Raptors vs Pacers – Playoff Prediction

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A number of peeps want to know my prediction for the Raptors vs Pacers series.

My MoVernie Prediction? Raptors in 6.

2016 is the year the Raptors will shine & get pass playoff round #1.

And this will also be the first time in franchise history that Toronto will win and take Game #1, which they have never done in the franchise history. Believe it or not, that’s freaky.

Here is the breakdown on the strengths and weaknesses for both Raptors & Pacers:

Toronto Raptors

Strengths:

  1. Solid starting 5: Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are all-star this year and both have been the backbone of this team. In fact, one of the best guard tandem in the NBA this year. Newcomer DeMarre Carroll (before getting injured) blend in well with the group, doing what he does best, guarding the opposition top dogs. Luis Scola or Patrick Patterson played well in various periods of times over the season. They may have their flaws but each of them bring something unique to the table. Last but not least, manning the centre, Jonas Valanciunas got 4th quarter minutes this year with his improved defense and more complete, all-around offensive skills down the stretch of every game.
  2. Deep Depth of Bench Players: Raptors also have deep bench. Coach Casey has a number of players who can be slotted in different slots and be able to contribute in many different ways and looks.

3) Home Court Advantage: Whether the Raptors fans are inside the ACC or outside the ACC (aka Jurassic Park), the fans are noisy, full of energy and full of passion. That is a loud place to play against, it definitely affect the oppositions.

X-Factor: Norman Powell and DeMarre Carroll. I know it’s too much to ask a rookie to play an important role in the playoffs but I truly believe in Powell, who can shoot 3’s, play defense, drive inside for a nice layup or a slam dunk. He is fearless. That’s what I like, a guy who isn’t hesitate to take the shot or afraid to step up his game, while doing it quietly.

Meanwhile, Carroll, the $15M addition over the summer, despite injury, will still be important to guard guys like Paul George or Monta Ellis

Weakness:

  1. Coach Casey: Casey often has questionable rotation and stubborn on who to put in or out, despite a bench player could be shooting the lights out. Casey also like to stick with the same starting 5, which is quite predictable. If Casey continues to be out coached or fail to make good adjustment during the game or the entire playoff series, Raptors will be kick out the 3rd time in a row.

    Raptors GM Masai Ujiri had said that whether to re-sign Casey or not does not depend whether if he can guide the team to the next round. To be honest, that was just full of bullshit. Remember, would any GM be stupid enough to say anything to affect the mental part of a team heading to the playoffs? Let’s sit down and think about this, would Masai tell the reporters that “Yes, if Casey get kick out of Round 1, he is gone?” before the eve of the playoff series? Most likely not, let’s use common sense here.

  2. Raptors have not won game #1 ever in franchise history. Will history repeats itself or become a new curse for the franchise? We will find out.

Indiana Pacers

Strength:

Coaching. What Raptors lacks in coaching is a major gain for the Pacers. Pacers major strength is strong coaching in Frank Vogel. Vogel has been a great coach guiding the Pacers year-in, year-out. Look at his roster this year, other than Paul George and Monta Ellis, there basically not much in the roster that you would call stars or core groups, but they get the job done and made the playoffs.

Think about this, their starting point guard, is George Hill, who only averages 3.4 assists per game this season. Are you kidding me? A starting point guard with only 3.4 assists is in the starting lineup and the team is making the playoffs. That’s because Vogel runs a system that guys like Ellis and Paul George can be a point man.

If Vogel wants to go small, Coach Casey better find a way to counteract Vogel’s tactics. Will Casey be out coach again? We will find out.

Weakness:

Weak bench: The roster is relatively weak compared to the deep bench players the Raptors got.

X-Factor: I really like Jordan Hill over the years and I think he will be a key contributor and expect way more playing minutes in this playoff. This guy can shoot and defend and grab key rebounds.

Anyhow, my MoVernie Prediction, Raptors in 6!

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My Reaction to the Raptors/Kings Trade Involving Rudy Gay

 

Personally, when Rudy Gay was playing with the Memphis Grizzlies, I really like his game. And after he got traded to the Toronto Raptors, I thought he played well in this first year with the Raptors and showed the type of leadership the Raptors need at the time when Bargnani was being booed and when other players were searching for a team leader who was willing to take the last shot when the game was on the line.

