spots headed for the play-in tournament.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse said he was proud of his players for exceeding expectations.

“They found a way to grind out enough wins to get them in this situation,” Nurse said. “I don’t think they were picked to be here, so that’s always a good accomplishment.”

Trae Young had 26 points and 15 assists for the Hawks, who lost for the first time in six games and locked themselves into a play-in berth. Atlanta (41-38) and Brooklyn are 1 1/2 games behind seventh-place Cleveland.

“Obviously we wish we were higher in the standings but we’re not,” Young said. “We are where we are. We’ve got to take care of business with what’s ahead of us.”

The Hawks host Washington on Wednesday before finishing the season with games at Miami and Houston. Atlanta is one game ahead of Charlotte in 10th.

Kevin Huerter scored 21 points, De’Andre Hunter had 20 and Bogdan Bogdanovic finished with 19. Clint Capela had 10 points and 14 rebounds.

“Their size definitely hurt us,” Huerter said of the Raptors, who outscored Atlanta 62-42 in the paint.

Toronto led 102-92 after Barnes made a 3-pointer with 7:38 left in the fourth quarter, but Atlanta answered with a 10-0 run, tying it at 102-all on Young’s basket with 4:29 remaining.

Young gave the Hawks their first lead of the fourth quarter by making one of two from the line with 2:53 to play, but Achiuwa made one to tie it and Barnes ended Toronto’s drought of 5 minutes, 45 seconds by converting a putback layup with 1:53 to go.

After Bogdanovic missed a 3, VanVleet connected from distance for Toronto, giving the Raptors a 108-103 lead with just over a minute left.

“It comes down to making shots and getting stops, and we didn’t do that after being able to tie that game 102-102,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “You’ve got to close, you’ve got to finish that game.”

FINDING THEIR RANGE

The Raptors started 0 for 12 from 3-point range but finished 9 for 35. Thad Young made Toronto’s first 3 with 1:12 left in the first half.

ROCKY ROAD

Atlanta is 15-24 on the road. The Hawks have fewer road wins than any postseason contender in either conference except for the West’s 11th place Lakers, who were 11-27 on the road going into Tuesday’s game at Phoenix.

“It’s tough to win on the road in the NBA,” Huerter said.

TAKE A BREAK

With a playoff berth clinched, Nurse said he’ll give VanVleet and other regulars some rest in the final three games of the season. VanVleet has been playing with a sore right knee.

“We’re going to get him off his feet here for a couple days,” Nurse said.

TIP-INS

Hawks: F Danilo Gallinari sat because of a sore left knee. … Bogdanovic had nine rebounds.

Raptors: Nurse said F OG Anunoby’s sore left thigh is “much improved” but held the injured forward out for a second straight game. … VanVleet had nine assists and Siakam had six. … Young matched his season-high with five offensive rebounds.

UP NEXT

Hawks: Host Washington on Wednesday night

Raptors: Host Philadelphia on Thursday night.

The Chicago Blackhawks are interested in Toronto Raptors vice president of basketball operations and player development Teresa Resch for the team’s vacant general manager position, reports Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

The Blackhawks indicated they would look outside the hockey world for options when they started searching for a new GM. The club recently confirmed that it interviewed Chicago Cubs assistant GM Jeff Greenberg.

Resch was one of Raptors president Masai Ujiri’s first hires when he joined the organization in 2013. She previously worked in the NBA’s head office.

The Blackhawks have already interviewed several candidates for the GM position, including interim GM Kyle Davidson, Peter Chiarelli, Mathieu Darche, Scott Mellanby, and Eric Tulsky.

Toronto Raptors president and vice chairman Masai Ujiri tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced Thursday.

In a statement, Ujiri says he received a positive test result following an event with Giants of Africa, a nonprofit organization the Raptors executive founded to provide support and assistance to African youth through basketball.

On Sunday, Giants of Africa held our first in-person event since 2019. It was organized in compliance with all current public health guidance – everyone who attended had to show proof of vaccination, and to wear masks when not eating or drinking. Unfortunately, after the gala, we learned of positive COVID-19 tests among our guests – and even though I am fully vaccinated and have received a booster shot, I also subsequently tested positive. I am now at home, observing the safety protocols by self-isolating for 10 days, monitoring for symptoms and undergoing symptoms, and I encourage everyone who attended to please do the same. We don’t want to live in fear of this virus, but COVID is a persistent enemy. Together, we’ll defeat it.

Both the Raptors and Indiana Pacers canceled their respective practices earlier Thursday out of an abundance of caution with respect to health and safety protocols, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Patrick Mutombo, the coach of the Raptors’ G League affiliate, was unavailable for Thursday’s game against the Maine Celtics due to protocols. Assistant Chris Thomas replaced him behind the bench.

Ujiri, 51, re-signed with Toronto on a multi-year deal this past summer to remain team president and also serve as vice-chairman.

He’s responsible for building the squad that won the 2019 title, the team’s only NBA championship in franchise history. Ujiri initially joined the team in 2013 following three years with the Denver Nuggets.