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If you’re out today or tonight pretending to be Irish, please don’t do anything stupid. Don’t slug back a handful of Guinness and a few Jameson’s and think you can drive, don’t be a knucklehead to others who are celebrating and, please, treat the servers with respect and tip them well. It’s a long hard day for most of ‘em and none of ‘em make a lot of money.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST NIGHT
If you don’t think some magical season is upon the Raptors after they got win No. 11 in a row last night, you haven’t been paying attention.
Think about it.
They won a game they probably shouldn’t have by grabbing an offensive rebound of a missed free throw, sealing the deal with two foul shots and then forcing a five-second violation on the resulting inbounds play.
That’s what used to happen to the Raptors, not for them and, I’m telling you, that might be a sign that something extraordinary is unfolding.
Even if the games have a “sameness” about them – scuffle a bit at times, wake up, play well, put inferior squads aside – the way they turn out is quite different from the olden days and that’s pleasing to a whole bunch of you, isn’t it?
“As long as we’re playing well and we’re figuring out how to pull through adversity,” DeRozan said. “Every game is not going to be pretty. As long as we’re figuring out how to win, and we’re doing it in the right way, that’s all that matters.”
The level of confidence they have was never more obvious than in the way Fred VanVleet handled the overtime. He fired one shot over the backboard, air-balled a three-pointer but took the next one with ultimate confidence and put ‘em ahead by three with 73 seconds left.
You think he’d shy away from taking it? Pshaw.
“There’s really no conscious for me, honestly. I try to take good shots and for the most part I think the ones I take are good shots and after that I don’t really care if they go in or out. It doesn’t really change my approach.”
Kid’s got a future in big-game spots.
Did everything right
The last play of the fourth quarter was just about perfect. Except for the part where the shot didn’t go in.
Best scorer on the team had the ball in his hands, was iso’d on a 1-4 flat configuration, waited just long enough to know there’d be no other possession possible.
DeMar DeRozan got his screen, got exactly the kind of aggressive defence they expected kicked the ball back out to Ibaka, who had a size advantage.
Ibaka went right when he should have, got a good looking floater he just didn’t make.
There was nothing wrong with the call, it was basically perfectly executed and the ball just didn’t go in the basket.
And if they don’t get the hedge or the second defender, DeRozan keeps the ball, might have a mismatch of his own and would have an entirely makeable shot.
Make or miss league, as they say.
Taking switches away
Can’t imagine anyone was too surprised that Dwane got Jonas Valanciunas in the game for key inbounds plays in the overtime.
He’s one of the team’s best free throw shooters – oh, yeah, he was ticked that he missed one of four in the final seconds – but there’s another reason Casey told us after the game.
It’s his hands, and the fact it makes a typical way to defend those plays – switching everything – that much harder.
“Especially in a situation where they switch a guard onto him, he can just reach up and go get it.”
Not getting me
Jakob Poeltl gets isolated guarding tiny JJ Barea in the second quarter and everyone imagines this isn’t going to end well.
Barea shakes and shimmies and gets Yak moving before finally driving on Poeltl’s left side and Barea’s quickness gets him past the big man quite easily.
Poeltl sees the angle and gives it, cleanly blocks Barea’s layup attempt and it ignites a break that ends with a Malcolm Miller open three in transition.
Didn’t see that coming.
The Raptors have now trailed at halftime in six of their last eight games. They’ve won them all.
Another game of 20 or more assists – 25 with VanVleet having eight and DeRozan and Wright six each – and Toronto is now 45-10 in games when they eclipse the 20 mark.
Okay, you can still get in the mailbag if you want – I hope to finish it tonight because it’s a 1 p.m. start tomorrow and that means media room bacon and eggs around 10 a.m. – and all you’ve got to do is click on email@example.com and ask away.