However, things changed ever since the start of this early NBA Raptors season. I thought Rudy Gay wasn’t really a good fit with the team. He and DeMar DeRozan doesn’t seem to jell into the 1-2 punch that Raptorsfans would have envisioned. Rudy started to get lots of touches but weren’t effectively turned those touches into effective offensive plays. Very often, I noticed Rudy tended to run the ball up the court alot when it’s supposed to be the point guard’s job. Worst, whenever Rudy wanted to bring up the ball, he didn’t have the ball handling skills to break down the defense, most often, the defenders tapped the ball and stole the ball off Gay far too many times, leading to turnovers and easy buckets by the opponents. Rudy also getting lazy and settled for difficult jump shots and fade-aways. With the emergence of DeMar DeRozan and his ever increasing superstar stats, it makes sense to let Rudy Gay go.

Here is the breakdown of the proposed Raptors/Kings trade:

To Raptors:

PG – Greivis Vasquez ($2.5M USD)
SG – John Salmons ($8.5M USD)
PF – Patrick Patterson ($2.1M USD)
PF – Chuck Hayes ($5.25 USD)

Rounded ($18M Total)

To Kings:

SF – Rudy Gay ($15M USD)
PF – Quincy Acy ($665,000 USD)
C – Aaron Gray ($2.5M USD)

Rounded ($18M Total)

With all these factors in, I think tonight’s trade involving the Toronto Raptors and the Sacramento Kings is a great trade for the Raptors. They got rid of Rudy Gay who won’t be in the long-term vision of Raptors GM Mansai Urijri’s game plan. This trade was a cap space dump, saving Toronto around $13 Million of cap space to sign a free agent or two (especially this coming summer, the free agents are high quality) in the summer of 2014.

Quincy Acy got little playing time from Coach Casey despite Ed Davis was traded to the Grizzlies last year. Even when Andrea Bargnani got traded, Acy didn’t got any more playing time this year. Same to veteran Aaron Gray, this year, Coach Casey hardly played him even when there aren’t many front court players on the roster this year.

I like the players coming back to Toronto, they are a bunch of players with veteran experience and they are great backups who can also spot-starts. Kyle Lowry is still the starting point guard but his health is always a question mark, with this trade, Greivis Vasquez is a serviceable backup point guard and he can spot-start if Lowry is injured. Furthermore, he is a major upgrade than the inefficient Dwight Bycks who maybe waived as Toronto currently have 16 players on the roster after this deal (league roster is at 15).

I considered Chuck Hayes as the veteran version of Quincy Acy, who is undersized but can rebound and makes a big presence in the paint. The hidden gem player that I would like to flourish under the Raptors system is Patrick Patterson. He is young, solid Power Forward size and he can score and rebound. He has a low salary that he should be in the long-term plans with the Raptors. If he get minutes, he may flourish and be the diamond-in-the-rough in this deal.

John Salmons is a good shooting guard with great offensive skills. He was once the player former GM Raptors Bryan Colganelo’s free agent signing until he bailed out and Bryan forced to go with plan B to sign Fred Jones. The circle of life continues for John in the NBA league, playing for quite a number of teams in his career. I would have preferred to see the Raptors trying to get Jimmer Fredette instead of Salmons as I want to see if Fredette can resurrect his college glory days. Anyhow, John Salmons will be a good starting Small Forward or the 6th man coming off the bench.

Overall, I like this trade. I think it benefits the Toronto Raptors in many different ways. Raptors GM Mansai Urijri was able to find a trading partner who would take on the high price tag of Rudy Gay off his ledger. The new look Raptors can either improve the team and win more games for the playoffs or if they don’t win, it’s a great way to tank the season and trying their chances on getting Andrew Wiggins or other high prized players in the draft. Even better, this trade free up cap salary space, which means, Raptors GM can go shopping in the deep pool of high quality free agent to help the team. So…in many different angles, this is a GREAT day for the Toronto Raptors and the Raptorsfans!

MoVernie Breakdown Analysis:

1) Raptors got rid of Rudy Gay’s high price contract this year and next year especially Rudy isn’t effective on the team this year

2) Raptors free up cap space to sign deep pool of high quality free agents

3) Raptors can compete for playoffs with these new players and if they don’t, they can tank and try to get high prized draftpicks such as Andrew Wiggins

4) If Lowry gets injured, Vasquez is a capable point guard, major upgrade from ineffective Dwight Bycks

Go Raptors Go!

