#1

The Swiss star outlasted

in Events 20.12.2018 06:09
von vv1122365 Caelicola | 780 Beiträge | 7800 Punkte

NEW YORK - The basketball gods have spoken, with an assist from Jason Kidd. The Toronto Raptors will open their first playoff series in six years at home to the Brooklyn Nets at 12:30 PM et Saturday afternoon. The Raptors learned their fate early in the second half of Wednesdays season final - a 95-92 loss to the Knicks - when Chicago fell to Charlotte in overtime, assuring Toronto would finish with the third seed in the Eastern Conference. Brooklyn had been red-hot, winning 33 of 46 games - the second best record in the East since Jan. 1 - until they dropped four of the last five contests, conceding a division title to the Raptors and ultimately falling to sixth place. Their last stand in Cleveland suggests that the late-season collapse, or at least the latter half of it, may not have been an accident. Kidds Nets squandered a couple of opportunities to lock up the fifth seed, setting up a likely matchup with the surging Bulls, on the final two nights of the campaign. On Wednesday evening, with four teams jockeying for playoff seeding, the Nets rookie head coach opted to sit all five of his starters, suiting up only seven players in a winnable game against the lowly Cavaliers. They would go on to lose by 29. "In my experience, youve got to be careful what you wish for," Dwane Casey cautioned ahead of Wednesdays finale. "You think you want to play a certain team then you start preparing for them and say, wow that teams pretty good. Then youve got a dogfight. I think the best way to approach it is let the basketball gods decide." Faced with a similar decision, Casey - who was an assistant in Dallas when he and Kidd won a championship together in 2011 - chose to play his stars against the Knicks and compete to win. Thats just one of the factors that separate these two teams, that creates a trace of animosity going into this weekends first-round matchup. Whether they care to admit to it or not, the Nets took their foot off the gas in the hope of maximizing the odds of facing an inexperienced Raptors team. Whether Torontos players or coaches care to admit it, thats a slap in the face, or at least it should be. Do they feel slighted? "No, man," Lowry responded, after the game. "They rested their players. Thats what they did." They shouldnt need added motivation, Casey wisely posted out. The Raptors have been underestimated and theyre about to be again. They will be lost in a sea of publicity surrounding the compelling storylines of a big market team with a payroll exceeding $100 million. "Weve played all season as the underdog, as the small guy trying to come up, whatever you want to call it," said DeMar DeRozan, who is one of three Raptors starters slated to make his postseason debut Saturday. "We always play with a chip on our shoulder and we understand going into the playoffs, we havent done nothing. We havent made it to the playoffs in six years. So weve got to go in there with a chip on our shoulder and understand its going to be a dog fight every single game, just like the season was." Their starting lineup goes into the series with 24 games of playoff experience to Brooklyns 399. The average age of the Nets first unit - complete with veterans and future hall of famers - is eight years older than Torontos. Its a clash of old and young, the battle-tested versus the unproven soldiers. "Experience is one thing but youve got to go play," said Casey, who is also venturing into uncharted waters, his first postseason as a head coach. "You have to go out and compete, its why they play the games. Our guys are going to be ready." "Theyve got a lot of older veterans that have been in the league 10-plus years so thats an advantage that we have," DeRozan said. "We understand that theyre experienced and everything but hey, who isnt? Once you come in this league youre going against players all season that are experienced in some way. You just have to find a way to win." The Raptors and Nets split a four-game season series, with each team winning one on the road. Perhaps it was fate. In a redditt AMA chat last month, Terrence Ross identified the Nets as a preferred playoff matchup, to which Brooklyns Andray Blatche took issue and responded, "Ross asked for this, so theyve got to back up their words." These teams faced off in the 2007 playoffs - Toronto the third seed, the Nets, then in New Jersey, the sixth - after the Raptors won their first and only other division title. It was the first postseason experience for the likes of Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon and Anthony Parker, among others. That inexperience against a veteran Nets team - led by Kidd, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson - proved costly, as inexperience tends to be in the playoffs. This Raptors team believes theyre different, that they have