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After watching the first game of the season, I emphatically declared that the Spurs were probably going to win the title this year. It’s important to get on the record early like that but, also, it’s just really fun to overreact to the first game of the season. Everything is new and hopeful, nobody is quite the team they’re going to be yet, and it feels invigorating to just lean into the blind optimism of something new because, why not? Game 1 is a glorified exhibition.
But we all know that game 2 is where you find out if your team is actually going to win a championship this year!

So, what do we think? Is this the real life or is this just fantasy? The whole thing certainly feels pretty exciting right now and I, for one, am starting to find it hard to figure out where my ironic overconfidence ends and my earnest optimism begins. My rational brain is extremely aware of this team’s limitations and the abundance of monsters lurking down the road (Why, hello there back-to-back games against the Lakers right around the corner), but the soft, goopy other side of my brain that’s still high on Christmas magic is kind of freaking out at the moment.

I really like this team! I haven’t crunched the numbers or run any models or thought about this from an analytical perspective, I just…like the dudes. Every time I start thinking about Dejounte Murray or Lonnie Walker or Keldon Johnson, a big smile creeps on to my face. When I see Cheap DeMar DeRozan Jersey making it his personal mission to outshine all 81 players that ESPN put in front of him on their Top 100 List it makes me want to run through a brick wall for him. When Patty Mills is almost literally becoming a perfect basketball player in front of our eyes it almost seems like I can feel the heat radiating off him through the TV screen. The Spurs are fun right now, I have no idea if they are actually good, but I’m also finding it hard to care.

It has been pointed out by a number of people that last season began with the Spurs starting 3-0 before getting hit in the face with the cold, sobering waters of reality. It’s a really good point and the only actual counterargument I have is..so what? Who cares? When (if???!?!?) the Spurs come crashing back to earth this season then I am sure we will cover it here in exhaustive detail. We will chronicle the pain and the mistakes. We will examine the shortcomings. We will lament the missed opportunities. We will shout at the heavens. What we’re not going to do is waste the good times worrying about the bad times. I refuse.

Let the coaching staff worry about about the transition defense. Let the front office worry about the cap space. Right now, the Spurs are young and promising. The Spurs are weird and cool. The Spurs are fun. If you’re focused on anything else, then I’m not sure why you’re even here in the first place.

Takeaways:
I really missed the fans in this one. Can you imagine how rowdy the ATT Center would’ve been down the stretch? I can’t stop thinking about it. One of my favorite plays in basketball is a momentum changing offensive foul and we had one of those tonight. About a minute left in the game, Spurs down 4, and Cheap Pascal Siakam Jersey tried to split the defenders and instead of slipping past into the lane Patty gets there just in time. The ref on the far side of the court wasted no time emphatically pointing the other way and all of a sudden, the whole temperature of the building changes. I always feel like home crowds get especially hype about that kind of play because they’re such an unexpected treat. There’s a special kind of howl that gets unleashed and I missed that tonight. Adding it to my list of grievances for 2020.
If DeMar’s going to hit 3 or 4 triples every game then every one else might be in big trouble. He’s always been a high volume scorer, but he does seem a little more free than usual right now. It’s like he’s stopped having to worry about being “perfect” in order for the team to succeed, but is instead just focusing on maximizing what he can do within the flow of the game and trusting that it’s going to work out. I’ve always felt like his reluctance to shoot threes has come from this mindset of, like “I’m not great at that so when I shoot them it’s a waste and I can’t waste anything, the team needs me to be perfect.” Right now, it looks like he might be finally buying in a little more to just taking what the defense gives him. If he can get to the basket, great. If he’s got an easy mid-range, take it. If you happen to be beyond the arc all alone…let it fly. The entire team looks this way to be honest. Everything is flowing and the passes are whipping around and, frankly, I think it might be hard not to pull the trigger when you can catch and shoot with that kind of rhythm, regardless of where you are on the court.
This was a weirdly comforting game from LaMarcus for me? I know his final stats were not ideal, but I think it’s good for him to see that the team can pull out a win when he’s not lighting it up out there and I similarly think it’s good that he didn’t seem to be shying away from opportunities. Yea, he’s not really hitting from three yet, but he’s still taking those shots and this offense needs him taking those shots whether they go in or not. It frees up the floor, it keeps the defense honest and helps the offense stay in that whirring, buzzing around mode we’re all so fond of at the moment. I feel confident LaMarcus is going to figure it out, he’s one of the best shooting big men in the game and, look, if Aron Freakin’ Baynes can become an above average threat from deep then I’m pretty sure LMA can do some damage back there. Give it time.
So it turns out Keldon Johnson’s big thing is driving into the lane, jumping up, and bouncing his body into a defender and then just…continuing to hang out in the air while making the shot? It’s unclear to me how he does this but I’m a huge fan. It’s almost like he absorbs the power of whoever is trying to block his shot and just redirects it down into whatever magics he’s using to stay afloat. He’s ALSO established himself as yet another young Spur who likes to throw down big ol’ monster yams so…did I mention that the Spurs are fun right now?
Defense to offense is a beautiful thing. #GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/oLt9dhNK73

— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 27, 2020
WWL Post Game Press Conference

– So you’re really just going to lean into blind optimism thing right now?

– Until given a reason not to, yea. I don’t really see any other options.

– I’m checking the records and it looks like after starting the season undefeated last season, you wrote on this very website that you were worried that your “favorite team might just be gaslighting you”, are there any similar concerns like that this year?

– Look, I’m not here to talk about the past. We’re focused on this season right now. We’re taking it one game at a time and, you know, now we’re moving on to New Orleans.

– Do you think people understood the Bohemian Rhapsody reference in the second paragraph? Are you worried that people might think you just talk like that?

– I have every faith that the PtR readers are learned scholars of popular culture and, frankly, if anyone happened to assume I talked like Freddie Mercury sang, then I would take it as the highest of compliments.

– I noticed that, once again, you failed to mention anything about the team’s obvious defensive shortcomings in this post. Do you have any plans to address those in the future?

– I don’t appreciate your tone. THIS INTERVIEW IS OVER.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo is off the board, which means the Toronto Raptors will be shopping come NBA free agency in 2021. We explore the top 10 unrestricted free agents.
The Toronto Raptors were devastated to learn that their plans for the 2021 offseason were dashed when Giannis Antetokounmpo signed a five-year supermax contract worth $228.2 million to remain a part of the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Raptors were clearly making decisions to construct their current roster in hopes of making a splash in next year’s free agency. It’s believed that that meant bringing Antetokounmpo to Toronto, which seemed like a realistic proposition based on his relationship with Masai Ujiri. It’s hard to blame the superstar for signing the extension that has given him the biggest contract in NBA history.

As unfortunate as it is that the Toronto Raptors didn’t get their man, it’s probably even more frustrating for GM Bobby Webster who designed contracts to provide the team cap space to go shopping next offseason. It’s why Cheap Marc Gasol Jersey and Serge Ibaka weren’t offered multi-year deals to return.

With the cap space that the organization has created for next year, they will need to remain focused on filling their shopping list. We break down the top ten unrestricted free agents for the Raptors to acquire once the 2021 free agency window opens.

In order to keep the surprises to a minimum, let’s first get out of the way that Blake Griffin will not be on the list. Though he is a player the Toronto Raptors would like to have to play in their starting five, he has a player option that will certainly not be waved. He is certain to play the final year of his deal that will pay him $34,234,964. The same is true about Chris Paul who will earn $39,932,648 if he doesn’t opt-out and with that much money due to him, it would be shocking for him to pass on it.

Another player that wasn’t even considered for the top 10 is Paul Millsap. There has been a great deal of buzz around the potential for the 35-year-old power forward retiring. Still a presence in the NBA, Millsap isn’t the same player he once was.

While you may not find them in the top 10, the group remains strong. Here is the complete list:

To be blunt, the Toronto Raptors weren’t exactly frontrunners to land Giannis Antetokounmpo in the event that he decided to not sign his supermax extension from the Milwaukee Bucks. Be that as it may, the Raptors have recently had a bit of luck in obtaining talent. They’ve had two of the best two-way players in recent years in Cheap Kawhi Leonard Jersey and Cheap DeMar DeRozan Jersey.

Both of those players have been removed from the picture though, which left the Raptors relying on their remaining weapons for the 2019-20 season. Behind the sterling efforts of Cheap Pascal Siakam Jersey, Cheap Kyle Lowry Jersey, and Cheap Fred VanVleet Jersey, they finished with a 53-19 record that left them 2.5 games behind the Bucks for first place in the Eastern Conference.