What do you think of this trade? Do you like it or hate it? Tell me your thoughts!

Like what you read? Follow @MoVernie Lifestyle on the BLOG!

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Raptors Rudy Gay traded to the Sacramento Kings

 

On the night when Lakers Kobe Bryant is ready to return on the court to play his first nba game of this season against the Toronto Raptors, the Toronto team has finalized a deal that send Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings. Although the deal is still in the works and will require NBA League approval, it is almost a done deal.

Adrian Wojnarowski from Yahoo first reported of this trade deal. Based on the finalized deal, the Kings will send Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes to the Raptors. Joining Rudy Gay to the Kings include Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray in the deal, sources said.

Your thoughts on this deal? Who got the upperhand of this deal? Or do you think it’s an even deal right now? Does this makes the Raptors a better team or a signal for tanking for a chance to get Andrew Wiggins or another high-prized draft pick?

Follow me to find out the latest update on this deal!

And @MoVernie is outta here!

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Drake a great fit for the Toronto Raptors

Throughout this past weekend, rumours were everywhere as people were talking about the potential partnership of Canadian Rapper sensation, Drake, partnering with the one and only Canadian NBA team, the Toronto Raptors. The details of their partnership are still being discussed and tight-lipped but I think it’s a great direction the Raptors are going.

Ever since, the new president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & EntertainmentTim Leiweke arrived in Toronto, the culture of the sports franchise has changed in the positive direction. He hired new GM, Masai Ujiri, secured the 2016 NBA all-star game (first ever hosted in Canada) and now the rumoured partnership with Canadian rapper, Drake. Things are looking bright for the franchise. Although, one rapper can’t steer the ship, at the end of the day, the end product of the team has to do better on the court to get the hungy-thirsty fans back in seats. But it’s going to happen with the emergence of DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, Jonas Valanciunas and fan favourite Amir Johnson and other great additions this summer on the bench.

Here are some points that I think will benefit the Raptorsfans, the MLSE & Drake:

1) Drake is a global music icon, so for those people who still doesn’t know the existence of the Toronto Raptors will get to know the nba team alot more.

2) Drake will launch his clothing line that will have inspiration from the his favourite nba team

3) Drake presence by just sitting at the courtside seats will bring more star power at the ACC

4) Drake will hype up the Raptors team with guys such as DeRozan, Amir Johnson and Rudy Gay all big fan of Drizzy.

5) More giveaways prizes to the home town crowd. Could I see his latest album “Nothing was the same” on opening night? The usual intro music of a Drake track would be nice! How about a Drake half-time show on opening night? That may not be too far fetched.

6) If Jay-Z is the american version of the musician-nba partnership, then Drake would be the musician-Canadian partnership!

As one of Drake latest hit single sums it up “Just hold on, I am coming home!”. Well, Drake is coming home alright, and instyle as well!

See this photo below, Drake posing the Raptor Mascot, get used to this image because you will see him alot more often at the Raptors game in the future!

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Drake posing with the mascot in the NBA, “The Raptor”

Raptors Rudy Gay Bike Ride – #RideWithRG

It’s been a big weekend for Rudy Gay, who was named as an ambassador for the Kids, Cops & Computers program on Friday as he donated 22 laptops for the well-deserved selected group of kids. Then on Saturday, Rudy followed it up with a fun event for his fans on a perfect Saturday in Toronto. Rudy would most possibly be one of the first Toronto athletes to host a bike ride that interacts with fans by riding the bike together along the path of Lake Shore & Ontario Place.

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Gay invited his followers on social media a few days ago for a bike ride along Toronto’s Waterfront and brought special guests such as DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson, Aaron Gray, Quincy Acy, Dwight Buycks and Chris Wright, who all came out and support Rudy. Hundreds of Raptorsfans came out to enjoy this special rare opportunities. Being able to ride a bike and interact with Raptors players don’t come often all the time.

Here are some of the photos captured by me and you can get a glimpse of how fun this bike event was organized by Rudy Gay. “Follow” me on twitter @MoVernie or “Follow” me on “MoVernie on the BLOG”.

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Raptors Chris Wright, Quincy Acy & Amir Johnson

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Raptors Dwight Buycks & Aaron Gray sharing a laugh

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Raptors truck delivered the bikes and helmets for the Raptors players, donated by the Canadian Tire

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The bikes are all setup and ready for the Raptors players