something special. They may be right. As most observers - both devoted and casual alike - are aware and will continue to be force-fed ad nauseam ahead of their first postseason game since 2008, the Raptors rapid return to relevance in the East was unexpected. Generous prognosticators billed them as a conference wild card, a fringe playoff team, at best. Division winner? No chance. Not with a pair of entitled New York-area giants and their gargantuan payrolls occupying the Atlantic. Internally, expectations were being tempered, justifiably so. After years of false promises, the word "playoffs" was quickly dismissed in place of a new goal; "growth". They were indeed a wild card in the East. A newly structured front office, an expiring head coach and starting point guard, an $18 million experiment inherited from the previous regime. "We didnt go into the season thinking we were going to be division winners," Casey admitted. "That was our goal but we knew that was going to be a lofty goal. We always go in trying to swing for the fences. Once the trade happened, no one knew. The guys kept working, kept working, kept working and [it] kind of came together." The Raptors were 6-12 before that fabled evening in Los Angeles, the night Rudy Gay was shipped to Sacramento and the fortunes of a long-suffering franchise began to turn. From that point on they would finish the season with a record of 42-22, tops in the East. Some will shrug them off as the poster team of a historically weak Eastern Conference and at one point, early in the season, that may have been the case. However, they made it here on their own merit. Theyre one just four teams, in either conference, to finish in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Their 22 road wins, a franchise record, tied Miami and Washington for the best mark in the East and they finished with 16-14 against the superior Western Conference. Their individual and collective accomplishments seem countless. Their starting five has won more games than any other in team history, each player putting up career highs in minutes logged and scoring. On Monday they hung their second division championship banner and set a new franchise mark in wins. Six months ago that would have been more than enough. Now, its an appetizer. Theyve tasted success and they want more. No one is satisfied. "When I first got here that was one of my biggest goals, to get this team back to the playoffs," said Kyle Lowry. "Im happy to be there but Im not satisfied. I want to go out there, I want to make some noise and show that were really a good team." Jordan Retro 3 Wholesale .Murray has played 20 matches in five weeks, winning three titles to climb to fifth in the ATP Race.The two-time Grand Slam champion also seeks to qualify for next months ATP World Tour Finals.Murray said: I always wanted to qualify for it, but also I want to get back into the top 8 players in the world and it makes a huge difference for seedings in the major events. Cheap 3 Jordan Shoes . The top-ranked Spaniard won his fourth Madrid Open on Sunday after Kei Nishikori was forced to withdraw with a hip injury when trailing 2-6, 6-4, 3-0 in the final. And Nadal, who is coming off to uncharacteristic quarterfinal losses on clay, said his mental strength is still lacking just two weeks ahead of the French Open. http://www.cheapairjordan3shoes.com/ . Wawrinka, who is seeded fourth, is in the top half of the draw with Serbian Novak Djokovic. The Swiss star outlasted Djokovic in a five-set quarterfinal thriller last year and stunned Spaniard Rafael Nadal in the final to capture his first-ever Grand Slam title. Cheap Jordan 3 Sale . Bryce Harper? He also came into Wednesday without a long ball and hadnt driven in a run. He was hitting .160, had nearly three times as many strikeouts as hits and was dropped to seventh in the batting order. Discount Jordan Shoes Wholesale .com) - The Denver Nuggets snapped a losing streak last time out and will try to carry that momentum Saturday night when they welcome the Indiana Pacers to the Pepsi Center.NEW ORLEANS - The New Orleans Saints and free agent fullback Erik Lorig have agreed to a four-year contract. The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Lorig, whose signing was announced Tuesday, has spent his first four NFL seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who selected him in the seventh round of the 2010 draft. Financial terms of Lorigs contract were not disclosed Lorig played defensive end at Stanford and was converted to fullback in his rookie season.dddddddddddd He has played in 56 games, including 24 starts, lining up as a tight end at times and also playing on special teams. Lorig has served as the lead blocker for a pair of 1,000-yard rushers, Doug Martin in 2012 and LeGarrette Blount in 2010. He also has 30 catches for 193 yards and a touchdown. 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