While the Raptors are surely set on dedicating the next few years to the development of Siakam, they’ll also need some additional talent should they look to obtain another championship in the near future. As it stands, the skill level they pose wouldn’t get them over the hump in the East anymore.

A better portion of the same roster still exist coming into the 2020-21 season, but there are some weaknesses that could be addressed.

Trade Targets: Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Vucevic

The Raptors were able to retain one of their better talents in Fred VanVleet this offseason, but it cost them nearly all of their big man talent. Both Marc Gasol and Cheap Serge Ibaka Jersey departed for LA and are now inner-city rivals.

As it stands, the Raptors are left severely depleted in the frontcourt at the center position. The front office was able to snatch Cheap Aron Baynes Jersey out of the free agency pool, and he was one of the better options that came at a reasonable price. He’s also coming off a career year with the Phoenix Suns, averaging 11.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.

Still, Baynes certainty within the Raptors system remains an unknown. Prior to his blossoming year in Phoenix, Baynes struggled to find that same success with either the Boston Celtics or the Detroit Pistons. With that in mind, Baynes could’ve possibly just been a thriving player in Suns head coach Monty Williams’ system.

Karl-Anthony Towns could quickly grow tired in Minnesota in the upcoming season. The Timberwolves’ biggest move was re-signing Malik Beasley, and that’s just turned into a PR debacle as of late. If Minnesota is really in win-now mode, they did nothing to convince KAT that he should want to stay with the franchise for much longer.

In order to acquire Towns, the Raptors would need to unload basically all their non-Siakam assets such as Cheap Norman Powell Jersey, Cheap OG Anunoby Jersey, Cheap Chris Boucher Jersey, and Cheap Terence Davis Jersey. On top of that, they’d definitely need to give up all their first round picks for the next half decade. But being able to acquire an in-prime KAT to pair with Siakam would be well-worth any pricetag.

The same could be said for Nikola Vucevic, albeit to a lesser extent. The Orlando Magic didn’t hold back in 2019 when they signed the 7-foot center to a four-year, $100 million contract. For Vucevic or any player of his caliber, turning down that amount of money is hard to do. Now that the deal is done though, it may be time for Vucevic to consider the possibility of playing on a higher contender that can allow him to make a deep playoff run.

The Raptors were able to thrive for a good portion of their recent seasons by having interchangeable centers at their disposal through Ibaka and Gasol. Now, they primarily have Baynes to run the frontcourt while having Cheap Alex Len Jersey show up the bench unit.

Making a move for a legitimate, All-Star solidified center could be one of their better bets at competing in the coming years.

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The Toronto Raptors continue to get disrespected thanks to the most recent 2020-21 Power Rankings.
NBA.com released it’s 2020-21 Power Rankings ahead of the upcoming season and your Toronto Raptors ranked 15th.

In-between the Raptors were the Phoenix Suns (14th) and Indiana Pacers (16th). When are people going to figure out that Canada’s team is arguably the most consistent franchise of the past five seasons and a capable top-five team in the NBA?

Before I get into the reason why the team deserves to be higher on this list, let’s look back at the history of this franchise.

The Raptors have won the Atlantic Division six of the past seven seasons and have won 50 or more games in five straight seasons. The team has also never finished worse than sixth in the entire league in winning percentage within those five seasons.

Toronto is getting close to reaching a culture of excellence like the San Antonio Spurs and year-after-year the team overachieves their pre-season rankings. It’s becoming comical that certain folks still disrespect this team, despite being incredibly consistent.

Toronto Raptors are not shy to disrespect
Even when the Toronto Raptors won the NBA Championship, they were huge underdogs and critics claimed that they only achieved greatness because the Golden State Warriors were injured. Then, those same people said the team might even struggle to make the playoffs after Kawai Leonard left.

Let me remind you what happened last season.

The Toronto Raptors rallied to a .736 winning percentage (best in franchise history) and finished second in wins league-wide. The team may have lost to the Boston Celtics but it was in a hard-fought seven-game series that could have gone either way. If the Raptors made a few more shots, they’d be playing in the Eastern Conference Finals and could have found a way back into the NBA Finals.

Within the rankings on NBA.com, the Raptors are currently listed as the sixth-best team in the Eastern Conference. No offense, but I can’t see a world where this team finishes worse than fourth. And that’s the worst-case scenario.

Here are the teams ahead of the Raptors:

Milwaukee Bucks
Brooklyn Nets
Miami Heat
Boston Celtics
Philadelphia 76ers
Of those teams, the only one that I legitimately see surpassing the Raptors are the Bucks. They still have the back-to-back MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo and a number of key starters returning, plus the addition of Jrue Holiday helps.

Besides the Bucks, how are the Raptors not in a better position than those other teams? Sure they’re missing Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, but their core of Cheap Pascal Siakam Jersey, Cheap Kyle Lowry Jersey, and Cheap Fred VanVleet Jersey are back and the youngsters should only improve. They also have Nick Nurse, who’s the best coach in the NBA, and you know he’ll get the most out of his bench players like he did last season.

The Miami Heat may have made the NBA Finals last season, but that could have been a fluke. We’ve never seen Jimmy Butler like that before and who knows if we will again.

In terms of the other teams ahead of Toronto, the Boston Celtics’ Jayson Tatum may be a top-20 player in the NBA, but they lost Gordon Hayward. Personally, I’d still take the winning experience and core of Toronto over them in a series.

The biggest question mark to me is the Brooklyn Nets. I can understand that a Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving duo is fun to talk about, but I can’t see this working. Durant hasn’t played a meaningful NBA game in 1.5 years and Irving is always a distraction. Just because it looks great on paper, doesn’t mean it’s going to translate to the floor.

This is a star-driven league and sure, a Siakam-VanVleet duo doesn’t move the dial like some other tandems. However, if the Raptors have taught us anything, it’s that a team-game is more important than one individual. Leonard may have been a huge reason why the Raptors won a championship, but he’s not the only reason.

The team has a collection of talent that will make them successful, instead of one superstar. If you want a perfect example, look back to Game 3 of the Second Round last year. Of all people, it was Cheap OG Anunoby Jersey who kept the Raptors’ season alive, nailing the game-winning shot at the buzzer. The team has a collection of talent and doesn’t have to rely on one superstar to win a ball-game.

NEXT: Toronto Raptors can make it back to NBA Finals
When the Raptors face adversity, they perform at their highest level and as the only team not playing in their home arena to start the regular season, they’re already battling hardship. Don’t sleep on the Raptors. Like every year before this, they’re going to surprise you.

Toronto Raptors team president Masai Ujiri will enter the final season of his current deal. Talks about an extension have stalled this off-season. In a conference call with media, Ujiri admitted that they just haven’t had the time. There have been a lot of other things on his plate which has sidetracked progress between him and the Raptors organization.

Via Josh Lewenberg of TSN.com:

“There’s just been so much [going on],” he said. “Honestly, it’s not a matter of not doing it, I think there’s just been so much [and] I’ve pushed it [back] until, I think, we get through a lot of this. There’s just so much going on with this relocation, and the focus, I don’t want to be distracted that way.”

While the coronavirus pandemic has obviously impacted the entire league, Toronto is arguably the most affected among the 30 NBA teams. The league needed to find the 2019 NBA champs a temporary home with the Canadian government restricting travel to the country. Ujiri obviously needed to be spearheading the process and that may have taken up a lot of his time. Eventually, the Raptors settled in on Tampa as their stopgap home for this campaign.

Apart from their short-term relocation, Ujiri certainly needed to make decisions with free agency. Toronto lost two key big men in the off-season in Cheap Serge Ibaka Jersey and Cheap Marc Gasol Jersey, and the former Executive of the Year needed to find replacements to fill in for their departures. Eventally, the Raptors signed Cheap Aron Baynes Jersey and Cheap Alex Len Jersey to replenish their front court depth this 2020-21 campaign.

It’s certainly in the the Raptors’ best interests to keep the Nigerian-Canadian executive for the long haul. Ujiri is, in fact, considered the mastermind responsible for Toronto’s historic run to their first ever NBA championship in 2019.

Nonetheless, it seems like both sides want to keep their relationship going. It’s just a matter of finding the right time to strike the deal and sign on the dotted line.